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Full moon hike in the Zin Valley

A silver lining (and we all have to find silver linings these days) pertaining to Covid-19’s devastating impact on Israel’s incoming tourism industry, is now having the opportunity to check off my ‘to do’ hikes and other outdoor activities that have been on my bucket list since moving to Israel 15 years ago. Right smack on the top was traveling down to the Negev desert to visit the biblical valley of Zin at night during a full moon. A number of my local friends, who are always so willing to help vet new sites as my ‘sample tourists’, wanted to join me so I booked the entire 10 unit “tube” hostel at the Naot Farm.

After a morning of sightseeing on our way south, we settled into our accommodation at Naot farm, a rustic farm along the Nabatean spice route where they make their own goat cheese. Naot offers tube units, essentially “pipes” fitted with a super comfy bed, electricity, towels and awesome air conditioning. We placed our backpacks in the narrow space under the bed and a small basket on the wall contained two fresh towels. Beyond that, there was no room for anything else. But it didn’t matter – we weren’t there for a plush night out. There were two very clean bathrooms, and two individual outdoor showers each located deep inside a metal spiral contraption. There was a large kitchen with several industrial refridgerators filled with complimentary cold water, milk and juice, as well as a European coffee machine and frother. Once I saw that I could make my own capaccino all was good! There was even ample beer to choose from (pay when you check out) if you forgot to bring your own. The common areas were outfitted with barbeques, several sitting areas as well as a small dipping pool and extra ‘pipes’ fitted with handwoven bedouin pillows to relax in and escape the summer heat.

After our bountiful barbeque we headed out on a 15 minute drive to the valley. It was about 10 pm and the moon was high enough to lighten our path and guide us through this powdery canyon, known as Nahal Haauvrim.

Naot "Tube" Hostel
Our ‘room’ at the Naot “Tube” Hostel
Some of the women hikers in the group

For three kilometers we snaked through the valley, stopping to admire the beautiful shadows that we formed on the sand colored rock against the moonlight.

Our shadows from the moon.

When we returned to Naot, we make ourselves a camp fire in the fire pit and topped off the evening with a nightcap.

Surprisingly, we slept in til 8 am – the pipes were incredibly quiet. (who knew!). Rather than bringing our own breakfast food, we had ordered breakfast from Naot (we were already doing our own barbeque the night before and thought that 40 shekel per person was a good value). And we were right. They served very fresh salads and several platters of their own homemade goat cheese. There was a soft “Tzafit” type of cheese which was delicious and the harder goat cheeses were quite tasty. Naot is the perfect accommodation for a group of friends or families who are seeking to do something very authentic. At 350 shekel per ‘pipe’ excluding breakfast, its a great value by Israeli standards.

If you go: Naot Farm is located off of Highway 40, south of Beersheva, about 5 kilometers from Sde Boker. Tube units begin at 350 shekel per night. There are also four private bungalow units with their own showers, bathrooms and private dipping pools, that can sleep up to 4 or 5. Contact http://www.naotfarm.co.il

Moon hike in the Zin Valley
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