Ma’ayanot (natural water springs) in Israel are so abundant that they deserve their own article. Ma’ayanot are a hot spot in the spring and summer months, but are accessible and pleasurable year-round. Though a car is helpful to access many ma’ayanot, there are countless springs that can be traveled to by bus, usually requiring a number of transfers, making the cooling factor of the natural water all the more rewarding and delightful. In this article, I’ve done the research for you, providing you with a number of ma’ayanot in and around the Jerusalem area, so that any time you want a quick dip, the information is right at your fingertips.
Sataf, located in the Jerusalem hills near the neighborhood of Ein Kerem, is one of Jerusalem’s most popular ma’ayanot. Located in the beautiful Jerusalem Hills, it is easily accessible by public transportation, making it a hotspot for kids and teenagers without cars, but is very family- friendly as well, frequented by families looking for a quick and cool weekend dip. During the daytime, you’ll find Sataf to be filled to the brim, but the after hours, from 5pm and on, are particularly pleasant and serene. It is a particularly cold ma’yan, making it a stellar choice for the blazing summer days when a cool-off is necessary,There are some very shallow springs, perfect for young children, and some more adventurous and exciting ones, like a giant crater- style spring for adults to jump into. Sataf also provides nice and easy hikes with a total of five hiking trails, as well as a location nice for barbecues, making it an even more fun adventure. Sataf is just a ten-mile drive from the outskirts of Jerusalem, through the beautiful roads of the Jerusalem Hills. To get to Sataf by car, you can take Route 395 from Ein Kerem. You can see the entire the site from the Sataf Junction, where the roads that come from Mevaseret Tzion, Tzuba, and Ein Kerem intersect.
Lifta (Mey Neftoach)
In past days an Arab village, Lifta officially became a natural reserve in the mid 1980’s. The spring is also identified with “Mey Naftuah” – the biblical site, making it not only a fun experience, but a holy one as well. The ma’ayan is used not only for pleasure, but is also frequented as a
mikvah. Lifta, like Sataf, is ideal for a family hike as well, running a distance of only about 4.5km and taking a total of two hours round-trip. It is even possible to walk with a light stroller (albeit difficult). Lifta is by far Jerusalem’s most accessible ma’ayan, only a 10 minute walk from Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station, making it easily accessible by public transportation — just take any bus to the Central Bus Station, of which there are plenty, and walk. To drive to Lifta, simply enter “Lifta” into Waze, and park at the Lifta Parking Lot (חניון ליפתה). Its accessibility leads it to often be packed with visitors, but as with Sataf, the later hours of the day prove to provide you with some more room in the water.
Ein Lavan is a beautiful ma’ayan, enormous and filled with clear, clean water, located in the Jerusalem mountains. Although it, like Sataf and Lifta, can get crowded, it’s expansiveness makes it unlikely that it will feel full, regardless of how many people are wading in the beautiful
water. There is not one but rather two large pools, one deep and one less so, making it an experience fit both for adults and for children. Ein Lavan is adjacent to the Biblical Zoo, located in the Malcha neighborhood of Jerusalem, making it another easily accessible ma’ayan. It is easy to find from the zoo’s parking lot, and is easily accessible by bus as well (just take any route that travels to Malcha).
Ein Sharig, Ein Tamar, Ein Azi
If you’re looking for a full day of ma’ayanot, swimming, and adventuring, this is the place to go. These three ma’ayanot come as a set, located right by moshav Ein Sapir in Jerusalem. Ein Sharig is the closest ma’ayan to the parking lot — an approximately 3-minute walk. It is a relatively small and shallow spring, a bit crowded during peak times but a beautiful, peaceful oasis during less busy time. A canopy of trees covers the ma’ayan, providing a perfectly shaded spot for the hot summer months. Continue down the green path for approximately 20 minutes, an easy walk with a stunning view of Hadassah Ein Kerem and the Jerusalem Mountains, and you’ll arrive at the second ma’ayan, Ein Tamar. Named after Tamar Natan, who was killed in 1996 on a trip to Bolivia at the age of 21, the spring is charming and peaceful, dressing with antique stones and accompanied by nice picnic tables. Finally, continue on a 5-minute walk from Ein Tamar and you’ll arrive at Ein Azi, two small pools about 50 meters apart. One is slightly submerged in the ground, and the other is a true wonder. It is almost an infinity pool, with a stunning view of the Jerusalem Mountains. To arrive at these ma’ayanot, drive towards Even Sapir. About 600 meters after the south turn from Road 396 (below Ein Kerem Medical Center), there is a bend in the road from which a wide dirt path emerges. Here there is a double white line, so you have to continue a few hundred meters to the settlement and turn around there. The dirt path goes into a parking lot, where you should leave your car. From the parking lot, continue on the green path for about 100 meters, until you see a large group of trees on the left (approximately 50 meters away), where Ein Sarig, the first spring, is located. Continue on this path for another 50 meters and then turn right to get to the beginning of the route to the Uzi and Ein Tamar ma’ayanot.
Once known as Ein Tapah, Ein Dvir, a smaller spring than the ones listed above, sits to the north of Jerusalem, just by the town of Givat Ze’ev. Benches line the ma’ayan, allowing visitors to take in the beautiful view of Jerusalem’s hills, and a serene feel fills the air around the
ma’ayan. As the area is rather open and there aren’t many trees for shade, it is not recommended to visit this site during the summer months, unless you plan to spend the entire time in the water. The Ein Dvir ma’ayan is a short walk from the parking lot — 1.4 kilometers, just
barely a hike. The water in the pool is deep, providing a pleasant swim for adults. If coming by car, drive to Kibbutz Amiad and park your car in the gas station. Cross the road so that you are on the opposite side of the kibbutz, and behind the bus stop, you will see a gate. Follow the road beyond this gate and you will arrive at the spring in about 15-20 minutes.
Forty five minutes from Naan, in the heart of the green mountains of Jerusalem, hides a cold and clear spring inside of an ancient cave carved into the mountain. Stone steps lead to the spring, which is cool and apt for immersion in the hot summer days. Surrounding the spring are beautiful olive, almond, and terebinth trees. This ma’ayan provides not only a pleasant swim but also an awesome experience, as you swim inside of a cave. You can walk to the end of the tunnel and watch the spring water spring out of a rock, making this a cool adventure to take your kids on. The diameter of the spring spans a few meters, and the water relatively is shallow and clear, allowing one to comfortably sit and wade in it, but not to dunk deeply. Outside of the cave, there are another two pools and a picnic area, making it a perfect spot to have a picnic lunch with your kids after a satisfying dip in the ma’ayan.