“It all began in 1965, in a Nahal settlement made up of moshavniks who decided to make the desert bloom,” recalls Itzik Ma’oz, a founder of the moshav who escorts visiting groups.
“There was hardly anything here besides a small army base and Maurice Café, a stop for truck drivers and taxi drivers. We built 14 tents that the wind blew all over the place, and it was only in 1971 that we got Hazeva going on the basis of experimental agriculture. We haven’t stopped developing desert tourism.”
As a man who knows every shrub in the area, Ma’oz has become a provider of logistical services in the desert to people on foot, on bicycles, and in jeeps. The service includes moving equipment from place to place, tours by day and by night to the hidden spots that don’t appear on maps, activities for children, jeep tours, special meals, and rescue.
Itzik Bashetah (Itzik on the Spot), Tel.: 972-52-366-6453, 972-8-658-1453.
A Mexican vacation
“La Siesta,” Karin and Neil Ozer’s Mexican-style vacation village, was inspired by treks and hikes in South America. Every cabin has a bedroom separated from the living room, which can easily sleep another four guests, children or adult. The kitchen is well equipped, and the balcony has shanti sofas from which you can view the scenery.
“La Siesta", Photo: Nil Ozer
The place is adapted to the needs of hikers, who generally come to the desert in groups or with their families. There is a large dining area with a roof of thick wooden beams covered with palm branches. The tables and chairs were designed to look Mexican. There is a large outdoor grill, as well as utensils and a well-equipped kitchen.
Neil has provided a magnificent billiard table for his guests, and is always happy to teach them how to play the game. There is also a Jacuzzi along with a small bar where they play salsa, and pillows to lie on either before or after swimming.
La Siesta, Moshav Hazeva 135. Cost: NIS 380 per couple a night mid-week (discount for those staying more than two nights), NIS 480 a night on weekends. Every additional guest in the room (2 years old or older) costs NIS 80. Tel.: 972-52-366-6415, 972-8-658-1566.
Time for a massage
If you’d like to give your muscles a treat with different types of massage you’ll want to visit Revital Tzur Lobel, who uses the Greenberg method. She’ll identify your problem areas, then rid you of chronic fatigue and of pain that has settled in your bones. As a bonus, she’ll tell you about your personality type as she works.
Revital makes soothing sounds and provides you with a movement or two to use at home. Her repertoire includes Swedish massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, and healing touch.
Revital Tzur Lobel. Cost: NIS 180 per hour, massages on site, NIS 250 (depending on the size of the group). Tel.: 972-52-366-6734.
Hi there, Jordan!
You can see what a quiet border is when you go to Mitzpeh Hashalom, the Peace Observation Point, which is located on the outskirts of Moshav Hazeva, across the border from Jordan, where some of the Israeli greenhouses can be found.
The well-kept observation point was established by a group of lovers of Israel from Australia, and demonstrates the lives of those who have chosen to live in the Arava. Large areas of chalky soil surround the area, and they shine from afar on nights when the moon is full. In the chalky soil are natural walking paths where you can hike during the day or at night, with flashlights.
Another good trail is Derech Hashalom, the Peace Trail, 15 miles long. It passes along the border between Israel and Jordan, and on the nature reserve you’ll find the Jewish National Fund’s Hazeva reservoir. The rain waters collected in the reservoir are used to water the fields of Moshav Hazeva. Mitzpeh Hashalom and the nature reserve are open during the day and night, and entrance is free.
Feeding the Arabian babblers
Take the morning tour for groups or families with children at the Shizaf Nature Reserve near Moshav Hazeva, and you’ll hear the singing of birds. The tour includes watching and feeding the Arabian Babblers. These beautiful birds live permanently on the nature reserve, and you can see them up close with the assistance of ornithologists or guides from the Hazeva Field School.
The long-tailed birds arise at dawn and gather on the branches of the trees, and they’re prepared to approach human beings as long as they’re given bread cubes or worms. On a good day you can see their leader sitting on the treetop giving warning chirps with 30 different sounds if danger approaches in the form of a fox, a snake, or a crow.
Tours in the Shizaf Nature Reserve and Hazeva Field School: Entrance fee charged. Tel.: 972-8-658-1546.
Fortresses and temples
There are many legends concerning Ir Ovot, located some 600 yards west of the Ein Hazeva junction. There is a destroyed spring and an ancient site that in the past was called Ein Husub (the Spring of Plenty). The fact that the spring served in the past as a source of water south of the Dead Sea made it very important in the ancient period. The Biblical Tamar is identified with this place, as is Tadmor, built by King Solomon.
Excavations conducted on the site unearthed three fortresses that existed in the period of the kingdoms. On the ruins of the fortresses were built Nabatean way stations with small temples. A small Roman fortress tower was also discovered here next to a bath house. In the time of the British Mandate in Palestine the Ein Husub police station, captured by the IDF in 1948, was located here. Groups of Messianic Jews live here in trailers.
Ir Ovot: Entrance to the site is free. There is a charge for guided tours. Tel.: 972-52-386-8496 (Zvi Agar)
Crocodiles and peppers
Ofer Kobi decided to build his desert crocodile farm in the area of Hazeva. There are 300 Nile crocodiles in the pools of Crocoloco, and they smile at the guests with their pointy teeth.
Crocoloco: Tel:. 972-52-899-1088
It’s hard to walk around Hazeva without seeing hundreds of orange and red peppers in greenhouses that bring Israel great honor among the world’s gourmets.
You can visit the research and development center run by the Jewish National Fund, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Agricultural Research Organization, and the local council. The visit includes an explanation of raising flowers, peppers, and small tomatoes in the Arava.
For dessert, visitors are taken to a room housing large tanks with huge Barramundi fish with terrifying eyes and a big mouth, which are eaten with great enjoyment in fancy restaurants in Australia and the Far East. Amazingly, Israel’s chefs have not yet discovered the virtues of these fish.
Yair Research and Development Station. There is a charge for guided tours. Tel.: 972-8-659-2250
Despite the culinary harbingers that have appeared here and there in the Arava, it is worthwhile to taste the dishes made in homes on the moshav.
Yael Alon has a catering company for events with up to 60 people. She is a stickler for esthetics, and she sets her tables with beautiful dishes and decorates them with the local peppers.
Cost: NIS 80-120 per person, not including wine. Not kosher. Tel.: 972-8-658-1264
Kim Baranes organizes breakfast for hikers and those staying at guest houses. Breakfast includes all kinds of vegetables as well as spices grown on the moshav, excellent hard cheeses, omelettes, and wonderful yeast cake. Kim’s meals become a gourmet desert production when served among the rocks on ironed tablecloths, with soups, chicken in cream sauce, and mushrooms.
Cost: NIS 90-120 per person, not including wine. Not kosher. Tel.: 972-8-658-2127