The beautiful and ecological Ariel Sharon Park
Ariel Sharon Park is one of the largest and most advanced and progressive ecological rehabilitation initiatives in the world and has turned a polluted landfill into a 2,000-acre green-lung for the city. With its ponds, exotic flowers, trees creating bursts of color and expansive green lawns it is a wonderful place for strolling, picnicking and for the kids to play.
This site was the main waste landfill for the Dan District Municipality from 1952. The mountain of waste, called Hariya Mountain after the Arab village once here, rose 230 feet above ground level. It ceased functioning in 1988 due to growing concern about environmental pollution, underground water contamination and the spread of noxious gases. With the support of then prime minister Ariel Sharon it was decided to convert it into a park rather than it being used for urban construction. This park is not part of any municipality, but is run by the Dan Region Association of Towns Sanitation and Solid Waste Disposal Board. At the foot of the mound are three recycling plants that are not part of the park.
To deal with the biogases from the household waste, primarily CO2 and methane, 60 wells were dug into the mountain and the gases are pumped to a nearby plant by pipes that convert them into steam energy. A bioplastic layer prevents the gases interfering with the growth of plants. The ponds are fed year-round by a deep variable-level underground water storage pond on the top of the mountain that gathers rain water. This water is also used for irrigating the plants in the park. Water purity is maintained by filters and by the water plants on the pools. To moderate the steepness of the mountain, broken fragments of concrete were used from construction waste.
The area at the bottom of the mountain contains the Ayalon stream that descends from the Judean Mountains and other tributaries. These other tributaries drain water only seasonally, but they make this entire area susceptible to flooding, including the nearby residential areas. The plan is to enlarge the streams to prevent flooding, to replant the area with natural flora, and to construct paths for visitors.
Time: About 1½ hours to walk through the entire park
Distance: About 4 Km
Directions and parking: Enter “Ariel Sharon Park” into Waze. The Waze directions will bring you to the correct lower parking lot and there is no need to follow the signs at the entrance. The parking lot has blue and white markings, but I am assured by the workers that it is not necessary to pay with Pango.
Admission: The park is open from 9 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. including on Friday, Saturday and holidays. There is no admission fee. There are plenty of shaded benches and picnic tables within the park. There is a café. The Visitor Center shows a 15-minute movie and is screened every 30 minutes. It is recommended to purchase tickets in advance for this from their website, although they can also be purchased at the site. There are free guided tours in Hebrew on Friday and Saturday at 9.30 a.m., 11.30 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. that departs from the shuttle bus set-down point.
Public transport: There is no direct public transport to the park. The closest bus stop is a distance of 2.8 Km and a 35-minute walk. Enter “Ariel Sharon Park” into Moovit.
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There are no signs within the park indicating where to go. However, on the rest room building by the lower parking lot is a sign with a map and it has numbers indicating important sites and the location of information signs. It is recommended to roughly follow this route.
There are basically two areas to view. The first is in the hollow in the mountain, which contains a number of scenic ponds, exotic plants, beautiful green lawns and the Visitor Center. After covering this area, continue ahead and follow a path outlined by concrete blocks and that has typical terrace Israeli-type vegetation on either side. You will come to observation areas on the top of the hill. There is a sign indicating what you are viewing, including the office buildings. Below you is the Ayalon Stream watershed, which is being refigured.
Observation area overlooking the Ayalon Stream watershed.