Explore 5 Remarkable Desert Hikes in Israel
Israel has very diverse climate with the snowy mountains in the north and desert landscapes in the south. Israel’s hot and dry deserts are located in the south of the country and include: one of the world’s smallest desert region, home to the Dead Sea – the Judean Desert; half of the land area of Israel, 16,000km², covers dry and barren desert – the Negev Desert; and the Biblical Wilderness of Zin – Zin Desert.
Israel is a hiker’s paradise, there are many incredible hike trails with different difficulty levels and lengths, suitable for all abilities. It offers a real desert experience, with a unique look at remarkable waterfalls, endless breathtaking views and fascinating eco-system. Hiking in Israel is once in a lifetime experience, all you need to do is bring a plenty of water, wear a hat and follow the well-marked hike trails; also, to try not to hike alone.
Ein Avdat National Park Hike Trails
Placed in the Negev Desert, as a part of the Zin Wadi, Ein Avdat, is undoubtedly one of Israel’s most striking locations. It offers 2km long hike trail that leads you to the incredible natural pools and 10km hike for more experienced hikers, which implies climbing to the top of the cliffs and returning via Marl Wadi of Havarim. The best time for Ein Avdat 10km hike is between December and March. An outstanding part of both types of hike is the chain of three Ein Avdat pools. Cascading waterfalls make first pool, Ein Ma’arif, even more remarkable; Ein Avdat, the second pool, is 8m deep and has 15m high waterfall; and last but not least is miraculous Ein Mor. From there, you can take the vertical ladder up the cliff until you reach the starting point.
Wadi Qelt Hike
If you want to walk along an ancient aqueduct and experience breath-taking desert, Wadi Qelt is a perfect choice. The best way to explore Wadi Qelt is by hiking. Total length of longest trial, if you’re starting from the Ein Prat Nature Reserve parking lot, is around 9km, but there are also shorter trials between 1km and 5km. Most of the hike is on rocky terrain, but there’re some sections equipped with metal handles. You’ll pass through a steep cliff gorge and find natural swimming pools. Stop at the largest spring in Wadi Qelt – Ein Prat, where you can enjoy small waterfalls, drinkable water and nature. Ein Prat offers astonishing view on 330AD Faran Monastery hanging on the southern cliffs. An outstanding part of this hike is at the end of the trail when you can see a cliff-hanging Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. George founded in the 5th century. The hike takes 2-3 hours to complete and the best time to experience Wadi Kelt is between December and March.
Red Canyon Hike
In the deep south, between the mountains of Eilat, there is one of the most beautiful and outstanding desert in Israel – The Red Canyon. During thousands of years, components have carved through the red sandstone rocks forming this canyon which starts in the Sinai Desert in Egypt as a part of Wadi Shani and crosses into Israel. There is a green trail which is well marked and considered to be family friendly, but there are a few places where you have to use metal wadges and ladders in order to go through the narrow canyon. The best time to go hiking is from Novembar to April when the weather is cooler and trail is at it’s best form. You can chose between two options: 5km route or 2km route starting from the trailhead parking lot. You will pass a few dry waterfalls and as you proceed following the trial you will need to take some sharp turns in the canyon. When you come to a junction, there will be black and green markers where you can decide if you want to continue your hike following the green markers into the Wadi or go back to the starting point following the black ones. The entire loop trail takes about 3 hours to complete.
Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
Situated on the eastern border of the Judean Desert on the Dead Sea coast there is one stunning location – Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. Ein Gedi is a national park that is home to two streams with drinkable water that flow all year round – Nahal David and Nahal Arugot. This is a perfect place for those who love hiking, it offers most enjoyable and delightful hikes in Israel. There is more than nine different trails, appropriate for everyone, either families or experienced hikers. Shorter routes are very well built along wooden walkways or well-trodden paths that are suitable for family groups. One of the short hike from the park entrance to David’s Waterfall takes just about 30 minutes. After passing several pools and cascades surrounded all sides by trees, abundat vegetation and waterfalls you will reach the last and highest waterfall in the stream, called the “David Waterfall”. Longer hikes include a little climbing, tougher terrain and it is more physically demanding. You’ll also need to cross several pools, some inside the water, in order to proceed. After the last pool, in front of you is a “Window” waterfall – natural window in the rocks giving you a significant view of the Dead Sea.
The Nekarot Horseshoe Hike Trail through the Ramon Crater
Ramon Crater, or in Hebrew, Makhtesh Ramon, is the world’s largest erosion crater and Isreal’s biggest national park. It measures 40km in length, 500m depth and between 2 and 10km in width. Makhtesh Ramon Nature Reserve with a huge number of trials offers you the best experience of the creater in this region of the Negev Desert. The scenery is absolutely beautiful and the Makhtesh’s vibrant colored rocks and atypical geographical formations are breathtaking. If you’re into hiking, you should take the Nekarot Horseshoe Trail Loop. Passing through the trial you’ll see the deepest point of the crater – Saharonim Spring, where pools of water bubble up from the ground, which sustains much of the wildlife including ibexes. You will have to swim, wade or walk through canyons filled with water, depending on weather conditions and as you proceed, you will catch an amazing view of white and rugged flat topped Ardon Mountain. This trail, a little over then 6km, shoud take about 3 hours and it’s suitable for families.