Hot springs and more at Hamat Gader
Hamat Gader, at the southern end of the Golan Heights, has been famous since ancient times for its hot springs. Under Israeli control since the Six-Day War, it continues to be a popular tourist site. The most common activity here is relaxing in the hot pools, although depending on the season other family activities may be offered.
Hamat Gader is in a valley within the Yarmouk Valley. The Yarmouk River is the boundary between the countries of Israel and Jordan and is an important source of water for both. Hamat Gader is surrounded on three sides by the Yarmouk River and is therefore adjacent to the border. You can appreciate this on the approach road to Hamat Gader from which you can see the Gilead Mountains of Jordon to the south, to the north Israel’s Golan mountain range, and the Yarmouk Valley between the two.
As at Hamat Tiveria just outside Tiberias, the hot springs result from groundwater coming into contact with shallow magna (molten rock) or circulating through faults deep in the earth’s crust. The water contains a considerable amount of minerals and is quite rich in sulfur.
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. 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 to Hamat Gader from 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 open. You can experience small waterfalls and jacuzzi chairs and also do casual swimming in the main open pool. To reach the pools, you will need to go down a level via the stairs or the elevator. Changing is in the building by the elevator. Lockers are offered at a cost of 20 NIS. Around the pools are eateries. Massages in the massage parlor are extra.
On the other side of the park, 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 than this 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.
On the way to the pools is a sizable water slide (30 + feet), although this area is not open in the winter. Children have to be ten and over and good swimmers to enter.
There are archeological ruins within the park, but they are closed off and can only be seen from small openings in the fence. The path to them is above the pools.
Ancient Hamat Gader was a popular place in the Roman period because of its hot springs, and is even mentioned in the Talmud. There was also a 2,000-seat auditorium for plays. Plus a synagogue. Construction of the bath complex for the hot springs was begun in the 2nd century CE. The Roman theater was built in the 3rd century, and the synagogue in the 5th century. Improvements were made during the Muslim period. The baths were abandoned during the 9th century.
They also have a hotel here and tent village.