Only a 20-minute drive from Tel Aviv, tucked away between Petah Tikva, Hod Hasharon and Rosh Ha’ayin, lies a shady pond, a gushing waterfall and a cool, beautiful stream.
What are the odds than such a spot exists in the heart of the Dan region? Without driving northward for hours in traffic jams, without packing bags and food for the day? All of which makes arriving at the site no less than amazing.
Near the intersection connecting Route 5 and Route 40 a gravel path winds along the Yarkon river, ending at a small improvised parking lot.
Just two meters from the car, you cross the gateway to another world. Nothing here hints that we’re in the center of Israel except for the building tops peeping every now and then from a distance beyond the bushes. Tall reeds line the edge of the stream, which flows into a small pond, whose depth is perfect for children to wade in alone.
To top it all, the pond floor isn’t muddy sludge like in the north, but sandy, which makes walking in it much more fun.
The pond is flanked on either side by elevated plateaus, ideal to spread a picnic blanket on, and at the end of the pond – a small waterfall. It was generated by a man-made dam, but the result is frothing, gushing waters pouring down forcefully. You can sit on the dam, your back massaged by the cascade, while a small crab tries to find its way back under a rock.
Beyond the waterfall the Qana stream joins the Yarkon river. It is polluted with sewage fluids, so bathing at any spot past the waterfall is forbidden and dangerous to your health.
Visitors are often greeted by Yossi Damari, from Rosh Ha’ayin, one of the site’s founders. After puncturing his eardrum during a reckless dive in the Red Sea, Damari gave up on the sea and, together with friends, found a magical pond at the Yarkon river tributaries.
“We used to drink water straight from the gushing spring,” he says. But once other people discovered it the Nature and Parks Authority fenced off the area and turned it into a national park. So Yossi and his friends set out to create a new pond, and for a year and a half removed rocks with pick-up trucks, weeded and created this “secret waterfall.”
This summer it seemed that the Israeli masses had discovered the waterfall, he says. “Now there’s a bit of quiet until Rosh Hashanah and then there’s bedlam again until Sukkot.”
He helps a new visitor cross the dam to a good sprawling place on the stream bank.
“Next time come with socks,”he says. “It prevents slipping on the dam.”
The pond is always shaded by huge eucalyptus trees which, along with the cool water, create a refreshing respite from the heat. The tiny fish attest to the water’s quality and you can also walk in the water along the creek route. It’s possible to forget where you are and imagine you’re on vacation in the north, only without all the hassle of getting there.