Ben Shemen Forest Monkey Park

August 16th 2014

The Ben Shemen Monkey Park is both a tourist attraction and a serious sanctuary for monkeys in need of a safe refuge, including monkeys who have previously been used in, and rescued from, scientific laboratories or smuggled into Israel illegally. If a monkey is in danger anywhere in Israel, it can be tended to here, under the care ofThe Israeli Primate Sanctuary Foundation.

The tourist attraction is known in Hebrew as Afrikef – a combination of the words Africa and kef, which is the Hebrew word for fun. The Monkey Park is located in Kfar Daniel, near Modi’in, midway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the Ben Shemen Forest. There, visitors can appreciate a wide range of monkeys who are native to South American, Asia and Africa, including the Madagascar lemurs, squirrel monkeys, langurs and the tiny marmosets.

In all, there are 250 species of monkeys living in the Ben Shemen Forest Monkey Park. Most of the cages are quite spacious. There is also a specially designed section, a large area that has been fenced in, where monkeys from South America and visitors to the Monkey Park share the open space.

Extensive guided tours can last up to three hours. Whether you take a guided tour or decide to explore on your own, make sure to request a brochure in English at the park’s entrance because the posted descriptions are only in Hebrew. The brochure will help you recognize which kind of monkeys you’re looking at as you walk around. Don’t be surprised if you run into an emu or a peacock in your travels through the ponds, waterfalls and trees in the graciously landscaped park.

A replica of an African village designed as a playground for children, pony rides, a petting zoo with goats, sheep, rabbits, llamas and more, and a massive jungle gym near the end of the guided tour can keep children occupied for many hours.

After your walking tour of the Monkey Park, consider crossing the street into the Ben Shemen Forest to enjoy your picnic lunch. Alternately, there is a restaurant on the grounds that offers fast food and shaded areas in which to rest and eat.