Sukkot holiday, family, Galilee, hike
A family enjoying a hike in the Galilee on Oct. 13, 2011. Photo by Gil Eliyahu
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National parks, nature reserves and forests around the country attracted more than 200,000 visitors on the first day of the Sukkot holiday Thursday, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Jewish National Fund estimated.

The relatively comfortable weather that prevailed yesterday is predicted to continue today and tomorrow, and the mercury is expected to drop somewhat on Sunday, making outdoor activities even more inviting.

The park authority reported that about 50,000 people made their way yesterday to national parks and nature reserves where an admission fee is charged, in addition to another 100,000 people who visited sites where admission is free. The most popular destinations were the Caesarea and Yarkon national parks, each of which attracted more than 4,000 visitors, and the hanging bridge at Banias, in the Golan Heights, which was visited by 3,000 people. The park service expects its sites to attract a total of a million people in the intermediate days of the holiday.

A large number of people made their way yesterday to forests and other Jewish National Fund sites as well. Lake Hula provided a special attraction due to the migrating birds frequenting the area now, and the park was full to capacity with human visitors. The Biriya and Carmel forests attracted large numbers of cyclists, while in the center of the country, tens of thousands of people headed for the Ben-Shemen and Britannia forests, as well as Sataf, near Jerusalem.

JNF said about 70,000 people visited its various sites, and a range of special JNF-sponsored activities will attract additional visitors in the intermediate days of the holiday, including olive harvesting at the Lavi forest, marking the beginning of the olive picking season.

For its part, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority will conduct tours in an area that is usually closed to the public at the Enot Tsukim nature reserve at the Dead Sea. There will also be a Nabatean market at the Mamshit national park, for the 12th year in a row.