I’ve been dreaming to visit Israel for a long time. Thoughts about the Red, the Dead, and the Mediterranean Seas were making me smile. The photos of Tel-Aviv and Jaffa that I have seen previously heated my imagination. Along with the beautiful pictures, I saw the images of the elderly rest. That’s why I decided to go to Israel and explore its active and youth sides. The most I’ve been looking forward to seeing was the glass calm of the Dead Sea and having adventures in the Negev Desert.
The Dead Sea
I’ve arrived at the Dead Sea late evening and saw the last sunbeams. On the next day, I wanted to get up as early as possible to see the sunrise. But the thing I saw in the morning touched me so deeply that it would stay in my heart and my memory forever. The sun was rising from behind the mountains in Jordan. Every few minutes the sky was changing its colors from rich golden to pink, pastel yellow and blue to soft orange. It seemed like somebody stretched the mirror from the shores of Israel to Jordan and the sky, salt and people were reflecting on it.
The Dead Sea is the lowest part of the surface of Earth, one of the saltiest water bodies. Its salinity reaches 300-310% and in some years it reaches 350%. It is saltier than the salt itself. The salt crystals cover the entire surface that gets into this water for a certain time.
The National Park En Avdat
The National Park En Avdat is an incredible oasis in the Negev Desert. The river Zin that was flowing on the plain has formed the canyon and multiple forms of a surface during the millennia, such as ancon, huge caves, and rocks. The age of the canyon is dozens of thousands of years. Now it is a small, narrow and a shallow river, that is why one can stand on its bottom, walk on its cataracts like on the stairs, touch the stripped relief rocks and come so close to the precipice where the powerful waterfall was falling.
The size of the Canyon impresses just as much as the changes on our planet do.
My dress which I was wearing during the walks in the Canyon of the favorite brand Oh, Yes! is so inspiring!
Makhtesh Ramon is a crater in Israel’s Negev desert.The crater is 40 km long, 2–10 km wide and 500 meters deep. It was not formed by a meteor, nor it is a volcanic crater. It is a depression on the surface of the land.
I was standing on the edge of a rock cliff looking 300 meters down and trying to feel the vibes of the place. I felt like I was standing on the rooftop of a huge skyscraper with the view of the desert. I saw no one else. There were no other sounds, no voices, no cars, and their horns. There was only wind, falcons flying above and rumble of the jet fighters in the sky.
Exploring the Offroads
Only 1% of tourists from all over the world go to deserts to spend their holidays. What a pity! Desert is an infinite freedom, kilometers of silence and stillness, picturesque views, unusual landscapes, rare wildlife, oases, adventures, active sports or luxurious hotels and glamping sites. And this is what Ramon Crater is about!
After seeing the crater from above, I decided to explore it inside. I took my seat in a dusty Highlander and we went 300 meters down, directly to the bottom of the crater.
Ramon Crater is colored in all tones of terracotta, brown, sand and yellow. The landscape changes every 2-5 kilometers – from old rock formations to rare sources of water. The Crater is a home for rare herbs and animals. The desert dwellers wake up with the last sunbeams and go on the prowl as well as watering.
I started searching for the wonderful location for my photos. But the wind has blown away my hat and flew it into the salty river.
Well, I have a question for you! Do you know how to restore the felt hat?
Carmey Avdat Winery
I found out that winemaking is a State program called The Wine Route Project in Israel. The program supports private sole farms in the country along the Spice Route, which was passing through the territory of modern Israel in ancient times.
The little winemaking farm that I visited is Carmey Avdat. The owners of the farm, Hannah and Eyal, have planted the grapes on the ancient terraces and ruins of the rural settlement that was located here 1500 years ago.
I realized that Israeli wines are underrated. Syrah and Riesling are awesome. By the way, there are nice cabins for rent.
Silence, Negev desert, and Syrah wine… I think it is wonderful and totally worth traveling there!
You can’t see any wine in the photos here, but trust me, there was enough of it before I took any of these photos 😉
Sandboarding in the Negev Desert
Negev Desert is a rocky one, but we came to its dune part that means we could try sandboarding.
We left the hotel and the sky became overcast while we were on our way. It started raining and the wind was blowing very strong. The rain in the desert… When I was growing up and reading adventurous books, it seemed to me that the rain in the desert is something very rare, like in that song, you know! But as I traveled I realized that it happens from time to time. That is why it didn’t surprise me but made upset. I was dreaming of sandboarding for so long and I was not sure to the end whether it would possible to try it in Israel.
When we came to the dunes, two brothers were waiting for us with their white Land Rover, trailer, and equipment. They moved to live in the desert and teach to sandboard. I was so happy and excited. I left the car and felt that the wind was knocking me down. The wind was blowing the sand into my eyes and tearing out the gear of my hands. The sand was and crackling on my teeth. Sometimes it was almost impossible to make even few steps holding the board in my hands. It felt like the board was a sail of a boat. It took me so much effort to get to the top of the dune!
The sandboarding differs from the snowboarding with the fact that the gliding on the sand is smaller, so the speed is also smaller. Also, one’s feet are not bound to the board. One can do it like sledding or standing on bent legs and holding the tail of the board.
The Fortress of Masada
To the southwest of the Dead Sea on the top of the mountain and on the height of 450 meters above the sea there is the Fortress of Masada. Herod built it in 25th BC and even nowadays the huge parts of the fortress keep standing on the top of the mountain.
The story of the events that took place here filled my heart with sorrow and sadness… In 67th AD Sicarii settled in Masada. They were the representatives of the radical party that made the uprise against the Romans. These events led to the long-lasting Jewish War. After the Romans have conquered Jerusalem, the Fortress was the place for the last battle to take place. There were almost one thousand people, including women and children. They were keeping the Fortress for three more years. The Romans burned the defensive wall and it was clear that the Fortress was falling down.
Josephus Flavius, a person who survived, described the events that took place in the Fortress in his book. Those who lived in the Fortress were unwilling to give up to the Romans and become their slaves. And they decided to commit a mass suicide. They had chosen ten men to kill everyone in the Fortress. Then one of those ten men has killed the other nine, and then committed a suicide.
When I listened to this story it was a series of historical facts. But when imagined the feelings that people had there, the sorrow, the horror, the tears and doubts of those people… They were the prisoners of other and all people’s decision. The story says that everyone agreed that the solution was the only right. But what if this was not the way described? What if 100 people out of 1000 did not want that solution? What if even one did not agree. Can you imagine the horror they faced?
Bedouins of the Negev Desert
Traditionally, dozens of nomadic tribes of Bedouins live in the Negev Desert. They kept their centuries-old traditions. Bedouins set their shelters in the desert and their camps are divided into two parts: male and female. Nowadays there is a program on moving the Israel Bedouins into the cities. Some of them leave their settlements, get a degree, serve in armies and hold some posts. And the rest stay in the camps and live a traditional lifestyle.
The main business of Bedouins is breeding and sale of camels. Along with that, they found a new source of income – tourism. There are two types of camps: the authentics one with their strict traditions, and the touristic ones. I got to visit the latter. When the tourists come, the Bedouins know what the tourists want. The Bedouins show around a little, offer a «traditional» set of meals. To be honest, it wasn’t different than any other foods I tried in Israel. Then they make a 60 seconds performance showing how they were making coffee years ago and to suggest a 20 meters ride on the camel.
I refused to ride a camel. First of all, I just don’t think that riding an animal can be entertaining. If I had to get from point A to point B and a camel would be the only way to do that – I’d agree. The second thing was that I saw the owner of the camel standing with all his weight on the bent leg of the animal. He was sitting on its neck as well. And I don’t think that such behavior is ethical towards the animals. I am always for responsible, ethical and ecological traveling. And I ask you to remember that every action that we take leaves an impact on nature and our planet. There is no planet B, let’s remember that!
Instead of riding a camel I asked to take it for and fed it with juicy tree leaves. Believe me, taking care and communicating with the animals are more pleasant and entertaining than exploiting them.
I’m a Cat, and you are not 🙂
Israeli cats deserve a big separate post on my blog. But I want to tell you one of the stories that happened during my journey to Israel.
This story began right at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Stretching and yawning a tawny cat with amber eyes was walking towards a fountain with drinking water. I called him up and crouched. The cat climbed up on my knees quickly, curled up on my lap and shoved its nose into my coat. Well, okay, I decided to stay there a bit longer and pet him. I kept sitting, and he kept lying on my lap. I tried to stand up but he did not react! Then I put him back on the ground and he turned away and jumped on the fountain with drinking water. The cat started drinking from a very thin stream of water. And you know what happened next? Everyone at the fountain stepped so that they did not to disturb the kitty. Can you believe it? One man came closer and slightly turned the water on for the cat to have more water. People in Israel love animals and if anyone hurts an animal, it will be a subject of crime. I hope that someday all countries adopt this attitude!
I really hope that you enjoyed your virtual travel to Israel with me. Follow my Instagram I upload more often there.
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