Thursday, April 04, 2013

Exploring the South..one Alpaca at a Time

It always amazes me just how much is packed into this little country of ours.

This Pesach, since the calendar is so incredibly early, we realized that the North might still be quite cold at the end of March. As a result, we decided to go South and camp in Mitzpe Ramon. Except for a few trips to Eilat, we haven't really been South with the kids or explored the Negev at all.

The main attraction in this area, located in the Negev desert, is the stunningly amazing Maktesh (Ramon Crater). The crater isn’t actually a crater created from a meteor, but a vast area created by receding ocean waters, climatic forces, river changes and more.




Our kids had never been to the Maktesh, and it’s definitely somewhere that every Israeli child (and those visiting!) should experience and enjoy. At the visitor’s center there are three videos about the creation of the Maktesh, the many animals and life forms that live in the Maktesh and the life of Ilan Ramon (no idea what the relationship was – but the kids loved the video). They also have a very interested demonstration of how the Maktesh was created with 3-D visual assistance.

There are oodles of National Park volunteers around who can offer suggestions for the best hikes through the Maktesh – and we discovered that there are even campgrounds inside the crater itself (note to self for next trip..). We ended up taking a three hour hike through the crater. It was absolutely beautiful, allowed for rock climbing and cave exploration without too much physical effort and afforded all of the kids a great way to explore a new surrounding.




We camped in Mitzpe Ramon for two nights and the kids delighted in creating the campfire and the cooking fire, setting up the tents, nestling together in their six person tent and wrestling in the great outdoors.



No trip is complete, of course, without a stop off at the Alpaca Farm, and that's where we found ourselves the next morning after a great night of camping.The Alpaca Farm is beautifully organized and includes at least 200 alpacas and llamas. We were able to feed the alpacas, ride on a llama and see a demonstration by the owner of his shearing techniques!


The kids loved this detour and it was a fascinating little gem (and another example of creative money making - they have five cabins on the farm so that you can sleep overnight on an alpaca farm!)

I am continually amazed by just how much there is to do and see in this little country of ours. A two hour drive in almost any direction introduces our children to something new and exciting, and affords them the opportunity to walk their land and enjoy.

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