The Arava and the Negev Plateau are among the most fascinating areas of Israel. In Israel, “desert” doesn’t mean “desolate.” The sandy Negev expanse that makes up more than half of Israel’s land mass encompasses fascinating vistas, history and creativity. And the relatively short and temperate winter months are the best times to visit.
For tourists and local’s alike there’s never been more to experience in the Arava: ancient archeology, timeless Bedouin hospitality, funky eco-art, hiking, biking, horseback riding, bountiful farms, birdwatching and lots of activities for children, including ice-cream workshops.
Keep reading to find out our insider’s guide to exploring Israel’s hidden secrets.
Recently there has been an ever-increasing number of biking, hiking and off-road trails taking explorers through the Arava’s canyons and dry river beds (wadis),showcasing a combination of nature and history. On the way you’ll be able to see remains of way stations for the camel trains traversing the ancient Nabatean Spice Route. You can climb the Ein Hatzeva Fortress, a biblical stronghold with a nearby Edomite temple and visit one of the oldest trees in Israel a 1,000-year-old jujube tree. Wander in the wilderness of Zinn, which the ancient Israelite tribes traversed during their 40 years in the desert.
Approximately 65 kilometers north of Eilat, boasts a large date plantation, reservoir, pomelo orchard and dairy farm. There are walking paths, a lookout tower,farmers market, restaurant/coffee bar and a motion-based adventure ride simulating desert flash floods.
These and other Arava collective villages teach visitors about mud-brick building, recycled art and architecture, solar energy, winemaking, and medicinal herbs and algae.
Timna Park is chock-full of attractions, one of the largest attractions in the south of Israel, set in a beautifully majestic desert setting, has amazing history and geology, and a number of unexpected activities including those on the lake (yes, a lake in the desert!).
Established in 1968 to reintroduce animals that have become extinct in Israel, this 32-sq-km reserve on the Yotvata salt flats is home to a wide variety of desert creatures. You can drive safari-style, but only if you have your own car; count on spending about two hours. You’re likely to see the Dorcas gazelle, Nubian ibex, Somali wild ass, scimitar-horned oryx and addax (white antelope). Drive slowly, but don’t get out of the car, and of course don’t feed the animals. You can open the car windows, but watch out for the ostriches, who sometimes poke their heads in looking for a handout.
Additional information, as well as explanations regarding the animals and video footage can be found at the Haifa University Hai-Bar Site.
Is the oldest kibbutz in the Arava, they have an inn offering full road services, kosher meat and dairy restaurants, a convenience store and a tourist shop. “On our famous Yotvata Dairy tour you get to taste our chocolate milk,” says tourism coordinator Taal Goldman. (Yotvata’s shoko is Israel’s leading chocolate milk brand).
They recently opened a new interactive park, offering a range of activities, tours and attractions providing a hands-on experience of kibbutz life and history.You can also choose to take an agricultural and dairy tour in 11 different languages; please keep in mind to coordinate in advance (972-54-979-8491).
Bedouin hospitality is world-renowned, and the Arava is home to numerous camps that will gladly welcome you into their tents. The peaceful atmosphere and romantic views are great for taking a break from frenetic sightseeing, allowing you to relax for a while. Drink some Bedouin-style coffee and learn about ancient and contemporary Bedouin culture. You can even stay overnight in a heated tent and make your way to Eilat the next morning.
There are a large number of centers in Israel offering authentic Bedouin hospitality experiences, here is a selection:
Currently, the Arava tourism website does not yet have an English version, but a brand-new 36-page English brochure detailing all of the Arava’s attractions, eateries, services and accommodations can be emailed by request from firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more ways to explore Israel check out these other travel blogs: https://www.talknsave.net/blog/the-best-places-to-shop-in-israel-its-the-little-things/ ,
https://www.talknsave.net/blog/explore-israel-like-a-true-israeli/ and if your into shopping check out
If you know of other hidden places to explore in Israel, please share them in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!