Tag Archives: zoo

Springs in Jerusalem Hills

Around Jerusalem there are some special hikes that let you combine nature, history and archaeology. Two that I’ve already written about are Nahal Katlav and Shaar HaGai. Before heading out pick up some artisan bread, cheese, wine, hummus (you can find zatar growing wild) and salads for a picnic, drive into the hills, hike the trail and enjoy. In Psalms it says

הַמְשַׁלֵּחַ מַעְיָנִים בַּנְּחָלִים בֵּין הָרִים יְהַלֵּכוּן God sends the springs into the valleys, between the mountains. (Psalms 104:10)

A hike to a maayan, a natural spring where water finds its way out of the limestone hillside, is a great outing for the whole family. At some point someone cut into the bedrock to make a pool, perfect for a dip on a hot summer day. There is even a trail, Shvil HaMayaanot, from just before Even Sapir that goes by a number of springs and pools. Drive out to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo near Malcha (itself a fun destination for the whole family) and park the car at the farthest parking lot, a road with a blue trail marker continues west to 2 springs (it’s also possible to drive it but then it won’t be a hike).  To your right the hill above the trail is called Rekhes Lavan (White Ridge) because of the kirton (chalk, a soft kind of limestone) and the valley below to the left with the train tracks is Nahal Refaim (Valley of Ghosts). After following the winding road you will come to a small parking area, a green Parks sign and steps on your right. Climb the stairs to Ein Lavan that fills 2 pools, a shallow one for smaller children or for cooling your feet and a deeper one, about 1.5 meters, great for swimming. After your picnic follow the spring back towards it source to find a burial cave from the Second Temple period. The second spring, Ein Itamar (also known as Ein Balad), is farther and more challenging to find. Our youngest son, AdirChai, who is the family expert on maayanot told me about it.

From Ein Lavan descend the steps and continue along the road. At the fork stay right, you will see that the blue trail joins the black. The road becomes paved again, there is a gravel path that forks to the left (don’t take it, follow the black trail). When the road turns right and is climbing there’s a dirt path to the left that leads down (marked with a blue trail marker), follow it until it turns sharply to the left. Look for the ruins of a stone building, the pool is below it. If you need a guide contact me.

Segway Tour

This morning I rode a Segway (Personal Transporter) along the promenade at Armon HaNatziv and I can report that it was really fun (as they say in Hebrew, היה כיף). The Segway is a two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle that was invented by Dean Kamen in 2001. There are 5 gyroscopes that with the aid of computers and motors in the base keep the Segway upright and balanced. Users lean slightly forward to go forward, lean back to stop or go backward and turn using a handlebar that can be tilted left or right.

Currently I often start a tour of the Old City or Herodium with an overview from the promenade so I’m happy to be able to add a Segway tour as part of a day’s guiding. Another example, before visiting the Knesset or Israel museum, you can ride through the Valley of the Cross, past a Crusader fortress-like monastery that was one of the first buildings outside of the Old City walls but in fact, goes all they way back to Queen Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine. It’s also possible to arrange a tour along the Jaffa-Tel Aviv promenade along the Mediterranean coast as part of a guided tour of Jaffa and/or Tel Aviv.

A Segway tour adds 180 NIS (which comes to less than $50.) per person (minimum of 2-3 people) for about 2 hours, note that children must be 16 years or older. Helmets and knee and elbow pads are provided.