(photo credit: KKL, ILAN TIBI)
Hundreds of thousands of travelers took to the country’s national parks, nature reserves and forests on Sunday.
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority reported about 200,000 visitors to its national parks and nature reserves on the first of Passover’s intermediate days, or Hol Hamoed, with particularly heavy traffic at sites with planned activities for families.
Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund, meanwhile, said about 150,000 travelers visited the organization’s forests and parks.
Of the INPA sites, one of the most popular was Caesarea National Park, where visitors took part in an “ancient festival.” Other popular venues included Ashkelon National Park as well as Herodion National Park, where children participated in an activity called “A Life Like King Herod’s” and families enjoyed a Nabatean market, the INPA said.
In addition, many vacationers visited the Banyas Nature Reserve, Nahal Iyon Nature Reserve, Tel Dan Nature Reserve, Snir Nature Reserve, Ein Afek Nature Reserve, Nahal Amud Nature Reserve, Yarkon-Afek National Park, Beit Guvrin National Park, the Stalactite Cave, Einot Tzukim Nature Reserve, Eskhol Park and Masada, according to the INPA.
About 6,500 had plans to stay overnight at INPA campgrounds on Sunday, the authority added.
KKL-JNF sites were also very popular on the first day of Hol Hamoed, with 3,000 people arriving to Agamon Hahula in the North’s Hula Valley.
About 2,000 participated in an organized hike among flowers in the Naftali Mountains, while about 500 children and adults took part in competitive games in the Biriya Forest, KKL-JNF reported.
Ahihud and Goren parks were filled with travelers, as were Ilanot and Horashim Forests, the organization said.
Britannia Park, Canada Park, Ben-Shemen Forest and the Tzora Forest were all nearly full to capacity, KKL-JNF added.
Both the INPA and KKLJNF said they expected visitor numbers to remain high at their parks throughout the rest of the week.
Apart from the INPA and KKL-JNF, the Lake Kinneret Drainage Authority and Kinneret Towns Association reported that some 20,000 vacationers arrived to Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) beaches by Sunday afternoon.
Some of the beaches, the groups said, were up to 90 percent or even 100 percent capacity.
Farther south, about 30,000 visitors arrived at the Dead Sea and surrounding parks and heritage sites, a spokeswoman for the Tamar Regional Council said. As a result of the Route 90 bypass being built to cope with sinkholes, heavy traffic plagued the region. Area officials therefore recommend that members of the public arrive to the southern portion of the Dead Sea by way of Route 31 only.