Thursday, June 30, 2011

Israel’s 250 National Parks and Nature Reserves

I would not have guessed that there are so many. In an area the size of New Jersey, the land of Israel is blessed with an extraordinary amount of natural beauty and variety. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs describes the abundance in an article posted yesterday.

Looking at Israel on a map, it’s hard to imagine how hundreds of nature reserves could fit into this tiny country along with 7.7 million people. In fact, the roster of about 250 designated Israeli nature reserves and national parks – covering more than a million acres of land -- is growing every year.

In addition to well-known sites such as Masada, Ein Gedi, the Hula Valley or Caesarea, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) oversees close to 20 sites each in the Golan Heights/Upper Galilee, Negev/Eilat and Sea of Galilee/Mount Carmel regions; a dozen in central Israel; eight in the Judean Desert and Dead Sea area; and a handful in Judea and Samaria. Overnight camping facilities are available in 26 of Israel’s national parks.

These areas represent an unusually wide variety of landscapes and climates for a single country. In the far north is Mount Hermon with its snow-capped peaks in the winter. In the west is the green Mediterranean-fed landscape and wetlands. In the south are arid expanses of desert. Israel also is home to two unique natural wonders: the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth; and Makhtesh Ramon (Ramon Crater), the world’s largest natural crater.

The article continues here.

What is your favorite national park or nature reserve in Israel? We’ve put together a little poll in which you can give your opinion. Since we cannot list all 250 parks, we have chosen ten of our favorites. Feel free to suggest others in the comments.

You can see a list of some of the parks in each region of the country (numbered listed in parentheses):

En Gedi Nahal David with waterfalls, tb052307908

En Gedi Nature Reserve



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