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The ever changing scenery in Israel is one of its many marvels, and, just a short distance from Netanya, in Emek Hefer near Kibbutz Bahan, you can visit Utopia Park. Here, you’ll enter the world of the tropical rain forest and see over twenty thousand beautiful, majestic orchids. It may surprise you to know that these orchids don’t grow out of the ground, but rather from inside stones, on mossy rocks and some even appear to just hang in mid-air.
Their origin is in a type of mushroom so as you start your tour you will walk through a dark, damp cave where you’ll see the inedible mushrooms highlighted on the dark wall. As you enter the main area of the tropical rain forest you are greeted by a towering waterfall just in front of you. This is one of many sources of water which also include small ponds, lakes and other water-features which keep the correct climatic conditions for the plants.
Apart from the orchid park, as you walk along the paths and over the bridges you’ll also see many other tropical plants including carnivorous plants. They attract their food by their delicate, attractive aroma, and if their built in sensors see any tasty fly or insect hovering inside its opening, it will immediately close up and trap its prey.
In this indoor area you’ll find animals and birds which thrive in this climate such as peacocks and hens as well as an area for tropical birds.
Outside in the enormous park there are many more animals to pet, including sheep, rabbits, deer and an enclosed bird area. The butterfly enclosure is a pleasure to wander around in and your children will especially enjoy these multi-colored delights. For a different type of entertainment you can try out the two mazes. There’s a relatively simple English-style maze and a two tier ficus maze which is much more challenging.
The man-made lake in the center has an area of delightful musical fountains and you can watch the many individual fountains perform together in time to the music. This lake also feeds the waterfalls in the tropical rain forest section.
There are several hills surrounding the park one of which is full of tall, imposing cacti and in another one they have planted the seven species for which the Land of Israel is famous.
There is a large garden center where it’s possible to buy plants to take home as well as other souvenirs and plenty of staff are on hand to help you choose something suitable for your home and appropriate to your success with growing and maintaining plants. If you are on vacation it might make an unusual gift to take to people you are visiting during your stay. The entire area is easily accessible to wheelchairs and baby carriages making for a pleasant family outing.
Utopia Park is about 15-20 minutes outside Netanya, in Emek Hefer. It is such a favorite with visitors that there is a special bus from Netanya that picks up and returns to most of Netanya’s hotels on Mondays. Before heading out check with your hotel/ tourist information office or Utopia Park itself, 09-878-2191, that the timetable hasn’t changed.