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Deserts in Israel

It is no surprise that Israel receives so much tourism, Tel Aviv and the holy city of Jerusalem alone make the visit worthwhile. The beaches, nature reserves, archaeological sites and endless places of worship add to the excitement of this country.

For lovers of the outdoors, Skiing in the Golan heights, as well as hiking in pastoral settings awaits you. Why not pay a visit to the ruins of the Herodian fortress and get lost in the Crusader towns of Caesarea and Acre. After your descent you can dive with the tropical fish of the Red Sea. There are options for the lovers of different art within the museums, art galleries and music found scattered in Israel.

Often forgotten by travellers, is the desert region of the country, that takes up about two-thirds of the country’s landmass. About an hour and a half south of Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva acts as a gateway to three deserts, namely; the Negev, Arava and Zin. These stretch down to the most southern tip of Israel, where you will find Eilat. Headed east of Jerusalem, you will find the fourth desert, the Judean Desert, which reaches all the way to the Dead Sea.

When some of the first Zionists arrived in Israel around the turn of the 20th century, they arrived with a vision of transforming the mostly desert country. Many years later, the deserts of Israel are flourishing and so much so that many Israeli families, today, are choosing a life in the desert of Negev over a life in the city.

Nights under the Stars, local stays in “Zimmers” and abundance of fresh air

The low levels of pollution in Israel are largely thanks to the deserts of Israel. There you will find some of the freshest air, but not only that – a sky full of bright stars, more vast than you could ever imagine awaits you. Walking in the south of the Israel deserts, you will experience the contrast from desert to springs and oases of fresh water in the sand, but also an abundance of wildlife, such as yaelim (ibexes) camels and birds of prey.

Towards the north of Israel, the Negev, Arava and Zin will typically remain dry during the rainy months of winter, unless you are exposed to the potentially dangerous yet captivating flash floods. To avoid the uncomfortably high temperatures of the Israeli summers, these three deserts are best visited between October and November and then again between March and April. During these periods, the days are balmy enough to result in a sun-tan but at nights the temperatures plummet, so be prepared to pack for two seasons. A large proportion of Israelis have moved to the south of Israel in the last 20 years. The result of this change is noticeable in the variations of food and living quarters. From the artistic “Mitzpe Ramon” to the modern camping and “glamping” sites, or more rustic “Zimmers, the accommodation selections are endless in the Israeli deserts. Catering to your every need, with local handmade goats cheese from small farms, artisan bakers and vineyards cared for by resourceful locals – the Tourism is high and the desert is flourishing!

Canyon-to-Crater, hiking and chocolate tours

If you are willing to step out of your comfort zone, you will be rewarded with the extraordinaire these three southern deserts have to offer and views worth of the envy of your friends. Admire the breathtaking scenery of the Ein Avdat canyon, or revel in the astounding views from the top of the “Mitzpe Ramon” crater. Whilst hiking in the desert, the “Timna National Park” is worth a visit with the wondrous view of its red-orange boulders. For those seeking an adrenaline rush, the Israeli desert will not fail to deliver. You can choose to abseil down a cliff-face, or take a jeep tour in the dunes in a four-wheel-drive. Popular also are the horseback tours, mountain biking, or the desert marathons. For those travelling with children, the desert has fun for them too. The children can pet alpacas and antelopes, depending on the farm you visit, take part in “chocolate tours” at the Yotvata kibbutz, or sleep in a Bedouin tent.

Israel’s deserts are nothing short of miraculous, and will in all likelihood continue to grow and surprise. What was once an unproductive and uninhabitable desert, there are now eco-tours, fish farming, as well olive farms and large vineyards. Whether you decide to visit the famed olive farms, or hike in the Timna National Park, Israel should be on your bucket list.

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