Excerpted from the Israel Highway (March 15, 2007)
Israel Uncovered: Unusual Places to Visit in Israel
by Israel HighWay Staff
Everyone who comes to Israel knows that there are many incredible historic and important sites to see. The Western Wall, Masada, Caesarea and Yad Vashem are all well known and popular sites. But Israel also offers a vast array of other interesting and fun tourist destinations. From amazing adventure vacations to quirky hotels and hostels, and even a one-man country within the country, there are exciting and out of the ordinary attractions from Metulla in the North to Eilat in the South. No matter your interest – whether you love to ski or scuba dive – Israel has what you need to make a great vacation.
Here are a few ideas to make your next visit extraordinarily memorable.
Let’s start our brief, virtual tour in the northernmost tip of Israel at the Mount Hermon Ski Resort, where you can ski, snowboard, sled and enjoy a day of winter fun – in the heart of the Middle East! If you haven’t gotten enough of the cold with this adventure, take a brief drive to Metulla’s Canada Center where you can work on your figure skating or join the occasional pick-up hockey game. Moving away from the cold, and looking for a fun snack, stop in Upper Nazareth, where you will find the Elite Chocolate Factory. The factory offers tours of the facility with the added benefit of some very tasty (and kosher) treats to sample at the end of the tour. With your sweet tooth satisfied, it’s time for a relaxing dip in the Mediterranean. Visit Akhzivland near the ancient port city of Acre. You won’t need a visa or passport to enter, but Akhzivland is a one-man country founded by the President and only permanent resident of Akhzivland, Eli Avivi (pictured). This is an Israeli original. You have to see it to believe it! After relaxing in Akhzivland, head South along Route 2 which hugs the coastline and offers some impressive views of the Mediterranean Sea. About 10 miles south of Haifa, you will come to Atlit, which has a long history dating back to the Bronze Age. You can still see the remains of one of the largest crusader castles in Israel, Chateau Pelerin (or Atlit Castle), but the real attraction here is the tour of the former British detention center at Atlit. During the Mandatory Period, the British imposed severe immigration quotas on Jews. Atlit was the site of a British detention center housing over 200 Jewish immigrants. However, on October 10, 1945 the Palmach, led by the young Yitzchak Rabin, carried out a daring raid on Atlit, freeing the 200+ detainees. Shortly after this successful raid, the British began detaining Jewish refugees on Cyprus to make them more easily contained. Continuing South along the coastal road, you will soon come to Hadera, with the famous smokestacks of the Hadera power plant serving as a hard-to-miss landmark. Just outside Hadera is Moshav Talmei Elazar – home to one of the most interesting plant nurseries in the world. Agronomist and former landscape architect Ada Barak owns and operates a carnivorous plant nursery. This nursery features a 90 minute show with snakes and frogs jumping out of carnivorous plants and explanations about the various species. After expanding your understanding of carnivorous plants, continue your tour at the Afrikef Monkey Park, located at Kfar Daniel near the Ben Shemen Forest. Here there are dozens of species of monkeys, large and small. The highlight of this park is the monkey habitat area where you can walk around as your hosts – the monkeys – scamper about freely. In Rehovot, about 30 minutes south of Tel Aviv, we come to a small museum that highlights the ingenuity of the pre-State Jewish community in Israel as they struggled to build the State. At the Ayalon Bullet Factory Museum, a secret munitions factory hidden over 20 feet below ground beneath a kibbutz bakery and laundry facility (to hide the noise of production), the Hagannah clandestinely manufactured over 2.5 million bullets between 1946 and 1948. Further south is a wonderful and quirky place to spend the night at Moshav Dekel in the Western Negev where you can rent a luxury yurt, authentic tents imported directly from Kazakhstan (native land of Borat!). Unlike the typical Kazakh yurt, these wonderful accommodations feature jacuzzis, mini-refrigerators and cable television. After a restful night in your yurt and a relaxing dip in the jacuzzi, head over to Kibbutz Nahal Oz, which will soon open a one of a kind elephant park with a herd of over 30 elephants roaming the open park. While in the Negev, choose from a vast array of hikes, jeep tours, rappelling adventures and camel rides on your way down to Eilat on the Red Sea. If you haven’t had your share of animals yet, make sure to visit everyone’s favorite maritime mammal, the dolphins at Dolphin Reef Eilat. Here you can actually swim with the dolphins in a rare opportunity to have real interaction with the chirping and diving mammals. As you can see, Israel offers activities for the entire family, no matter what your individual interests may be. From skiing to chocolate and monkeys to dolphins; from historic sites to amazing museums and archeological sites, Israel has something for you. Make your plans today! (Israel HighWay)