Option Week 2 - Shvil in the Negev
I had been looking forward to shvil the whole trip! I knew it would be something different and an incredible experience and I consider it to be one of my biggest highlights of IST.
As we all got on the bus on Monday and travelled just over three hours to our starting point, everyone was feeling excited and nervous as we were preparing ourselves for the long journey ahead of us. As we got off the bus it was quite late in the afternoon so we weren't expecting a long journey, but we were welcomed with a long table of food and we were introduced to our guide named Noam.
Then all together we started our hike, music was playing and the weather was changing to cold winds but it wasn't long before we reached our camp for the night. We arrived at a big open area with great views of the mountains, and saw our trailer with all our bags and our logistics coordinator, named Matan preparing soup for all of us.
We set up our tents and layered up as Noam told us that we were in charge of making dinner for the night. We all participated in either preparing dinner or starting the fire and we all got in to the camping spirit. As it started to become much colder, everyone slowly started heading to their tents to try stay warm and get ready for the cold night ahead.
With a 6.30am wake up, and barely any sleep, we were lucky enough to see a beautiful sunrise and already it was a great start to the day. Once all packed up and organized for the day, we began our journey at around 9am and walked through the beautiful Negev. We had great weather and saw incredible views of the mountains and the desert. Noam was explaining to us about the history of this environment, and how the whole area transformed from a beautiful ocean to a dry and unique desert. Eventually, we managed to climb this incredibly high and large mountain and with many complaints and body pain we finally reached the top. Looking from the top to the bottom was a big moment of achievement for all of us.
Our hike in general had a very chilled vibe, with someone always pumping music to keep us entertained and everyone speaking to old and new friends. Although the day became long and tiring for many. It mostly consisted of constant walking and breathtaking views but as the day was coming to an end, we were all hoping for a decent campsite and nice weather to call it a day and we were fortunate enough to get both!
We had bathrooms, including showers and little huts that sheltered our tents and compared to the previous night, this was a luxury. The girls decided to call it 'Glamping'. Once all the tents were set up and people had showered and relaxed for a while, Matan and a few others started to prepare dinner for us and we started to make the fire. While everyone was waiting for dinner, we all bonded round the campfire with music and just embraced our incredible day and what we had achieved. After dinner, more relaxing and meeting new Israeli friends, we went to bed knowing that this was our last night all together in this environment which was quite sad for some.
Another 6.30am wake up called for another incredible sunrise and another perfect start to our last day on shvil. Once we had breakfast and were all packed up we headed off for our last day. We were told that it wasn't going to be a very long day but that it would be quite challenging for some and it was. We climbed a big beautiful mountain and again with many more struggles and aches we reached the top and I was so relieved. We had lunch at the very top of the mountain which overlooked the whole Negev and it was truly amazing to see, it was a unique view I will never forget.
Since whatever goes up must come down, it meant that with such a steep uphill, there was a downhill just as steep and it was really steep! I would say that this was the most challenging and frustrating part of the trip for me, but it was all an experience.
After the overjoy of completing the mountain we set off for the last hour or so left of the hike. Not very challenging but quite emotional for me, knowing that these were becoming my last steps on this unforgettable hike. Once we reached the finish my body was aching but I just reflected on what I had just accomplished and I turned around to see my journey that will always stay with me.
I felt a personal connection to this hike as it reminded me of how the Jews felt thousands of years ago wandering the desert with family and friends and what kind of journey they embarked on.
Shvil has been one of the most unforgettable experiences for me on IST and it is one that I will cherish forever. I have made new friendships and learnt so much about myself and the beautiful land of the Negev. This trip is so unique and eye opening and it has made me appreciate Israel as well as IST so much more!
Thank you to everyone who made this experience possible, especially to my amazing Shvil group for all the fun and incredible memories that I will never forget