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Special Activities The Israeli Experience Magazine

Attractions on the Way to Eilat

The long way to Eilat by car, on the Arava Road, might be tedious and monotonous. But those of you who want to enjoy the way as well, can find quite a few attractions that are hidden along the road. Here are a few recommendations which will make your way there no less fun than your destination
08.01.2012
The Peace Road is a scenic road which passes along the border between the States of Israel and Jordan. The route, which passes at the center of the Arava Stream, demonstrates the spirit of peace between the two states. In the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, which was signed in 1994, it became clear that some of the fields of the Israeli moshavs of Hatseva and Idan are on the eastern side of the stream. In order not to uproot successful agriculture, the Jordanians received alternate lands instead of those that remained with Israel.

There are observation points the location of which is planned in a way which will leave a lasting impression in those who visit them. Mitzpe HaShalom (Peace Observation Point), which is located near Kfar Haruv and was built by its members, is an excellent example for such a place. Mitzpe HaShalom observation point, it seems, was built in order to give the best stage to the Sea of Galilee, which from here looks very big, impressive and even breathtaking. Near the national lake, which glitters down below, one can see well the huge Arbel Cliff, the rocky slopes of the Golan Heights, the fertile Jordan Valley and more. In the Mitzpe HaShalom complex one can also find audio information stations for those who would like to learn more about the local geography. A few sets of steps near the observation point will lead you to several short circular trails, some of which pass by orchards. Access through road number 98.

At the basis of the initiative for the founding of the Yair Research and Development Station stand, among others, the notion of the spreading of agricultural knowledge. This station, located in the Moshav of Hazeva, was created mainly for the conducting of agricultural experimentation and for the development of this growing field in a region where agricultural ventures seem almost like an impossible mission. On Holidays and various occasions the Yair Research and Development Station opens its gates to public tours. The fascinating tours include visits to the greenhouses and orchards that are accompanied by interesting information about the cultivation of peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables in the brackish water of the Arava region, explanations about innovative biologic pest control, the acclimatization of new species, water agriculture, organic agriculture, and more. Based on prearrangement, on occasions a group of several families can get organized and receive a tour of the place. A visit to the Yair Research and Development Station is not only for the genre lovers.

Sapir Park is an oasis in the midst of the Arava Region. It is an excellent place for a refreshing stop for stretching one’s legs or for a pleasant picnic on the way to Eilat. The Sapir Park is named after Pinhas Sapir who served as a Knesset member and a minister and has acted extensively for the development of the Negev. In this unexpected place there is a lake with grass around it, reeds, palms, sitting areas surrounded with bougainvilleas, ducks that swim in the water and even baobab trees which were brought here from the Ein Gedi Botanical Garden. Sapir Park, with its magnificent setting of the Edom Mountains, offers also an environmental sculptures garden by the Australian artist Andrew Rogers, and one can also see in it the Thailand "Friendship Bell” which was a gift from the Thai government. The highlight at the Sapir Park is "The Vanishing Valley”, a lake the water of which come from high ground water that rose at the time of the building of the nearby settlement of Sapir. With the generous help of the Jewish National Fund this ground water was made into a lake for the benefit of the local residents and travelers. Please note that bathing in this lake is prohibited and that it contains undrinkable salt water. Sapir Park is always open and the entrance to it is free of charge.

Here is an example of the realized dream of a nature loving person. Here, near the moshav of Tzofar, which is in the Arava region, Yossi Ben has founded an area in which live about 200 antelopes of different kinds. You can drive in your own car around the vast ranch which spreads over hundreds of dunams and almost feel on a safari trip in Africa. Besides the antelopes you will be able to see deer and ibexes, and also less exotic animals such as, for example, goats and sheep. Also here is "Noah’s Ark”- a great wooden boat-like structure, located in the midst of the sands, which houses more animals, from huge turtles to water crabs and songbirds. A real celebration for animal lovers. The complex includes also a large equipped camping area.

Kibbutz Lotan is situated about 10 kilometers north of Yotvata, in front of the Edom Mountains and at the feet of the cliff ridges of the southern Negev region. Kibbutz Lotan is a reform green kibbutz and has a creative ecological center which holds ecological, building with earth, recycling, organic gardening and other workshops. Kibbutz Lotan is located in the midst of the southern Arava region, which is rich with vegetation and water sources, thus, during migration season many birds stop here. Kibbutz Lotan has been considered a worldwide famous birds watching center for quite a while now and it provides a very high level bird watching guiding services.

It is very much recommended to stop for a visit at the Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve on the way to the southern city of Eilat or from it. The purpose of the Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve is to create a reproduction center for animals which exited at the time of the Bible and to reintroduce them back to nature, as well as to preserve other desert endangered species. There is a guided tour offered here which leaves in private cars at every round hour, during which one stays in one’s car. The Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve is divided into several sections: In the open area one can watch herbivores such as the onager, African wild ass, oryx, antelope and ostrich, which have once lived here in the wild. At the enclosures of the carnivores one can watch animals such as the fox, wolf, fennec fox, leopard, caracal and more. In a fascinating dark room, where nighttime conditions are simulated during the day, the visitors can watch the activity of nocturnal animals such as the fat sand rat, gerbil, fruit bat, barn owl and more.

Timna Park is located to the north of the city of Eilat and it combines a desert landscape and antiquities together with history and a diversity of activities for the whole family. The vast Timna Park, which is surrounded by high cliffs, offers engaging displays which tell the tales of Egyptian mythology and in addition opens a window to the antiquities and natural treasures that are found here, such as: the remains of various cultures and the mushroom rock formation, King Solomon's pillars, the shrine of the Egyptian goddess Hathor, the ancient copper mines, rock drawings and the copper lake. In addition, the Timna Park offers a variety of attractions, such as: a multi-media display, the man-made Timna Lake, filling bottles with colored sand, pedal boats, a replica of the biblical tabernacle, or Tent of Congregation, night and sunset tours, mountain biking and more.
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