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Go South–Go Explore: Israel’s Hidden Treasure

The Arava and the Negev Plateau are among the most fascinating areas of Israel. In Israel, “desert” doesn’t mean “desolate.” The sandy Negev expanse that makes up more than half of Israel’s land mass encompasses fascinating vistas, history and creativity. And the relatively short and temperate winter months are the best times to visit.

For tourists and local’s alike there’s never been more to experience in the Arava: ancient archeology, timeless Bedouin hospitality, funky eco-art, hiking, biking, horseback riding, bountiful farms, birdwatching and lots of activities for children, including ice-cream workshops.

Keep reading to find out our insider’s guide to exploring Israel’s hidden secrets.

 

no place like Israel

Hiking Through History

Recently there has been an ever-increasing number of biking, hiking and off-road trails taking explorers through the Arava’s canyons and dry river beds (wadis),showcasing a combination of nature and history. On the way you’ll be able to see remains of way stations for the camel trains traversing the ancient Nabatean Spice Route. You can climb the Ein Hatzeva Fortress, a biblical stronghold with a nearby Edomite temple and visit one of the oldest trees in Israel a 1,000-year-old jujube tree. Wander in the wilderness of Zinn, which the ancient Israelite tribes traversed during their 40 years in the desert.

 

Take a hile-explore Israel

Yahel: Love The Environment

Approximately 65 kilometers north of Eilat, boasts a large date plantation, reservoir, pomelo orchard and dairy farm. There are walking paths, a lookout tower,farmers market, restaurant/coffee bar and a motion-based adventure ride simulating desert flash floods.

Ecotourists should check out Kibbutz Neot Semadar, Kibbutz Lotan and Kibbutz Ketura.

These and other Arava collective villages teach visitors about mud-brick building, recycled art and architecture, solar energy, winemaking, and medicinal herbs and algae.

 

Here's where the dates grow

Timna Park: Are You A Thrillseeker?

Timna Park is chock-full of attractions, one of the largest attractions in the south of Israel, set in a beautifully majestic desert setting, has amazing history and geology, and a number of unexpected activities including those on the lake (yes, a lake in the desert!).

For those who enjoy extreme sports, rappelling and an exciting zip line are available as well. Crafting activities such as filling bottles with colored sand and making King Solomon-themed stamp prints are fun for children and adults alike. If you enjoy roughing it, take advantage of the park’s camping facilities and stay overnight.
desert is really like a dessert

Hai Bar Yotvata: Don’t Feed The Animals

Established in 1968 to reintroduce animals that have become extinct in Israel, this 32-sq-km reserve on the Yotvata salt flats is home to a wide variety of desert creatures. You can drive  safari-style, but only if you have your own car; count on spending about two hours. You’re likely to see the Dorcas gazelle, Nubian ibex, Somali wild ass, scimitar-horned oryx and addax (white antelope). Drive slowly, but don’t get out of the car, and of course don’t feed the animals. You can open the car windows, but watch out for the ostriches, who sometimes poke their heads in looking for a handout.

Additional information, as well as explanations regarding the animals and video footage can be found at the Haifa University Hai-Bar Site.

 

Enjoy the animals--dont feed them

 

Yotvata: Experience Authentic Kibbutz Life

Is the oldest kibbutz in the Arava, they have an inn offering full road services, kosher meat and dairy restaurants, a convenience store and a tourist shop. “On our famous Yotvata Dairy tour you get to taste our chocolate milk,” says tourism coordinator Taal Goldman. (Yotvata’s shoko is Israel’s leading chocolate milk brand).

They recently opened a new interactive park, offering a range of activities, tours and attractions providing a hands-on experience of kibbutz life and history.You can also choose to take an agricultural and dairy tour in 11 different languages; please keep in mind to coordinate in advance (972-54-979-8491).

 

Yes--That's where the best Choco comes from

 

Take A Break: Enjoy An Authentic Bedouin Experience

Bedouin hospitality is world-renowned, and the Arava is home to numerous camps that will gladly welcome you into their tents. The peaceful atmosphere and romantic views are great for taking a break from frenetic sightseeing, allowing you to relax for a while. Drink some Bedouin-style coffee and learn about ancient and contemporary Bedouin culture. You can even stay overnight in a heated tent and make your way to Eilat the next morning.

The ultimate Bedouin experience is, of course, sleeping in the famous Bedouin tents in the peaceful desert. This is becoming incredibly popular for groups visiting Israel, whilst the tents are also being used for celebrations such as weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and even birthdays.
Have an authentic israel expiernce

 

There are a large number of centers in Israel offering authentic Bedouin hospitality experiences, here is a selection:


Currently, the Arava tourism website does not yet have an English version, but a brand-new 36-page English brochure detailing all of the Arava’s attractions, eateries, services and accommodations can be emailed by request from tourism@arava.co.il.

For more ways to explore Israel check out these other travel blogs: https://www.talknsave.net/blog/the-best-places-to-shop-in-israel-its-the-little-things/ ,

https://www.talknsave.net/blog/explore-israel-like-a-true-israeli/ and if your into shopping check out

The Best Places To Shop In Israel: It’s The Little Things

If you know of other hidden places to explore in Israel, please share them in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!

 

Beth Zuckerman
Beth Zuckerman
Beth is a former Upper Westsider, who made aliyah 8 years ago. She is a coffee addict and a lover of classical rock. Beth is the content and marketing manager at talknsave, in that order.

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