Over 200,000 Israelis took advantage of the warm weather and Passover holiday on Tuesday and visited the country’s nature reserves and national parks.
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) reported that popular locations included Ein Gedi, Banias and Ein Afek nature reserves and the national parks of Masada, Yarkon, Tel Afek, Caesarea and Megiddo.
Several sites were closed due to congestion and heavy traffic was recorded on roads in northern and central Israel.
The Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) reported that hundreds of cyclists enjoyed the country's various bike trails while many families flocked to the camping areas of the nature reserves, enjoying the cooler-than-average spring temperatures.
Officials said that Rosh ha-Ayin Forest, Shofet River, Ramot Menashe Park, Sheffer Forest, Aminadav Forest in the Jerusalem area, the botanical garden in Ilanot Forest as well as countless other locations nationwide were at full capacity and called on the public to refrain from reaching the sites.
Additionally, more than 25,000 vacationers visited the shores of the Sea of Galilee which were later closed due to congestion. Local officials asked the public to turn to other beaches.
Elissaf Kula from Petah Tikva, who was vacationing with his family in Achziv National Park in northern Israel since Monday evening, told Ynet about his experiences outdoors.
"We hiked, barbecued and set up tents," Kula said. "My daughter Alama, who is more of a 'Mall girl', didn't want to come, but she did eventually, and she enjoyed it very much. We just want to travel and have fun. There was heavy traffic on the way here, but it was worth every moment."
Last year, Israelis were largely confined to their homes for the Passover holiday due to strict lockdown aimed at stemming the coronavirus pandemic. However, the country's rapid vaccine rollout has led to a relaxing of health mitigation restrictions in recent weeks.
Benny Talker, who also arrived in Achziv, was happy to return to nature after an extended period of lockdowns and social distancing.
"You can't describe this feeling of freedom, to breath in some fresh air after a whole year of lockdowns, isolation, testing and this whole nightmare we've been through for the past year," Talker told Ynet. "You can't compare this to last year's Passover."