Over the years I have traveled to numerous places but my most memorable trip was one to Israel. Although it receives many visitors each year, it is not often at the top of traveler’s “must see” destinations. I felt it was truly unique and offered an experience not typical of the tourist haunts I have ended up in all around the world. I have compiled a list of my most favorite experiences while in Israel that I hope can guide and inspire you to head there yourself.
- Sleeping in a Bedouin tent
My first introduction to Israel was experiencing the life of the Bedouins, an ethnic group of nomads who travel around the Israeli deserts. I arrived to their desert village in the evening and was welcomed with tea accompanied by a traditional live music show. I sat on satin pillows and woven mats as I watched a man produce beautiful music out of a strange instrument. The show was followed by dinner, served on huge silver platters at floor level tables, which I ate with my hands. After an incredible dessert of baklava, I was walked further out into the desert and got a lesson on the stars as I looked at the different constellations with a telescope. The night ended huddled up in sleeping bags on the floor of a tent shared with 30 other travelers trying to keep warm from the desert night’s cold.
- Riding a camel through the desert
Upon waking from the Bedouin tent, travelers are allowed to ride camels through the desert under the supervision of the locals. Riding on the back of such a massive animal while taking in such stunning scenery was a thrill.
- Climbing to the top of Mt. Masada
I awoke while it was still dark and slowly made my way to the top of the mountain for the sunrise. As the sun came up over the dead sea I could finally see the sweeping desert around me and the ancient ruins behind me. I spent the rest of the morning discovering ancient grottoes and halls.
- Floating in the Dead Sea
There are many avenues for exploring the Dead Sea but I chose a spa. The spa was housed in a building with changing rooms and a pool and the back opened up into the sea. I floated effortlessly while chatting with friends, reached to the sea floor and utilized the exfoliating scrub that was the sand and covered myself in a natural mud wrap to relieve the sting from the salty waters.
- Staying on a Kibbutz
This agricultural settlement is the home of people living a communal life by working off of the land. Visitors get to experience their unique way of life, interact with the farm animals and eat traditional food in their shared cafeteria. The life was simple but interesting and my visit left me feeling inspired to extend my stay. Many kibbutz offer volunteer opportunities for travelers that I think I will take advantage of in the future.