Hot springs and more at Hamat Gader
Hamat Gader is located at the very southern end of the Golan Heights and has been famous since antiquity for its hot springs. It continues to be a popular tourist site. Most visitors come to relax by its hot pools, although depending on the season other family activities may be offered.
Hamat Gader is located in a valley within the Yarmouk Valley on a small peninsula in the river. The Yarmouk River is the boundary between Israel and Jordan. Hence, Hamat Gadar is surrounded on three sides by the Jordanian border. Its interesting location can be appreciated on the approach road to Hamat Gader. From this road, you can see the Gilead Mountains of Jordon to the south, Israel’s Golan mountain range to the north, and the Yarmouk Valley between the two.
As at Hamat Tiveria just outside Tiberias, its hot springs result from groundwater coming in contact with shallow magna (molten rock) or circulating through faults deep in the earth’s crust. The spring water contains a considerable amount of minerals.
Directions: Enter “Hamat Gader” into Waze.
Admission. The hours and even days on which this site is open depend on the month. For example, in June, July and September the site may be closed on Sunday and Monday, although it is open on Saturday. Separate women’s swimming is usually offered for 3 hours one day a week. If you intend bringing children, the activities offered will probably be important to you, and should be checked on in advance. Adult admission is 88 NIS during the weekend and 78 NIS during the week, and for children 59 NIS. This includes entrance to all activities. Their phone number is *6393. This is their website.
Public transport: There is an infrequent bus service between Hamat Gader and Tiberias.
ACTIVITIES AT HAMAT GADER:
There are two large hot water pools on the far right of the park as you enter - one is covered and the other is open. There are small waterfalls, jacuzzi chairs and casual swimming in the main open pool. To reach the pools, you will go down one level via the stairs or the elevator. You can change in the building by the elevator. Lockers are offered at a cost of 20 NIS. Around the pools are eateries. Massages are available in the massage parlor at a charge. On the way to the pools is a sizable water slide (30+ feet), although this is not open in the winter. Only children ten and over who are good swimmers are permitted entry.
On the far left of the park as your enter is the only crocodile park in the Middle East. It contains 200 alligators, crocodiles, caimans and Indian gharial. The times of alligator feeding are posted during the summer months. For anything more exciting you will have to go on safari. There is also a mini-wildlife preserve, petting zoo and parrot show. Fifteen-minute shows with parrots and macaws are offered several times a day during the summer. There is also a hotel and tent village at Hamat Gader.
There are archeological ruins within the park, but they are currently closed off and can only be seen from small openings in the fence. The path to the ruins is above and to the right of the pools.
Ancient Hamat Gader was a popular tourist site in the Roman period because of its hot springs, and it is even mentioned in the Talmud. Construction of the bath complex was begun in the 2nd century CE. A 2,000-seat auditorium for plays was built in the 3rd century. A synagogue was constructed in the 5th century. Improvements to the baths were made during the Muslim period. The area was abandoned during the 9th century.