State of Israel – the country of juxtapositions. It’s overflowing with historical sites of important religious significance, yet it plays host to one of the most well-known gay pride celebrations in the world. The Red Sea, the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea all touch its land, but deserts blanket well over half its surface. It’s home to the lowest point on Earth, The Dead Sea, that can be viewed from atop a mountainside fortress. Contemporary and ancient exist cohesively, each respecting the other. It’s small, roughly the size of the United States’ 5th smallest state, New Jersey, but within its borders, you can sunbathe, take a salty float, ski, hike, immerse yourself in history and well, just read on for more. We’ll tell you why this destination that may never have been on your family travel radar should actually top the list.

Captain the ship of the desert: Take a camel ride

You can't take a trip to the desert and not have a camel schlep you around on its back, and Desert Ship Farm is a pretty great spot in terms of hospitality. As long as parents are comfortable, they'll let anyone take a ride, assuming two things: the rider can sit up on their own and they have a firm enough grip to keep ahold of the saddle. Depending on a range of variables, we'd recommend this outing for kids ages 8 and up. Your guide will take you on a 20-minute walk, 2 per camel, around the area and then your crew will head into the tent for some very cool Bedouin hospitality. Your Arab guide will share stories on their culture and traditions and you'll be served a traditional meal of salads, pita bread, hummus, coffee and tea. You'll be surprised at how much smaller the world feels when you're sitting in a tent halfway around the world listening to someone share stories of their life.

Good to know:

  • Bedouins are nomadic Arabs who historically inhabit desert regions, like the Negev Desert, and set up tribes.
  • Keep in mind the long legs of a camel make for a very tall animal, so use your own judgement when it comes to safety for your kids in case of a fall.
  • A camel making its way from sitting to standing is a bit of a process, so just lean back as far as you can to keep from slipping forward while he readies himself.
  • Make sure you let them know you need a guide who can speak English when you book.

Desert Ship Farm
Route 40, near the Mashavim Junction
Online: sfinat-hamidbar.com

photo: Bedouin hospitality in action via Maria Chambers

Have you had the opportunity to visit Israel? We’d love to hear about your experience in the Comments below.

— Maria Chambers

This trip, including hotel stays, food and activities, was paid for by Israel’s Ministry of Travel.