My husband was working yesterday and my son went up north with friends, so I accepted an invitation to hike along Nahal Prat/Wadi Kelt. I haven’t seen this area for a long time. If you don’t like crowds, this is not the hike for you during the Passover holiday! The pools and parks are jammed with picnickers. However, if you are fit enough to hike the trail (medium difficulty, not recommended for very young children), you will quickly reach areas without crowds.
The Nahal Prat route from Anatot to the car park on the highway near Nofei Prat is about 5-6 km. Add another kilometer if you’re coming by foot from Anatot. When the upper and lower parking lots get full, the Parks Authority start turning people back. They won’t let taxis through. Add another kilometer if you walk to Ein Al Fuwar (Ein Mabu’a). There is a charge at the Anatot park entrance. At the other end, Ein Al Fuwar is free (and as full as you expect it to be!). You will find the hours, entrance fee, and other useful info in English at the Israel Nature & Parks Authority site.
We took the scenic route by foot from Anatot. The normally brown and dusty hills are covered with desert rocket, white mustard, and horehound flowers in spring:
Near the bottom you pass the Firan monastery (Russian Orthodox). It is open to the public (modest dress required) during certain hours.
In this view of the monastery church, you can see the original hermits’ cells in the cliff wall. I don’t think they’re inhabited at the moment. This photo was taken quite a distance away, which is why it’s a bit hazy.
At the bottom of the trail are couple pools and a picnic area. A very crowded picnic area.
This boy brought over a pan of shakshouka (eggs poached in sauteed tomatoes and peppers). Some people bring enough equipment to furnish a small kitchen. This is not your average picnic.
A woman asked me to photograph a couple teenage girls by the cold water pool and gave me her email address to send her the photos. (I sent five photos this morning. She thanked me and said the photos were lovely.)
The Nahal Prat trail follows a stream that flows year round, past several natural pools, stands of wild mint and pampas grass, and lots of rock ledges. The trail crosses the stream several times. Although there are rocks placed as stepping stones, they’re slippery. You have to be quite agile to keep your shoes dry the entire trip. I only got one toe wet, at the last crossing.
Pool with high walls and small waterfall:
The rock formations are stunning, full of natural caves and ledges:
The ponds are teaming with matzah-eating fish. I’ve heard that you can get a fish pedicure as well, but I’m just not into fish nibbling my toes. If you stick your feet into the water they’ll swarm around your feet. It’s a bit disquieting.
One of the boys stuck a piece of matzah between his toes.
Fish carrying off a piece of matzah.
There are a few spots where you have to climb on iron bars. You don’t need to be a professional rock climber but you do need to be in reasonably good physical shape to manage the steep slopes.
If you are walking from the parking lot at the end of the hiking route to Ein Fuwar, there are two routes. The road is the longer way (about 1.5 km) but it’s smoother and easier on the feet. The dry wadi is quicker but it’s murder on the feet — lots of gravel, sand, big and small rocks.
Unfortunately, my battery went dead before the end of the hike (forgot that I’d shot video of the matzah baking), so I can’t show you Ein Fuwar. You’ll have to imagine a tiny swimming pool surrounded by about 200 people — haredi and Sephardi families, Arab teenagers, anyone who’s looking for a free activity during Passover (which is about 85% of the country). The site has porta-toilets and a refreshments counter, which were both pronounced acceptable. I noticed that the patio includes the mosaic floor of an small church (you can see the outlines of the rotunda).