During the Darom Adom festival, Shokeda Forest (near Nativot) becomes a popular attraction due to the massive fields of Anemones.
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Shokeda forest is located in southern Israel, west of moshav Shokeda and not far from Netivot.
Shokeda has several entrances and several picnic areas. I usually drive to the Anemone parking lot. And the easiest way to reach it is to go towards moshav Shokeda, and just before the entrance, turn right and continue along the road.
Directions for drivers: Link to Waze and Link to Google Maps
Directions for public transport: Link to Moovit
Interactive map of the area:
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And here are the maps of the Shokeda forest (KKL sign):
Note: you can enlarge the maps by clicking on them.
The forest is always open. But there is no artificial light, thus visit only during daytime.
When to visit Shokeda Forest?
If you want to see anemones, February (Festival Darom Adom) is usually the best time. But, if you visit during Festival Darom Adom, many other people will do the same. Therefore, arrive early (preferably before 9:00) to avoid traffic jams.
Also, keep an eye on the weather. Rain a day before your visit will make the trails muddy.
Here is an interactive map from israelhiking.osm.org.il where several of the most popular hiking trails are marked:
Shokeda forest track is marked in blue on the map above. But most people get out of the car and make a short loop trail. Since the forest is not large, the length of most tracks will be 1 – 3 km.
Also, on the KKL map above, you can see two cycling trails (7.5km – blue and 11km – red)
Note: most of the trails can be modified easily. You will see different paths once on site. Thus if you want to make a hike shorter or longer, you can easily do so.
Festival Darom Adom
Flower fields draw a lot of visitors. Thus in 2005, it was decided to expand this into a festival.
Over the years, we visited different places during Festival Darom Adom. And in this article, we are visiting one of my favorite places – Shokeda forest. For additional suggestions and places, see Festival Darom Adom.
Anemone Parking Lot
As mentioned, we usually start our trip at the anemone parking lot. We leave the car and start walking.
Here are several photos from there:
The anemone parking lot, next to the moshav Shokeda, is in the northern part of the forest. Next to the parking lot, carpets of anemones bloom in February, the result of a combination of nature and pasture.
In the Negev forests, there has been cooperation between KKL-JV and the Bedouin herders for many years. KKL-JV gives the herders pastures and permanent places to set up pens. The herds eat the grass and reduce the risk of summer fires.
Cattle and sheep avoid eating anemones, which contain a poison that harms them. The time for the herds to enter the pastures is determined in advance in coordination with the shepherds after the anemones have bloomed and spread their seeds, which guarantees a beautiful bloom in the years to come.
There is drinking water in the Halaniot parking lot, and on the days of the Darom Adom festival, KKL-Junk places portable toilets there.
After my first visit, I was impressed. I did not expect that many flowers. Also, remember that these are wildflowers, and there is no human intervention.
I would recommend visiting Shokeda Forest during Festival Darom Adom. But there is one important tip. Come early. We arrived around 9:00, and there were few people. When we left at 11:00, there were extended traffic jams full of people trying to get into the forest. Thus, arrive early if you do not want to spend several hours in traffic. Moreover, when visiting earlier in the day, you enjoy cooler weather.
According to a survey conducted by the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority, the anemone is the most recognized and loved flower by Israelis. And in 2013, anemones were chosen as the national flower of Israel.
Another interesting fact is the name anemones in Hebrew is “Kalanit.” This name comes from the word “Kala,” which means bride. This flower is said to be as beautiful as a bride on her wedding day.
As you can see, there are also other types of flowers, but primarily anemones.
During the festival, many families hike and cycle but mostly take photos. One time I even saw a priest that came to take some photographs with his smartphone.
Anemones fields in Shokeda Forest are impressive. And if you have not visited it during February, I recommend it. But arrive early (especially on the weekends). And for additional info, see Festival Darom Adom.
Have you visited Shokeda forest? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
Additional ResourcesHere are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.