Any tourist to Israel knows the obvious “must-see” sights like Jerusalem and the Dead Sea but if you’re looking for something special, visit these unique sights:
1. Pundak (Kushi) 101
On the Arava Highway 101km from Eilat this roadside diner has grown into a local legend. The site now offers restaurants, exhibits of snakes, turtles, monkeys, crocodiles and iguanas as well as the chance to get your photo taken on a camel or donkey. Peacocks roam freely and there is a kid’s playground and activities. The site is covered by bamboo roofing and wooden structures and is open 24 hours a day.
2. Nachal Alexander
This river runs for 45km and meets the Mediterranean Sea near Kfar Vitkin at the Machmorit Beach. You can follow the river from the beach inland towards the Turtle Bridge and Turtle Park. The park gets its name from the soft shell turtles which inhabit the waters here. They eagerly come to the banks of the river to greet visitors together with schools of catfish. The park has sitting and picnic areas as well as a playground.
3. Machane Yahuda Witch Doctor
In Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market you can find Uzi-Eli Chezi, nicknamed the “witch doctor” he prepares and sells juices specifically designed to treat mental, spiritual and physical ailments. In his small stall he concocts drinks according to your special request: do you need something to calm you, make you happy, help you find a husband or treat your skin condition. In his colorful way he will select the right fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables to combine into your juice. His concoctions are inspired by ancient Jewish writings and his most famous mix is one of etrog and gat (khat) juice. So if you are suffering from a broken heart, dandruff or impotence visit the witch doctor for a mix of date, ginger, pomegranate, yogurt, gat or passion fruit!
4. Bat Caves (Ma’arat Hateumim)
Near Bet Shemesh there are large Karst formed caves inhabited by hundreds of bats. As you enter you may not even notice them until your look up. The bats seem totally used to the humans who stare up at them. Take along a flashlight to help you navigate the cave entrance.
You can reach the caves from Route 386, just after the Zanoach junction up a dirt road. You need to take a short hike through Wadi nachal HaMa’arah to reach the caves. The caves are closed from November to March when the bats are hibernating.
5. Tefen Open Museum
The drive to this remote location will give you stunning views of the mountains. You may feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere but suddenly you’ll come across the Tefen Industrial Zone which is in fact a museum complex. The industrial area is spotted with interesting sculptures and instillations on the lawns. There are also a number of indoor museums including an Antique Car Collection, a glass studio, the Art of Industry Museum, Museum of German Speaking Jewry and a Ceramics Museum. The complex is between Carmiel and Ma’a lot on Route 854.