If you find the hotel area called Bokek along the western shore of the Dead Sea, you will be very close to the Nahal Bokek oasis. Just a short walk into this dry canyon brings you to a green wonderland where you can find mountain deer, birds, rock rabbits, dragonflies and there even was once a tiger who roamed this area (sorry to say she has since died). Here in the first photo you can see Meta and a friend at the source of the water, this photo was taken shortly after a cigarette had started a fire and burned out much of the greenery (sorry this photo has been removed at the request of one of the people in the photo). The second photo shows the SAME spot a year later with Rob, Nathalie and Katrin...you can see how much nature recovered in a single year, although it has not returned to its previous state even as I write this (was just there with Claus and Sharon two weeks ago as you can see in the photo).
Remember the old saying "if my grandmother had wheels"?
Well that was what popped into my mind when I saw this sign of a camel with wheels and that we should get him to join our mountain bike club ^O^
The Tamarix trees were growing in a small grove (great for a picnic before or after you hike into the Nizzana Hillocks) and were so thick that they had become intertwined.
Just at the junction where you turn right to access the Nizzana Hillocks, take a look at the top of the hill to your left, you just may notice the ruins of the Scottish Hospitall above and the few walls and columns that are left of a Nabatean settlement below.
The Nizzana Hillocks are a natural formation and the geologists say "Aeolian sand movement in an arid linear dune ecosystem, Nizzana, Western Negev, Israel"...okay, so now that we have said that, I went there for the beauty of the place and of course to take a few photos.
Almost forgot to mention that you do not need a 4 wheel drive vehicle to reach the Hillocks, there is a road that leads close, then park your car and walk about 500 meters into the desert.
Havat Arundel (Havat is ranch in Hebrew), located in the Arava, a southern desert in Israel, was used first by the Jordanians as a police outpost. Later in 1949 a brigade of Golani troops on their way to Eilat. Again used by Israeli paratroopers in 1956 as a forward post. Since then it has been abandonded and only in 2005 did Karen and Dani Cohen receive permission to establish a 70 dunam ranch here. Today they have plans for commercializing it and having B&B, pub, restaurant and other "attractions".
We visited with our friends Patrick and Lea, just standing in the trench, I could well imagine a soldier there in 1949 or 1956, well before there were other settlements, looking out over the desert and wondering.....
Nahal Rahaf is one of the major valleys running west to east in Israel. It "empties" into the Dead Sea and has a series of very nice dry waterfalls that you can rappel (rope climb). But it is in our desert and has no natural source of water, only the rain that will sometimes fall in the desert. When this happens you may get a very spectacular WET waterfall for a few hours.
But since it is the desert and usually dry, you have almost NO plantlife at all, just a few bushes and shrubs clinging to some waterpockets that remain in the dry valleys. Nahal Rahaf is no exception and I believe this is the ONLY tree in the entire valley that runs for many kilometers. Makes a striking view against the color of the desert. But what does a person do when you come across the only tree in view, why break out the picnic table and enjoy of course !!!! ^O^
The VT flag has also been taken for a BBQ there of course.
Here in Nahal Tziniem (Tziniem is a small valley that branches off from the main valley of Nahal Tzin, hence the name which means "little Tzin"), we found what looked to be some sort of excavation into the mountain. The first photo shows the entrance, large enough to drive a semi-trailer into. The second photo shows the interior construction. We continued to walk on into the shaft for maybe 500 meters or so where we found several "rooms" cut into the sides.
The third photo shows the exit just before it disappeared from our sight. The fourth photo shows another type of excavation adjacent to the first. These had huge, massive steel reinforcements at the entrance to the rooms. The last photo shows one of the small circular doors we found inside that were used to close off the many interior rooms. The rooms were square, with a high ceiling and the door was meant to be closed and sealed from the outside with no way to open from the inside....
Okay, so go figure what these were all for????
Nahal Nekorot is one of the major east-west trails that you can connect between the major north-south highways (no's 40 and 90) in Israel. This follows what was once the spice route throught he Arava desert in southern Israel. As you can see it is NOT for regular vehicles, you need a good 4 wheel drive here and a few of those descents are pretty hairy. The trail should be done from west to east since the opposite direction leaves you with some almost impossible places to climb. We found even some very colorful birds nesting in this area, a bright greenish yellow with various colors, sort of looked like a kingfisher with its long sharp beak. Along this trail you will also have fun "jeeping" through some tight spots and the entire trip can be done in a single day.
Nahal Maok is one of the smaller dry riverbeds that attach to Nahal Nekorot (the major rift in this area) and it has a few fantatsic sections for getting out and hiking. Take for instance that large boulder that has fallen perfectly into the narrow section to almost completely block passage, even my thin friend Giora has a difficult time getting past. We also found a perfect cliff in whose afternoon shadow we could get some relief from the summer sun and get out our lunch.
Nahal Hava, one of the many dry riverbeds to be found in the southern deserts of Israel is accessable only if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle. You can find the entrance south of Mitzpeh Ramon just off Highway 40. This are will take you through some of the remains of the ancient spice route to palces such as Metzad Nekorot and Horbat Moa.
Desert trekking, biking and jeeping are all things I love to do, and take off into the desert every chance I get. For some reason the desert reminds me of the open ocean, vast, calming and unforgiving.
The Maktesh Ramon, or Ramon "Crater" as it is known mistakenly, is located in the south of Israel below the town of Mitzpeh Ramon (whose name means "overlooking Ramon"). The Maktesh is a very unique geological formation whose formation is still not 100% clear even after years of study by geologists (I have added a few links that you can look at if the geological aspect interests you). We camped out and the view that greeted me in the morning, the color .....
Then we had breakfast after everyone else woke up and that brought be back to reality.
We took VTer Elisa to see one of the historical spots of Israel that is relevant both past and present. In the past this was where the Romans built one of their famous roads to connect places on the "Arab Province" under their rule. The first two photos show the route, it looks impassable, but the Roman Empire did amazing things in their time.
In modern history the asphalt paved, twisting, winding, steep road was in the 1950's the primary route to connect the north of Israel with Eilat the furthest point south located at the junction of the Jordanian/Egyptian borders on the shores of the Red Sea.
I have attached a web site that, in part, may explain the modern state of relations between Israel and its neighbours.
Just off highway 90, the main road that runs the length of the Dead Sea and between the junctions of highway 31 in the north and highway 25 to the south, you will find the area that includes, Nahal Hemar, Har Sdom, Flour Cave, Lot's Wife, HaRabotiem Cave, Nahal Ashliem, Nahal Peres, Sdom Cave and of course Nahal Pratziem. Traveling south from the junction of 90 and 31 you will reach the Dead Sea Works factory....just before that there will be a turnoff on the right that leads you into the desert, there you will find this signpost waiting for you and you will want to follow the red markings toward the Flour Cave and Nahal Pratziem. One of the reasons I love this place is the "designs" you can find here, some of the photos almost look like aerial shots of a valley floor and the surrounding mountains. What is for sure is that each year with the seasonal rains these designs change so there is always something new to see.
Metzad Nekorot, so named for the dry valley or Nahal that it is located in is yet another part of the tapestry of places that make up the Spice Route here in Israel, connecting the Nabattean city of Petra to the Med coast at Gaza. Here at Metzad Nekorot you will find two distinct structures, the main living quarters and a cistern with entry channels and some very fine arches inside.
You can take a step back in history and travel the route that the camel caravans took through Israel to make the business connection between the red city of Petra and the Gaza shipping area. Khan Sharoniem is just one of many sites along this route. But to get there you must travel through many kilometers of unforgiving and dry desert. It is nature at its purest and while it may seem placid, it can be agressive toward those who do not take precautions before entering its environs.
We choose this hotel for a 2 nights stay in Eilat and it turned out that this was a very good...more
Mobile Post Dead Sea, Arad, 86910, Israel
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Families
Nahal Nikrot 4, Mizpe Ramon, 80600, Israel
Good for: Couples