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Safari, Tzapari and Dolphin Reef or What To Do With Your Kids In Israel.
Living on a sea shore
My son was born three weeks premature and was pretty weak growing his first three years. Disbacteriosis in his early months, constant anemia and lack of appetite made him pale and skinny in a bad sense of this word.
His nickname was "spaghetti". I had to trick him into eating all the time. I used to make a snow man or a bunny from mashed potatoes, carrots and greens. I was cheating him to push a spoon into his mouth, singing and dancing in front of him. I was able to feed him only when he was distracted from food.
The picture changed dramatically after we moved to Israel. The air of the Holy Land cured him without any efforts from my part. His cheeks acquired color, his arms and legs got some flesh. He was eating anything I put on his plate. He still stayed skinny, but it was a good sense of "skinny", he still was a "spaghetti", but a lively and active spaghetti.
He was a typical Israeli kid, happy, smiley and very restless. We travelled around Israel a lot. All the places in israel where kids can have an adventure, are also very educational places in nature.
I am going to tell you about the places where you can take your kids while in Israel. Not only your kids, but you will enjoy the trips as well!
The Zoological CenterTel Aviv - Ramat Gan opened to the general public in 1974 as an African animal park. In 1981, a modern zoo was established in the middle of the park. The combined African Park and zoo are popularly known as the "Safari".
The park is home to the largest collection of animals in the Middle East. It covers 250 acres of land and houses 1,600 different species from around the globe including mammals, birds and reptiles.
When you enter the park you drive down paths lined with hippos, flamingos, ibex, gazelles and more. An ostrich even knocks on the window of your car, begging for a treat!
Then you go out of the car and enter the zoo. You can walk through, or you can rent a scooter.
The Safari zoo contains tigers, bears, elephants, kangaroos, camels and every type of monkey or bird you can imagine!
When you leave the park you enter back into the wild-driving on paths past kings of nature, lions!
No matter how many times you visit Safari, it is always a special experience.
A special zoo for birds, a Bird Park called Tzapari (in a consonance with Safari. "Tzepor" means "bird" in Hebrew) houses thousands of birds from around the world in exotic settings.
There is a show with trained parrots there which you should attend by all means. Tsapari is situated in Park HaYarkon (also known as Ganei Yehoshua) in Tel Aviv.
The African-style amusement park in Tzapari where kids may have fun activities is called Junga Junga
The biggest water park, Meymadion offers a cool, refreshing escape from the summer heat.
It is also situated in Tel Aviv, not far from Park HaYarkon.
It might be really crowdy there, so if you can, go there on a week day from early morning.
In the heart of Rishon le Zion's sand dunes there is a spectacular amusement park. Young people and extreme sports lovers will find plenty of fascinating and state-of-the-art rides at international levels. Toddlers will find plenty of fun and imaginative activities.
The spectacular lake and waterfall, the special setting of rocks, rich plant life, grassy areas and coconut trees, powerful Maya statues and exceptional rides - all create a unique and interesting experience, that you won't be able to find in any other park in Israel. Around the park there are convenient benches and picnic areas.
Gan-Guru (Kangaroo Park)
Besides Australia a Kangaroo park in Israel, Gan-Guru (in Jordan Valley) is about the only location in the world where the whole family can pat and feed kangaroos. You even can see there in a bottle a small just born kangaroo baby which was found by a park employer in the grass. The baby is only an inch long. They assumed that it was from a twin pair born, but since a mother is able to grow only one baby in her pocket, she ejected another one.
Gan HaShlosha (Sahne)
Gan HaShlosha National Park, also known by its Arabic name Sahne, is located near Beit Shean.
It has naturally warm water where visitors can swim all year. Cascade waterfalls and crawling caves with water make it outstanding.
Hamat Gader, Crocodile Farm and Hot Springs
This place with 2000 year history is famous by its hot springs with mineral rich waters. I doubt that children will appreciate the strong smell of sulphur there, but it is these chemicals that work their therapeutic wonders.
Nowadays the place is also the reptile park, where some 200 alligators may be viewed while walking around a secure path.
Eilat, a pearl on the northern end of the Gulf of Aqaba of the Red Sea
Eilat is the most southern point of the country. It is not a typical place for Israel, it is a perfectly tourist site, more like a heaven in a desert. The Red Sea is so fresh and blue, it is an amazing sight!!
The best known reference to the Red Sea is the crossing of the Hebrews when they left Egypt in Exodus 13:18. The name was actually Sea of Reeds but was misquoted as Red Sea. The length of the sea is 1900 kilometers, but at its northern end it divides into two gulfs with the Sinai Peninsula between the two. On the right side is the Gulf of Aqaba where Eilat is located, and on the left side is the Gulf of Suez. Today the Red Sea is known for being a scuba divers' delight with its underwater world of beautifully colored fish and unique coral.
The sea is always cold, even in summer.
The Underwater Observatory and Yellow Submarine
In Aquarium you go under water to see all those colorful fishes and other sea creatures and also famous Red Sea coral reefs. You may take a ride in a Yellow Submarine.
The Dolphin Reef, Eilat
The dolphin reef beach is a private beach with a separate fee entrance, offering a diversity of services, such as restaurant, diving courses, swimming and diving with dolphins and a lot more.
Swimming with dolphins is something all kids dream about. The instructor accompanies you through all the swimming, but it is not really guaranteed that you'll be able to touch a dolphin, as everything is according a dolphin's free will.
The Dead Sea (Yam HaMelach-Salt Sea)
The lowest point on earth at 400 meters (1369 feet) below sea level. It's located east of Jerusalem and continues south.
While you go down the road between sands of Judea desert towards the Dead Sea you'll see the marks, telling how low below sea level you go. You may visit this place on your way to or from Eilat.
The Dead Sea is 31.5 % salt enabling you to float in its thick calm waters. There at a total of 21 minerals found in the Sea that are used in a variety of health products. The main source of water into the Sea is from the Jordan River/
Along the edge of the Sea and the mountains that rise above, you will find fresh water springs, oasis in the Desert, like Ein Gedi.
This mountaintop fortress was destroyed in 73 CE by the Romans after a group of Jewish zealots held up there for 3 years following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Masada (or Metzada, as it is pronounced in Hebrew) is the excavated ruin of a royal citadel at the edge of the Judean Desert, on a rocky plateau overlooking the Dead Sea. It was the last stronghold held by the Jewish Zealots who refused to submit to Roman occupation. When they could hold out no longer, Masada became the backdrop for one of the most dramatic scenes in Jewish history.
Since the site of Masada was identified in 1838, discoveries and excavations have occurred regularly. Masada National Park was opened in 1966, and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority carries out conservation and restoration activities. Excavations are still ongoing.
Twice weekly (on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from April to October) there is a fascinating sound and light show on the history of Masada with light and pyrotechnic effects and background music which you can watch from natural amphitheater on the west side of the mountain, reachable (only by cars) only via Arad, 20 km away. I strongly advise to attend this show as it a unique emotional and educational experience.
This is a night show, so remember to take a good rest before you go there. After the show you will climb up to the top of the mountain to see the remains of the fortress and watch an amazingly beautiful sunrise over the Dead Sea.
The Mnt Hermon is the most northern and the highest point of Israel. It is the only place where snow can accumulate in winter. On a clear summer day you will have a superb view from there of Galilee, Golan, Syria and southern Lebanon.
My son never saw snow before we visited Hermon. Well, technically he did see snow in Kazakhstan, when he was 2 years old, but of course, he didn't remember it and the trip to Mt. Hermon was "havaya" for him. Later, when we came to US and he experienced a real winter in Wisconsin, he said that Hermon snow was more like a slush in comparison to REAL snow. The road (serpentine pass) to the top of Mt Hermon is very picturesque and not for those with weak nerves.
Stalactites and Stalagmites in Sorek Cave
Not far from Beit Shemesh (our first hometown in Israel) there is American Independence Park, a great place for family escape on week-ends.
At the western end of the park there is a Sorek Cave, though not big, but very beautiful stalactites and stalagmites cave.
The guided tour through the cave is especially special for kids, as it triggers their imagination, when they are prompted to see different fairy tale personages or even food pieces in the fantastic art of nature.
You are allowed to take pictures in the cave only on Fridays.
Mini Israel Park
The name speaks for itself. It carries the same idea as Mini-Europe Park in Belgium.
The Park is relatevely new, there's no shade yet,
so you can borrow an umbrella on the front desk,
otherwise the Middle East sun will get you.
There are SO many places to go yet!
I tried to cover the most popular sites, and probably, the most known. Besides these places there are many and many others where you can take your kid while in Israel, such as:
Biblical ZOO in Jerusalem
Big and beautifully designed in the southwestern outskirts of Jerusalem, this zoo nestles in a shallow green valley surrounded by rocky hillsides. Many rare and biblical creatures mosey around in a charmingly natural setting. You'll enjoy waterfalls, a little lake, and a local choo-choo;
The Children's (Bloomfield) Museum of Science in Jerusalem
Bloomfield Science Museum, where children can see and explore through fun interactive activities how things in the world work. Its interactive exhibits teach and entertain at the same time. And parents will often find that they learn a lot in the process, too;
Planetarium in Erets Israel Museum in Tel Aviv;
Three-dimensional simulation rides, like Time Elevator in Jerusalem, IMAX 3D in Eilat;
Beit Chalomotai (in kibuts Givat Brenner, not far from Kaplan hospital, Rehovot) and Ashkeluna (in Ashkelon) are water parks worth visiting;
For babies and small children- DIADA center in Tel Aviv;
Not saying anything about kibuts sites, that offer many activities according the specialty of the kibuts.