It was a Friday afternoon, late into the Israeli summer and, unlike every other Friday, we were free of obligations. No work, groceries already in the fridge and food prepared for shabbat in advance. So we opted for spontaneity. We packed a cooler with cold water, melon and delicious nectarines and piled into the car, ready for adventure.

Israel is a very small country packed with history and adventure so its always easy to find new parks and hiking trails. Though the car ride was less than an hour, we found ourselves in a completely different area to where we live. We stepped out of the car to embark on one of the best days I’ve ever spent with animals, stories and history hiding around every corner.

We started off at an amazing Monkey park in the Ben Shemen area. Just in front of Kfar Daniel there is a big hill covered with trees. Inside is a park full of monkeys. Many of them were rescued by the staff after being used in labs for experiments and rehabilitated. Most of the monkeys are living in large cages and enclosures. The park actually serves as a foundation for these monkeys, and for that they don’t have lots of money to run the place. They have future plans to increase the park and the cages, so that every monkey there can have the space he deserves.

At some parts of the park though, they don’t cages, and monkeys runn free, jumping from tree to tree, just an arms length away. We were happy to learn that we didn’t just come to watch monkeys, but that our money was helping the foundation to restore these amazing creatures back to life.

Ella Valley from ShuchaAfter an ice cream break, we headed to the Ella Valley in Bet Shemesh to Shucha park. This is an area known particularly for its biblical history. We forged our way to the top of the hill where we discovered a great view of the valley. While exploring, we discovered ruins from the old village of Shucha, noted in the book of Joshua.

Caves dot the hillside and some we only discovered after we had walked over them. It was quite spectacular. All around us were amazing views of the valley, plants and trees which are common to the area. Often hidden from the plain site, we kept stumbling upon old structures from biblical times. It was so exciting to spot these that we turned it into a game.

It was a wonderful day trip. It didn’t take long to plan and to get there. we came home tired but energized with all our new stories and pictures.

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