Jerusalem’s New Gazelle Valley
Looking to do something new and different on your trip to Israel? The Jerusalem municipality has recently opened a new nature park called Gazelle Valley, nestled between the Givat Mordechai neighborhood and the bustle of Pat Junction.
Rampant construction and feral dogs in the area threatened the herds of gazelles that make their homes in the meadows of southern Jerusalem. These animals are the mountain gazelles mentioned in the Book of Psalms and Song of Songs. Because of their significance, the city built a sanctuary for the few remaining gazelles in the area, where they have begun to thrive. Currently, about 30 of them roam freely in the park, which is open to the public free of charge.
The park provides a tranquil oasis in the bustling city and an excellent way to enjoy nature without having to travel far. It is modeled on other urban nature landscapes like Central Park in New York and Hampstead Heath in London. You can walk along wheelchair-accessible paths or explore farther afield with hiking trails. You’ll enjoy natural vegetation, natural and artificial ponds and flowing streams that add to the beauty of the area. Use binoculars provided at the park to observe birds, rodents and gazelles.
Amir Balaban, a champion of Israeli wildlife and the urban nature coordinator at the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, says one of the special aspects of the park is that it features a number of different habitats. “You have the typical open grassland in the valley, beautiful, thorny dense bushes, Mediterranean woodlands and traditional orchards,” he said.
Shaded areas in the park are perfect for picnic lunches. Tours, workshops and lectures can be planned for groups, and tree planting will be added to the list of available activities in the near future.