March 12, 2009
Located in the desert region near Eilat, Holland Park is a unique forest that was established through Friends of KKL-JNF in Holland. The forest extends over an area of 350 dunam (about 90 acres) and was actually planted by local schoolchildren. With its desert trees and varieties of plants and shrubs that suit the climate and saline soil, including acacia, jujube, desert broom, tamarisk and baobab trees the forest is a "Green site" for birds, reptiles and mammals as well as a leisure area for local residents and visitors from Israel and abroad. KKL-JNF cares for the park and develops sites within it for visitors, including a two-kilometer exercise or walking path and a pleasant site to commemorate donors with a seating corner made of the local granite stones.
After the rains at the beginning of March thousands of visitors - locals and tourists - have come to the park to enjoy the walking and cycling routes that are suitable for family hikes throughout the year, although during the hot summer months it is preferable to hike in the forest during the cooler hours of the early morning or the evening. The two kilometer walking path takes about half an hour to an hour.
In addition to the walking path in the park, KKL-JNF is at present developing a hiking and cycling route encompassing Eilat that also has been established through Friends of KKL-JNF Holland. The route begins at the promenade on the northern beach near the Herods Hotel, and continues through the Bird Watching Park, Holland Park, Nahal Shahamon, and the Red Sea Promenade. The beginning of the route is suitable for the entire family but from the bird watching park onward it is more suitable for skilled cyclists and experienced hikers.
Holland Park makes a significant contribution to the variety of wildlife in the area with reptiles and mammals such as lizards and foxes making their homes here and the bee-eaters that are attracted to the food and nesting sites. From February until June millions of birds fly over Eilat on their way from Europe or Asia to Africa and back and this is therefore the best time to observe the 230 varieties of migrating birds that spend the winter in the southern city of Eilat. Most of the birds can be seen in the Eilat area at the salt pools and the lookout points scattered along the length of the Arava which serve as important stopping-points along the birds' migration routs.
The Bird-Watching Park in Eilat, established through a cooperative initiative of KKL-JNF, the Eilat Municipality, the Government Tourist Agency and the International Aviary Center in Eilat, is located at a site that was once the local garbage dump! Bird-watching points have been created in the park and several sites in the park that were damaged by floods have been renovated with the help of Friends of KKL-JNF in Switzerland and the United States. The garbage was recycled, clean soil was brought in and local varieties of plants such as acacia, jujube, tamarisk and Atlantic pistachio were introduced - irrigated with purified sewage water with a high organic content.
Between the saltwater pool and the freshwater pool in the park that attract different varieties of birds, is an information shed in the shape of an armored vehicle, a memorial to Idron Amar, an IDF soldier who was killed in action with his five companions in The Philadelphi Route in May 2004.
Another lookout point for bird-watching is located at the Flamingo Lookout Point that KKL-JNF has built above the salt pools at the northern entrance to Eilat. The site overlooks the pools where cranes, sea gulls, Arctic terns and flocks of flamingos spend the winter.
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