Isreal Diary: Oasis, part 1
During our month-long stay in Israel, we spent a lot of time in Jerusalem and it’s nearby areas. But we did venture to a few places further out – Haifa, Ein Gedi (the Masada/Dead Sea area), etc. One of the places I wanted to try to have the family experience was the area known as Mitzpeh Ramon. Many people choose to camp or hike in this area, the site of the world’s largest crater, but that wasn’t going to work for us for a two key reasons:
1) A family with both big and small children plus a directionally challenged parent (me) plus an extended stay in the wilderness equals a recipe for disaster. Or a great idea for a sit-com.
2) We were in Israel in August, when the average temperature was about 3 degrees shy of the surface of the sun.
But I found a spot near the crater that offered a kid-friendly atmosphere, including an attraction my family would not be able to resist: Alpacas!
“The Alpaca Farm” is one of those “best kept secrets” of Israel’s Negev region. They are a fully functioning farm with llamas, alpacas, camels, sheep, goats and horses; the owners and employees are committed to a very specific way of life that is both inspirational and engaging; they are warm, and friendly and helpful and willing to share what they know, what they believe and even (in the case of my kids) what they are eating. Along with a petting area (which is basically the whole darn place) they also offer educational programs, wilderness hikes and horseback tours.
And they have the most beautifully appointed rooms we found during our entire stay in Israel.
Traveling on a budget, we don’t ask for much when we’re picking a location to overnight. As long as a place is basically clean and has enough beds, we’re good to go. The Alpaca Farm blew those expectations out of the water. They had some of the most reasonable room rates, and those rooms were drop-dead gorgeous! We were able to get a single accomodation that slept six people (!) with two bathrooms, a huge airy kitchen, two bathrooms, and a view overlooking the entire area. And two bathrooms – did I mention those?
We arrived expecting to “enjoy” a night of rough living with the animals, and to grab a quick shower at our next destination. Instead the farm was an literally an oasis in the desert where we took time to unwind and recharge.
What I also didn’t expect, besides the fact that I had booked rooms at a bed and breakfast with a petting zoo attached as opposed to the reverse, was that it was here – in all of our travels – where I would make a connection to our ancestors.
More on that in the next post.