Eilat: Oasis of pleasures
As little as some fifty years ago, Eilat featured an out-of-state Bedouin’s settlement on the crossing of Arava and Negev Deserts; but as soon as the Israeli rolled up their sleeves, they discovered under layers of sand the largest pearl in bead lace of resorts of Israel, polished with velvet waves of the Red Sea to the state of splendent luster. Unique climate has shaped in the city to favor beach rest. Stem of thermometer can stay on 50-degrees-mark for weeks but thank to dryness of air heat is almost insensible. Unremitting wind from the coast amazes surfing, paragliding and sailing enthusiasts while tender sea, penetrated with coral reefs, boomingly breathes with coolness: despite hot weather, water doesn’t get warmer than 26 degrees. Through its transparent slick picturesque underwater cities can be distinguished, inhabited with numerous exotic dwellers.Photo lonelyplanet.com
The treasure is rimmed decently: the city is encircled with ironed ribbons of highways; at the seaside, neat rows of hotel to everyone’s taste align; in the streets, variegated signboards of tour agencies emerged. Along a narrow beach stripe, spacious Promenade spreads, surrounded with motley entourage of shops, clubs, restaurants, tour agencies, souvenir shops and attractions. Recently, magnificent theme park Kings City was opened there, under an intriguing signboard “Darkness”, the largest room of horrors in Israel is located. Amazingly, they even managed to build an ice arena with extreme chutes that are no inferior to their Scandinavian brothers – ice design guru Chris Funk designed the building.Photo new.goisrael.com
Eilat is rightfully considered one of the best places for diving: all the equipment you need is a snorkeling mask. For those who cannot swim, there is a remote tour around chambers of Neptune and Underwater Observatory Marine Park. Isolated camera with panorama view glass, dipped into the depth of water for as deep as one hundred meters allows full experience of the look of the abyss – and it is more curious than hostile. In a stone’s throw there is Coral Beach reserve situated on a reef with total length of over a kilometer. In the center of the atoll, there is a huge aquarium-ark that shelters two of every marine kind. As to joyful Dolphin Reef, people go there to communicate with beautiful bottlenose dolphins: trusting creatures willingly accept delights from hands of visitors, exposing their backs to caressing.
The resort develops actively: connection with north and south regions shapes up, new international airport is under construction nearby Timna Park. Ovda air terminal, that tourists are familiar with, cannot cope with increasing load while modest capabilities of internal Eilat airport cannot accommodate heavy liners. On the other hand, there is an abundance of opportunities for spotters: in rurally-frank style, the airfield is surrounded with a short wooden fence that it is very comfy to take pictures of landing planes from.
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North suburbs of Eilat are heaven for a beginner Indiana Jones. From Elipaz settlement, it is easy to get to Hai-Bar Nature Reserve and Timna Park, where world’s oldest copper mine is situated and is frequently presented as King Solomon’s mines. Archeologist and rabbi Nelson Glueck, who dug out remains of galleries and smelt-furnaces in Arava Desert was impulsive and made a mistake of assigning his discovery to the Era of the Three Kings. As a matter of fact, deposits were developed in late neolith and in times of King Solomon, unfortunately, were standing idle. Aside from copper, amazing semiprecious stones glorified the valley. Chryscolla and stone of Eilat, natural hybrid of malachite and lazuli, are mined there. Tourists eagerly bring home from Eilat handicraft silver jewelry with stones in openwork rims, covered with gaudy traditional ornamentation.Photo lonelyplanet.com
Monumental Solomon’s Pillar is another nature’s mockery over human prejudice. For a long time stone ledges had been considered ruins of the king’s palace though in real fact those are copping-outs of red sandstone that took on the image of a defense walls. Next to the pillars, ornately shaped rocks of the Red Canyon rise, they capture endless stream of surreal visions and whimsical outlines of ledges.
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City of the Old Testament, wide open to winds of history, skillfully shuffles times and characters to turn headlong rush of days into a mystical dance of seven covers. Every exposed mystery is followed with another not to let curious mind rest. Vigorous youth of the world, lost among the rocks, is ready to talk in languages of people and angels – important is to know how to listen.
Cover photo lonelyplanet.com