The hike we chose was at the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. This Nature Reserve has an easy hiking trail as well as a longer trail that juts off from the main area and heads up one of the area’s hills.
Along the trail, we had some great views…
…and passed some of the small pools and waterfalls that are a highlight of the trail:
In addition to beautiful views of waterfalls and geological features, we saw a lot of Hyraxes while we were at the Nature Reserve.
Hyraxes are small and rodent-like. But, they are actually closely related to the elephant. Amazing, I know.
We didn’t go very far up the ‘advanced’ trail, but we did hike a short distance to the first lookout point for a beautiful view of the Dead Sea:
After a couple days in the Ein Gedi area, we headed to the northern part of the country to the Galilee. One of our primary activities in the Galilee was to visit the Hula Lake Nature Reserve (I just noticed the Nature Reserve theme of this post…).
500 MILLION birds migrate through Israel twice a year during their flight between Europe and Africa. Nearly all of these birds find their way – at one point or another – to the Hula Lake. This lake, in the middle of the reserve, has become an ideal spot for bird-watchers.
In addition to bird-enthusiasts, the reserve is also a great stop for families or anyone who is casually interested in seeing (and hearing!) LOTS of birds. The lake is surrounded by a 5-mile trail, and there are options to rent bikes or a golf carts if walking that distance doesn’t fit your fancy (or time schedule!). We decided to rent bikes to make our way around the lake:
The flatness of the valley provided great views of the surrounding mountains:
Nearly as soon as we started our ride, we could hear the clamor of what sounded like a BAZILLION cranes! In real numbers, an estimated 20,000-30,000 cranes make the Hula Lake their home during the winter. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get too close to the area where all the cranes were gathered, but we still got some views from the pathway:
In addition to seeing a lot of cranes, we passed several of these little guys in the grass and water along the trail:
This animal is a Coypu – a water rodent that lives in the banks of wetlands. Fun fact: Coypus were imported to Israel from Argentina in the mid-twentieth century. Originally, they were imported for fur trade, but that never really took off, so they are now just one of the most common mammals in Israel.
All in all, we spent about two hours at the Hula Lake. My only regret is that I didn’t bring binoculars!