The Hula Valley is the site of a wide shallow marsh and lake fed by the Jordan River as it flows from its sources at the foot of Mount Hermon. When modern Israelis began to populate the Hula Valley, a serious problem was malaria infection, which was transmitted by the Anopheles mosquitoes that bred in the valley’s wetlands. War and conflicts delayed early plans to drain the swamp in order to make the land useful for agriculture, with the result that major drainage of the Hula Valley did not begin until the early 1950s. In hindsight that decision has been rethought as naturalists came to realize how important diverse ecosystems are to a healthy environment, and efforts were made to return at least some of the area to the natural ecosystem that was lost. The result of this effort is the Hula Valley Nature Reserve, which I visited on a recent trip to Israel.
A visit to the Hula Valley Nature Reserve adds the enjoyment of observing the natural beauty of God’s creation to the usual pilgrim’s goal of experiencing the biblical geography of the Holy Land.