Israel vacations: Cool off in Binyamin

The Binyamin region stretches from the hills north of Jerusalem up to the southern edge of Samaria and the Judean desert. The springs in this area are the perfect place to lounge on hot summer days

 Ma’ayan Meir (photo credit: Binyamin Region Tourism)
Ma’ayan Meir
(photo credit: Binyamin Region Tourism)

The Binyamin region is one of Israel’s most beautiful areas. And as more and more people begin venturing out into its many nature attractions, they are discovering that it is also home to a huge number of natural springs and cool pools that were carved out of nearby stone to catch the flowing water. 

The Binyamin region stretches from the hills north of Jerusalem up to the southern edge of Samaria and the Judean desert. The springs in this area are the perfect place to lounge on hot summer days. They really are the perfect destination when you want to go somewhere you’ve never been, and enjoy the refreshingly cool water of a natural spring. Here is a list of some of the best options. 

1. Ma’ayan Meir

If you drive along Road 465, which crosses the Binyamin region from west to east, you can reach at least 15 springs within minutes. The easiest spring to get to is Ma’ayan Meir (Meir Spring), where you’ll find a few lovely wading pools. The spring is located near the Neveh Tzuf Forest, which is a great place to stop for a picnic after you’ve finished your visit at the spring. Ma’ayan Meir is also known as Ma’ayan Keshet due to the arch-shaped cave where it was found. In Arabic, it is called Ein al Kus. 

The spring water flows out of a hole in the stone under the arch opening, and flows down into the pool that was carved out of the stone. From there, the water continues into a round pool and then a rectangular pool, both of which were also carved out of the stone. This is the perfect place to go to with small children, since all of the wading pools are shallow. There are also picnic tables and shade coverings near the pools, which of course means that this is a very popular destination for families. 

And believe it or not, the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council provides a free pakal kafeh (coffee kit) to hikers at a number of springs around the region. The kit includes a gas balloon for cooking, a small pot, coffee, tea, sugar, cups and spoons. The kits are called Pakal Noam, in memory of Noam Raz, who served in a special unit for counter-terror warfare and was killed in a skirmish in Jenin. Many people who use the kit leave any extra goodies that they didn’t eat/use for the next group of hikers who receive the coffee kit. 

Directions: Drive east on Road 465. The turnoff to the spring is 850 meters west of the entrance to Neveh Tzuf. You can also write “Ma’ayan Meir” in Waze.

 Ma’ayan Hagvura (credit: Binyamin Region Tourism) Ma’ayan Hagvura (credit: Binyamin Region Tourism)
2. Ma’ayan Hagvura

Located at the foot of the settlement Eli, you’ll find the beautiful Ma’ayan Hagvura spring, aka Ein al Arik. The spring water flows into two round pools that are right next to each other. One of them is a deep pool (1.8 m.), while the other is shallow (40 cm.), perfect for toddlers and small children. The spring was created in memory of Avi and Avital Walensky, who were killed in a terrorist attack as they were making their way home. 

There are olive trees and picnic tables next to the pools, making the site a relaxing space and a great spot to hang out for at least two to three hours. If you’re up for some exercise, you can hike or bike up to the settlement Eli. You’ll have great views all along this path. 

Directions: Drive south on Road 60. Pass the entrance to Eli and continue until you see a sign for the cemetery on your left. Continue straight until you reach the spring. Or you can write “Ma’ayan Hagvura” in Waze. 

3. Ma’ayan Dolev

The Ma’ayan Dolev spring is located at the entrance of the settlement Dolev. The large pool, which is surrounded by lots of sunshades, was constructed by local residents. The water flows into the pool from the Ein al Majore Spring. The pool is 1.5 m. deep and is located in a shady spot, with lots of space to relax. People love this spring, so expect it to be quite crowded on Fridays and holidays.

Directions: Drive on Road 463 toward Dolev. You’ll see a sign on your right, just after the road begins its steep ascent to the settlement. 

4. Ein Tzuf

A relatively new spring located in the middle of a green forest near Nahal Gofna, Ein Tzuf is just below the Neveh Tzuf settlement. If you have a four-wheel drive, you can drive all the way up to the meter-deep spring. 

At the spring, you’ll find picnic tables and barbecues available. If you’re walking by foot, hike along the Shvil Hatzaparim (the Bird Trail). The trail that leads down into the water is well marked, but if you have kids with you, it’s best to keep your eyes peeled during the more challenging sections of the trail. The ascent is pretty steep, so bring lots of water. 

Directions: The entrance is from Neveh Tzuf. Enter the settlement, then turn left onto a dirt road and drive until you see a right turn, which leads to the parking area, where there is a sign that reads “Shvil Hatzaparim.”

5. Einot Aner 

Aner Spring is located in a lovely forest area next to the settlement Neriah. In addition to enjoying a dip in the cool spring water, visitors can enjoy viewing the nearby antiquities, including an ancient watering system and burial caves, one of which has a sarcophagus inside of it. The easy path leading to the spring is only 400 m. long, making it extremely accessible. 

At Einot Aner, there are a few pools of various sizes, filled with water flowing from a number of springs. The first section has two pools: On the right side of the path, you’ll find a small, shallow pool; on your left, you’ll find a pool that does not always have water in it. If you continue walking another 50 m., you’ll come upon a larger pool that is 1.5 m. deep, which has a swing set and picnic tables next to it. If you look closely, you can see where the water from the spring enters the pool. 

Directions: If you’re driving from the direction of the old Hado’ar Intersection, turn left when you see a sign on a dirt road for Einot Aner. It’s best to park your car there and continue to the spring by foot (a five-minute walk). Translated by Hannah Hochner.