Magnificent Views and a Desert in Bloom

ramahridehikeSouthern Israel Trip 2019

Video | Thursday, April 4 | It was another wonderful day of hiking and riding for the 100+ members of our newly formed community. Although our itineraries varied, we all experienced breathtaking views of the majestic, rugged landscape on our paths from the Negev to the Arava Valley.

Our hikers traveled south by bus to Ein Avdat National Park, where they hiked through the canyon along the edge of the Avdat springs. Ruthie Charendoff said that the highlight of her day was the sense of accomplishment after ascending the steep canyon wall, with its narrow paths, steps, and ladders, ending with beautiful flowers at the top and the dramatic sight of the valley below. Shelley Menkowitz said, “At Ein Avdat, there’s beauty in every direction, from the pools of water in the middle of the Negev to the unusual rock formations. Just incredible!” Hikers stopped for a tour of the Avdat ruins, which had served as a way station along the ancient Nabatean Incense Route, and then enjoyed a Bedouin-style lunch before traveling to our hotel in Mitzpe Ramon.

Bogrim and Mumchim riders began at Yerucham, a growing town just southwest of Dimona. According to Craig Scheff, “Even words like ‘overwhelming’ and ‘exhilarating’ cannot capture the experience of our ride today from Yerucham to Makhtesh Ramon. We were humbled by the majesty of the Negev’s natural beauty on the heart-pounding descent into the Yerucham Crater (‘Makhtesh HaGadol’) and the chest-thumping climb up Scorpion’s Pass (‘Maaleh Akrabim’), a narrow, winding grade on the old road from Beersheva to Eilat. Our itinerary ultimately landed us in the Arava Valley and took us along the Arava Peace Road on the Israeli-Jordanian border, concluding with a tour and lunch at the Vidor Center, where we learned about Israel’s astounding agricultural achievements in desert farming.”

Shoafim riders traveled a loop on the quiet farm roads of the Arava Peace Road before ending at the Vidor Center. Fran Sherman said that the highlight of her day was making it up the most difficult ascent, then looking out over the Arava and seeing how Israelis have “made everything green in such inhospitable terrain.”

We all closed the day together with an update on the upcoming Israeli elections from Alon Futterman, founding CEO of TALMA, the Israeli Program for Excellence in English and a Ramah Berkshires, Canada, and Nyack alumnus.

Tomorrow, some of our riders will begin with a sunrise ride to see the desert come to life, and our hikers will explore the edges of Makhtesh Ramon.

Layla Tov from Mitzpe Ramon.