Hai-Bar Carmel was our second Hai-Bar nature reserve and our 10th national park visit in our National Park Challenge. Our goal of visiting every national park in Israel was slowly becoming a reality. We document all of our adventures with travel guides and on our Instagram account – Hochdorf family adventures. Join us as we discover the wildlife at Hai-bar Carmel Nature Reserve.
Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority was put in place to protect Israel’s natural, historical, and heritage treasures throughout the land. There are currently more than 80 national parks and reserves to be explored, and we plan on visiting them all!
The Hai-bar Carmel Nature Reserve is a nature reserve that is devoted to raising up endangered and extinct animals of the Carmel region to then re-introduce them back into the wild. Providing education and information about these species of wildlife through school and study tours is just one part of the services they contribute along with for the general public. It’s the sister reserve to the Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve in the south of the country.
The Hai-bar Carmel Nature Reserve is located inside the Carmel Mountain, near Haifa. To reach the nature reserve, take the 672 (Haifa-Ussefiya road) towards Haifa University, take a left at the roundabout, and a right to Hai-Bar Carmel. You will see the green National Park signs to guide you.
Waze Location: Hai-bar Carmel Nature Reserve
The reserve’s entrance hours are divided into two different schedules: winter and summer. Reservations must be made in advance on their official website here.
Sunday – Thursday and Saturday: 8:00 – 17:00; Friday and holidays: 08:00 – 16:00
Sunday – Thursday and Saturday: 08:o0 – 16:00; Friday and holidays: 08:00 – 15:00
Reservation Tip: Due to Covid, the hours open to the public have been drastically reduced to weekends only. Always check the reservations calendar before going.
The price of an adult to enter is ₪22.00 (shekels), and children ages 5-17 are ₪9.00. Children under the age of 5 are free. You can also buy a yearly National Park Pass, which gives you free access to the reserve for a year.
Price Tip: We highly suggest purchasing the yearly pass, especially for a family visiting multiple parks a year. Our pass paid for itself after just a couple of parks.
Because this is a park that deals specifically with animals, it’s always best to plan an early morning or evening visit. Animals are most active during these times of the day, especially in the sweltering heat of summer.
We paired our visit with our camping trip at Mishmar HaCarmal in April, and the temperatures were already starting to be quite warm during the day. Many of the animals opted to stay in the shade and weren’t extremely active.
Hai-bar Carmel Natural Reserve caters towards children with all the animals and educational tools offered at the park. What’s really special about this Hai-Bar is the play area that includes an educational center where kids can learn more about the animals and birds, including a wingspan area to measure their arms against the birds’ wings. Mia especially enjoyed looking at all the antlers and hoofs on display.
One thing to note is that unlike Hai-Bar Yotvata (which is a driving safari), here it’s all walking and there are many hills. It is stroller friendly, which helps tremendously with young kids, but just be aware of a lot of walking up and downhill.
Family Tip: Dogs or any other family pets are not allowed inside the facilities for obvious reasons.
There are a variety of animals that you will see inside the Hai-bar Carmel Reserve, including vultures and other raptors, mountain gazelles, wild goats, wild sheep, and more.
The vultures were the hit of the reserve for us. Due to poaching and poisoning, they were nearing extinction before rescue efforts began to take place. One of the cool projects at Hai-Bar Carmel is the breeding nucleus program “Taking Israeli Raptors Under Our Wing.” This helps breed a higher amount of vultures. And once the birds are ready, they are reintroduced into the wild with tracking devices to monitor their flight patterns. One vulture even flew all the way to Yemen and back!
Fun Fact: A soaring vulture can spot a carcass from 4 miles away, and because of its poor sense of smell, it relies on its excellent eyesight to locate food.
There are two main types of deer that roam the Carmel mountain region – the Persian Fallow and the Roe Deer. Both species date back to Biblical times and were close to extinction, too. Thanks to the protection efforts of the national parks, they are bred and reintroduced back into the wild.
The gorgeous mountain gazelle is the symbol of Israel’s national parks, and represents the wildlife in Israel. Although it’s rare in the Carmel region, they are commonly seen throughout the country. Mountain gazelles are on the endangered list, and the ones at Hai-Bar Carmel were held illegally by people in the region. They treat the rescued animals and introduce them back into the wild.
Interestingly enough, the wild sheep of this region actually originate from Iran. The goats have since been domesticated and will most likely not return back into nature.
Photography Tips: There are some great places for “Instagrammable photos” throughout the reserve, especially with the vultures. If you are lucky enough to capture them taking off into flight or hovering over you before landing, it can make for a wonderful moment.
While there is no campground located right at Hai-bar Carmel, the Mishmar HaCarmel Campground is just a hop and skip away – about a 15-minute drive. We combined our camping trip at Mishmar HaCarmel with a visit to Hai-Bar Carmel, and it was the perfect exploration combo.
The campsites are available for tents only, but also include amenities such as electrical outlets, picnic tables, restrooms and showers, and a field kitchen.
Check out our full camping guide here.
Overall, we give the Hai-bar Carmel Reserve 3 out of 5 ibexes. The educational factor alone is incredible, but don’t raise your expectations too high for seeing animals. There are only a few of each species, and they aren’t exactly active. If you look at it as more of an educational trip, you’ll leave happy.