Rte 40 South: Negev to Mitzpe Ramon, Israel

The areas on and around Rte 40 are rich in hidden treasures. The road starts in the center of the country at Or Yehuda . We continue on Route 40, starting at
[10] Neve Midbar Day Spa, [11] Kibbutz Revivim, [12] Kibbutz Ze'elim,
[13] Kibbutz Gvulot, [14] Shivta National Park, [15] Matnat HaMidbar,
[16] Kornmehl Cheese Farm, [17] Naot Farm, [18] Kibbutz Sde Boker, [19]
Ein Ovdat, [20] Karmey Ovdat Winery, [21] Ovdat National Park, [22]
Mitzpe Ramon
and [23] Kibbutz Neot Smadar.

Go to the beginning of Rte 40, at Or Yehuda, Museum of Babylonian Jewry.

CoolRemember to bring your mobile phone – comes in very handy when the gate is locked – just call the number posted – and in you go!

Israel Rte 40/Rte 222: Mash'abim Junction

[10] Neve Midbar Day Spa

Neve Midbar Day Spa
has four thermal mineral water pools, including one outdoor pool and a
children's pool. The waters originate in natural underground pools and
are said to be over 10,000 years old. Massage treatments available.

  • Dairy coffee shop.
  • T: 08.657.9666
  • Sun, Mon, Wed, Sat: 9:00 – 18:00
  • Tues & Thurs: 9:00-22:00
  • Fri: 9:00 – 16:00

CoolOvernight suggestion: Mashabim Vacation Village is located a mile away.

Rural accommodations.

  • T: 08.656.5134

Negev desert

[11] Kibbutz Revivim

Rte 222

[11A] Mitzpe Revivim Outdoor Museum

Members of Kibbutz Revivim
pioneered the settlement of the Negev when they established this
outpost kibbutz in 1943. Two survival issues were central to their
existence: a steady water supply and fending off the enemy, Egypt. The
outdoor museum tells their story with a walk-through historical display.

  • Fee
  • T: 08. 656.2570; 656.2638
  • Sun – Thurs: 8:00 – 16:00
  • Fri and holiday eves: 8:00 – 12:00
  • Sat and holidays: Groups only. Advance reservations.

Cool Related story: Fertile Desert Hilltop

[11B] Hai Negev Zoo and Sculpture Garden

wonderland for children includes a petting zoo, African village, and an
archeology dig complete with dinosaur remains that the children dig up.
In addition, children can create their own colored sand bottles,
pottery, clay sculptures, and bake pita. A train transports families
from one activity area to the next.

The Sculpture Garden is accessible by appointment only.

  • T: 054.240.1008

Open all year, except Yom Kippur, from 9:00 to 17:00.

CoolOvernite suggestion: Continue the adventure by staying in Beduoin tents, with adjacent hot showers.

  • To reserve, call Benny.
  • T: 054.240.1008

[12] Kibbutz Ze'elim

Rte 222

[12A] Kibbutz Ze'elim Day SpaTurkish Spa at Kibbutz Zeelim in the Desert, Israel

An intimate spa, in the style of a Turkish hamam,
is at your service 24/7, according to the spa owners. The small spa,
with a turquoise dome, is an incongruous site in the Negev – but not an

Massages and treatments available by prior arrangement.

  • T: 08.998.9272; 052.357.5272
  • Sun, Mon, Wed: 24 hours/day BY APPOINTMENT.
  • Thurs: 13:00 – 22:00
  • Friday, Sat: 10:00 – 19:00

Turkish Spa in Israel Desert

[12B] Kibbutz Ze'elim Suspension Rope Bridge

longest rope bridge in Israel, this 80 meter long bridge spans the
Besor River. Walk across. In winter, waters of the Besor rise and
overflow – best show in town. Climb the adjacent lookout tower for a
spectacular view of the area.

Cool Related stories:

[13] Kibbutz Gvulot

Rte 222

Once the site of an active diamond cutting workshop, Kibbutz Gvulot
was one of the three kibbutzim established in 1943 on the then Egyptian
border. To learn the history of Gvulot, is to learn how water was
brought to the Negev. Visit the open air museum which vividly depicts
their former frontier status, and see the original diamond cutting

Cool Related story: Water and Diamonds in the Desert

Rte 40 / Rte 211: Tlalim Junction West

[14] Shivta National Park

Rte 211

The site of the Nabatean and Christian village, Shivta National Park
is located in the heart of the desert. One of the more famous digs that
took place here was in the 1930s by H. Colt (as in Colt guns). Colt
House still stands.

CoolOvernight suggestion: A newer enterprise inside Shivta Park is the desert accommodation guest rooms built in the last few years. Owners, Ami and Dina, built three guestrooms,
each with private bathroom, and decorated in ethnic theme. Experience
the silence of the desert under a skyful of stars. Drink Dina's special
herbal tea. Relax.

  • Breakfast and dinner are served.
  • Tours of the antiquities can be arranged.
  • T: 050.738.3802 to reserve

Rte 40: Tlalim Junction East

[15] Matnat HaMidbar (Gift of the Desert)

urban dwellers from the towns of Sderot and Nes Ziona, Lilach and her
husband, moved to this hilltop oasis and established a vegetarian restaurant. They grow their own herbs and many of the ingredients in the meals they serve. Matnat HaMidbar is open for lunch and dinner – see hours below.

  • T: 054.486.2311
  • Sun – Wed: By appointment only
  • Thurs: From 12 noon
  • Friday: 9:00 – 16:00
  • Sat: From 12 noon

Negev Desert in Israel

[16] Kornmehl Desert Hilltop Dairy Farm

Daniel Kornmehl, a modern-day Negev pioneer, on his multi-dunam hilltop
sheep and goat dairy farm. His cheeses are now sold in gourmet
foodshops in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Look out for the sign on the left
side when you are driving south (towards Sde Boker).

  • Open daily from 10:00 to 18:00. Call ahead.
  • T: 052.278.8051

CoolRelated story: Desert Cheese

[17] Naot Hilltop Dairy Farm

city-dwellers, Gadi and Leah Nahimov, established this hill-top goat
and sheep dairy farm in 2004. As the owners of a well-known chain of
restaurants, El Gaucho, this move was a complete change of life for
them. The couple studied cheese making in Spain and also in Har HaRuach
dairy in Nataf.

Visitors are welcome to a 45 minute tour and cheese and yogurt tasting.

  • By appointment.
  • T: 054.421.8788/9

[18] Kibbutz Sde Boker

[18A] Ben Gurion's Hut

The desert home
, and burial place, of David Ben Gurion and Paula Ben Gurion, Sde Boker
is a thriving desert community. Visit Ben Gurion's desert hut, the
adjacent exhibit, and the couple's graves with the view of Ein Tzin.

  • T: 08.646.0469
  • Sun – Thurs: 8:30 – 16:00
  • Fri and holiday eve: 8:30 – 14:00
  • Sat and holidays: 9:00 – 15:00

[18B] Sde Boker Winery

Ben Gurion's dream of making the desert bloom is becoming a reality. Visit the Sde Boker Winery, meet with vintner, ex-Californian, Zvi Remak, and taste the wines of grapes grown in high desert conditions.

  • By appointment only.
  • T: 050.757.9212

CoolRelated story: Desert Wine

WinkOvernight suggestion: Sde Boker Field School has air conditioned accommodations for couples and families.

  • T: 08.653.2016

[19] Ein Ovdat Spring National Park

Hike through the glorious Ein Avdat National Park,
filled with springs and greenery against a desert backdrop. Early
morning and late afternoon hikes are recommended during the summer
months – and you may catch a glimpse of an ibex…

Negev desert

[20] Karmey Ovdat Winery

Negev pioneers are behind the success of the Karmey Ovdat Winery.
Besides growing their own grapes and turning them into wine, the
Israeli family also opened a small guest house and pottery studio on
this hilltop in the Negev. Visitors welcome, but call ahead.

  • T: 08.653.5177

Cool Related story: Nabatean Agricultural Methods

[21] Ovdat National Park

Further down Rte 40, find the ruins of Avdat,
an ancient Nabatean town. The multi-language video presentation at the
Visitor Center does a good job of relating the history of the Nabateans
and the origins of the Spice Route.

  • Fee.
  • T: 08.655.1511
  • April – Sept: 8:00 – 17:00
  • Oct – March: 8:00 – 16:00

CoolRelated story: Secrets of the Desert

[22] Mitzpe Ramon

[22A] Makhtesh Ramon (Ramon Crater)

Makhtesh Ramon National Park's Visitor Center explains the geography and geology of the largest crater in Israel. View the crater from the promenade.

  • T: 08.658.8691
  • Open daily, all year: 9:00 – 17:00

[22B] Alpaca Farm

Over 400 alpacas and llamas to see on the farm. Self guided tour.

  • T: 08.658.8047
  • Daily Summer: 8:30-18:30
  • Daily Winter: 8:30-16:30

[22C] Desert Archery: Golf in the Desert

The desert's answer to golf, the desert archery course challenges and entertains.

  • T: 050.534.4598

CoolRelated story: Desert Archery

[23] Kibbutz Naot Smadar

Smadar was established in the 1989 by a group of idealists from
Jerusalem. Artists, teachers, and other professionals decided to settle
this tiny part of the Negev and make it bloom! Notice the multi-color
structures: these are all mud brick buildings, ventilated with an
eco-friendly desert cooling system. Art workshops are given in the new
art center. Further inside the kibbutz, these creative people built a
piece of paradise in the form of a desert lake and gardens. Water is
supplied by the run-off water from the National Water Carrier.

Negev Desert routes