• Talma Gotteiner

Gush Etzion: An Adventure Fit for A King


Hi there!

I deliberated on the title of this post for quite a while since I wanted to convey both the fun activities and the grandeur of the location, which used to be the ancient Judean Kingdom. Some of the stops are quite moving. One last piece of advice: drive first and drink later.

I have to thank the Gush Etzion Tourism office for inviting me to an introductory tour of the local attractions of this lovely region.

Trip Agenda Options

  • Gush ATV Tour. It stands for ‘all terrain vehicles’, which you drive yourself although the tour is guided.

  • Deerland Farm

  • Gush Etzion Winery

  • “The Workshop” – create your own piece of Judaica.

  • ‘Pat Bemelach’ Bakery

  • Kibbutz Kfar Etzion

  • The Gush Etzion Heritage Visitors Center must see!

  • Museum of Man in the Mountain

  • New B&B Accomodation

Trip Anchors

Gush ATV Tour and Deerland Farm

I’m going to present these two attractions together since the ATV tours are located within the Deerland Farm ranch complex and it makes sense to combine both since they complement one another.

Gush ATV Tours

The ‘Gush ATV’ attraction offers 5 predesigned tours ranging between 1-3 hrs, but in addition offers the option to arrange for a tailored tour to sites and activities that interest you. The tours are for ages 4 and up, 6 and up and 10 and up depending on the roughness of the terrain. Younger children are not deprived and have their own little kiddies train. All drivers must have a driver’s license to begin with. The tours leave from and return to the Deerland Farm ranch.

As you can see from my photos above and below, they have two types of vehicles. Both are easy to drive. We went on the one-hour tour of “Patriarch Road”, which was the pilgrimage route leading from Hebron to the Temple in Jerusalem and may also have been the path tread by our forefather Abraham on his way to Moriah mountain. The route was used over the centuries by King David, other Judean kings, the Hasmonean kingdom and exists till today. On the way, we passed ‘Milestone No. 12’, which the Romans marked when measuring the distance in miles from one of the gates in Jerusalem. You’ll find out which during the tour. We also passed a double-sided Talmudic ‘Mikve’ or ritual bath. The guide explains why it is double-sided.

Phone: 054-3183333

Deerland Farm Ranch

The ranch, which is the starting point, has a big wildlife reserve and in addition, offers a multitude of extreme sports activities that include the longest zip-line in Israel (400m), a rope park, wall climbing, a 360° turning wheel and more. Additional activities that can be reserved include rappelling, jeep tours, a drum circle, food workshops, cycling, paintball and more.

I know it may sound pricey, but each activity in itself is not, and you can combine as many as you wish. In Passover they are planning to have a combination ticket that is very reasonable. I don’t want to mention prices because they tend to change over time and I’m not sure the Passover price is fixed, but you can see for yourself.

A new feature that is going to be open to the public soon is a collectibles museum. Apparently, the owner is a collector of cars, old machines, memorabilia, historic documents and you name it and has finally put together his gigantic collection into a huge hangar. I got a sneak peek so I’m happy to share it with you.

Last, but not least, I wanted to mention that the farm has an event hall of its own. It has a rustic style with a wooden deck and neat cars that have been converted into serving bars. I’m sure that when they are all polished up it looks good. Now, it’s off season so the car-bars were covered and I didn’t photograph them.

I actually tried the zipline, but my selfie video stopped once I left the ground probably because I was holding onto it for dear life so luckily, I found two cute models instead.

Phone: 02-5709768

Kibbutz Kfar Etzion

The Gush Etzion Heritage Visitors Center

The Visitors Center in Kfar Etzion is no less than powerful. Kibbutz Kfar Etzion has a heroic history related to the battle that took place in it during the Independence War. There were only four survivors left after the 1948 battle and the new film that has just been produced for the visitors center was developed with them and is very true to life. The film itself is 1 hr 15 min long, but you don’t feel the time passing, it is so interesting. After the film, you can see the remains of the original bunker and enter the ‘Testimonial Heritage House’ or ‘Beit HaEdut’ to see original documents.

Phone: 02-9935160 and 02-9938308

Museum of Man in the Mountain

Another museum located within the Kibbutz is this small one. It’s three rooms contain an agricultural display specific to wheat cultivation, a tool display full of various tools used in the past and a display of home life in Israel.

New B&B Accomodation

The Kibbutz has just finished building a nice B&B complex and I took some photos for your benefit. Each suite has one bedroom, a living room area, a kitchenette and a porch overlooking the Judaean mountains.

Additional Options

Gush Etzion Winery

Apparently, the Judean mountain air is particularly good for growing grapes. The winery was first opened in 2005 and in the beginning grew a variety of fruit, but after realizing that the climate was optimal for grapes, changed its focus. Today, the winery grows 17 varieties on ~ 800 Dunam or 200 acres and even sells some of its grapes to other well-known wineries in Israel such as Tishbi and Teperberg.

The basic tour takes about 0.5-1 hour and includes an explanation on wine making and wine tasting. The winery also has a dairy fish restaurant where you can stop over for a meal and has recently opened a new event hall for family occasions that holds up to 550 people.

Phone: 02-9309220

The Workshop

The workshop is a carpentry shop run by a nice British couple, who have been inspired by their move to Israel, to offer a unique crafting activity in which you get to make your own piece of Judaica. Some use it to make gifts. A session takes about 2.5 hours and starts with a choosing the raw piece of wood and metals to be used, determining the design and includes cutting, sanding, filing, gluing and varnishing under supervision. The carpentry shop is airconditioned or heated as needed. The activity is suitable for couples or groups, personal use or gifts.

Phone: 054-6785813

‘Pat Bemelach’ Bakery

I’ll start by mentioning that it’s a bakery with a baking workshop activity.

I thought an explanation of the name was in order. ‘Pat’ means ‘slice of bread’ and ‘Bemelach’ means ‘in salt’, which is derived from the Jewish custom of dipping bread in salt before saying the blessing on it. There are a number of explanations for this custom, one of which is that it tastes better when dipped in salt so you want to say the blessing when the bread is in its best form. In any case, if you want to dip good bread to begin with, you are welcome to stop by at this bakery that specializes in yeastless sour dough.

However, the best thing about the bakery are the workshops that are suitable for groups of up to 15 people. They usually take 1.5 hours and you take what you bake. Usually people bake buns, one with white flour and one with whole wheat flour, but some groups have baked buns for charity events and other occasions. The workshop includes two short films explaining about the Jewish customs and about the process of baking bread in general.

Phone: 02-5020262

Open: Mon-Thurs 9:00-18:00, Fri 8:00-13:00

Food

This post is all inclusive. Refer to the Gush Etzion Winery and Pat Belechem mentioned above.

Accomodation

This post is all inclusive. Refer to the B&B in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion above.

My timeline

This trip took me a day, but I didn’t perform all the workshops. It should take you two days.

This is what it looks like on the map:

What more can I say, but that they are waiting for you. Have you ever visited one of them and would like to share your experience? Feel free to comment on this post.

Happy Purim!

Talma

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#Attractions #ATV #Winery #Bakery #history #Museums #Crafts

Disclaimer: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links, I will receive a small percentage of the profits at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Israel-Best-Trips.com

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