A summer chill

We embarked on a cool and chill cave tour that combines the best of all worlds: wonderful family fun, spectacular views and, of course, not being burnt under the scorching sun.

By MEITAL SHARABI
August 8, 2019 09:28
A summer chill

BEIT GUVRIN AND THE BELL CAVES. (photo credit: HADAR YAHAV AND MEITAL SHARABI)

The jellyfish that took over our beaches have pretty much changed our family cooling program for the summer. So until they continue to other shores and leave our country, and until the heat wave fades a bit to allow trailing in nature without the danger of a heat stroke, we embarked on a cool and chill cave tour that combines the best of all worlds: wonderful family fun, spectacular views and, of course, not being burnt under the scorching sun. So where do we go?

BEIT GUVRIN AND THE BELL CAVES
Many people know the Beit Guvrin National Park in the Judean Plains area. The impressive garden manages to attract many visitors every weekend, including families looking for an exciting attraction for the little ones. Now that it’s a little humid outside, this is a great opportunity to return to the garden and visit the caves in its territory.
The National Park has lots of points of interest in it, but this time we want to focus on the series of Bell Caves in its territory. There are actually 80 caves in the entire garden, with chiseled passages carved between them. The height of the large caves reaches up to 15 meters, with their quarrying done from above with a narrow opening. The unique form of quarrying is what gave the caves the shape of a bell. The caves were popular throughout regional history, and even today. Arabic inscriptions and crosses painted on the walls can be seen. Some believe that the Arabic inscriptions indicate the time when the caves were carved – the Early Arab period (7th-10th centuries CE). In the sea of all the bell caves, the garden has a magical columbarium cave, a cool and exciting maze cave.
How to get there: In front of Kibbutz Beit Guvrin - Beit Shemesh-Kiryat Gat road.

NAHAL ME’AROT NATURE RESERVE
Nahal Me’arot Nature Reserve was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The caves, carved into the bedrock, were used by the residents of the area and during the excavations that were done, remains of ancient human activity were found. You can tour the “Cavern Path” that includes:
• The Oven Cave (Tabun), which got its name thanks to its unique opening in its roof
• The Camel Cave, whose shape is reminiscent of a honeysuckle, in which you can see exhibits used in Mousterian culture (prehistoric times)
• The Creek Cave, whose entrance is through a hall that leads to a narrow path with an audiovisual show.
After all that, you can continue to the “bare footpath,” which is mostly shaded. The trail includes different sections made of 12 natural materials, with each material giving a different feel to the feet.
How to get there: Nahal Me’arot Nature Reserve Parking. The entrance is from Highway 4, about eight kilometers north of Fureidis Junction.

SHARACH CAVE
If you are not afraid of non-circular paths, in Nahal Betzet-Sharach in the Western Galilee a relatively large cave awaits, which is highly recommended to visit, especially during the hot summer days. Sharach Cave, which is at the heart of a beautiful and shady trail, is a dark stalactite cave, so you must come equipped with flashlights.
The cave has a number of routes to choose from, with the shortest of them only a few minutes long – suitable for those who want to mark a tick on visiting or those whose children are impatient. In this trail, you can see and experience the cave superficially and without wasting much time. For a more complete and fascinating experience, there is a long and highly recommended route. The long route takes half an hour and requires a moderate crawl to the top opening of the cave.
Note that quite a bit must be walked until arriving at the cave, but don’t worry, most of it is shaded by trees and vegetation. As you make your way on the route and cross the banks of Nahal Sharach (a seasonal stream), be careful not to miss the entrance to the cave. Be alert and pay attention to the sign that indicates the top entrance to it.
How to get there: The Northern Road (Highway 899) and follow the signposts directing north to a dirt road where at the end you can find the Nahal Sharach parking.

NAMER CAVE (TIGER CAVE)
If you are traveling in the Nahariya area, you will find that about a quarter of an hour from the city there are two nearby caves, but so unlike each other: Rainbow Cave and Tiger Cave, two magical caves, each with a different appearance and character.
While the Rainbow Cave stands at a summit overlooking the Galilee, Tiger Cave is hidden in a cluster of rocks, it is cold and dark. Tiger Cave, which we will focus on this time, is a beautiful stalactite cave. In order to enter it, you must descend into the belly of the earth, crawl and descend ladders while wearing lanterns on your heads. The unique name of the cave was given to it because of the tigers that hunted near it in the 1940s, and despite the relative difficulty in descending, it is worth the effort, if only because of the many stalactites found in its interior spaces.
Since during the summer it provides perfect protection from the sun, all you have to do is park your vehicles and follow the trail marked in black, leading up to the cave’s entrance. Entering the cave may seem unimpressive at first glance, but it does not at all indicate the richness that lies within. After an easy climb inside, you’ll have to turn on your flashlights and gently crawl in. Along the cave, you can see reflectors that make it easier to get in the circular route that takes you up to a large stalactite hall. After visiting the hall and trying to understand the wonders of nature, you can climb up again to the exit. If you are worried about heights or climbing / descending ladders and pegs, you might want to think twice before choosing this route.
How to get there: Drive on Highway 899 and park in a small area located near the sign and the descending trail marked black.

HORVAT MIDRAS
Among the Adullam Grove Nature Reserve in the Judean lowlands, you will find Horvat Midras. You can reach the ruins and the hidden caves inside using a convenient walkway marked blue. The cave (originally a bell cave) has not survived optimally; its ceiling has collapsed and now seems like a hole in the ground. The entrance to the hidden rooms is at the top of the “pit” and requires the use of a flashlight. As soon as you enter the hidden caves, you will discover the underground rooms and halls that hide beneath the surface. The passage between halls is done by crawling, as their paths pass at an average height of only 40 to 60 cm.
After a short crawl in, you can see that with the narrow burrows, you can only go one way, which means that you have to do the way back out with a ladder located at the bottom entrance of the cave. Inside the cave, you can see a number of rooms and halls where equipment was stored, see the Columbarium Hall and imagine how they lived and kept materials here in ancient times.
How to get there: Drive on Route 38, following the signs to Adullam Grove Nature Reserve and Horvat Midras.


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