The Hula Valley is the resting place for hundreds of thousands of migrating birds who follow the Jordan Rift Valley on their journey between Europe and North Africa. Storks, cranes, pelicans and flamingos are a familiar sight. The Hula Lake and Agamon Hahula attract birds and water fowl all year round and you can also see water buffaloes roaming wild and many species of aquatic plants.
When Jewish settlers arrived in the area, it was swampland, plagued by mosquitoes and disease and useless for agriculture, so in the 1950s the land was drained. This proved to be disastrous for the ecology of the area and after protests from Israeli scientists and conservationists, some of the land was re-flooded. In 1964, Lake Hula and the surrounding swampland became the first nature reserve in Israel.
In the winter of 1994, due to exceptionally heavy rainfall, another 1,000 dunams (almost 250 acres) flooded and it was decided to leave it as swampland for environmental reasons. The lake here is known as Agamon Hahula (Little Hula Lake) because it's smaller and shallower than the original lake, but today it also attracts many species of birds and wildlife.
TIP: Understandably, no dogs are allowed in the nature reserve. As much as you may think your pet would love it here, you'll have to leave him/her at home this time.
Archaeological remains of human settlement have been found in the area dating back 10,000 years. There have been settlements here ever since. In the Hebrew Bible, Lake Hula is referred to as lake "Merom" and the place where Joshua triumphed over the Canaanites.
The first modern Jewish settlement to be built in the valley was Yesud HaMa'ala, established in 1883 by settlers from the First Aliyah. Today, there are many kibbutzim and moshavim - many of them offer country lodging from 5-star accommodation to a variety of zimmers (guest rooms).
Other cool places to visit in Upper Galilee:
Sfat (Sefad) - Mystical city and home of the Kabbalah.
Rosh Pina - A great place for a day trip!
Tiberias - Tourist centre on the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret).
Amirim - Country lodgings and restaurants for vegetarians.
Taiko Tea House - Authentic Japanese Restaurant in romantic setting.
Ein Camonim - Dairy restaurant and shop, specializing in boutique goat cheese.