Most of my friends’ reactions to this idea were similar, “what is there to do for thirty whole days in a country so small that it stretches only 430 km from north to south, and driving across it takes less than one day?”. As it turned out, there was plenty to do, as I somehow managed to fill an entire month with adventures and feel that it was not merely enough time. Throughout my journey I got to visit countless charmingly green spots in the north, isolated beaches in center, and chilly cisterns in the south.
The most difficult part was to make the decision to go on this journey. In many ways, going on a journey in your home country is much more challenging than planning a trip abroad. When you go on vacation abroad you automatically become unavailable, all you need to do is to book tickets for two or three weeks and go. When you travel in Israel everything is relatively close and it is very hard to disengage. In my case, right after I had set the date for my journey an invitation to a relative’s wedding arrived, plus a new big project at work. I decided I was about to treat this journey the same way I would a trip abroad – stop everything and clear my schedule for thirty days.
A journey across Israel starts here
In the beginning of March, I made my way to the starting point of my journey, Rosh Hanikra. From that moment and for the following thirty days there were no more appointments, no more phone calls, and no more alarm clocks. Truth be told, there was no actual plan either. The one thing I did have was thirty days of peace and quiet to explore my little country throughout its length and breadth.
Places to visit in the North of Israel
I spent the first night at Achziv Beach area. The irritating sound of the alarm clock was replaced with the sound of waves breaking on the low rocks along the shore. I stepped out of my tent and made myself the inaugural cup of coffee of this trip. The sun gradually started to appear behind me and chase away the chilliness so typical of an early March night. “I could spend my whole life like this” was my first thought that morning, while I was standing in front of the blue sea and holding a warm cup of coffee. From Achziv Beach I got on the northern roads and made my way towards the Tziv’on wadi stream. My new home was completely green. A gorgeous clearing surrounded by magical oak trees. The nights were a bit cold, yet the days were nothing but blue skies and gentle sunbeams of a glorious spring. All in all, I felt the weather was customized just for me. I continued to my next destination, the Golan Heights. I climbed to the Heights via Ein Heshek Spring, where I made a stop to look at the Hula Valley. From Ein Heshek I continued to Ein Maymon Spring to take a little dip and then got on the Petroleum Road. I made a short visit to Hazeka Ridge and move on to Mevo Hama. I took a swim in Ein Shoko Spring, which overlooks the Sea of Galilee, and started my descent from the Golan Heights on the most beautiful road in Israel, which overlooks the Jordanian Yarmouk River. The next few days I spent in several different locations along the shore strip that stretches between Atlit and Michmoret. When you spend your whole day outdoors sunsets become a routine. For thirty days, the sun was my clock. Every night, a little before sunset, I would set up my tent, grab a cool beer from the refrigerator, and sit down to watch the sunset. After the show was over I would light a fire and start cooking dinner.
Judaean desert and Arava area
From the shoreline, I switched to the Dead Sea. What immense powers the desert has. Silence always fills the air and triggers your thoughts and imagination. I was cruising along the course of the Arava, while letting my thoughts drift to farther places. The radio was turned off since the first day of my journey. The only music I listened to in the small truck’s cabin was the harmony of the tires’ contact with the Arava gravel. In every stop I made, to glance at the map or admire the view, I switched off the engine and enjoyed the absolute silence and the desert’s intensity. There was time for everything and I wasn’t in a hurry. Every acacia tree on the way presented a wonderful opportunity to stop, get something from the refrigerator, and enjoy another moment of pure beauty. After a few quick off road trails in Amatzia and Zin, and a dip in the freezing cold Zarhan cistern I arrived at Tzukim. I stayed in Tzukim for a whole week, volunteering in a project to build a free-of-charge refugee for Israel National Trail hikers. With a heavy heart, I said goodbye to my friends from Tzukim and continued my way south. Next to Moshav Paran I got into the Paran wadi main trail. The Paran wadi is one of the largest and most amazing rivers in the Arava. Around the end of March, the river was green and vegetation was abundant, which made my experience all more powerful. Next destination – Shaharut. After a short stroll around the village you can’t help falling in love with it. Intriguing and talented people live there, who create art from wood, iron, and ceramics. I also used my time in Shaharut to prepare the truck for the last part of the journey; things like tightening some screws and fixing minor problems that had happened during the hard off road driving.
Eilat Mountains nature reserve
The last part of the journey included the Raham and Etek wadis. The further you went down the trail, the narrower the canyon became, and its cliffs closing in on you. I carried on with my journey, and drove up Ma’Ale Sayarim effortlessly. A moment before I arrived in Eilat I drove to Shlomo River, a fun rally road that winds along the red Eilat Mountains. I set up my tent in Eilat’s southern beach and got ready for bed.
Last morning has arrived. I woke up one last time to the sounds of the waves and started making breakfast. I just finished a journey in Israel that lasted thirty days, and the only thought in my head was that it wasn’t enough time. While I was traveling I came across dozens of travelers who recommended more and more places I should visit, I heard stories about engagements with fascinating communities, and I promised myself to experience all of them on my next journey. During this journey, I also had to overcome more than a few adversities, like truck malfunctions, extremely cold nights, or a mini sand storm that almost blew my tent and truck away. However, all of these experiences create my one unique journey experience. A once in a lifetime journey, that has shed different light on my country. I saw a better version of Israel, more beautiful, more peaceful, and way more optimistic. Take a break from your routine life and go on a journey of your own. This beauty is here for us to enjoy it, won’t it be a shame to miss it?
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