If you’re looking for a free activity during the school holiday or Passover, the Jerusalem Forest is beautiful at this time of year. These photos were taken last week. I’m not sure of the name of the orchid (above) because I haven’t had time to look it up. If you know what it’s called, please tell me!
If you are traveling by public transportation, get off at the Yefe Nof stop of the Jerusalem Fright Rail. Cross the street so that you are on the same side as the big Yad Sarah building. Walk two blocks down Yefe Nof to Pirhei Hen. Turn right and walk down Pirhei Hen to the gates of the Jerusalem Forest. You will see a map of the area on a large sign. This walk is ideal if you don’t have a car because it begins and ends within walking distance of public transportation (far end of Yad VaShem; walk through Yad VaShem to Herzl Boulevard, at the Har Herzl Light Rail stop).
The blue route is about 3 km, running from Yefe Nof to Yad Vashem. Remember that the end of the Yad Vashem is about a kilometer from the entrance on Herzl Boulevard, so plan accordingly. The trail is well-maintained and fairly easy. It would be a struggle to get through all the way with a baby stroller but it’s fine for young children. There are picnic tables and benches and a lot of shade.
At the Yad Vashem end, the trails branch off in different directions. If you take trails going down to the valley, you will end up at a picnic area by a busy road. Don’t try walking along this road — there is no sidewalk and the cars move fast. When you’ve finished eating, take one of the trails going up the hill. They all seem to end up at the Garden of the Righteous Gentiles, where you can see some of the outdoor exhibits.
If you have a lot of stamina, you could continue through the indoor exhibit halls of Yad Vashem or walk around Har Herzl. It’s quite educational but probably better saved for a second trip.
Another orchid that I haven’t yet identified, with some white cyclamen:
Lots of wild cyclamen grow in the forest but they won’t be there for much longer.
Below, a plethora of pimpernels!
This gives you an idea of the path.
I tried to re-create a photo of the Russian Orthodox Convent Church in Ein Kerem that I took two years ago. It wasn’t easy because the trees had grown, so I scrambled down the hill until I found a spot where I could see between the branches.
If you look carefully you’ll see lots of Barbary Nut Irises (called “Afternoon Irises” in Hebrew because they bloom in the afternoon). They’re small, grow in shade area, and they’re not densely packed together, so they’re easy to miss.
This was the only photo I got of a wild grouse. Quite a lot of them live in the forest but you have to be quiet and have good eyesight to find them.
Inhabited cave. I took the photo at an angle because I didn’t think the guy would appreciate being on Flickr.
Monarch butterfly. The Israeli monarchs are not as orange as the North American version.
These trenches are were built by the Turks, before World War I.