Carmel Hai-Bar Nature Reserve

August 27th 2014

When certain species living on Mount Carmel in Haifa became extinct as a result of hunting, deforestation, war and other hazardous conditions, two men established Hai Bar in the 1960s. Their goal was to restore previously existing wildlife to Mount Carmel. Today, visitors can enjoy the fruits of their efforts.

The Carmel Hai-Bar Nature Reserve and Wildlife Preserve, located just yards from the campus of the University of Haifa, is a magical place in nature. Hai Bar is the largest nature reserve in the north of Israel. Covering 1,500 acres, you can choose to walk or drive through the reserve.

You won’t be able to cover as much ground on foot, but you’ll witness much more of the details. A paved road will take you from the parking lot to the entrance of a 15-minute hike. Along the way, you’ll be able to enjoy plants, flowers and animals that you would not get to see from the window of a car. Keep your eyes open for the cliff that has been worn down over the centuries by water and now resembles a very large pipe. Your view of the Mediterranean Sea will be enhanced by being high up on Mount Carmel. You’ll end up visiting the section of the reserve that is often referred to as “Little Switzerland”. This hike is less than mile long and is considered easy and suitable for those in wheelchairs as well as those who rely on walkers.

The Carmel Hai Bar Nature Reserve and Wildlife Preserve serves as a breeding center for previously extinct species such as the Persian fallow deer, roe deer, wild goats, Armenian wild sheep, falcons, night owls and Egyptian vultures. Israel’s Nature and National Parks Authority has developed a system for breeding these animals, getting them used to their new surroundings and eventually releasing the animals back into nature where they can thrive.

Guided tours are regularly offered in Hebrew on Saturdays. Mid-week visits need to be scheduled in advance. An audiovisual presentation that tells more of the story of how Hai Bar has succeeded in bringing extinct animals back to the wild is available.