Nahal Kibbutzim 311.
(photo credit: Joe Yudin)
Joe Yudin owns Touring Israel, a company that specializes in “Lifestyle” tours of Israel.
I fell in love with Israel during the summer of 1990. It was a different
Israel. There were just two television stations and Channel Two was
brand new. Nobody under the age of thirty had a car, so you borrowed the
family car IF the family owned a car. MTV and McDonald’s were unknown and so was American pop culture.
radio pretty much played the likes of Pink Floyd, the Doors and Israeli
rock and roll. People were easy to talk to, easy going and always up
for a journey to seek out adventure to one of Israel’s many pristine
oases, springs or streams that dot the countryside. All you had to do
was stick out your thumb (or forefinger in Israel) and you were on your
way. Times have changed.
One of the most famous national parks in northern Israel is Gan Hashlosha, also known as the Sachne
. It gained its fame over a decade ago when it made National Geographic
magazine’s top ten list of most beautiful places in the world. In 1990 I
remember it being just that, a family place to relax, take in the
scenery with faint music playing in the distance, but mostly a bunch of
hippie looking kids having a great time in the natural warm waters. It
was the perfect reflection of the ideal that was Israel.
then, throngs of people have been descending on this beautiful place
making it one of the nosiest, dirtiest and busiest national parks in the
country. I’m not sure what the spark has been, but probably the ability
of people to jump in their cars, speed along Israel’s outstanding
highway system and pay the small sum to get into the park. Its
accessibility has been its curse. It’s a shame the National Parks
Authority doesn’t issue tickets to those people who litter, throw their
cigarette butts all over and disrespect the people around them by
blaring music and rambunctious behavior.
For those that are
looking for something a little quieter which is reminiscent of the
Israel where we grew up in the summers, there is however another less
famous nearby option for these oppressive summer days: Nahal Kibbutzim.
Kibbutzim has been cordoned off to cars, jeeps, ATVs and campers for a
short while and so far this summer it remains quite, clean and
unspoiled. I wonder how long this will last.
Just past the
entrance to Kibbutz Nir David on road number 669 is a dirt road that
leads you to a small eucalyptus grove to the right. Park here. Under the
grove are picnic tables and a small, clear pool by a bubbling spring.
This is a perfect spot for a picnic or for kids under three to splash
around. Follow the trail to the left of the pool around the bend and
down a dirt road.
To your left you will see greenery and if you
follow the dirt road west several hundred meters you will eventually get
to a fork in the trail that leads to a short date palm tree growing
along the side of a river. If you continue down the same trail you will
get to Kibbutz Nir David’s tourist kiosk called “Valley of the Springs”
which sells water and snacks, as well as rents bikes and golf carts that
you can take to explore the area springs of Ein Muda, Ein Shokek
and the springs around Nahal Kibbutzim. I like to start my adventure at the lone palm tree.
the tree, ease yourself into the cool, clear waters. Wear some sort of
footwear. You can see frogs and often turtles amongst the reeds as well
as fish that swim beside you and nip at the hairs on your legs. The
water is not deep and you can ease yourself in. Relax, swim and slowly
make you way down river. Mount Gilboa looms overhead and the reeds that
dot the rivers banks give you the feel that you are in the jungle.
river is eventually channeled twice into giant water pipes to provide
for roads overhead. Not to worry, just position yourself in the center
of the pipes holding on to the top as the water rushes around you and
let go! You’ll be shot through the pipes and dunked into the water at
the other side. It’s quite a rush. Shortly after the second set of pipes
you get back to the pools and parking lot. Dry off and have some
watermelon with feta cheese Israeli style. Enjoy!Joe Yudin
became a licensed tour guide in 1999. He completed his Master’s degree
at the University of Haifa in the Land of Israel Studies and is
currently studying toward a PhD.