Despite the extremely arid climate of the Nitzana region southwest of Be’er Sheva, the sandy landscape sprouts a variety of shrubs and blooming flowers in winter, fascinating heritage sites and a very unusual breed of people.
Tiny Ezuz (approximately 12 families), welcomes visitors and overnight guests; one family sells its goat cheeses, and an adobe inn is popular with eco-tourists. A family at Kadesh Barnea near the Egyptian border raises wine grapes; another provides apia- (bee sting) therapy. The Nitzana Youth Village and Educational Center serves as a residential Hebrew language school for young immigrants, an “outward-bound”-style nature school, an inn and desert research center.
History’s presence is everywhere. Near Ezuz is a natural oasis where the Turkish army camped during World War 1. The Turks also built the railroad whose tracks can still be seen, and a hospital at the foot of Tel Nitzana. High on this mound is the city of Nitzana, founded by the Nabateans, whose caravans bore incense and spices across the Negev from Arabia to the Mediterranean.
About 15 kilometers down scenic road 10 along the Egyptian border south of the Nitzana crossing; you can stop at an observation point and look into Egypt, toward biblical Kadesh Barnea where Miriam the prophetess is buried.