(photo credit: Amir Aloni/INPA)
With summer-like temperatures and sunshine throughout the day, Israelis and
tourists alike took to the country’s national parks in hordes on the first
intermediate day of the Passover holiday.
About a quarter of million
people visited the nature reserves and national parks managed by the Israel
Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) on Sunday, the authority reported as of about
6 p.m. that day.
Approximately 80,000 of these travelers patronized the
paid parks and reserves, while 160,000 visited the many locations that have been
made free of charge for the duration of the holiday and the rest spent time in
sites that are always free.
The most visited places on Sunday were Gan
Hashlosha (Sakhne) National Park, with more than 6,500 visitors; Tel Dan Nature
Reserve, with more than 3,500 visitors; and Caesarea National Park, Ein Gedi
Nature Reserve and Ashkelon National Park – all with more than 3,200 visitors.
Masada and Yarkon-Tel Afek had about 2,900 visitors, while more than 2,700
people visited the Banias Nature Reserve, according to the
Meanwhile tens of thousands of these visitors stopped by the
more than 30 INPA information stations spread throughout the country’s
park-lands, where the staff members distributed garbage bags and general
information about the sites to travelers.
“Today the exodus to Israel
actually began, and thousands of travelers visited virtually every path from Tel
Dan to the gulf of Eilat,” said Uzi Barzilai, manager of the INPA’s public and
Many people took advantage of the beautiful weather,
as well as the fact that parks have extended hours during Hol Hamoed, the
festival’s intermediate days, allowing entrance until as late as 6 p.m.,
according to Barzilai.
Aside from the typical hiking and picnicking
taking place in the country’s parks and reserves throughout the week, the next
few days also feature several festivals, including the Festivpsolet (garbage
festival) in the Jordan Valley, during which participants take part in tours and
workshops, as well as play music on recycled instruments.
In Caesarea, a
traditional horse show is taking place in the ancient hippodrome, and a Nabatean
market greets visitors to the Negev’s Mamshit National Park. The Einot Tzukim
Nature Reserve is offering special tours, while the Qumran National Park is
featuring a dramatization of the life of Herod the Great, the INPA
While the numbers of park visitors were significantly higher on
Sunday, Saturday was also a popular day for the country’s parks and reserves,
with more than 150,000 people gathering at these natural sites and 110,000 of
them visiting the temporarily free locations.
The most popular sites on
Saturday were Eshkol National Park and Yarkon-Afek National Park, each with
approximately 2,800, the Banias Nature Reserve (2,000 visitors), Masada (1,650),
Caesarea National Park (1,550) and Ein Gedi (1,500), according to the
“Every year this is the busiest period for the people of the Nature
and Parks Authority,” Barzilai said, “and we have arranged dozens of events,
tours and festivals in nature reserves and national parks, with the goal of
giving families the added value of education in addition to landscapes and fresh