The Beit Guvrin National Park, home to Dig-for-a-Day run by Israel's Archaeological Seminars Institute. (AP/Brooke Lefferts) (AP/Brooke Lefferts)
Israel trip

Despite the fickle weather across Israel over the last few days, 130,000 Israelis took to the road on Wednesday, visiting national parks and nature reserves throughout the country.

By Arye Green, TPS

The two most popular national parks in Israel this Sukkot holiday were ancient archeological sites with major historical significance. Caesarea was visited by 5,500 Israelis, and Masada saw some 4,500 visitors. The Yarkon River, which runs through Tel Aviv, the Tel Afek archeological site, and Gan Hashlosha, a park with natural springs and waterfalls in northern Israel, were visited by 2,000 people each.

The most popular nature reserves include trails that involve walking through water, often with rivers and waterfalls. In the North thousands of families splashed in the water at the Daliot Stream and the Banias and Snir rivers. Ein Gedi near the Dead Sea and the Stalactite Cave near Beit Shemesh also proved quite popular with Israeli hikers during the holiday.

Many campsites were fully booked as well, as families took advantage of the multiple intermediate days of the Sukkot holiday.

Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) offers families multiple activities for children in the various national parks, during which the historical sites “come alive” as the children learn about them from actors who reenact historical figures, telling their fascinating stories.

Ra’aya Sharky, community director at INPA, said that the weather on Wednesday mellowed somewhat, allowing hikers to come enjoy the parks.

“The weather today was better for hiking, and we saw many visitors come with family and friends and enjoy our activities and attractions across our many sites. We have hundreds of volunteers of all ages, who have been here since dawn, helping with everything from cleaning to advising visitors. It warms my heart to see so many people come during their free time and help out with activities that strengthen the link to nature and to our heritage. We thank them very much,” she added.

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