Efrat lies along the Jerusalem-Hebron highway, on the beautiful mountains of Judea, surrounded by vineyards. Efrat is a settlement of 9000 residents, most of whom immigrated from English speaking countries. Like Amman, Bath, Istanbul, Lisbon, Moscow, Rome, San Francisco, Seattle and Yaoundé, Efrat is built on seven hills. The city is shaped like a snake, and has two entrances at its northern and southern edges.
The majority of Efrat's residents are Orthodox Jews.
Efrat lies at an altitude of 900 meters (nearly 3000 feet) above sea level. Efrat is one of the coldest places in the area(but don't worry; Israel is a very hot country). It is one of the only places in where you'd find snow in the winter, and weather that resembles a European winter. Aside from the winter, Efrat's temperature is usually between warm and hot, but with a very low humidity, as opposed to what you'd find in the rest of Israel.
Although the official language in Israel is Hebrew, many people in Efrat aren't fluent Hebrew speakers. English speaking tourists have no problem speaking with Efrat's residents, since there are a lot of native English speakers. Even those who aren't will have a sufficient English to guide you. Aside from English, you might also bump into French and Spanish speakers.
Israel's main entry point for the international traveller, the newly built Terminal 3 at Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) , named after Israel's first Prime Minister, is situated near Lod and next to the highway linking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (highway no. 1). The airport, referred to by locals as Natbag - its initials in Hebrew - comprises all the usual amenities expected from a first class airport and contains one of the world's largest duty-free shopping malls for an airport of its size. Ben Gurion Airport acts as the base for El Al , Israel's national airline, and is also served by over 50 international air carriers. Travel from the airport to the centre of Jerusalem takes 40-50 minutes and depending on traffic conditions often more. It is advisable to budget at least an additional 2 hours on top of your pre-flight check-in time to ensure timely arrival and completion of security procedures.
You'd want to get to get to Jerusalem. The most efficient way to get to Jerusalem from Ben Gurion is via a Sherut shared taxi (a 10+ seater minibus), which you can find just outside the arrival area. Signs will point you towards the Sherut services. The ride is a fixed cost of NIS 50 and will take you almost anywhere in Jerusalem, but as with all taxis in Israel, be sure to confirm the rate with the driver before you leave.
Trains come in hourly from across the country via Beit Shemesh to "Jerusalem - Malha" station. Notice that the train is very slow, but also very scenic. Once you get off the train you will walk to the adjacent bus stop, where you can catch the 167 bus to Efrat, or go on the 31 or 32 intercity buses to the trempiada (Read ahead for instructions for both).
Egged bus number 167 departs once an hour from the central Bus station in Jerusalem towards Efrat. It costs about NIS 7. (about $US 1.75).
Additionally, the egged bus numbers 380, 381, 382 runs to the highway outside Efrat, about 5 minutes walk from the southern entrance. this bus runs several times and hour.
The much more efficient way is by hitchhiking, or in Israeli English, "To catch a tremp". Go on any Jerusalem intercity bus that reaches the Gilo neighborhood (buses # 30,31,32,71,72), and ask any of the passengers where the Trempiada is.
Here you may also catch the 167 bus, on the far end of the hitchhiking bay.
You will notice a large group of people waiting on the other side of the road. That's who you're looking for. The rule is first come - first serve, so don't push. On the other hand, You should not be too soft. The Tremps will stop in the bay, and the driver will announce where he's headed. There are a few options here. When going to Efrat, the driver will announce "Efrat Darom" or "Efrat Tzafon". Since there are two entrances to Efrat, the driver says which one he'll be entering from, the southern entrance ("Efrat Darom") or the Northern Entrance ("Efrat Tzafon").
When you enter the car, you must say "Todah Raba" (Thank You), buckle up and switch your cell phone to vibrate. You shouldn't be talking throughout the ride, unless the driver initiates the conversation. When entering Efrat, the driver will tell you where he's headed. When getting off, make sure you took your belongings, and thanked the driver once again. There is no need to pay him/her.
Find out how to get to the Gilo intersection. From there, you will take road 60 south. Notice that people might be driving quite fast on this road, so stay alert. After about 5 minutes of driving straight, you'll notice the northern Entrance to Efrat on your left. If you are interested in Entering here, make the left, go straight at the traffic circle, and make a Right the the small T-junction.
If you're interested in entering the southern Entrance, you'll continue on the main highway till you get to the second traffic light. There, you'll make a left, followed by another left.
This is the only way to get around Efrat. Ask people where is it OK to hitchhike within Efrat. Once there, stand facing the traffic, stretch your right hand at a 45 degree angle with your pointer finger sticking out.
An excellent way to get around and to get to know the city. At times, it could be faster the hitchhiking.
Biyar aqueduct in the valley between the Israeli settlements of Efrat and Elazar, lies the Biyar aqueduct, which offers the visitors a chance to walk in an ancient underground tunnel for dozens of meters, partly in water.
Natural Springs All around the area, many people enjoy the natural springs Gush Etzion has to offer. Most popular spots are the Palestinian village of Ein Sajma (near Bat Ayin) and En Chaniya (on the road from Gush Etzion to Jerusalem via the Palestinian village of Wallajeh road). For more information- ask a local teen to tell you where and how to get to the nearest spring.
The are a few places to eat.