The Israeli 'Heavenly Pond' Lives Up to Its Name

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Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Moshe Gilad
Moshe Gilad
Moshe Gilad
Moshe Gilad

Hyperbolic names can cause damage. They arouse expectations in the traveler that are hard to meet. The rather over-the-top and amusing moniker “the Heavenly Pool” was once bestowed upon the Nofarim (Water-lily) Pool in Yarkon National Park. But there were moments this week when I agreed that this name, despite being a bit excessive, is actually quite fitting for this beautiful place: a large pond covered with aquatic plants and surrounded by tall reeds, giant eucalyptus trees and fruit-laden sycamores. Hundreds of fish swim in the clear waters. All this offers the visitors a truly heavenly experience, which at times seems lifted from some sort of Asian legend.

The water-lily season is over already. The yellow flowers bloom in summer but no few stragglers were still lifting their sunny heads above the ripples. Water lilies like clear, standing water, of which there is plenty here. These days an effort is ongoing to grow blue nymphaea flowers in the pond as well.

Nofarim (Water-lily) Pool in Yarkon National Park

Among the blooms swim giant catfish and the little Yarkon bleak fish – a species unique to Israel, which was at the brink of extinction. In recent years it has been successfully bred and has returned here. The Nofarim Pool is adjacent to and fed by the Yarkon source springs. While it is not a natural lake or a wild spring, it is a lovely, well-conserved spot.

Water-lilies. The yellow flowers bloom in summer but few were still lifting their sunny heads above the ripples.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
An eucalyptus whose trunk and roots are lapped by the water.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

After many years of decline and severe problems, the pond looks fantastic today. Its flora have recovered thanks to the ban on swimming and to the persistent struggle by Nature and Parks Authority personnel to protect the site. In the past many people would bathe in the pool, whether for fun or as a place for ritual immersion.

Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
The British Mandate-era guard post, erected in the 1930s to defend the bridge during the Arab Uprising (1936-39).Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Three gates lead to the pool and each offers a different view. The northern one, along the route of the Israel Trail, affords a glorious view of a gargantuan eucalyptus, whose trunk and roots are lapped by the water. The eastern gate leads to a rock ford across the stream and from there to an observation point on the pond. The southwestern gate is the main entrance, offering a partial view of the pond. To the north one can see the railroad bridge crossing the Yarkon River and the pillbox – a British Mandate-era guard post, erected in the 1930s to defend the bridge during the Arab Uprising (1936-39).

Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Directions: Waze – Brichat Hanofarim (Hebrew). Entry is free of charge. The entrance to the pool closes at the same time as the nearby Afek National Park. Waze takes a good route that bypasses the Antipatris Fortress. Another approach is from the Baptist Village. In both cases, it’s about an 800-meter walk from the parking lot to the pond.

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