The autumnal weather that comes to us in the last week allows us not only to fill our lungs with cool air but also to enjoy walks in magical corners around the country, which in summer may be a little too hot to hike. This week we offer suggestions for three easy and experiential trips for the whole family: from the migratory birds in the Hula Reed, through springs near Jerusalem to the northern Dead Sea, which is a great time to enjoy the area before the floods begin.
Just before the winter floods reach the area, this is exactly the time to hike the countless trails in the northern Dead Sea. The area, with its breathtaking desert landscape, is saturated with trails that are suitable for both experienced hikers, amateurs and families. One of the routes is the Og River.
The Og River is one of the most prominent and longest streams in the area, and is also known as Wadi Makalach, and among the few that are also suitable for families and combine both water and ladder experiences. The stream offers a charming route, where there is a wild view, walking along the route of a meandering stream, on top of water, ladders leading to an amazing desert view and even a view of the Dead Sea.
The Og River, which offers us a unique circular route, starts already on the eastern slopes of Mount Scopus. It is actually located between two streams: Ancient Wadi Kelt. The trip is perfect for families and anyone traveling with one vehicle. The route, despite the ladders and pegs that are in its parts, is not really difficult to walk.
Getting to the route is easy, and it starts in a large parking lot near Kibbutz Almog. From there they started walking along the path marked in red. The trail leads to a sign next to a tin that confirms that you are on the right path, and next to it you will have to decide on the nature of your trip.
The intention is that you will have to decide what comes to you more – to go up or down. If you are afraid of effort on the ascents, you can do the reverse route and descend along the creek – this is a great solution, especially for those who are not afraid of descents on the ladders. If slight challenges do not deter you, the ascending route is in my eyes more experiential, especially for families with small children, so I recommend choosing this route, which allows you and the children to climb the ladders.
After crossing the parking lot and starting to take the red lane, slowly descend to the creek route. I am writing slowly because it is a bit of a steep descent, so be careful that the children do not run and finish the route even before you start it. After the descent, which you passed safely, turn right with the path – following the green path markings, with which you will stay until the end.
The route will lead you to an open canyon and a rock step next to which there is a ridge of water, which after the winter rains remains full for a long time. Of course you do not have to walk in it, but you can just cross it, especially if you are eager to reach the first ladder on the route. The ladders, as you will probably understand, mark the creek waterfalls you climb.
How to get there: Take Route 1 towards the Dead Sea. Before turning to Kibbutz Almog, turn right into the regulated parking lot.
There’s nothing more liberating than watching birds fly, and if anything – then watching a wide variety of migratory birds – is a great family activity. In the Hula Valley, the Agmon Hula Tourist Park awaits you. The park is one of the most respected birding sites in the world, and in the autumn months it becomes particularly crowded.
At this time of year, many migratory birds stop there, some of which – like the cranes – make it a permanent place for them. The birds, which stop for meal and rest in the reedbed, live in harmony with the rest of the animals that live within the park. In the heart of the reedbed there is a large lake, towards which you can make an observation and discover the different species of birds that are at the site during this period. The trail in the park is circular, and is about eight and a half miles long.
If you like hiking, this is a great option that will make it easier for you to stop at any moment and be impressed by the animals and vegetation. If you prefer your trip more dynamic, you can rent bicycles and golf carts, where you can pass through the reedbeds, between the orchards and the canals.
Also, especially for the independent hikers, in three of the lookouts in the reedbed there are guides and binoculars that will be able to focus on you and explain to you about the way of life in the reedbed. And if watching the birds from a distance is not enough for you, one of the most enjoyable and recommended experiences is a guided tour in a hiding cart offered in the park. The cart, which is hitched to a tractor, passes through the enclosed areas to the reedbed crowd and arrives a few feet from the crane flocks. It is an amazing experience, especially when done at sunset or sunrise, so can see up close the fascinating pace of life of the birds.
The Hula Reed has a botanical garden where you can enjoy a unique collection of aquatic plants. Some of the plants were in the area back in the time when the Hula Valley was nothing more than an egg. The garden, located in front of the Naftali Mountains, is a place where you can see rare plants up close. More precisely, more than 70 species of aquatic plants.
Since we are at the height of the migration season, keep in mind that there may be queues at the checkout counters at the entrance and rental of the vehicles and attractions.
How to get there: Take Route 90 and turn right following the signs.
A lovely eye
If you look for it from the road – you will not see it, but if you choose to reach it, you will enjoy a wonderful experience that includes water, a fortress and history as well as a spectacular view. I mean, of course, the Ein Hemed National Park, which is hidden from view for passengers on the busy road, and is located in a valley at the foot of the Jerusalem mountains.
On the way down from Highway 1, just ten minutes from Jerusalem, a magical natural gem is hidden with cool springs flowing under the shadow of the plane trees.
There are several springs in the garden, so you can see the flow of water throughout the year. The springs flow into storage ponds, and around them there are picnic tables and lawns, where it is fun to relax and downshift.
The garden actually sits on the channel of the Kislev River. The stream, which begins its way up in the mountains near Mevaseret, passes through the garden area and continues on its way to its meeting point with Nahal Sorek. The length of the section where the stream passes through the garden is only 600 meters, but even this short length is enough to fill the garden with running water.
The water source is not the only attraction in the place. The Crusaders who were in the area built a wonderfully preserved protected farm and fortress area and reach them through the circular route in the garden.
The route is easy to walk and suitable for all ages and lasts about an hour. Start the route from the parking lot following the path leading to the creek channel. A low pool will be revealed in front of your eyes. This is the first spring you will see on the trail, and as you will see, the water flows out of a crack in the rock and fills the pool. After the initial enthusiasm you can move on with the creek. On its left side you can see a cliff and at its foot a wall. Behind the wall hides the Ein Hemed spring, after which the entire reserve is named. The water of the spring drains into a small pool, from which they pass through underground pipes to a larger pool.
The water of the spring has been attributed many virtues throughout history, believing Jews used to throw it in the past, and some believed that baptism in it was good for the birth of male sons. Everyone and their faith. I believe it is just cool and fun to bathe, especially after a hike in nature. The large pool, into which the water is poured, also has a small dam.
To continue on the route, cross the pool to the right bank, in the direction of the olive grove and the fort next to it. In practice what can be seen in the area is a rectangular structure surrounded by a wall. The building rises to a height of two floors, and to enter it one has to walk along the path and pass through an opening leading to the main courtyard. On either side of the courtyard are large halls with ornate elements.
In the courtyard there are stairs leading to the second and ruined floor of the building so you can make a small observation of the area. Inside the building you will see spaces with an arched ceiling. There is also a tower in the compound, and in the left hall you will also find the remains of a cloth house.
How to get there: From the Hemed interchange (from the west) turn right. After 150 meters you reach another junction where you turn right and drive to the garden gate.
Source: Maariv.co.il – תיירות by www.maariv.co.il.
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