Touring greenhouses, milking cows, picking berries collecting potatoes and flying pigeons are only a small part of the various activities offered to visitors. But before you head out, note that tours require payment and arrival should be arranged ahead of time.
- In Ora’s Back Yard (Kfar Maymon): “The 60 varieties garden” has dozens of trees of different types. The tour includes folk stories from the farming world, alongside a kosher Yemenite meal and a tasting of home made liqueurs. Tel. 972-8-9941285
- The Salad Trail: The agronomist Uri Alon offers a hands-on tour which includes visiting orchards, tasting fruit preserves, flying carrier pigeons and a guided tour in tomato, pepper and cucumber greenhouses. The tour is about 3 hours long. Tel. 972-8-9982225.
- The Cactus Farm (Talmei Yosef): The farm is spread on a 5 acre land and displays hundreds of different varieties of cacti and succulent plants. The farm offers guided tours and a plant nursery. Tel. 972-8-9982989.
- Through the Fields: A guided tour of the Negev’s agricultural history. The tour is about 20 km long (almost 12.5 miles), and it passes through fields and greenhouses. The tour’s path is always open: the starting point is the entrance gate of Kibbutz Zeelim, and from there you turn west towards Gvulot. During the Darom Adom (red south) festival the path will be marked.
When do we eat?
A restaurant in the Negev which is open on Saturdays is still a kind of phantom. Recently, possibly due to the rising hunger of the tourists, a change has been noticed. During the Darom Adom festival it is recommended to make reservations several days ahead of time.
- Muscat (Yesha): Salads and quiches, bistro food, a bar, café and gallery, in what looks like a home’s living room. The dishes here are large and served in well-designed plates. The restaurant also offers children’s meals, home made cakes and beers. The shelves and walls display local art for sale. Tel. 972-8-9982652.
- San Pedro (Talmei Yosef): Bistro-pub and char grilled meat. Served along with liqueur made from the cacti on location. Tel. 972-8-9982989.
- In the Yard (42 Moshav Gea): Breakfast on the terrace, which envelops a store selling Eastern artifacts. Pasta, shakshuka and various meats. Tel. 972-8-6728861.
- Namaste in Pauna (Kibbutz Niram): An Indian restaurant in a relaxed atmosphere. Traditional dishes served on embroidered table cloths. Children’s dishes are available. Tel. 972-50-5750792.
- Kukla (Kibbutz Miflasim): A variety of dishes from Italian and South American cuisines, with blues music in the background. The place is charmingly designed in warm tones. Tel. 972-8-6804444.
- Moshav Tzochar: delicacies served in the living room or the back garden. There is no menu, and something different is cooked every day using herbs from the garden and vegetables from the greenhouses across. Tel. 972-8-9982379.
- Patagonia (Kibbutz Or Haner): Asado meals for carnivores. A giant device for grilling fragrant pieces of meat is outside. Tel. 972-50-2400500.
Sleeping in Style
The northern B&B trend is not hurrying southward so far. For those who prefer sleeping in style, or in a slightly different style, the north west Negev has some original options.
- Rakuya (Ein Habeson): Two B&B rooms in the Japanese style of yin and yang. Caligraphy work decorates the walls, the baths are slate-covered, colorful kimonos are offered along the white robes, and ikebana floral arrangements are placed on the table. Sushi can be ordered directly to your room. Couples only. Tel. 972-8-9982198.
- The Calm West (Talmei Yosef): Three wood cabins near horse stables. An attic for the kids, a hot tub for the adults, a well kept garden and wide open spaces. Tel. 972-8-9922949.
- The Magic Touch (Talmei Yosef): Sleeping in well equipped wooden cabins, combined with physical and mental spa treatments. There is a colorful garden and a small waterful between the cabins. Mostly for couples. Tel. 972-8-9985028.
- 36 Figs (Moshav Dekel 36): Yurt accommodations. The yurts are Kazakh sleeping tents made of a wooden skeleton and covered in sheep or camel wool. The yurts have air conditioning, a television, and even a hot tub. Tel. 972-8-9982103.
- Tipuana (Talmei Yosef): Accommodations are Native American tents, with colorfully made beds and an outdoor shower. Hundreds of cacti are in bloom outside. Tel. 972-50-7549648.
- Talmei Bilu: Two suites with hot tubs among olive groves on a green hill. Rustic furnishings, a hot tub by the bed, and a fully equipped kitchenette. Breakfast served in the room. Tel. 972-54-6602199.
Habesor region offers more than just sweet potato tours. The region, which is situated between the yellow desert, the Gaza strip and Egypt, includes some of the country’s mot interesting historical sites. Entrance is free of charge, unless noted otherwise.
- Eshkol national park: The gateway to the biblical land of Grar. Wellsprings, lawns, pedestrian and bicycle paths, picnic areas and disables accessibility. Entrance fee. Tel. 972-8-9985110.
- Nirim observatory: A bird-watching observatory, on the banks of Nirim reservoir, which provides access to a pathway hidden from the birds’ view. Enter from route 232 between Jamma intersection and Maon intersection.
- Tel Jamma: Remnants of an Assyrian settlement and a view of Nahal Habesor stream.
- Habesor way: 18 km (about 11 miles) of scenic road from Eshkol park in the north to Zeelim in the south. The track, which can be done by car, follows Nahal Habesor stream and has many rest areas, historical sites and a hanging bridge for pedestrians on its path.
- Yad Anzak: A memorial to the New Zealand soldiers who fought with the British in WWI and dies fighting for Israel. The memorial was founded in 1967, 50 years after the battle of Gaza.
- Negabir: Old Be’eri. This is the spot where the kibbutz was originally founded. The security house, tower and tunnels still remain.
- Dangur fighters memorial: Kibbutz Nirim was initially founded on the Dangur lands, where Kibbut Sufa lies today. Kibbutz members were the first to encounter Egyptian forces in the war of 48, and were able to resist. These soldiers were the ones who inspired the saying, “Not the tank will win, but the man.”
- Zeelim reservoir: Contains 500 cubic meters (almost 18,000 cubic feet) of water. The observatory can be reached from Gvulot Zeelim road (route 222 south)
- The steel memorial: The memorial was founded in memory of the soldiers of the division which conquered Pithat Rafiah in 1967, commanded by major-general Israel Tal. The memorial was designed by Israel Gudovitch and was inaugurated in Yamit square in 1977, but was rebuilt in Petah Shalom following the peace treaty with Egypt and the evacuation of the city. It can be reached through route 232 between the entrance to Hevel Shalom communities and Kerem Shalom.