Starry starry night… under the sky of the Israeli desert. If you visit southern Israel, make sure you travel to the Negev for a real romantic vacation
Starry nights, excellent wines – grown and produced in the region’s choice terroir – and a sense of complete privacy and solitude. Does it get any more romantic then that? While central Israel is somewhat small and crowded, the Negev is vast and scarcely populated. There are many reasons to come here: people crave the silence, the crisp dry air, the extraordinary landscapes. The opportunity to think quietly, without any distractions. The opportunity not to think. The opportunity to relax and rediscover themselves and their loved ones. Love is in the desert air, come grab some for yourselves.
A romantic morning in the Negev can take different shapes and forms. If you are easy goers, try a desert spa: pools of rich thermo-mineral water, jacuzzi, sauna, massages and other treatments await you at Ahuzat Neve Midbar, near Kibbutz Mashabey Sade. Then, all shiny and relaxed, drive ten minutes to Korenmehl Farm, where you can sit on a splendid wooden porch overlooking the desert hills and enjoy your coffee with home-made goat cheese delicacies. Don’t forget to gear up with quality cheeses for the rest of the day.
Another Negev route can take you to Yeruham Park, offering a lovely desert reservoir surrounded by lush vegetation in the actual middle-of-nowhere – a perfect place for a morning stroll with some cookies and tea (just bring them along with you, there’s nothing to buy here).
Easy goers with the fine goat cheeses, are you ready for some action now? The light version would be an easy hike in Ein Ovdat, a stunning natural oasis of green and blue amidst the white marble-like rocks. The more challenging option is a trek along Nahal Akev, from the upper springs to the lower springs. This is a fabulous desert walk, and if you do it after a rainy winter you’ll get to see – and bath in, if you wish – many surprising rock pools along the way. As the trail leaves from Ovdat National Park, it is also a perfect opportunity to visit the impressive remains of the ancient Nabatean city of Ovdat, perched on a high hill above the road.
As for Yeruham Park visitors, you can proceed in the eastern Negev route to The small Crater view point, admire the perfect crater shape of this rare geological phenomenon, and then – if you’re up to it – take the real challenging hike downNahal Akrabim. You may curse yourselves for making this choice during some of the steep parts of the descend, but the incredible landscapes of the Tzin valley below will probably convince you that you’ve nevertheless made the right decision.
Back to the easy-goers-now-become-exhausted-trekkers coming from Ovdat and Nahal Akev: you definitely deserve some pampering now. The Wine Route along road number 40, from Sde Boker to Mitzpe Ramon, consists of several desert farmswhich bring together old and new cultivation methods to almost miraculously grow excellent wine grapes in the middle of the desert. Getting to know these solitary settlers and their very different way of life is fascinating enough, but when you add the wine tasting it gets even merrier. And if you get too merry to drive, just stay in one of the unique B&B desertcabins on offer, and enjoy the special atmosphere some more.
If wine is not your thing, you may prefer another famous romantic gesture: flowers. Flowers in the desert sound like the perfect oxymoron, but the hills around Borot Lotz haven’t heard anything about it. At the end of the winter they bloom in astounding colors and volumes that will leave your jaw dropped for the rest of the afternoon.
The eastern route trekkers can recover from their harsh walk down Nahal Akrabim and amuse themselves – if that’s the right word for it – with a visit to the Crocoloco crocodile farm, right down the road heading to Bikat Haarava. It’s a good way to get a feel of Africa without the hustle of really going there, and without the danger of being devoured by one of these magnificent primordial giants.
Evening and nighttime
If you stayed in one of the farms along the Wine Route but still feel too spanking to call it a day, follow the full moon to an unforgettable experience – a night walk in Nahal Havarim. No need for flashlights – when the moon shines over the light-colored soft rock, the desert seems amazingly illuminated.
Borot Lotz visitors would better spend the night in the vicinity of Mitzpe Ramon, where they can try the local Jazz club(8/2 Har Boker street) for some quality entertainment, or just go outside, watch the stars and think about the fun bike tours they can make here tomorrow.
Easterners, your entertainment choices for the night are fewer, but if you stay at one of the charming B&Bs along the Arava road, in Hatzeva, Idan or Ein Yahav, you can also venture on a car night tour along The Arava Peace Route (light-colored soft rock and moonlight play the same trick here), or just stay in the warm jacuzzi under the starry, starry night, stretch out your soring legs and bless the moment.