Monday, July 11, 2011

Paradise on Earth – Gan HaShlosha

My friend Ari, who I mentioned in an earlier post is visiting Israel from the States for the summer invited me to join him and two friends (Momo and Yossie) on a hike last Tuesday. The plan was initially to hike Nachal Darja – the hardest day hike in Israel. Unfortunately, the plan fell through – we left too late in the day (you need to be on the trail by ~7 am to complete a good chunk of it before the mid-day desert heat sets in. The hike is ~5-7 hours long). Instead, it was decided that we'd head to the north to Gan Hashlosha (“The Park of Three”), also known as Sachne, to hike around a bit and take in some sun and swim. My friend Adam, also visiting from the States, but only for a few weeks joined us as well.
Gan HaShlosha is a little less than two hours north east of Jerusalem, near the top of the Jordan Valley. You may recall the blog post I put up months ago on my first half marathon in Israel, which ran through the ancient city of Bet Shean – the race started and ended at Gan HaShlosha.
The nature park is comprised of three large pools which feed into each other via waterfalls. They pools are surrounded by lush grass fields, beautiful topography and the hills of the Galilee in the distance. When we arrived at the park, we decided to check out the area around the park for a hike before heading to the pools. Right behind the nature reserve, we found Nachal Kibbutzim “The Kibbutz Spring”. After about five minutes of hiking alongside the clear, flowing spring, we quickly called an audible, returned to the car and changed into water clothes and hiked/waded up the stream. The cool water was waist deep and we were surrounded on both sides by tall reeds. We joked that the scenery was right out of Forest Gump in Vietnam. It was really gorgeous.

Nachal Kibutzim

Funny/terrible sign

After about 20 minutes of working our way downstream, we turned around, headed back to the car and drove to the park. Ari and I scoped out a great, somewhat secluded patch of grass that rolled right to the water front, where we “set up camp”. Momo lit up the grill, we threw on some sunscreen and headed to the water. The ‘pools’ at Gan HaShlosha are more like ponds. The water is clear and cool. In the pools, there are little fish that nibble on your feet and snack on your dead skin. You can get a live, free, natural fish pedicure at Sachne. The sensation was very ticklish and I could not help shrieking like a school girl every time the fish went to work. Thanks to my new waterproof camera case, I was able to snag a picture of the fish in action.
After swimming for a bit, we got out of the water to barbeque. After our cookout, we took Ari’s medical advice and skipped the half hour between eating and swimming and got right back in. We swam to a waterfall and then checked out the other pools, and swam some more. When we had our fill of swimming, sunning and lying about, we headed back to Jerusalem.
Sachne was serene and beautiful and is definitely worth a visit, but be warned – on holidays, especially Passover, the place is PACKED and is probably not worth visiting.

Momo swimming with a beer... the good life

Fish eating at my feet

A cave off of the top pool

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