BY MEITAL SHARABI
WE’VE reached the end of February and nature is bursting out all over Israel.
With all of the blessed rainfall we’ve received, the entire country is blossoming with colourful flowers, even more so than usual — and one of the best ways to see these beautiful blooms is on a flower tour.
Some such tours take place at popular locations, others at newer destinations. But all feature gorgeous seasonal flowers growing every which way — anemones, irises, cyclamens and even lupines.
One of the nicest places to visit at this time of year is Shokeda Forest in the northern Negev.
It is full of impressive eucalyptus trees and red anemones, which blanket the forest floor everywhere you step.
There are also yellow daisies and chrysanthemums, which boldly blend with the red carpets of anemones spread around the forest.
There’s a well-travelled trail that weaves through the area, which makes walking through the forest much easier and quite enjoyable.
The Darom Adom (Red South) Festival, which starts tomorrow, offers a plethora of family activities, guided tours, agricultural fairs, cooking in nature workshops, live performances and, of course, the annual Darom Adom Run.
Every year, Givat Haturmusim, the hill next to Kibbutz Netiv Halamed-Heh, breaks out in a burst of tall purple lupine flowers.
Thousands of these blossoms blend with the anemones, buttercups, narcissi, mustard plants and orchids that grow naturally in this area every year at the end of the winter.
Givat Haturmusim is located on the spot where the ancient city of Socho existed in ancient times.
The hill is situated at 350 metres above sea level, and lots of interesting findings have been uncovered during archaeological excavations, such as mosaic floors, agricultural tools, caves and water pits.
It is also considered to be the location of one of the most dramatic stories in the Bible — when the Philistines gathered in Socho before the battle against King Saul’s army.
For kids, climbing up the hill will definitely be one of the highlights of the day, and once you reach the top, they will also enjoy entering the remains of ancient buildings and caves that served the ancient inhabitants.
From the top, you will enjoy a grand view of the valley below, which for the next few weeks will still be covered by gorgeous flower blossoms.
Another great place to visit this time of year is the Netanya Purple Iris Reserve, a small but highly recommended place to go for a short walk.
The reserve is located just across from the entrance to the Netanya Winter Pond Reserve, another popular site in the city.
As you can tell from the name, you will find loads of purple irises in the nature reserve. But you must hurry, since these flowers have an extremely short blooming season.
There’s a magnificent circular trail that circumvents the reserve, which is a great way to enjoy the scenery. In addition to the 16,000 irises that bloom in the reserve every winter, you’ll also find cyclamen, tulips and daffodils.
One of the best places to see thousands of cyclamen in the winter is Shvil Harakafot in Migdal Ha’emek.
This charming trail, which not many people seem to know about, is located near Rabin Park in Migdal Ha’emek.
Until recently, the forest was a bit neglected, but it has now been cleaned up through a joint venture between local teenagers and KKL-JNF.
The short, easy path takes about 30 minutes to complete, and it has clear signs. As a result, it is a wonderful place to go for a walk with the family, even if you have really little kids.
While many Israelis are flocking to the Darom Adom Festival, taking delight in the extraordinary red anemones, I personally am partial to the remarkable almond tree blossoms.
Almond trees begin blossoming every year around Tu b’Shevat, and seeing all the almond trees suddenly covered with light pink blossoms really is a magnificent sight.
At Hevel Yatir, it’s absolutely incredible when you see dozens and dozens of almond trees all blooming at once.
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