Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Safe to travel?

I think I can safely say that I have never begun a holiday before with a call to the Home Front Command but that is exactly what we had to do when we went on a recent trip to Eilat. We had booked our holiday weeks before but then the terrible terrorist attacks on the way to the city happened just before we were due to travel and rockets were being fired into the area of Israel we planned to travel through.
The Home Front staff assured that it was safe for us to go but the hubbie and I still discussed it over and over again. In the end we decided to go ahead with our plans but by travelling a rather out of the way but hopefully safer route through the south of the country. It did take a loooong time to get there. The kids began to get bored and drove us a little bit crazy, but I am happy that we took the detour and thankfully the only sign of the current troubles was the long queue at the checkpoint into Eilat itself. Something you get used to living in a country such as ours.
This past summer I have become somewhat of an expert on finding 'different' things to do with the kids. Eilat is essentially a resort city, located at the northern tip of the Red Sea and, even though I dream of doing nothing at all but swimming and reading when I am on holiday, I soon realise that it's not really what any of us want. We want to see the area. Do fun things together. Try something new. And so that's what we did!
Our holiday started with a visit to Hai-Bar Yotvata, a large reserve in the southern Arava Valley north of Eilat, established to foster the breeding of animals mentioned in the Bible and other endangered desert animals. Hai-Bar is divided into three main sections: a 12 square kilometre open area where herds of desert animals live in conditions similar to the wild; a predator centre with enclosures containing large predators, reptiles and small desert animals; and a dark room to view nocturnal animals when they are active.
We purchased a CD which guided us through the reserve in our car and were soon met by a group of ostriches, eager to taste the flies which had got stuck on our car during our downward journey. As they pecked away at our vehicle any worries about the safety of our trip disappeared and we began to relax and enjoy ourselves. What else can you do when there are five or six very large birds with long pink necks and big eyes staring at you?
The plan of action was to do some kind of activity each morning and return to our hotel later in the day to cool off in the pool. A necessity in the 42°C+ Eilat heat! One day we experienced a rather bumpy camel ride through the beautiful desert landscape of the Eilat Mountains Reserve, followed by a light snack of Bedouin pita, labnah, olives and tea brewed from desert plants at the camel ranch. We snorkeled in the sparkling clear blue water of the Red Sea to view the coral reef and the many varieties of fish and sea creatures living in it. A truly breathtaking experience!
We paid a return visit to the delightful Dolphin Reef where we once again sat on the floating piers to watch the “bottlenose” dolphins which are fed several times a day and, especially at those times, jump and play together and "talk" to the staff. We drank cocktails by the water's edge and swam in the enclosed swimming area where more colourful fish swam between our toes.
It's always hard to head home after a good holiday but Eilat is relatively easy to get to and I'm sure we'll be back there soon. The astonishing fish and coral, the stunning red mountains and blue waters of the Red Sea and those friendly ostriches at Hai-Bar will no doubt draw us back again and again.


Unknown said...

Love Eilat! Glad you had a good time! I hope to take my kids there the next time we are visiting Israel.

SimaG Jewelry said...

Shalom :) thank you SO much for sharing this beautiful photos.
We just got back from Israel and we loved Eilat.
The kids has so much fun!

Have a wonderful holiday,shanna tova to you and your family.
be safe!


Linda B said...

A wonderful trip. Glad you're all safe, Lisa.

I have some jewelry from Eilat that I bought when Israeli merchants were in Chicago.


LivingSmall said...

I love Israel, but I have never been to Eilat. I would love to visit it. My parents have been a few times. My Aunt and Uncle lived in Ashdod for a few years and I have been to Israel 5 times. I hope to be able to visit there again soon.

Meeling said...

Glad you had a good time and a safe journey.

Lovely photos!!