Celebrating Anemones in the North-Western Negev

February is the month of the anemones in Israel. Tens of thousands of anemones bloom in bright red in many parts, especially the north-western Negev region. During the whole month of February, there is a festival dedicated to those beautiful flowers, called “Darom Adom,” or in translation to English, “Red South.” Thousands of people travel to the north-western Negev to awe in front of the red carpets, participate in many different activities, and hike along the nature trails.

Back in 2018, I’d never been to the Darom Adom Festival, so that year, I decided to see what it’s all about. With two friends, we headed south to the festival area, around a two-hour drive from Jerusalem.

Sleeping in the Red South

We set off on Thursday evening, having no clue where we will sleep. We tried contacting one of the Bedouin camps around Be’er Sheva, but they didn’t answer the phone, so we searched on the web for another option and found Hadkalim Farm (in Hebrew: חוות הדקלים). They picked up the phone and said: “No problem, you can come in an hour.”

We drove down road number 25 towards Be’er Sheva and, a few kilometers down the road, turned right onto a dark dirt road that led on and on into the darkness. Waze assured us that we were on the right track. Then, the signs signaling towards Hadkalim Farm started showing up. The road continued until we finally crossed a small bridge over the railway and got to the turn that leads right to the farm. One of the workers, Dvir, greeted us at the entrance and showed us where to open our tent. You can camp with your own tent on the grounds of the farm or stay in one of the accommodation options, one of the big tents or a lodge.

The farm back in 2018

We enjoyed every minute of our stay at Hadkalim Camp and everything about it. The dark starry sky, the wonderful campfire, the well-organized kitchen space, and the hot water in the showers. When the sun rose in the morning, the beautiful landscape of Gerar River appeared before us. We were in the Negev, which I pictured as a brownish-yellowish region, a desert, but this place was full of green foliage! In the morning, we found that dew had covered our tent, the grass, and almost everything. But the best thing about this farm is its people – wonderful, kind, and generous people willing to help us with whatever we needed. You can contact them on Facebook to get more info about staying at their place.

We explored a bit of Gerar River in the morning, just a few steps from the farm. The river is more like a standing line of water, but its surroundings are amazing – green and empty of people. We even saw some silkworms working on a new piece of silk on the ground. To get there on your own, you can catch one of the Egged buses from Be’er Sheva to Tidhar – line 353 and 343 – and then hike your way through the Gerar River Park, which starts on the other side of the road.

Gerar River - a few steps from the farm

Experiencing the Darom Adom Festival

But we didn’t stay in that magical place for long and made our way by car to the places that all the people went to – the area of the Darom Adom Festival. Our first stop was Shokeda Forest. It could be a magical place when there’s no festival or during the week, but the loud music ruined a bit of the experience when we were there. However, the beautiful red anemone carpets were worth the drive here! There were thousands of them! We went on a short hike through the small forest and mainly took photos of the flowers and of us with the flowers. Then, after a few minutes, we decided to go… It was too crowded for us at that time.

Shokeda Forest

Our second station was Be’eri Forest. Well, this is a beautiful place! And fewer people were there because it was a bit western from Shokeda. There was no loud music and much less stalls of different foods and merchandise. It was much more about the anemones. There were a lot of them here, too. It was also a much larger forest than Shokeda. We began the trail in the Rehim Parking Lot (in Hebrew: חניון רעים) and started walking on the blue-marked path called The Water Facilities Trail (in Hebrew: דרך מתקני המים). We saw a water-wheel well from the Ottoman Period, a deep well from the British Period, and some more interesting water facilities. There are also signs in English along the trail, so if you want to enjoy a nice, informative trail, this is a good choice. But we didn’t complete the whole blue-marked trail. Halfway, we turned onto the red-marked trail called The Anemones Bicycle Trail (in Hebrew: סינגל כלניות). We didn’t ride with a bike on this trail, but it was a nice hike. There are loads of anemones along this narrow trail, and it’s a long way from the crowds – gorgeous!

The water-wheel well
Be'eri Forest

Conclusion

I hope this post gave you an idea of the Darom Adom Festival and what the anemones mean to the Israeli people. We make a lot of noise around them – for a good reason! Hope to see you next time at the festival in Be’eri Forest and Shokeda Forest! 

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If you need any more advice, please don’t hesitate to send me a message on my Facebook page or to contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com.

If you’re searching for a tour guide in Israel, I also offer private tours in Israel.

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Yours,

Lior

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Camping in Israel: The Basics – Backpack Israel August 10, 2019 - 3:46 pm
[…] offer a place for camping with your own tents or their tents. For example, I’ve stayed in the Hadkalim Farm during my visit in the Western […]
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