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Hula Nature Reserve 

Hula Nature Reserve and Agamon Hula Park are not far from each other, the Hula Nature Reserve being to the south of Agamon Hula Park. The aim of both sites is to preserve aspects of the former Hula Lake and its swamps. Given a choice between the two, the Agamon Hula Park offers a more interesting and comprehensive experience. Nevertheless, they are different from each other and the Hula Nature Reserve does have something to say. It also shows the impressive 3-D stereoscopic movie Euphoria about bird migration over Israel.

Bird watching is a major activity in the park from October to November when birds migrate to Africa for the winter from Europe and Asia. Israel is their fueling stop before their 5-day journey across the Sahara Desert. They fly in the opposite direction from March to April.

The draining of the 15,000 acres of the Hula Lake and swamps began in 1951. At the urging of nature conservationists, 800 acres of the swamp were left as a nature reserve to preserve its unique flora and fauna - minus its malaria-bearing mosquitoes. This was the first nature reserve created in Israel. However, water escaped from the dikes and the peat soil dried out, such that the preservation site itself needed preservation! All this was fixed many years ago and this site now nicely fulfills its objectives.

Swamp 1 Hula Valley.jpeg

Directions: Enter “Hula” into Waze and click on “Hula Valley Nature Reserve, Hula Valley”.

Time: Allow about 1¼ to 1½ hours to complete the walk.

Admission: This is a site of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Summer hours are Sunday to Thursday and Saturday 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., with the last entrance being at 4.00 p.m., and Fridays and holiday eves 8.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Closing time in the winter is 1 hour earlier. There is a gift shop that sells hot and cold drinks. There are restrooms. There are shaded picnic tables close to the Visitor Center. Their telephone number is ‎04 693-7069, and for the Visitor Center 04-686 0114.

Public transport: There are frequent buses between Kiryat Shmona and Tel Aviv and between Kiryat Shmona and Afulla that stop at the Shemurat HaChula Interchange. From here it is a 2.3 Km/29 minute walk to the Reserve. 

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Reeds, papyri and bulrushes


The Hula Nature Reserve contains three types of tall wetland plants – reeds, papyri and bullrushes. There are also reeds and bulrushes in the Agamon HaHuleh Lakes, but only a small amount of papyri.


The common reed (kaneh matzu in Hebrew) is the most common plant found at the water edge of the Jordan River and its reserves. It is a tall plant, reaching up to 20 feet in height. It is usually green in the summer, in contrast to most other vegetation which looks dried up at this time of year.  When in full bloom in the spring it has a silky crown. It is long, straight and hollow, and was often used in the past as a measuring rod. It is still used to make flutes. Although often made of reeds, the flute is not a "reed instrument" in which sound is made by actually blowing through a reed.


The papyrus plant (Cyperus papyrus) (papirus in Hebrew) is a tall perennial that grows to a height of 15 feet. It dies in the winter, although its stems do not rot. This plant once grew extensively in Israel’s swamps and rivers, but is now found only in the Hula Valley, on the northern banks of Lake Kinneret, and in a few places in the Golan Heights. It accounts for much of the peat of the Hula Valley.


One of the main uses of papyrus in the past was for making paper. Strips were made from its peeled stalk and glued together to make sheets. This technique began in Egypt in about 3,000 BCE and spread throughout the ancient world. Nowadays, papyrus is almost extinct from Egypt. More recently, Arab villagers used to collect the papyrus stalks from the Hula swamps to make baskets.


Another plant found throughout Israel is the Lesser Bulrush (typha domingenesis) (suf motzu in Hebrew). The rhizome remains in the soil and from it grows its long straight leaves, up to 2 meters in length. The plant flowers from June to October on a single leafless stem. The flowers are brown and arranged in a thick spiral at the top of the flower spike, almost to its tip. This dense inflorescence looks almost like a broom. The plant's leaves can be used to make baskets and mats.


There are interesting connections of these plants to the biblical story of the Israelites in Egypt. There were reeds on the banks of the Nile and this was reported by Pharaoh when he described his dream to Joseph (Genesis 41:18). Moses’ ark was rescued from the reeds on the River Nile by Pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 2.5). Papyrus material is called gomé in the Bible and Moses’ ark was made of this (Exodus 2:3). After leaving Egypt, the Israelites crossed the Yam Suf. This is sometimes translated as the Reed Sea or Sea of Reeds, although given its Hebrew name it was probably a body of water full of bulrushes and not reeds. The Reed Sea is sometimes identified with the Red Sea, which is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean. However, bulrushes do not grow in saltwater and this identification is probably in error.


A bulrush plant.

Papyrus in Hula Valley.jpeg

Once growing extensively in Israel, the papyrus plant now grows mainly in the Hula Valley.

Reeds II .jpeg

Reeds have a silky crown.



Head towards the Visitor Center to begin the walk. Its 1½-Km path is short relative to the size of the reserve. The nature of the swamp is clearly apparent as you walk past by the dikes. There are also signs explaining the plant and animal life in the reserve. A wooden walkway projects into the lake and is nicely set up for bird observation. There is also an Observation Point near the Visitor Center with an Observation Tower.

A unique and highly recommended 3-D stereoscopic movie about bird migration is shown in the Visitor Center called Euphoria. Its aim is to provide a sensory experience akin to being a bird with moving seats and the sounds of wind and splashing water. It is shown every hour on the hour. The 15-minute movie can be shown in English but this needs to be requested in advance. If you choose this option there is no opportunity to see the rests of the displays (which are in Hebrew) except by coming back an hour later.

Swamp 2 Hula Valley .jpeg
Scene with papyrus.jpeg

Links to the HOME PAGE and best family activities, hikes and historic sites in the GOLAN, EASTERN GALILEE, UPPER GALILEE, LOWER GALILEE, JORDAN VALLEY & LAKE KINNERET, the SHEFELAH, TEL AVIV-YAFFO and surroundings, NORTH of TEL AVIV, and SOUTH of TEL AVIV.

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