Taninim Nature Reserve

June 20th 2014

The coastal waterscape known as the Taninim Nature Reserve is named for the crocodiles that used to populate the area. Many generations ago, the nearby Kebara swamps were apparently crawling with these notoriously dangerous reptiles. Don’t worry, though. The last time a crocodile was sighted in the area was 1912.

The two highlights of the Taninim Nature Reserve are the Taninim Stream and the dam. Located just south of Zichron Yaakov, the Taninim Stream is considered to be the last of Israel’s clean coastal streams of water, and it is home to a wide variety of amazing wildlife, including the regal yellow water lily, the Caspian turtle and a host of fish and bird species.

The dam in the nature reserve dates from the Late Roman-Byzantine period. The lake it created is huge, covering 1,500 acres. The dam was originally built in order to raise the level of the Taninim Stream high enough so its waters could be fed toward Caesarea. The lake served as part of the impressive Caesarea public works water system. The plentiful water was used to operate flour mills during the later Byzantine and Ottoman periods. Another artifact found nearby is a vertical paddlewheel from the Byzantine period. Scholars consider this to be an especially significant find, because the only other example of this type of object in Israel is from the Crusader period. Nearby, take a short hike over to the ruins of the adorably named city Crocodilopolis, which was established at that location over 25 centuries ago.

Taninim Nature Reserve’s walking path is rated as being “easy for most walkers” by the Israel Parks and Recreation Authority. As of this writing, the paths are not yet fully wheelchair accessible, but the authorities are in he midst of an upgrade. Don’t miss visiting the dry, underground aqueduct or the chance to walk across the floating bridge.

It might be too hot for many to visit comfortably during the summer, but winter, spring and fall are great times to check out this nature reserve. Allow at least 90 minutes to see all there is to see. If you have young children or older people in your group, it might take a full two hours to complete your explorations. Visitors are not granted entry to the nature reserve an hour before closing, so plan accordingly.