En Afek Nature Reserve

June 28th 2014

If you’re looking for some natural charm and a glimpse at a wetlands wonder, take a drive up to the En Efek Nature Reserve near Haifa. This nature reserve is home to a wide variety of seldom-seen waterfowl such as pelicans, cranes, grey herons and pygmy cormorants. The birds make their appearances mostly during the winter months, when the water level rises in En Afek. Since it only rains in the winter in Israel, the lush wildflowers which carpet the area near Tel Afek offer another reason to visit En Afek in the winter. The tel itself is a mound on which you’ll find 4,000 year-old ruins from the Caananite period.

The Na’aman Stream begins here in En Afek. Walk the meandering path through pools of water and note the vegetation that grows by the side of the stream. The aquatic plants that thrive in the En Afek wetlands include gibbous duckweed, blue water-lily and pondweed. Fool’s watercress and true watercress can be spotted at the water’s edge. Cross over charming wooden bridges and experience nature and her water in its many forms – swamp, springs, pond, flowing stream and verdant meadow.

In 1991, seven water buffalo were relocated from the Hula Nature Reserve to En Afek. You’ll likely catch them grazing around the manmade pond that was built for them in the midst of the nature reserve. They’re hard to miss!

Another highlight is the audiovisual presentation that offers a great way for visitors to learn how to identify the specific animal and plant life you’ll see throughout the nature reserve. The show is screened in a two-story fortified building that, in its previous life, served as a flour mill during the Crusader era. Climb up to the visitors’ center roof for an excellent lookout opportunity.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority reports that the En Afek Nature Reserve is an easy site to negotiate and is appropriate for those using walkers. The site is also partially wheelchair accessible. Dogs are not permitted on the reserve. There is a snack bar in the premises with picnic tables, and during the spring and summer months, visitors can experience a Bedouin-style hospitality tent constructed on the site.