In 1964 the Jewish National Fund planted tens of thousands of trees in the barren lands just south of the Hebron hills on the edge of the Negev. Today Yatir forest is the largest of Israel’s planted forests, including pine trees, carob and pistachio. In the spring, this is one of the areas where you can see the yellow, crocus-like Sternbergia flower blooming (another place is the wadi below Maale Rehavam, near the site of Herodium).
The area includes Jewish and Beduin settlements, a fine winery, vineyards, orchards, agricultural fittings from the 3rd and 4th C and the ruins of a synagogue at Hurvat Anime.
Yatir is just one of the JNF forests and recreational areas. Check their website at
Along the trails in the Yatir forest you will see ancient wine presses, cisterns and olive presses, evidence of settlement and wine and oil production 2500 years ago. Tel Arad, another archaeological site that goes back to the Chalcolithic period is nearby. On the upper hill is the only Judean temple discovered by archaeologists to date. The incense altars and two “standing stones” may have been dedicated to Yahweh and Asherah. The Yatir winery sits at the foot of Tel Arad and tours of the winery should be arranged in advance.