Saturday, 31 May 2014

Ashdod Dunes

It is almost Shavuot, a Jewish holiday which has direct links to Passover. We count 49 days from the second day of Passover and on the 50th day we celebrate the holiday of Shavuot. (This period is called the Omer.) So before Shavuot arrives, I think it is probably time for me to finish showing you pictures of our Passover days out. Our visit to the Ashdod sand dunes was not a full day's activity but it was a fun way to end a day which had involved flower picking at Kedma and ice cream consumption at the Ben and Jerry's factory shop in Beer Tuvia.
Sand dunes once made up most of the coastal stretch from Gaza to Caesarea  but most of them are now under apartment blocks, car parks and shopping centres. Big Dune Park on the southeast side of Ashdod is one of Israel's last remaining dunes, reaching 35 metres high and stretching about 250 metres long. The fine sand of the dune made its way to Israel from the Ethiopian mountains via the Nile and the Mediterranean, and accumulated in the park. Sea wind causes the sand to shift in an eastern direction, creating a crescent shaped dune perfect for rolling and climbing, sliding and jumping! Though frankly a little dirty due to the number of visitors to the park, the deep, soft sand was warm under our feet and the adults and kids in our little group enjoyed climbing to the top and launching ourselves down the slope until gravity stopped us at the base. It was almost as fun to watch the ATV's and four-wheel drive vehicles cruise along the ridges and valleys, though it's questionable how good they are for the environment.
Sycamore trees are dotted throughout Big Dune Park, offering shade from the hot sun. The park is also the habitat of native Israeli deer, porcupine, gerbil, jackal, weasel, fox, reptiles, birds and insects, though we didn't catch sight of any on the day we visited. The variegated vegetation of the park - acacia, sycamores, shrubs and flowers - protect and sustain the animals. You can also find fig and pomegranate trees, strawberry, raspberry and palm growing wild in the sandy valleys.
Because of the importance and uniqueness of Big Dune Park and its potential for study, hiking and recreation, Israeli green organisations are working hard to preserve this important piece of Israeli landscape. Local municipalities, as well as the Ministry of Tourism, have all had plans to build on the area - it was even designated for a nuclear power plant until the 1980's - and in addition the remaining sand is being depleted rapidly for use in construction.  Progress has been made to heighten appreciation of the area and today Big Dune Park is firmly established in the public mind and in local and regional plans, though sadly it has yet to receive National Park status.


Miss Val's Creations said...

The sands are absolutely beautiful! I didn't know Ben and Jerrys is in Israel. I live close to Vermont and have been to the original factory where they started. They definitely make some of the best ice creams!