Banias Nature Reserve is in the north of Israel, about 3.5 hours from Tel Aviv via Tiberias. It is in the Golan Heights, in a stunning scenery resembling biblical times. The cold Hermon Stream, the lush riverside forests and rolling hills make a visit here a rewarding experience.
The abandoned Syrian tank is about two hours walk up river from Kibbutz Shear Yashuv, along some spectacular scenery, surrounded by olive orchards and plenty of trees providing shade from the scorching heat. Hiking to the Syrian tank in Banias Nature Reserve is an easy day walk, although if you are in a hurry you can spend the morning or afternoon here and then discover other parts of northern Israel afterwards.
How to Get to the Banias Nature Reserve from Tel Aviv
Driving from Tel Aviv to the Golan Heights is very simple as there are good quality roads all over Israel. I drove up north to the Golan Heights taking Highway 2 out of Tel Aviv then joining Highway 65 and 77 until Tiberias. After Tiberias I drove on Highway 90 and 91 until Katzrin and finally on Highway 98 and 99 until I reached Shear Yashuv, my destination.
Where to Stay in Kibbutz Shear Yashuv
Shear Yashuv is a kibbutz not far from the Syrian border. It is right next to Banias Nature Reserve, a beautiful park on the banks of the Hermon Stream. There is an amazing campsite at Shear Yashuv run by a hippy family, catering mostly for families with small children.
I pitched my tent up near the entrance of the park and got up early to go for a walk before the heat makes walking unbearable. The campsite is right at the entrance of the nature reserve, so I left all my stuff in the car and went for a long walk to the abandoned Syrian tank.
Related: This post is part of a series: read the full itinerary of my holiday in Israel here.
It was near this area in the Golan Heights where the fiercest fighting took place during the Yom Kippur war and the Syrian tanks scattered around here are reminders of Israel’s gruesome past.
Finding Abandoned Tanks in the Golan Heights
If you go walking around here it is easy to find tanks in the most unexpected locations, so if you are a fan of military history then you should definitely visit this region.
There are other reminders here of the savage wars fought here: behind the barb wire are landmines abandoned after the war. Some areas have been cleared up but there are still hundreds of acres filled with mines, so it is best to keep to the track and not cross the barbed wire.
Aside the landmines and tanks, this area is one of the most amazing parts of Israel with a hugely diverse natural habitat. There are many bird species here and walking along the trail helps you relax and imagine what it might have been like when the ancient people lived here.
Thanks to the shade and the cooling effect of the river I did not notice the heat that much. But as soon as I went to the top of the mound and out of the shade the heat just hit me and I was immediately drenched in sweat!
The Abandoned Syrian Tank
The abandoned Syrian tank is almost at the end of the trail, in the middle of the river. Many people come here to take selfies and to have a picnic on top of the tank. During the six day war, the tank was reversing when it fell into the Hermon River. The tank was left as it fell, upside down. Watch the video below to see more.
By 11 o’clock it was so hot that I had to turn back and walk back to the car. I had a quick drink at the camp site then got in the car and drove down to Yehudiya National Park, about an hour away from here.