Places We Visited On the Way


If well-preserved ruins and UNESCO World Heritage Sites are your thing, then Shivta National Park is for you. It highlights the impressive remains of a Byzantine city that existed in the heart of a desert area with no natural water sources whatsoever. There is no spring at Shivta, nor even a single well (except for the newly installed bathroom facilities in the parking lot – very handy if you’re not a fan of peeing out in the desert 😏). But anyone passing through Shivta 1500 years ago would have felt as if they had come to a great oasis. In every surrounding valley, the inhabitants grew grapes, fruit trees, wheat, and barley, and raised herds of sheep and goats. They built a beautiful community of wide streets, churches, and spacious stone dwellings. This was truly amazing considering that they lived in the desert and were dependent solely on rainwater, although it is believed that at that time the Negev was probably more humid and rainy than it is today.


There is also an orchard located about 800 meters south of Shivta. It is a reconstruction of an ancient farm planted by a team headed by Professor Even-Ari in the 1950s, using the sophisticated system of ancient agricultural terraces. The team required about 2000 workdays to build the terraces, which is equivalent to a year or two of work by a family with three or four sons. The first plantings took place here in the rainy season of 1958-1959. The species planted included carob, fig, almond, plum, olive, pomegranate, peach, apricot, and grape. They were not irrigated – they got all the water they needed from surface runoff slanted toward the orchard, just as it was done in ancient Shivta. The more successful species were the figs, grapes, pomegranates, and olives - and carob flourished best of all.

Ashalim Solar Power Station (and Tower)

As we were driving in the area, from many miles away we saw a light hanging in the sky, and thought, “What IS that??” Getting closer we discerned the tower and learned that it was the tallest solar power tower in the world at a height of 260 meters including the boiler, but was recently surpassed by the 262.44 meter tall solar power tower at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park near Dubai (yup, peace or no peace, they had to outdo us 😉). From what we read, the local residents are not fans of the tower as it is like a big bright sun shining over the whole region that never turns off. Worth a look – wear sunglasses 😊.

Old British Railway Car and Turkish Ruins

When the British were fighting the Ottoman Turks for rule of the Middle East, they established railways. One of the railway cars can still be seen in the middle of the desert near Ezuz. Today it serves as a lookout point for viewing rare birds in the area.

There are also several Turkish towers and ruins that are cool (okay, hot) to stop and take a look at.

Larry did some reserve duty in this area, and wanted to see if it had changed.
Wow did it change since 1998!

You gotta love Waze - it wanted us to go this way, along the fence, to get to Larry's base.
Those boulders thought otherwise. (We never even got close.)

Below, some old Turkish structures, including only one wall left of an old train station!

Lots and Lots of Open Space

This was the thing that impressed us most about the whole Ramat Negev region. Miles and miles and miles of open empty desert space.  Did you know that the Negev comprises about 60% of Israel’s area (and only 13% of the population)? It looked like even more to us - and we only saw a small section!

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