HaBsor National Park (Eshkol Park)
Meet HaBsor National Park (Eshkol Park)
HaBsor National Park is a green area on the banks of the Besor Stream. In the heart of the loess plains of the Western Negev rises a luxuriant spring surrounded by expansive grasslands and thousands of shade trees.
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Points of Interest
- HaBsor Spring – a luxuriant spring and paddling pools for the children
- Picnic tables in the shade of the trees
- Reconstruction of a train bridge from the time of the British Mandate
- An archaeological site from the ancient Egyptian period
- Two easy cycling trails
- An orderly camping area
HaBsor Spring (Shalala Spring)
is the name of a large concentration of springs producing a total of approximately 60 cu.m. of water per hour. The water is rather warm (about 21 degrees C) with a relatively high salinity of about 1,300 mg. per liter. The Nature and Parks Authority collects the waters of the springs into a stream from which they flow into a long, attractive pond. Another stream creates a series of paddling pools for children. Some of the water is used to irrigate the decorative plants in the national park and the rest flows naturally into the Nahal HaBsor channel.
During the First World War the British built a large reservoir at HaBsor Spring, which collected 2 million liters of water. The water reached the reservoir via a pipe which was laid down simultaneously with the advance of the forces from the Nile, and it was conveyed night and day from the reservoir to the units at their posts by means of camel caravans loaded with water containers. The British built concrete facilities over the springs to collect the water, and a British concrete structure still stands today at the catchment point of the spring.
HaBsor Spring Archaeological Site
Some remains from an ancient building, containing a few layers of mud bricks, were uncovered at En HaBsor site, lying about 200 m. south-west of En HaBsor. Four settlement strata were found, the three earliest being from the Early Bronze Age (3300-2200 BC). At first there was a Canaanite village here, after that – an Egyptian way-station, and then a Canaanite village again. Eventually the place was abandoned, but was again re-settled in the Helenistic period (2nd century BC) and after that there was a way-station or a farm.
The site was excavated by a delegation of archaeologists from Tel Aviv University, headed by Ram Gufna and Dan Gazit. The reconstructed structure on the site exhibits the remains of the Egyptian way-station, and it testifies to Egypt’s permanent presence in Canaan already in the days of Na’armar, founder of the First Egyptian Dynasty.
The Railroad Bridge
Since antiquity, ancient roads have crisscrossed Nahal HaBsor in the springs area, and that was also the case in the time of the British Mandate. At the end of the First World War the British laid a railroad line from Rafah to Be’er Sheva. The line crossed Nahal HaBsor on a wooden bridge at just this point. The line was inaugurated on May 8, 1918, and it was in operation until July 31, 1927. The wooden bridge and the reconstructed railroad carriage commemorate the historic railroad line.
Observation Hill (Shalala)
The top of the observation hill is the highest point in the Park and from it can be obtained views of the expanse of the Western Negev. A large water pit remains on the hill from the time it was dug in the courtyard of a Byzantine church. During the First World War, Australian forces discovered the mosaic floor of the church after it had been exposed in an abandoned Turkish machine-gun post. The mosaic is of good quality. It shows a grape vine, with branches growing out of an amphora, creating 9 lines of medallions, 5 in each line. The medallions display birds and animals, and they all face the central trunk, bearing baskets of fruit, a goblet and a bird in a cage. Two peacocks stand one on each side of the amphora. The style of the mosaic is reminiscent of those discovered in the nearby Ma’on synagogue and in Horvat Be’er Sheva.
The mosaic was accorded great prestige by the British, not only because of its good quality, but mainly due to the legend dedicated to a person named George. The mosaic is dated 561 AD. The British believed that the person in question is Saint George, patron saint of the Anglican Church. The mosaic was taken to Australia and is presently exhibited in the “Hall of Glory” at the Australian War Memorial in the capital city of Canberra.
Two circular cycling trails are marked in the park, one 2.2 kms long (green) and the other 7.5 kms long (blue). The cycling trails are easy and suitable for the whole family. The start and end point is in the shaded areas near En HaBsor. Cyclers must bring their own bicycles (there are no bicycles for rent in the park).
Disc-golf (or Frisbee-golf) is a sport in which the participants progress along a route alongside which metal baskets are installed. In order to advance from one point to the next you have to throw a Frisbee disc into a basket. The object of the game is to complete the 18-basket route with as few throws as possible (as in golf). The route has been built for two levels, and is suited for any age and level of physical ability. Visitors must bring their own Frisbees.
Night Camping in Nahal HaBsor
Private tents may be set up in the camping ground, where the following services are available: toilets, hot showers, cooking area (gas), refrigerator, tables and benches, field lighting, and cubicles for re-charging mobile phones. The place is also suitable for caravans.
HaBsor National Park (Eshkol Park)Useful Information
Entrance to the park closes one hour before cited closing timeSummer hours: Sunday–Thursday and Saturday: 17:00 - 08:00 Friday and holiday eves: 16:00 - 08:00 Winter hours: Sunday–Thursday and Saturday: 16:00 - 08:00 Friday and holiday eves: 15:00 - 08:00 Holiday eves: 13:00 - 08:00 Yom Kippur eve: 13:00 - 08:00
HaBsor National Park lies in the Western Negev, west of Ofakim and south of Road 241. Drive from Ofakim westward (Road 241), and turn left about 2.5 kms after Urim Junction.
For those coming from the west, from the direction of Ma’on Junction, drive on Road 241, then, about 7 kms after Ma’on Junction, turn right into the access road to the park.
Reserving a visit to HaBsor National Park (Eshkol Park)
|Adult in group||₪ 19.00|
|Child in group||₪ 8.00|
|Israeli senior citizen||₪ 11.00|
|Subscription – adult||₪ 38.00|
|Subscription – child||₪ 32.00|
|Group leaders’ room||₪ 350.00|