Eilat’s Holland Park

Eilat's Holland Park in southern Israel offers a footpath for fitness walkers and nature lovers.

Geographic location: Arava and Eilat highlands

Identity Card

Photo: Talia Livshitz

Apart from its obvious attractions, Eilat also offers visitors a variety of remarkable natural sites. KKL-JNF, with the help of local city organizations and its Friends throughout the world, has developed and signposted these sites and it invites the general public to come and enjoy them free of charge. The city’s Holland Park offers a footpath for fitness walkers and nature lovers.  

• Region: Southern Israel
• Geographical location: Mount Negev

• Notable sites in the park: The fitness-walking trail

• Additional sites in the area: Lizard Land, Eilat Bird-Watching Park.

• Facilities: Lookout, Marked path, Active Recreation.

• How to get there:
Holland Park is situated to the north of Eilat, between the city and Kibbutz Eilot. From the traffic island at Eilat’s northern entrance (Toronto Square), drive westwards for around half a kilometer along Sderot Sheshet HaYamim (“Six-Day Avenue”) and leave your vehicle in the parking area at the entrance to Holland Park.

Projects and Partners Worldwide
Eilat Holland Park was rehabilitated and developed thanks to
a contribution from friends of KKL-JNF worldwide, including Holland.

About the park

Photo: Talia Livshitz

Holland Park was established in conjunction with Eilat Municipality and the Israel Association of Community Centers. It derives its name from the fact that it was planted thanks to donations from KKL-JNF’s Friends in Holland.

Tree planting in the park, which today covers an area of around 350 dunam (approx 87.5 acres), began on Tu BiShvat in 1996. Gullies collect the rainwater that flows down the surrounding slopes, but as this quantity of water is insufficient, the trees are irrigated with brackish water found when drilling in the large Arava Gully (Nahal HaArava).

The park serves two purposes: the abundant vegetation it contains provides food and shelter for a range of animal species whose populations have dwindled as their habitats have been damaged or built upon; and, in addition, the path that passes through the park provides an enjoyable fitness-walking route amid natural surroundings. This trail, which is some 2.5 kilometers long, is marked in green. Signboards in both Hebrew and English provide visitors with information about the park’s plant life.

Exploring the park

Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik

The walking route through the park is around 2.5 kilometers in length.
At the entrance to the park is a KKL-JNF signboard bearing a map of the site and instructions for visitors. The footpath starts here, immediately makes its way across a small terrace of silt deposited by the river and arrives at a rest point where the visitor can sit on a granite rock and enjoy the tranquil view. This is also the site of recognition plaques dedicated to the donors.

Around a hundred meters further on the path swerves to the left and makes its way up a flight of wooden stairs. A few steps more and we come to the first of the baobab trees along this route. Baobabs grow wild in the dry African savanna, and an adult tree can reach a height of 25 meters. Its wide trunk, whose circumference can grow to a size of up to ten meters, is used to store water, and over the dry season these trees often lose more than half their weight as their water content dwindles; the moisture is replenished in the rainy season that follows.

Some 400 meters from the starting point, we arrive at a junction. If we turn right we can ascend northwards along the riverbank until we come to the scenic lookout that provides a magnificent view of the park, the city of Eilat, the Gulf of Eilat and the Edom Hills. To the west of the park we can clearly see the long dark granite range of Mount Shahmon. Climbing up to the scenic lookout and back down again to the junction lengthens the route by about half a kilometer.

Photo: Talia Livshitz

Mallow raisin bushes (Grewia villosa) grow near the junction of the paths, and are easily identified by their crumpled round leaves. In spring they produce reddish-brown flowers. Though they can be found growing wild in the Dead Sea valley, these bushes are very rare in Israel, and Holland Park serves as a conservation site for the species.

The path continues onward among the trees. Here we can find numerous examples of the oasis vegetation of the Syrian-African Rift Valley, including giant milkweed   (Calotropis procera, also known as the Sodom apple), gray-leaved cordia (Cordia sinensis) and the desert date (Balanites aegyptiaca). Around half a kilometer after the paths intersect, we can see on the left a cluster of Egyptian doum palm trees, which grow wild along the banks of the Nile and other rivers in Africa. At Ein Evrona, some eight kilometers north of Eilat, is a grove of doum palms that is considered to represent the northernmost limit of their distribution in the wild worldwide. These trees are easily recognizable as their trunks, and sometimes also their main branches, have a tendency to fork into two sections.

Around 350 meters further on the path reaches a dirt road. Here we turn left and follow this road for some 450 meters before turning left again along a gully that runs parallel to the one we walked through earlier (along the way we come to a sign that indicates that we have reached the halfway point of the route). From here we follow the path downhill through the trees until we find ourselves back at our starting point.

The challenges of developing the park

Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik

Holland Park is one of the uniquely beautiful natural sites developed and signposted by KKL-JNF in conjunction with its Friends abroad and local Eilat organizations, and the general public is invited to visit them all.

Eilat is Israel’s leading holiday resort. Its hotels are always full and the number of visitors it attracts exceeds 50% of the population of the city, which stood at around 55,000 in 2012. Eilat offers an unusual combination of climate, nature and scenery: the weather is summery almost all year round; the Red Sea beaches offer a window on to the fascinating natural world of coral reefs; and all around are the towering landscapes of the hills of Eilat and Edom.

In Holland Park, KKL-JNF has transformed two small gullies into a verdant park that combines natural vegetation with other plants that can withstand the heat – this despite the complex problems posed by the fact that Eilat is located in an area of extreme desert climate. Rainfall in Eilat averages around 30 centimeters per year and the temperature usually hovers close to 40 degrees Celsius.