‘Great time at Ein Afek nature reserve near Kiryat Bialik! Picnic tables, easy trail, mostly carriage accessible. Along the trail we saw water buffalo and many birds. In the surrounding ponds there were catfish, carp and turtles. On non-holiday days there is a short film about the area.’
The Ein Afek Nature Reserve, in the Acre Valley near the Haifa Bay suburb of Kiryat Bialik, is the last remnant of the Na‘aman Stream wetlands. The springs that feed the Na‘aman Stream emerge in the reserve. A wooden walkway stretches above the wetland through willow, holy bramble, common reed and narrow-leaf reed mace. Aquatic plants include gibbous duckweed, blue water-lily and pondweed, while fool’s watercress and true watercress sprout at the water’s edge.
In winter, when the water level rises, the reserve shelters pelicans, cranes, pygmy cormorants, gray herons and many other species of water fowl.
In winter and spring, carpets of wildflowers can be seen from Tel Afek, on the low kurkar (calcareous limestone) hill at the reserve’s edge. Tel Afek features remains going back 4,000 years (the Canaanite period). On the northern slope of the mound is a two-storey fortified Crusader-era flour mill. An audiovisual presentation in the building showcases the reserve’s flora, fauna and heritage, and the roof is an excellent lookout.
Seven water buffalos, brought from the Hula Nature Reserve to En Afek in 1991, can sometimes be seen in the pond dug especially for them, or as they graze.
The reserve’s education center teaches heritage, ecology, wetland habitats, biotopes and other subjects in Arabic and Hebrew to schoolchildren and other groups.
New at the site: An audiovisual experience the whole family will enjoy, depicting life in the reserve through a drop of water and leading visitors through the magical world of the reserve.