Jul 22, 2010

Tiyulim in Eretz Yisrael: Turtles and Otter

Unfortunately, due to conflicting schedules, between work, vacation schedules, camp, trips, etc. it looks like we will not be having our annual excursion "LaTzafon" this year. Instead we will do day trips on the days most family members are available, even if just half day trips.

Yesterday was the first half day trip of the summer vacation.

We decided to do an oldie but goodie. We always enjoy going to see the turtles at the Nahal Alexander nature reserve. We havent been there in a while, and the smallest of our kids haven't seen them, so it seemed like a good afternoon trip.

Nahal Alexander is a river right off of the Mediterranean, situated between Netanya and Hadera, right next to the villages of Kfar Vitkin, Hofit and Beit Yannai.

While the river isn't really swim-able, as it looks pretty dirty and murky, it is great for a visit as the soft shell turtles live within. If you go there, it is a bit hard to find. Head over to Kfar Vitkin, and drive through the Industrial Zone of KV, and you will see the Nature Reserve right alongside the river. They could use some better signage along the roads. Or actually, any signage at all would be a help.

You can go right up to the banks of the river and throw pieces of bread in. The turtles swim right up to you and eat the bread.

Last time we went, the river was swarming with catfish alongside the turtles. This time we didn't see any catfish (can they just disappear?), but there were these otter there. Or are they river rats?

After enjoying disturbing the turtles and otter for a while, we ate a late lunch on the boardwalk.

We left and headed out to what must be one of the most beautiful beaches in Israel. The beach of Beit Yannai.

One of the best things about Beit Yannai Beach is that it is practically empty, compared to most of the beaches around Israel. The beach is beautiful, yet it is mostly empty. I suspect the reason is because it costs money to go to, while most people prefer to flock to the free beaches. For a family outing, it is easy to find an empty swath of beach to take over in Beit Yannai.

The sand on the beach is smooth like a fine powder. The beach is clean and kept nicely. We have gone there a couple times already and it is such a pleasant and relaxing experience...

This was our first half-day tiyul for the summer.


  1. They are nutria (also known as coypu), not otters!

  2. never even heard of that. is it the same family?

  3. Rafi, I hope that you and your family enjoy your 'staycation'!

  4. No, they are rodents. Imported to Israel for the fur trade, then they escaped and established colonies here.

    Great pix! I've never been there, now I am determined to go.

  5. Thanks. We copied your tiyul, and we had a great time.
    We didn't see the coypu, though.

    Here are some more specific driving directions for anyone else:

    If you are coming on route 4 NORTH, make a left at tzomet chefer towards kfar vitkin. At the first circle make a right there is a sign there that says "eizor taasiya". then after passing one driveway make the next right past some large gray buildings that are actually storage for bales of hay. It doesn't even look like it is a real street. continue on the road until the end and park. There is a grassy area and wooden structure that you can climb up to get a view of the area. There is a shady area to sit in and some porta-potties. But no running water.

    To get the beach at bet yannai from there you can drive straight through kfar vitkin (follow the signs to kvish chof hayam - rt 2) Take route 2 towards chaifa, after a few km there is a sign for bet yannai. After you get off, I don't remember exactly but you can follow signs for the bet yannai beach or something. It costs 22 nis for a car on weekdays, and it is pretty empty. If you move over to the right side away from the lifeguard, you can pretty much be secluded (with the other fully dressed frum families). Although people that you may not want to see, may pass by occasionally. Near the beach at bet yannai you can see the other end of nachal alexander, and I think that you can hike along the nachal if you want.

  6. We are thinking of taking the kids camping there sometime this week or next week. Did you happen to see the campsite area and what it is like?

  7. I did not see the campsite. There are people who camp out on the beach though, seems kinda sandy and unpleasant to me, but last time we went there was a couple there, they told us they had been camping there for 10 days already...

  8. We did the trip today, via route 2. Took under an hour and a half each way (from RBS). Thanks Rafi!

    If you go that way, you get off at the Kfar Vitkin exit and drive through the entire town. Two traffic circles past the exit of the town, make a left into the eizor ta'asiya. Just follow the road all the way till you see the nachal at the end.

    Also no sightings of any coypu.

    Rafi - what's next on your schedule? Please lets us know ASAP, the kids are getting restless...

    Re Natan's comment - Rafi, you were probably getting confused by the fact that in Spanish-speaking countries, the word nutria refers to the otter. Right, Rafi?


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