By the end of the season, the summer’s heat leaves Israel dry and brown. The temperatures slowly drop to a more pleasant level, leaving less reason to remain in the air-conditioned indoors. A visit to the Bnei Shimon region in the northern Negev is a surprisingly fine choice for a couple of days.Just an hour’s drive from the Center, in the Lahav Forest, you can start with a rich and tasty breakfast at the Shvadron ranch’s Netanel restaurant.Among the pine trees in the forest near Kibbutz Lahav, enjoy the green serenity by renting a bike, or set off on foot on the walking trails to explore the area’s caves and archeological sites.
A stop at the Joe Alon Center for Beduin Culture is always a treat. Meet Ali and Uda, the storyteller and the pathfinder. Over a cup of Beduin coffee, Ali will teach you whatever you want to know about the unique Beduin customs and culture. Every question will be matched with a humorous and clever answer. Venture out with Uda, preferably toward sunset, to learn about trekking and understanding nature through signs on the trail.
The area of Bnei Shimon has 22 residents for every square kilometer which leaves lots of room for visitors. Without driving too far, you will reach Kibbutz Kramim, where you can leave your car and jump on an all-terrain-vehicle action ride offered by Zlil Noded (Wandering Sound). The company offers guided tours along extreme and beautiful trails. Access to forest and desert terrain, agricultural fields, wadis and ancient sites are all part of this exciting experience. Don’t be surprised if at the end of the trip the entire family is covered in loess, wind-blown silt or fine particles of dust.
Kramim has a restaurant that provides an inexpensive dining option with good food. You might also want to consider the Gan Hakramim country lodging for a night or two.Another stop where you can learn and understand an important environmental issue is the Dudaim facility, where you can see what happens to waste after you get rid of it. In the visitor’s center, you learn how trash is more than just rubbish. It can produce useful methane gas, compost and other substances.The end of summer also signals the autumn bird migration, attracting avians like storks and kites, making the Dudaim facility a birdwatching hot-spot. Children will enjoy recycling workshops and can make some lovely sculptures to take with them.While not so well known, the region of Bnei Shimon is worth a special visit to explore and enjoy. It is also a great stop on the drive south to Mitzpe Ramon and Eilat.