Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Gem in the Desert

The alpaca farm is located in a hidden valley among desert hills, offering visitors much fun and joy. At the entrance , on both sides - amazing cactus plants. Next, a multi -purpose stone cabin which serves as cafeteria, exhibition of alpaca-wool based products, activity room etc..

People interested in recreation and a base for trips in the desert and nearby Mizpe Ramon crater will find here some B&B cabins., well-equipped and air-conditioned. ( I suppose , sometimes , in high touristic season, the recreation area gets a bit noisy because of the many visitors on the farm).

[Enlarge the following colorful map to learn something about the structure of this unusual place. The captions are in hebrew , but the pictures help give an idea of how things are grouped].

The alpacas (raised for their wool) and llamas (reliable burden carriers) , live in harmony here with pigeons, horses, angora sheep, dogs, ponnies, camels, goats etc.. The dogs are supposed to protect the other animals at night from foxes and wolves .

There are some nice activities for both children and adults taking place at the farm: ponny and llama rides for kids, horse rides for the grown-ups, watching shearing of alpacas , weaving of wool on a loom, and the biggest attraction of all - hand feeding the alpacas and llamas. Sometimes these gracious camel-like animals get cheeky or start spitting, so - watch out!

Please, watch my musical slideshow displaying pictures of this special farm. Enjoy!

Friday, October 15, 2010

On the edge of Machtesh Ramon

The Visitors' Center (in the above picture) located on the very edge of the Ramon Crater is the starting point to almost everything concerning this huge, unspoiled, geologically fascinating area (viewing, hiking, rappeling , camping, exploring, info regarding status of trails, etc..).

There seems to be a slightly embarassing hygienic and estethic problem at the spot: men tend to urinate near the structure ignoring the nearby toilets and the warning sign which says the delinquent will be punished. (See the picture below, a combo of two pictures: 1. man in "action" 2. the warning sign and the ugly brown urine stain.).

It's possible to get to the top of the rocky hill where the Visitors Complex stands, by road or by climbing stairs. I went up and down by both ways and enjoyed it. It's a bit windy up there; one's hat/cap could be easily carried away by the light wind. A plane from a nearby military base flying low, scarred the bejesus out of me ( I suppose this kind of low flight is not uncommon here).

A few meters from the Visitors' Center , there's a balcony which hangs above the crater offering the best panoramic view of the crater. The floor of the balcony is made of wood so I was kind of afraid to step on it ( trauma of the collapse of the wooden bridge - see my post from July 15 "The Fatal Bridge and Fungus"). I did it in the end , and the reward was a breathtaking view of the crater.

Please watch my musical slideshow with views from the edge of the crater! ( I couldn't upload it from my blog editor , so I had to learn how to use the method of uploading on Youtube, and then embed the code in my blog). Enjoy !

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Days of September

I've had a rather hectic September, partly because of our jewish High Holidays. I'm not a religious person, not in the organized sense, but I do observe certain basic customs such as fasting on The Day of Atonement, remembering the departed ones, reading relevant passages in the Book of Prayers. There are things to do before and during the Holidays, and then when it's over, all I want is - to go on... a holiday.

Well, this time I chose to go to Mizpe Ramon, a tiny town in the Negev desert. A complete change of scenery and atmosphere: hot and dry weather (not humid as in my home-region) with cool mornings and evenings; dominant yellow colors, and..the blessed silence of the desert around.

This small town is located on the rim of what is considered the biggest crater in the world, "Machtesh Ramon" (40 kilometers long , 9 kilometers across at its widest point). The crater is characterized by unique geological phenomena, and it attracts visitors from all over the world.

While on a cliff overlooking this marvel of Nature, I couldn't help thinking of how difficult it must be raising kids in Mizpe Ramon, keeping an eye so that they don't run in the wrong direction, to the edge of that huge hole. There seems to be lots of children here (probably, the relative isolation from the big cities contributes to a high percentage of natality).

There's another unique attraction in the area - a Farm of llamas and alpacas- friendly animals originally from the Andes mountains in South America. Both adults and children enjoy hand- feeding them, but greatly dislike their habit of ....spitting (It is believed, by the way, that their spitting stuff contains something that makes hair grow, so that is a matter of real interest to bald people).

More on the crater and the farm in my next posts.