For the love of Yoav

Situated close to where most of the country’s population lives, the Yoav Yehuda region has lots to offer visitors both indoors and out.

By
January 2, 2013 18:32
Baths

Hamei Yoav baths. (photo credit: Gal Plotnikov)

The Yoav Yehuda Regional Council area has so much going for it.

Stretching out from the southern reaches of the Jerusalem Hills in the direction of Kiryat Gat, it is close to where most of the country’s population lives and has plenty of eye-catching landscapes to offer city dwellers.

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In fact, the region has lots to offer both indoors and out, with museums, a well appointed spa center, stables, mountain biking trails, sprawling vineyards, jeep trips, goat farms and a honey-producing facility, all within short driving distances.

Visitors interested in the history of the locale should enjoy a trip to the Eran Shamir Moshava Museum in Mazkeret Batya, which houses a wide range of items of historical and aesthetic value. The institution also plays an active role in the documentation and preservation of historic sites in the area, and some of the results of its fieldwork are on display in the museum.

For more information: (08) 939-4525; www.mazkeret-batya.muni.il


Moshav Naham, near Beit Shemesh, has a more active museum experience on offer, which it calls A Tour of the Remains of the Har Tuv Colony. The colony was founded by Bulgarian immigrants in 1895 and led a checkered existence until the site was ultimately abandoned in 1948. The tour starts with a visit to the Colony Museum (Muzeon Hamoshava), with a look at photographs and documents relating to the colony, followed by a tour of a number of historic local spots, including the ruins of the 19th-century Mission House, and remains of the colony and the cemetery.

For more information: (02) 533-0007; 052-228-6777

Farther south, the Katif Center Visitors’ Center at Nitzan, on Route 4 between Ashkelon and Ashdod, offers a two-hour program that takes in an experiential tour relating to the Israeli community in Gush Katif, with movies and items of art made by the former residents, who have been evacuated.



For more information: 077-432-0515; 054- 777-5604; www.mkatif.org.


There is a visitors’ center of a different kind at Moshav Tal Shahar, off Route 3 near the Nahshon Junction, located at the Shvil Izim (Goat Path) dairy farm. The center runs workshops and activities for all ages and groups, on topics relating to goat rearing, milking and cheese production.

For more information: (08) 949-5964; www.shvilizim.co.il


Milk is not the only liquid produced in the Yoav Yehuda region. There are a large number of wineries dotted all over the area that make a wide range of quality wines.

The Kahanov Winery at Gedera (052-393- 6999; www.kahanov.co.il), for example, produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and port-style wines, while the Raman Winery (054-459-8080) at Moshav Nir Banim near Kiryat Gat produces and sells wines and cheeses, as well as offering catering services.

In recent years, boutique breweries have proliferated around the region, most of which are only too happy to admit members of the public and show them around.

One such outfit, the Abeer Haela brewery, can be found on Moshav Tzafririm. It holds beer tasting events and also sells organic goats’ cheeses and yogurt.

For more information: 050-555-7847

Just across the other side of the main road to Kiryat Gat, Srigim Brewery, on Moshav Li’on-Srigim, produces several varieties of beer and operates a visitors’ center with 45-minute tours.

For more information: 052-622-7679; 052- 593-8287; www.srigim-beer.co.il


The Yoav Yehuda region also has plenty of natural and other outdoor fun things to see and do. The Stalactite Cave near Ness Harim is a truly breathtaking natural phenomenon, while the Action Park near Lachish offers a wide range of attractions and facilities for children up to age 14.

For more information: (08) 681-8818


And if you want to get a compact overview of some of the country’s most important and beautiful urban spots, the Mini Israel site has most of our prominent buildings – in miniature – and has all sorts of fun activities for children.

For more information: 1-700-559-559; www.minisrael.co.il

The more energetic visitor to the region can enjoy the numerous mountain bike trails that crisscross the area and take in some delightful landscapes through areas such as Canada Park, the Adullam Park trail and Haruvit Forest.

If you’re looking to chill out in the most relaxing way or perhaps recover from a thrilling but strenuous bike ride around the region, you might want to get yourself over to the Hamei Yoav Thermo-mineral Baths of Israel, located between Kiryat Gat and Ashkelon, just off Route 35.

The spa and treatment center nestles in a charming compound, replete with bubbling springs. The facility, which is under new management, is designed to maintain the natural harmony around it. The owners are renovating the baths and introducing new features to include a high-quality spa, VIP hall, thermo-mineral baths, cozy luxury hosting suites, a restaurant, and three conference and events auditoriums. A new amphitheater, to host shows, is now under construction.

The water used for the Hamei Yoav baths is rich in minerals and sulfur, which help to renew skin cell growth and cleanse the body of excess fats and sweat. The high temperature of the thermo-mineral water also reduces blood pressure and enhances cardiovascular performance. The center offers a range of packages, including a massage plus breakfast or business lunch, and there are special rates for senior citizens.

For more information: (08) 672-1150; www.hamei-yoav.co.il.


This article was made possible with the help of the Israel Ministry of Tourism.

www.goisrael.gov.il




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