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The Beautiful Sites of Otef Aza

The months of February and March are a unique time in Israel, and no, not because of the elections. This time marks the end of the Israeli winter and the beginning of spring, where it can still rain here and there, and the trees and flowers all blossom and come to life.

Therefore, we decided to take advantage of this wonderful time, so we packed our bags, grabbed the pakal kafe (coffee kit), and headed over to the Otef Aza area, to see and capture the amazing blossom of Israel’s National Flower - the Kalanit (Anemone).

Red flowers in Otef Aza
Photo: Yonina F

Our first stop was at Bitronot Ruhama, right outside of the Ruhama Kibbutz, near Sderot. The weather wasn’t on our side at that point, as the sky quickly got covered in clouds, but that didn’t stop us one bit. Our fearless photographer doesn’t scare easily, and she was able to capture some beautiful photos of the gorgeous Bitronot (Badlands), and of course the bright red Kalaniyot.

From there we headed over to Kibbutz Mefalsim, to take a peek at the Kibbutz’s almond tree orchard. We traveled towards the end of the blossom season so the trees weren’t as white as we expected, but it was still an absolute sight for sore eyes.

Kibbutz Mafalsim - Almond blossoms (Shkediot)
Kibbutz Mafalsim- Almond blossoms / Shifra Gottlieb
Kibbutz Mafalsim- Almond blossoms / Shifra Gottlieb
Kibbutz Mafalsim- Almond blossoms / Shifra Gottlieb

After the shkediot (almond trees) we continued to Shokeda Forest, one of the main growth sites of the kalaniot. Even in March, near the end of the season, the forest is still covered with a sea of red flowers, a truly jaw-dropping sight, and the perfect spot to use our pakal caf’e.

Shokeda Forest (pakal kafe)
Shokeda Forest (pakal kafe) / Shifra Gottlieb
A pakal kafe set up among red flowers
Shokeda Forest (pakal kafe) / Shifra Gottlieb

After the kalaniot in Shokeda, we stopped at the Hetz Hashahor, an IDF Paratroopers' memorial site, commemorating the legacy of the Reprisal Operations in Gaza in the 1950s. The site has an exceptional view of the Gaza Strip, we definitely recommend you grab a camera and head over (when it is quiet and safe of course…)

The view from Hetz Hashahor
Hetz Hashahor / Shifra Gottlieb

After all this sightseeing, there was only one thing to do, and that is eating lunch of course. And what lunch is more befitting after all this Israeli sightseeing than a classic plate of creamy hummus?! So we stopped at one of our favorite hummus joints in the country, “Ha'Hummus Shel Tehina” in Sderot, to enjoy a great comforting meal.

A meal of hummus, falafel, and pita from a restaurant in Sderot
החומוס של טחינה, שדרות / Shifra Gottlieb

Our last stop was at “Nativ Lashsalom” at Moshav Nativ Ha’asarah. Residents in the Moshav decided to turn the protective wall at the edge of their Moshav into a magnificent piece of art, symbolizing a peaceful future with their very near neighbors.

A mosaic wall in Nativ La'Shalom, Nativ Ha'Ashara
Nativ La'Shalom, Nativ Ha'Ashara / Shifra Gottlieb

So that was our trip, we hope you enjoy all the photos!

If you are looking for fun and unique places to visit in Israel, we urge you to go see some of these sites, you won’t regret it. If you want to see the kalaniot, you should probably go in the very near future, but don’t worry, these places are stunning all year round.


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