One of the more difficult hikes in the area, this steep canyon descent (five to six hours not including stops), known in Hebrew as Nahal Darga, requires you to climb down about two dozen waterfalls (30m climbing rope required) and swim across year-round pools up to 4m deep – all your kit will get wet so leave those mobile phones and cameras somewhere safe. Map.
Wear proper shoes (ones you don’t mind getting wet), not sandals. The minimum age is 10 years.
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority has an information booth (www.parks.org.il; Fri, Sat & Jewish holidays Sep-Jun, daily Jul & Aug ) right outside Metzukei Dragot, which is 1.5km from the trail-head; schematic maps are available there or at the Metzukei Dragot reception desk.
Begin this hike no later than 9am (10am during daylight savings) – and don’t begin it at all if there’s any chance of rain in the Judean Desert. The bottom of the trail intersects Rte 90 near Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem.
Several circular, family-friendly hikes (which don’t require you to get soaked) start at the same point. These include the Wadi Tekoa Circuit (five hours) and the Mashash-Murba’at Circuit (three hours), which passes caves in which letters personally signed by Bar Kochba (leader of the Bar Kochba Rebellion of 132 to 135 CE) were found in 1952.