We’ve reached the end of February and nature is bursting out all over. With all of the blessed rainfall we’ve received, the entire country is blossoming with colorful flowers, even more so than usual – and one of the best ways to see these beautiful blooms is on a flower tour. Some such tours take place at popular, well-known locations, others at newer destinations. But all feature gorgeous seasonal flowers growing every which way – anemones, irises, cyclamens and even lupines. Here are a few suggestions for fun days out to see the budding hills and fields.Shokda ForestOne of the nicest places to visit this time of year is Shokeda Forest in the northern Negev. It is full of impressive eucalyptus trees and red anemones, which blanket the forest floor everywhere you step. There are also yellow daisies and chrysanthemums, which boldly blend with the red carpets of anemones spread around the forest.There’s a well-traveled trail that weaves through the area, which makes walking through the forest much easier and quite enjoyable. Darom AdomThe Darom Adom (Red South) Festival, which will be taking place through March 2, offers a plethora of family activities, guided tours, agricultural fairs, cooking in nature workshops, live performances and, of course, the annual Darom Adom Run. Details: www.habsor.co.ilGivat HaturmusimEvery year in February and March, Givat Haturmusim, the hill next to Kibbutz Netiv Halamed-Heh, breaks out in a burst of tall purple lupine flowers. Thousands of these blossoms blend with the anemones, buttercups, narcissi, mustard plants and orchids that grow naturally in this area every year at the end of the winter. Givat Haturmusim is located on the spot where the ancient city of Socho existed in ancient times. The hill is situated at 350 meters above sea level, and lots of interesting findings have been uncovered during archaeological excavations, such as mosaic floors, agricultural tools, caves and water pits. It is also considered to be the location of one of the most dramatic stories in the Bible – when the Philistines gathered in Socho before the battle against King Saul’s army. For kids, climbing up the hill will definitely be one of the highlights of the day, and once you reach the top, they will also enjoy entering the remains of ancient buildings and caves that served the ancient inhabitants.From the top, you will enjoy a grand view of the valley below, which for the next few weeks will still be covered by gorgeous flower blossoms.
NetanyaAnother great place to visit this time of year is the Netanya Purple Iris Reserve, a small but highly recommended place to go for a short walk. The reserve is located just across from the entrance to the Netanya Winter Pond Reserve, another popular site in the city.As you can tell from the name, you will find loads of purple irises in the nature reserve. But you must hurry, since these flowers have an extremely short blooming season. There’s a magnificent circular trail that circumvents the reserve, which is a great way to enjoy the scenery. In addition to the 16,000 irises that bloom in the reserve every winter, you’ll also find cyclamen, tulips and daffodils. If you are interested in joining a guided tour of the Netanya Purple Iris Reserve, you’ll be happy to know that on Friday, February 22, and Saturday, February 23, the Netanya Municipality will be offering free guided tours (preregistration required).Directions: At Poleg intersection, turn toward Netanya. At the first traffic light, turn left and then right onto Benny Berman Street. At the end of the street, where it runs into Uzi Hitman Street, you’ll find the entrance to the nature reserve.Migdal Ha’emekOne of the best places to see thousands of cyclamen in the winter is Shvil Harakafot in Migdal Ha’emek. This charming trail, which not many people seem to know about, is located near Rabin Park in Migdal Ha’emek.Until recently, the forest was a bit neglected, but it has now been cleaned up through a joint venture between local teenagers and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund.The short, easy path takes about 30 minutes to complete, and it has clear signs. As a result, it is a wonderful place to go for a walk with the family, even if you have really little kids.Directions: Drive on Road 7555 and turn left at Sinai Street and then right onto Nahal Zvi Street. Then take the next left onto Sharon Street, pass by the Rabin Park parking area and turn left and continue driving along Rabin Street. At the next roundabout, you’ll see a sign for the trail. Follow the dirt road and park at the head of the trail. Hevel YatirWhile many Israelis are flocking to the Darom Adom Festival, taking delight in the extraordinary red anemones, I personally am partial to the remarkable almond tree blossoms. Almond trees begin blossoming every year around Tu Bishvat, and seeing all the almond trees suddenly covered with light pink blossoms really is a magnificent sight. At Hevel Yatir it’s absolutely incredible when you see dozens and dozens of almond trees all blooming at once.On Friday, February 22, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the whole family can enjoy a special day of activities, including guided tours in safari vehicles of the almond tree groves, jumping on huge trampolines, art projects and photo magnets. Price: NIS 20 to NIS 25.Details: 1-599-575-758.Translated by Hannah Hochner.