With nothing to punctuate the bucolic tranquility but a possible conversation between two goats, the novelty soon wears off. In fact, when a couple spends two whole days together in a bungalow, no matter how well-appointed, their pastoral getaway becomes somewhat of a challenge.
As Moshav Ben-Ami in the Western Galilee starts to recover from this summer’s Katyusha onslaught, residents are able to once again turn their attention to the tourism that largely supports the small village. Specifically, officials have begun to address the quiet vacation trap.
The man in the wall (Photo: Ziv Lantzner)
Visitors are offered a wide range of activities, both on the moshav and in the surrounding area. Examples, which range from picking exotic fruits and dining on goat cheese to hikes and jeep tours, were all designed to unlock the secret of a great rustic vacation: how to relax without getting bored.
Moshav Ben-Ami is situated just outside of Nahariya, on Route 89. Lodging is available at one of several guesthouses run by local families. For instance, Aromantica includes three new cabins; an orderly path winds through a carefully-tended flower garden.
While the interiors are not overly lavish, the rooms are comfortable and well-equipped. Features include air conditioning, a television with a DVD and home movie speakers, a stocked kitchenette, and, of course, a decent size Jacuzzi, apparently a must for any self-respecting bungalow.
Nitpickers will have one minor complaint. Although the rooms are very spacious, the shower, unlike the Jacuzzi, is too small to hold a couple. Truthfully, we would not have noticed, but Aromantica’s cabins are designated for couples only, rather than for families.
The price for a couple per night, including a sumptuous breakfast, is NIS 550 midweek and NIS 650 on the weekends. Telephone: 972-4-892-1484.
Etz HaSadeh Cabins, some of which are designed for families, provide guests with a homemade breakfast in a small, unique room, which the brochure refers to as “an ancient basalt tavern in the courtyard.” Antique tools and pictures of moshav life in the 1950’s adorn the walls, and the table is laden with delicacies, including vegetable omelets, eggplant stuffed with cheese, sliced mango, and much more.
Prices range from NIS 550 to NIS 600 per couple per night. Breakfast is included. Telephone: 972-4-982-2303.
Founded and owned by Dror Boker, the Teva Ez Dairy is one of Ben-Ami’s main attractions. In 1984, Boker began raising goats, and, eventually, he established the goat cheese producing dairy with an adjoining shop/restaurant. The venture comprises around 300 industrious does, as well as several bucks, who indulge in traditional male pursuits, such as eating, resting, reproducing, and ego-scratching.
Some of the dairy’s goat milk is purchased from other farms as well. Once the milk reaches the factory, it is pasteurized and churned into cheese in special vats. The cheeses – mainly soft cheeses, including high-quality white cheese, mint cheese which is good for spreading, classic Sainte-Maure, Camembert, Brie, and others – are sold at the small rustic café in the rear.
Undoubtedly, seeing the goats first only enhances the restaurant experience. Specifically urban children, who believe that cheese comes from a refrigerator’s udder, will be surprised to learn otherwise. Telephone: 972-4-982-2554.
Those seeking a bit of glitter on the farm will find it at David Haroush’s home based jewelry studio, which offers an impressive array of silver as well as gold and precious stone combinations. Some of Haroush’s designs are truly stunning - and truly expensive. Telephone: 972-4-982-3303.
The area around the moshav is beautiful, green and inviting. All conventional means of getting around - walking, cycling, and driving – are appropriate, and the meticulous will want to take advantage of all three.
Bicycle enthusiasts should contact David Taub, a seemingly tireless tour guide. In the framework of “Ofen BiTeva”, he leads group tours (NIS 80 a person), provides assistance to independent riders, and rents bikes (at NIS 60 a day).
There are no less than 20 tour routes in the area. Taub led us on an expedition along Nahal HaGa’aton to Acre’s aqueduct, between Tel Cabri and the Cabri springs. Telephone: 972-4-982-4339
Jeep rides on bumpy and windy paths in the forested mountains are also an option. The scenery along the Ga’aton canyon is spectacular. We passed goatherds in this mini jungle, as well as a group of professional cyclists, who appeared to have taken a wrong turn while on the Tour De France. The aptly-named “scenic path” runs from Nahal K’ziv to the Maalot-Nahariya road.
A unique attraction is the so-called “man on the wall”, a relief from the Hellenist period (4th – 2nd centuries BCE) embossed on the side of Mount Galili. Dror Boker, our friend from Teva Ez, took us to see this unique site, which was discovered in the 1980’s by his late father-in-law, Shmuel Be’er, a Ben-Ami native who conducted a survey of the area’s caves.
Leave your car at the exit of Goren Park, near Mekorot’s Goren Pool. Footpaths lead from Goren down to Nahal K’ziv and the majestic Montfort Fortress. We hiked – following both the signs and our guide Dror Boker – to the Temple Cave; the “man on the wall” is engraved on the cave’s exterior wall. The breathtaking scenery along the way made us feel like soaring over the green gorge between the mountains.
When we finally reached the celebrated wall, it took a little while to absorb what we were seeing. But then – wow! There stood an image of a fighter, in profile, wearing a skirt and waving his right arm. Although the relief is small, concealed, and old, visitors will be glad that they made the effort to get here.