6 Places in Israel to See Animals Up Close

March 6th 2019

When we think of getting to know a country, we might imagine touring the old cities, mingling with the locals, and exploring the diverse landscapes. Yet there’s also the wildlife. Wild animals tell another story of a region, and this is very much the case with Israel as well.

Viewing animals up close allows you to get a sense of the natural history of this ancient land as well as how human cultures have been influenced by the creatures around them. If you’re touring Israel with children, then seeing animals close up also provides a wonderful family experience in-between exploring Israel’s cities and cultures.

With this in mind, six of our favorite places across this beautiful little country to see animals up close include:

Coral Beach Nature Reserve

If you love the beauty of the sea, then the Coral Beach Nature Reserve is the place to be. Located along the coast just south of Eilat, the reserve offers visitors the chance to go snorkeling or scuba diving among the Red Sea coral. You’ll be able to see over 650 species of colorful and exotic fish and other marine life. The water is a nice temperature all year-round and the visibility is always good. There are diving opportunities for all skill levels.

Eilat Underwater Observatory

If getting wet is not your thing, then Eilat’s Underwater Observatory is a great alternative. Inside a large and secure glass room, submerged beneath the surface of the sea, you’ll see the coral reef in all its finery. While remaining completely dry, you can view the many hundreds of species of fish and coral. There are also a variety of aquariums containing creatures such as sharks, sea turtles, catfish, and sting rays. A multimedia exhibit provides insights into the local sea life.

Vered HaGalil Horse Ranch

Love horses? Overlooking the Sea of Galilee (the Kinneret) is the Vered HaGalil Horse Ranch. Established in the early 1960s, the professional horse farm offers riding tours and lessons for riders of all ages and abilities. Whether for one-hour, for half a day, or for multiple consecutive days (and evenings) you can experience the joys of horse riding around the Galilee and Golan. The ranch also features rustic overnight cabins, a country-style restaurant, and luxury spa treatments.

Genesis Land Camel Rides

In the Judean Desert, a short drive from the bustling streets of modern Jerusalem, is a place to experience the ancient way of life of the patriarchs. Genesis Land is a reenactment of biblical times and allows visitors to live as the ancients would have done, including riding camels through the breathtaking desert landscapes. You can stay overnight in a guesthouse or in tents and enjoy various recreations including plays, camp fire storytelling, pottery making, and much more.

Ben Shemen Monkey Park

Midway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in the Ben Shemen Forest, is a wonderful monkey park and sanctuary. It’s both a fun and a serious place. Kids and adults alike can view 250 species of monkeys from around the world. The monkey sanctuary is also an active refuge for monkeys saved from ill treatment, scientific laboratories, and illegal smuggling. A tour of the beautifully landscaped park can last many hours. Nearby there are also picnic spots, a playground, and a restaurant.

Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo

For more animal varieties, Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo is a great place to spend a day. Also known as the Tisch Zoological Gardens, the zoo features 170 species of animals, all of which were mentioned in the Bible. Located in the Jerusalem hills, the biblical-themed zoo is spread over 62 acres and contains numerous species of trees, waterfalls, sculpture gardens, galleries, a visitor center, a petting area, and even a zoo train. As you might expect, there also wonderful views across the Jerusalem valleys.