“Off the Beaten Track” Near Jerusalem

April 2nd 2018

The Holy City of Jerusalem is an amazing place to visit, for religious, cultural, and historical reasons. For many visitors, that’s everything they dreamed of and more.

However, if you also want an added “off the beaten track” experience during your stay, then there are some great options nearby for those who crave a more rugged adventure.

Bring some good walking shoes and plenty of water, and enjoy the following exciting locations:

Caliber 3 IDF Experience

Test your mettle and see if you have what it takes to be an IDF soldier. Caliber 3 is a Counter Terror & Security training academy. It was established in 2003 by an Israeli Defense Forces colonel and is used by military, law enforcement, and commercial clients from around the world.

Based in Efrat, 15 miles south of Jerusalem, the academy is also open to tourists who want to sign up for specific training courses. These courses include a two-hour “shooting adventure” where visitors get to practice shooting sniper rifles and assault rifles.

Tourists can also learn Krav Maga, which is a form of aggressive martial arts developed in Israel and used by its security forces. It’s now taught to people worldwide for self-defense. Visitors can also take part in simulated terror prevention scenarios, urban paint ball combat, and also survival training in the harsh conditions of the nearby Judean desert.

Beit Shemesh Stalactite Caves​

The Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve, situated between Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem, features a huge stalactite cave known as the Avshalom Cave. Also known as the Soreq Cave, it covers over 5,000 square meters and is unique worldwide for its dense concentration of stalactites.

The site provides visitors with an exciting chance to explore deep into a cave, while walking between what are considered natural splendors. The stalactites are formations which developed from groundwater trickling down through the fractures in the limestone cave, over many thousands of years. Some of the stalactites in Avshalom Cave have been dated to over 300,000 years old.

The cave also features stalagmites, which grow up vertically from the cave floor. In places these have joined with stalactites to form stone columns. It’s a great place to visit for all the family. There are guard rails and well-lit paths throughout the cave and good shoes are encouraged.

Beit ​Guvrin Cave Exploration

The caves at Beit Guvrin are another amazing below-ground wonder. Dug by hand between the 4th and 9th century, the many hundreds of caves (at least 800 in the park alone) provide a fascinating archaeological insight into the area’s history and ancient residents.

The bell shaped caves were dug and used for many different things including as burial caves, storerooms, hideouts, quarries, animal shelters, and cisterns for storing water. Many of the caves are interlinked via an underground network of passageways, which visitors can explore.

The sprawling Beit Guvrin National Park is located about 20 minutes south of the modern city of Beit Shemesh, in central Israel. The site covers more than 1200 acres and also contains other fascinating archaeological remains, including the Sidonian burial caves, a 2nd century Roman-Byzantine amphitheater, and an agricultural installation complex, with its model olive oil press reproduction.