En Gedi Nature Reserve and National Park
The spectacular En Gedi Nature Reserve sits along the Syrian-African Rift, not far from the Dead Sea. The reserve’s four springs are home to a wealth of flora and fauna, providing a stark contrast to the parched desert environment all around. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature considers it a nature reserve with world-wide import.
Due to its location, hot climate, and abundant water, Ein Gedi is a tropical oasis. The oldest ruins found in Ein Gedi are from the Chalcolithic period, when people in Eretz Israel first began to use copper. During this time, a lone temple, cut off from any settlement, was built on a rock facing the Dead Sea, not far from Ein Gedi Spring.
During the Byzantine period, the Jewish residents of the area built an ornate synagogue here, on view at the Ein Gedi Antiquities National Park.
Ramat Gan’s Safari Park
The Zoological Center of Tel Aviv— Ramat Gan or “Safari” occupies 250 acres of nature in the heart of a densely populated urban area and has been nicknamed, “Africa in the heart of Israel.”
As in their natural habitat on the continent of Africa, the animals wander freely in large herds. Visitors are invited to watch the typical behavior of the animals: their feeding habits, social behavior, activities, and resting patterns of the great herds.
The Safari has the largest animal collection in the Middle East and is unique to the world because of the large herds of mixed species of African animals that roam the spacious African Park. The African Park and the zoo are home to 1,600 animals of different species, amongst them are 68 species of mammals, 130 species of fowl, and 25 species of reptiles.
The zoo contains a variety of animals from around the world. Especially notable are its breeding herds of African and Asian elephants, the gorilla, chimpanzee, and orangutan families, the hippo herd, and the pride of lions.
The Safari’s educational purpose is to promote the conservation of nature.
Masada National Park
Masada, the ancient fortress built by King Herod the Great atop a lofty natural plateau overlooking the Dead Sea, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. When adding Masada to its prestigious World Heritage List, UNESCO cited several aspects of Masada’s universal value: the site preserves a grand first-century Roman villa, the remains of the most complete Roman siege system in the world, and tells the story of the tragic events leading to the last chapter of the Great Revolt of the Jews against the Romans—the last stand of the rebels who became a symbol of the struggle for freedom from oppression. Great hikes and views make for a day of activity and historical awareness.
Jerusalem’s Tisch Family Zoological Gardens
Different from any of the lessons usually learned from a trip to the zoo, the Tisch family’s zoological garden features animals of a biblical sort. Almost every species of animal life listed in the biblical text of the old testament is brought to life and shown along with the proverb in which the animal is mentioned. Not only is the zoo scientifically educational, but it can give everyone who visits a greater understanding of the animals mentioned in the texts. Enlightening and overall a way to bring ancient text into modern times, the zoo is definitely a must see.
Caesarea National Park
Settlement at what became Caesarea, on Israel’s Central Mediterranean coast began in the 3rd century BCE during the Hellenistic period as a small Phoenician port city called Straton’s Tower.
Later, the Hasmonean King Alexander Jannaeus conquered the city to expand the borders of his kingdom and develop its shipping industry. The population of Straton’s Tower remained Jewish until the Romans conquest. When he granted the city its freedom, King Herod the Great transformed the city with the construction of its sophisticated port, warehouses, markets, great streets, bathhouses, temples and magnificent public buildings. Every five years the city hosted gladiatorial games, sports competitions and performances.
Caesarea also flourished during the Byzantine period. To the south were extensive farmlands, where cultivation continued through the Early Arab period and apparently until the 11th-century Crusader conquest. The city’s aesthetically pleasing location by the sea and rich history give tourists a chance to enjoy a city that has been held in high esteem for centuries.
Hermon Stream (Banias) Nature Reserve
The Banias Spring emerges at the foot of Mount Hermon and flows powerfully through a canyon, eventually leading to the Banias Waterfall, the most impressive cascade in Israel.
A stepped path near the spring climbs to the Banias Cave. Remains of a temple built by Herod the Great stand in front of the cave. Beautifully cultivated and kept, the reserve is an enjoyable day for any visitor.
Qumran National Park
The uncovering of the remains of the settlement of Qumran, on the Northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, and the Dead Sea Scrolls found nearby, ignited the imagination of both Jews and Christians. In addition to the oldest copies of the Hebrew Scriptures ever found and scrolls pertaining to the ancient community known as the Yahad, numerous other objects depict the daily life and way of thinking of the Qumran’s inhabitants. Scholars believe that no more than 200 people lived at the site, but the impact of their ideas far exceeded their numbers.
Qumran was established in the 8th century BCE and continued to exist until the destruction of the Temple The rectangular fortress dates from this early period. The regions strange cultural history and world renowned archeological findings can make for an interesting visit.
Hamat Gader Hot Springs
The Greek City of Gadara was built overlooking the Sea of Galilee and the Yarmuk River. At the bottom of the hill, in the valley of the Yarmuk, on a little peninsula in the river, stood Hamat Gader—the hot springs of Gadara. In the Roman period the hot springs were renowned for their therapeutic qualities and the second-largest bath complex in the entire Roman Empire was built at Hamat Gader. Among the visitors to the baths in ancient times were famous rabbinical figures and prominent Greek philosophers. A synagogue with a beautiful mosaic floor was erected during the Roman Period near the magnificent baths. Beautiful sights and soothing hot springs attract tourists again and again.