Abigail Klein Leichman
July 22, 2013, Updated August 5, 2015

It may seem counterintuitive to head to a desert in the summertime. But this huge swath of Israel has no humidity to make the heat feel more oppressive, and anyway these cool activities planned by the Ramat HaNegev Regional Council will make you forget to check the thermometer.

1. Green Market at Midreshet Ben-Gurion

Every Thursday between 4:30 and 7:30pm, the Midreshet Ben-Gurion shopping center is filled with stalls selling locally grown organic fruits and vegetables, locally fresh-made bread, cakes, honey, jams and preserves, along with organic and ecological products and handicrafts. Live music and hands-on workshops for adults and children, plus an adjacent playground, complete the picture.

2. Sde Boker Field School

Family activities will take place on Thursdays and Fridays throughout July and August. There is a two- to three-hour night tour of the Havarim River and its Nabatean-era structures; “Scorpion night,” a nighttime exploration of these feared and fabled desert creatures; a star-viewing walk and telescope observation; a sunrise tour of Mount Zror, where eagles take off toward the feeding station near the mountain; and Nahal Etz by torchlight, a hike from this river’s gigantic acacia tree to the Hagai Observatory. Information: 08-643-2016, orders.boker@gmail.com.

3. Summer concert series

The village of Ezuz has a Solar Energy Park, recycling museum, archeological sites, café and several bed-and-breakfasts including the eco-lodge Zimmerbus, created from old vehicles. Café Ezuz is featuring summer concerts with Persian classical and electronic musicians Mark Eliahu, Haim Laroz and Alon Amano, August 1; and ethnic folk-rock performer Dotan Malach, August 15.

4. Circus Workshop

Head back to Ezuz anytime from August 10 to 23 to experience acro-balance and trapeze at the Tobiana Studio. Acro-balance is a circus art based on work in pairs that support and secure each other’s bodies, while trapeze is an aerial acrobatics method to be demonstrated by Gracie and Libby from the CircusSpace School of London. These activities are suitable for anyone above age six. Further details: Helbrich Tobiana, 054-792-7766, tobiana@netvision.net.il.

5. Bustan Festival at Nitzana

Free guided tours of local sites, freshly baked pita bread, food and beverage stands, arts & crafts corner using natural materials, fruit harvest and good music are all on the bill for August 17-18. A lamplight tour of Nitzana Cave, musical Kabbalat Sabbat and an outdoor party for adults over 18 are also available. Call 054-575-5911.

Lots of activities are on tap at the Bustan Festival in Nitzana.
Lots of activities are on tap at the Bustan Festival in Nitzana.

6. Mitzpeh Ramon Jazz Club

All summer in the incomparable setting of the Mitzpeh Ramon natural crater, a jazz club is open Tuesday to Saturday nights. Tuesdays offer free concerts by local combos. Wednesday nights, the club doubles as a musical pub. Thursdays are devoted to jam sessions, while Fridays feature paid concerts with top-quality combos. Saturday nights, movies of live concerts are shown under the open sky. Information: 050-526-5628.

7. Tel Hai piano master classes

From July 28 through August 15 at Midreshet Sde Boker, 60 outstanding piano students from Israel and around the world — and teachers from the world’s best music schools — will hold daily master classes at 4pm and a student concert at 8pm. All events are open to the public free of charge.

8. Night-time fruit picking at Rota Farm

On August weekends, overnight guests at Rota Farm and Winery can enjoy nightly fruit picking. Guided tours of the winery are also available. Details: 054-496-8703, rotawinery@walla.com.

9. Sand surfing

Dror Bamidbar offers this unusual activity on the Negev dunes, suitable for anyone from age four and up, all week from 8am to 7pm. You’ll learn how to navigate on sand surfboards and sleds, lying on your stomach or sitting. Afterward, desert coffee or herbal tea is served on mats. Book in advance: 057-789-2251 or 054-304-6054.

10. Jeep tours

Several routes are led daily by desert ecologist Haim Berger, leaving from Midreshet Ben-Gurion or Kibbutz Sde Boker: “wet jeep” tours of the Negev mountains, springs and waterfalls; nighttime safari and bonfire in the Negev Mountains, learning how to use surveillance equipment and how to make a plaster cast of animal tracks; and a tour of Negev mountain rock paintings from Nabatean times, plus Bedouin villages. Fee is NIS 200 for adults and NIS 185 for children for a 2.5 hour tour. Book ahead: 054-5343797, negevjeep@gmail.com.

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