Tour Is­rael

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - CONTENTS - • MEITAL SHARABI Pho­tos by MEITAL SHARABI and YONI GRITZNER Trans­lated by Han­nah Hochner.

For a while now I’ve been itch­ing to get back out into the south­ern desert, de­spite the sum­mer tem­per­a­tures mak­ing the trip a lit­tle more chal­leng­ing. The burn­ing sun gets hot early in the morn­ing and the dry air makes hik­ing dif­fi­cult, but if you plan your foray so that you’re out­side mostly when it’s dark out, you’re sure to have a lovely time.

Kfar Hanokdim

In the south­ern Judean Desert, be­tween Arad and Masada, lies an awesome oa­sis called Kfar Hanokdim. To get there, you pass Arad and take Road 3199, which is wind­ing and nar­row, to­wards Bikat Kanaim. The ride down passes by en­chant­ing desert land­scape that will make the drive ex­tremely worth­while.

You’ll know you’ve reached Kfar Hanokdim when you come upon the mul­ti­ple palm trees and lush wild green­ery af­ter driv­ing for a while through the arid land­scape. Kfar Hanokdim was es­tab­lished in 1991 by Ye­ho­ram Roded af­ter he’d al­ready spent years in the desert and had fallen in love with the ter­rain, the cli­mate and the Be­douin liv­ing there. His dream was to of­fer Is­raeli and for­eign tourists an al­ter­na­tive to the ho­tels and B&Bs that were avail­able at the Dead Sea and Arad. At first, all he had to of­fer was a tent or two, but over the years Kfar Hanokdim’s pop­u­lar­ity has grown, and now the site sports dozens of guest rooms and tents.

Roded’s son Danny cur­rently man­ages the tourist site, while Ye­ho­ram spends most of his time en­gag­ing in en­vi­ron­men­tal sculp­ture. His works of art can be seen scat­tered all around the vil­lage. The Rod­eds’ goal is for guests to get a taste of Be­douin life­style, while still en­joy­ing the com­forts of boun­ti­ful Is­raeli buf­fet break­fasts and rich din­ners.

The main ad­van­tage to stay­ing at Kfar Hanokdim is its fan­tas­tic lo­ca­tion. It’s the per­fect place to stay if you’re plan­ning on vis­it­ing Masada, Tz­fira Pool, Gi­vat Gorni or Na­hal Tze’elim. In fact, the Rod­eds cre­ated an amaz­ing app that helps you or­ga­nize ac­tiv­i­ties avail­able in the area, as well as of­fer­ing hik­ing trails, rid­dles and lots of sto­ries. Kfar Hanokdim also has a pet­ting zoo with goats, guinea pigs, rab­bits and pea­cocks, as well as workshops that are suit­able for the whole fam­ily.

Kfar Hanokdim is or­ga­niz­ing two amaz­ing star-stud­ded week­ends in Au­gust. Ev­ery year in July and Au­gust, the Per­seid me­teor shower takes place. On the week­ends of Au­gust 10-11 and 17-18, vis­i­tors are in­vited to take part in an ex­cit­ing me­teor ex­pe­ri­ence in the mid­dle of the desert, where there is al­most no light pol­lu­tion.

Although the vil­lage is rel­a­tively dark, all the lights will be turned off dur­ing the view­ing times so that vis­i­tors will have as clear a view of the sky as pos­si­ble. There will be a spe­cial tele­scope, which guests can use to view the stars, and guides will of­fer ex­pla­na­tions of the stars. For those of you who are true night owls, there will be a spe­cial star gaz­ing event that starts at 2 a.m., which is the peak hour to see me­teor show­ers.

Ear­lier in the evening, there will be a drum­ming cir­cle, Star Trek workshops in which par­tic­i­pants will hear de­scrip­tions about the night sky, and even a guided tour us­ing ul­tra­vi­o­let flash­lights, with which you can catch a glimpse of Is­raeli yel­low scor­pi­ons – a.k.a. Death­stalk­ers – as they glow in the dark.

De­tails: (08) 995-0097, www.kfarhanokd­

Ra­jasthani dance

An­other treat guests will en­joy is a work­shop led by Ron­nie Wald­mann Pelach, a dancer who spe­cial­izes in Ra­jasthani folk gypsy dance. Wald­mann Pelach tells par­tic­i­pants about the ori­gin of Ra­jasthani dance and il­lus­trates a few ba­sic moves while sen­sual mu­sic plays in the back­ground. Ra­jasthani dance orig­i­nates in In­dia, and from there it made its way to gypsy com­mu­ni­ties around the world. Women of all ages per­form th­ese dances, while men ac­com­pany them on in­stru­ments and with singing.

Although this type of danc­ing is tra­di­tion­ally done by women only, men and chil­dren are also ab­so­lutely in­vited to par­take in the dance work­shop. Soon you will find your­selves mov­ing to the rhythm of the mu­sic and con­nect­ing to the world around you.

De­tails: 054-789-3327.

Tz­fira Pool

Is­raeli tour guides have to be creative in or­der to come up with out­ings that are ap­pro­pri­ate for the hot sum­mer months. One such guide, In­bal Eli­sheva Arazi, takes clients to out­looks such as Mitzpe Omer, Gi­vat Gorni and Masada. There is not too much walk­ing in­volved at any of th­ese sites, and they are ex­tremely worth­while be­cause Arazi is a mas­ter story teller. And if you like swim­ming out in nature, don’t miss her trip to Tz­fira Pool.

Tz­fira Pool is an in­cred­i­ble place to spend time on a hot sum­mer day, since it sits at the top of a 100-me­ter-high wa­ter­fall. It’s ex­tremely easy to walk down to the pool. All you have to do is drive from Kfar Hanokdim (fol­low the black trail mark­ers) and park your car in the Tz­fira Pool park­ing lot. Then, fol­low the green trail mark­ers by foot. When you come to the spot where the green trail meets the blue trail, fol­low the lat­ter up the side of the moun­tain (there are pegs to hold on to) that leads to the pool.

De­tails: In­bal Eli­sheva Arazi, 054-495-5288.

Ron­nie Wald­mann Pelach shows off her Ra­jasthani dance moves.

Sal­ads star at din­ner at Kfar Hanokdim.

Take a desert load off.

Tz­fira Pool, which sits at the top of a 100-me­ter-high wa­ter­fall, is a great place for a dip.

Hik­ing Masada.

The trea­sures of the vast night sky await.

A view to Masada.

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