If you’re searching for some tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Jerusalem, the perfect spot is only twenty minutes by bus from downtown. Ein Lavan, meaning White Spring, is still within the city of Jerusalem, but it feels like a different world completely.
The spring and park area is between the Malha and Gilo neighborhoods of the city, down a dusty road from the Biblical Zoo parking lot. Despite an uphill incline, it’s an easy twenty-five minute hike up the road due to the mostly paved surfaces, and the views of the Judean Hills make the walk even easier. To the left are the lush green hills of the Gilo Forest, separated from the path by a vast valley with the Israel Rail railroad tracks in the middle. The train rumbling through the ancient valley looks oddly out of place among the cypress trees and green shrubs. Finally, the road to the spring ends in a small parking lot and a steep but short climb.
The Ein Lavan spring appears like a mirage. Surrounded by smooth rocks that form a terrace, the water is cold and refreshing after the hike. The feeling of slippery algae under your feet is a little off-putting, and at times the little critters living in the water will tickle your toes, but otherwise the water feels relatively clean and fresh. Since the water level is about chest-high, it’s the perfect height for cooling off sweaty legs and feet without an entire dunking. The rocks around the spring are custom-made for lying down with feet dangling in the water.
A flat area to the side allows for barbecues, games, and frolicking. You might see donkeys and their owners meander by, stopping to let the animals munch some grass. A little higher up the hill is a sandy road ideally suited for dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles whose roaring sounds punctuate the stillness of the area. Without the sounds of the engines and the sight of the railroad tracks down the hill, it’s easy to imagine yourself living in ancient times, surrounded by nothing but nature and blue skies.
A trip to the spring could be an excursion by itself, suitable for the whole family, or as a complement to a morning at the Biblical Zoo (see our guide to the amazing Jerusalem Biblical Zoo). Be sure to wear walking shoes and sunscreen, and don’t forget to clean up any picnic leftovers. There are no public facilities besides nature.
Take the 33, 26A, or 99 buses or the train to the Biblical Zoo. Walk through the parking lot until the end where there is a small road and a sign noting the start of the nature path. About two kilometers down that road are the steps leading up to the spring. By car, drive to the Biblical Zoo (Derech Aharon Shulov 1) and keep driving through the parking lot to the small road at the back that leads to the spring.
This article was written by new olah Caroline Hughes, you can find her on Twitter.