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Shfela - Elah Valley
The Shfela (aka Judean foothills or lowlands) is sandwiched between the higher Judean hills and the flat coast of the Mediterranean sea. With pleasant rolling fertile hills, bisected by meandering riverbeds leading to the sea, the Shfela is a stunning landscape dotted with small towns and agricultural settlements. Many Biblical stories took place in this region such as David and Goliath, Samson and Delilah and others.
Beit Guvrin - Maresha is the 'heart of the land of 1000 caves'! In ancient times, much of the residents' lives took place underground! You will discover what each of the caves was used for. At the 'Dig for a Day' program you will be an amateur archaeologist and be busy digging and sifting through a cave from the time of the Maccabees, crawl through unexcavated caves and with luck you may find an exciting 2000 year old artifact!
At the Kakadu workshop enjoy creating gorgeous, colorful hand-painted decorative wood objects. Discover your creative side!
Lupine Hill, overlooking the Elah Valley, is a magnet for both tourists and locals in the late winter. The Biblical site of Socho, mentioned in the story of David and Goliath, Lupine Hill (Givat Haturmosim in Hebrew) is covered with stunning wild blue Mountain lupines and many other wild flowers. This is a great spot for an easy hike followed by a yummy picnic.
Climbing up Tel Azeka, located in the Brittania Park, you will pass square stones engraved with verses from the Book of Samuel describing the epic confrontation between Goliath, the Philistine giant and David the young shepherd. See the actual place this historic story unfolded and learn how David took out the giant with God on his side. Learning about this well-known story at the actual site will leave you overwhelmed. With the Elah Valley below you, Tel Socho and Khirbet Kayeifa on the opposite hills, it's easy to imagine the battle that took place here. Khirbet Kayeifa may be the ancient city of Sha'arayim (meaning 2 gates) dated to king David or King Solomon's time. That's 3000 years ago!
Cities were surrounded by a defense wall in antiquity and always had one gate to enter and exit for security purposes. At Khirbet Kayeifa two sets of gates into the city were found, leading experts to believe this is Sha'arayim as mentioned in Tanach. Sha'ar is a gate; sha'arayim means 2 gates.
The Biblical Natural History Museum, located in the Beit Shemesh area, is an exciting interactive experience for all ages. Hear, see and touch some of the animals mentioned in Tanach (the Bible) that inhabited Israel during Biblical times. This is not a zoo, but a fun and educational activity that the whole family will enjoy.
The Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve (aka the Soreq Cave) was found by accident approximately 50 years ago when blasting a hole in a quarry, revealing an awesome underground world! Take a breathtaking tour of the natural stalactites and stalagmites which were created over thousands of years. This site is handicap accessible, and great for all ages.
Neot Kedumim is the only Biblical landscape reserve in Israel. You will see, smell, touch and taste the plants and herbs mentioned in the Bible and Mishna. With 4 self-guided tours covering 650 acres (3 of them are wheelchair and stroller accessible), and various optional programs you will engage all your senses and learn about the seven species, the arba minim (four species used on Sukkot), olive oil used to light the Menorah in the Holy Temple. Where else can you attempt to herd a bunch of sheep (it's not as easy as you think!), see an etrog (citron) grove, work an olive press, prepare your own hyssop (zaatar) and plant trees? Neot Kedumim is a real treat.
At Latrun's Yad Leshiriyon Tank Memorial Site one of the fiercest battles took place during the War of Independence. Although we lost it in 1948, the IDF was able to conquer this difficult outpost during the 6-day war in 1967. This is a memorial for the fallen soldiers of the Armored Corps alongside one of the most diverse tank museums in the world! You can climb aboard some of the 110 tanks and other armored vehicles at Latrun and understand about why this site was so significant in both modern times and even in the time of the Maccabees!
Latrun is located in the Ayalon Valley. Sound familiar? It's the site where Joshua Bin Nun asked God to help when he commanded "the sun stand still in Givon and the moon in the Valley of Ayalon" so he could finish the battle against the 5 Amorite kings in one day. "There has never been a day like it before or since".
What an experience you will have at the Iza Pziza Dairy or the Chai Farm where you can watch a demonstration about making goat milk or make your own! Take a tour of the farm and taste the wonderful fresh cheeses. You've 'goat' to do this!
The Shfela is a wonderful region, perfect for hiking, biking and jeep tours with views of the vineyards, orchards, wide fields and carpets of flowers (in season) all around you.