Hiking in Arbel Mountain gave me complete rush of accomplishment and confidence. I had never done anything like it before.
When Ariel asked me if I wanted to climb Arbel mountain with him, I looked back at him and repeated: “climb Arbel mountain?!”
It sounded quite extreme and didn’t think it would be possible to walk the route with a baby. Thanks to a properly secured trail and a good baby carrier, all three of us could enjoy the most stunning views of the Sea of Galilee.
When we arrived, I noticed there were families with small children, a pregnant woman, and a elderly couple. I thought to myself “Oh, so it cant be such a difficult hike, if they can do it, we for sure can do it”.
The hiking trail starts on top of the mountain, walking along the mountain cliffs. There are lookout points there that make you dizzy, with its 110-meter vertical drop. Eventually, you have to climb down the cliffside and the route continues back to where you started, only walking under the mountain cliffs. The hike is about 2 hours long. The whole hiking route is properly secured with wires, iron handles in the mountain wall, and well-kept paths. This makes you feel very secure, and the steep cliffs a little less scary. We recommend going to Arbel after it has been raining when the air is clear and the views are at its best.
National park and old history
The mountain itself lies within a national park, you pay a small fee to enter, and you get a map over the hiking route. There is a small kiosk and benches to enjoy your food. The Arbel mountain is also the only known mountain in Israel where you can base jump.
The whole mountainside of Arbel is filled with natural caves, many of them have been expanded and used as hideout spots throughout history. A group of anti-roman rebels used the caves when they went up against Herod, in 39 B.C.E. Some also say that Arbel is identical to Beth-Arbel that is mentioned in Hosea 10:14, where the story of the historic battle between Bacchides and Judah Maccabee is being told.
At Arbel, you will also find an ancient Byzantine synagog, dating back to the 4th CE.
Climb a mountain with a baby?
When we had climbed down the cliff, we took a lunch break alongside the steep mountainside. There was a perfect flat plateau with the most stunning view. We took Sela out of the carrier, making sure one of us would always hold him, while the other prepared the food.
Then an elderly couple walked by and started talking to Ariel in Hebrew. I was sure they were commenting on how irresponsible we were as parents, bringing a baby to such a dangerous hiking route. After they had gone, Ariel told me that they actually praised us for being bold and brave enough to give Sela this experience, that it is super healthy for his development to see and get to know nature this way.
Later on, we were walking behind a couple with their two kids. Their kid’s ages were probably from 3 till 6. We came to a steep passage, where we had to climb up the mountainside. Their son, wearing only a diaper and a t-shirt, took his mothers hand and started climbing. The father took a rope around his daughter, tied the end to his backpack, and then they started climbing. In the beginning, the little girl was a little scared, but her father kept encouraging her to keep climbing.
When they reached the top, the girl cried out “I did it! I’m a hero, I did it!”.
And I thought to myself, what an amazing experience to give one’s children. When I, as a 24-year old mother, got so much confidence after climbing those cliffs, confident that after this I could do anything that would come my way, imagine what that little girl must have felt like, and how it can shape her future personality.
Whenever we have time, we go hiking, and our opnion is that the best place to do it is in the north. There are so many hiking routes to choose between, with different levels of complexity. The hiking route at Arbel is definitely one of our favorites!