Mount Carmel and Haifa Nature Reserves

| April 19, 2013 | 0 Comments
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Mount Carmel (Har Carmel)

Mount Carmel, Har Carmel in Hebrew, means the mountain of G-d’s vineyard. Blessed with an abundance of rain, high humidity, and the many evergreen trees that grow there, these mountains were given the nickname of the evergreen mountain.

Mount Carmel Haifa: Flowers Blooming

Flowers Blooming on Mount Carmel (Photo: צילום: אורן פלס, Oren Peles, CC BY 2.5)

Har Carmel stretches from the Menashe Plateau in the south to the Haifa Bay in the north and to the Jezreel Valley in the east.

Caves on the Carmel ridge have yielded artifacts that go back to prehistoric civilization and are on display in Haifa museums, especially the Shtekalis Museum of Pre-History. Har Carmel is mentioned in the Bible, especially in reference to the prophet Eliyahu (Elijah). Eliyahu’s sacrifice on Har Carmel was consumed by fire that came down from heaven, as compared to the sacrifices of the priests of the false god, which went unanswered. As a result of the miracle, the Jews turned back to G-d.

Mount Carmel National Park

Mount Carmel National Park is no doubt one of the most beautiful national parks in Israel. It is Israel’s largest national park, with 84,000 dunams (21,000 acres) of beautiful pine, cypress, eucalyptus, oak, bay and olive trees, as well as shrubs and about 670 types of wildflowers. Nature reserves make up a third of the park and these were established in order to protect the habitat of the area.

The park has many picnic areas with running water and toilets, beautiful hiking trails, bike paths and children’s playgrounds. It can be accessed from all sides: from Moshav Eliyakim in the south, from Atlit in the west, from Nesher in the northeast and from the city of Haifa in the north.

Each season at Mount Carmel National Park has its own special beauty, but if you can only visit the area once, go there in the spring to see the myriad beautiful wildflowers in bloom.

Haifa Nature Reserves: Nahal Me’arot

Nahal Me’arot (Photo: Yoav Dothan®)

Nahal MeArot

Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve is located on the western slopes of Har Carmel and the southern bank of the Me’arot Stream. Archeological finds in caves of the region show evidence of ancient human settlement. In the Tanur Cave evidence was found for three different human cultures. In the Gamal Cave tools were found. Outside the Hanahal Cave, which is nearly 300 feet (90 m) deep, the remains of a ancient village were found. A model human skeleton has been placed there to show ancient burial customs. There is also an audiovisual presentation at this cave describing prehistoric daily life. The location is 5 miles (8 km) north of Furedis junction on old Tel Aviv-Haifa Road No. 4.

Haifa Nature Reserves

The Chai Bar Carmel Nature Reserve was established to re-introduce wildlife species which were common in Biblical times but became extinct due to hunting, deforestation, and poisoning. To this end, 6,000 dunams (1,500 acres) were made available and certain species which had been extinct have been released into this reserve, including wild sheep, falcons, fallow deer, roe deer, vultures and other raptors. The reserve is located about 1,000 feet (300 m) south of the entrance to the University of Haifa campus, on the Haifa-Isfiya road No. 672 at the turnoff opposite Ha’arba’im Grove.

Mishmar HaCarmel is a beautiful picnic and overnight camping site located on an archeological tell on Har Carmel that is suitable for large groups and students. It is an ideal base to begin touring Har Carmel. It has classrooms, rooms for staff, a kitchen, refrigerator, stove, showers and toilets. Sometimes weddings and bar mitzvahs are held here. The camping grounds can accomodate up to 500 people and the rooms up to 40.

The tell and the surrounding area are full of archeological remains. At the top of the tell is an ancient caravansary (an inn with a very large courtyard that could hold caravans and animals). A trail that winds around the tell offers beautiful views of the Oren Stream, the Alon Stream and the Mediterranean Sea.

For updated information about entrance fees, opening hours for Har Carmel Park and its nature reserves contact the Israel Nature and Parks Authority: Email moked@npa.org.il or Phone *3639 from inside Israel or +972-2-500-6261 from abroad.

Mount Carmel and Haifa Nature Reserves: Did You Know?

Many of the rocks found on Har Carmel are marine sedimentary rocks formed by the fossilization of sea animals, indicating that at one time the mountain was underwater. There is also evidence that at one time volcanic eruptions took place here.

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Category: Archaeological, Biking, Galilee, Haifa, Hiking, Parks

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