Tag Archives: Desert

The Arava, Hiking, Biking and Swimming in the Desert

Part of the Great Rift Valley that runs for some 5000km from northern Syria to central Mozambique, this austerely beautiful and sparsely populated desert stretches from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea and has as its backdrop the majestic multi-hued Jordanian mountain range known in Israel as the Edom (Red) Mountains. Map.

The desert scenery is most spectacular around the settlement of Tzukim (aka Zuqim, or Zukim)(map) on Hwy 90 between the Dead Sea and Zihor Junction.


The Arava is becoming known as a center for outdoor activities, especially cycling. A popular 33km bike trail runs along a wadi (dry river bed) between Zofar (map) and Paran (map), and the desert terrain is a favorite destination for 4WD enthusiasts. In rainy years, Eshet Lake near Paran (map) is a popular swimming spot.


Kibbutz Neot Semadar (054 979 8966 (gallery), 08-635 8170 (tours); http://www.neot-semadar.com; Shizafon Junction; gallery entrance 18NIS, two-hour guided tour 250NIS; tours & gallery entrance 11am-2pm Sun-Fri)(map)
A true oasis in the desert, this kibbutz has lush green surrounds and a bizarre pink tower in which residents have established an arts center and a gallery where artisan crafts are sold to the public. The community was established in 1989 and focuses on promoting cooperation, creativity and learning in daily life. It supports itself through agriculture (orchard and olive grove), a winery, a solar field and the workshops it runs on self-awareness and Eco-building. The kibbutz is located on Hwy 40, halfway between Mitzpe Ramon and Eilat (10km up Hwy 40 from Ketura Junction on Hwy 90).

Kibbutz Neot Semadar
Kibbutz Neot Semadar

Timna Park (08-631 6756; http://www.parktimna.co.il; day ticket adult/child 44/36NIS; 8am-4pm Sat-Thu, 8am-3pm Fri )(map)
The colorful sands and craggy mountains of the Timna Valley, 25km north of Eilat, are full of minerals including copper, iron and manganese. This park incorporates traces from one of the world’s first copper mines,

King Solomon's Mines
King Solomon’s Mines

and is home to thousands of ancient mining shafts, the remains of smelting furnaces dating back to ancient imperial Egypt, temple remnants and ancient rock drawings depicting ostriches, ibex and Egyptian battle chariots. Other attractions are geological phenomena including Solomon’s Pillars

Solon pillars
Solon pillars

(two huge columns of granite formed by rainwater some 540 million years ago) and the Mushroom, an eroded monolith in the shape of…you guessed it. You could easily spend a whole day hiking here, but the park is so spread out that you’ll also need a car. Information about walks is available at the visitor center, accessed off Hwy 90.

Timna National Park
Timna National Park

Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve (08-637 6018; http://www.parks.org.il; adult/student/child 29/25/15NIS; h8.30am-4pm Sun-Thu, 8.30am-3pm Fri & Sat) (map)
Wild animals that are mentioned in the Bible are bred at this nature reserve 35km north of Eilat, as are other endangered desert species. Divided into three areas – an area where herds of desert herbivores live in conditions similar to the wild; enclosures containing large predators, reptiles and small desert animals; and a ‘dark room’ to view nocturnal animals when they are active – it can be thoroughly explored in two hours if you have your own car. The reserve’s inhabitants include asses, oryx, addax and ostriches, and its flora includes acacia groves. You’ll find it on Hwy 90 about 42km north of Eilat, between Kibbutz Yotvata and Kibbutz Samar.

Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve
Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve

Kibbutz Ketura (www.ketura.org.il) (map)
One of the most interesting of Israel’s kibbutzim, Ketura has transformed itself from an agricultural kibbutz into a leader in innovative eco-technology. Founded in 1973, it is unusual in that it is a CABIN multinational, religiously pluralistic community. Home to the internationally renowned Arava Institute (http://arava.org), which researches and draws attention to ecological problems in the region, it runs businesses including a date plantation, a dairy farm, a photovoltaic solar field and an algae factory producing the powerful antioxidant Astaxanthin. The kibbutz is located on Hwy 90, 50km north of Eilat.

Kibbutz Ketura
Kibbutz Ketura

Kibbutz Lotan (08-635 6935; http://www.kibbutzlotan.com)(map)
Embracing an ecological vision known in Hebrew as tikun ‘olam (repairing the world), this kibbutz is known for its sincere and long-demonstrated commitment to sustainability and cooperative action. Visitors can take a guided daily tour at 9.30am (20NIS), spot wildlife in the kibbutz’s nature and bird reserve, discover the therapeutic delight of watsu (water shiatsu) in the kibbutz’s heated pool, or sign up for a one-week ‘eco-experience’, four- to seven-week ‘green apprenticeship’ or short permaculture workshop at the ecology education center. Regional bus 20 from Eilat stops at the kibbutz, and Egged buses to/from Tel Aviv stop on Hwy 90, nearby.

Kibbutz Lotan
Kibbutz Lotan

Samar Bike (052 551 8904, 052 304 0640; http://www.samarbike.com; Kibbutz Samar) (map)
Based at Kibbutz Samar, 34km north of Eilat, this outfit runs bike tours across a variety of trails in the Arava and can supply pick-up and drop-off services and logistics for those wanting to cycle part of the Israel National Trail. It operates a small guesthouse on the kibbutz that is tailored specifically towards bike tourism.

Samar Bike
Samar Bike

Sleeping & Eating

Desert Routes Inn (052 366 5927, 08-658 1829; Hatzeva; dm/d/tw/f US$27/208/208/285)(map)
The owners of this khan (desert inn) close to the Jordanian border in the Northern Arava are a mine of information about the area and can organize jeep, hiking and rappelling tours. They offer private and dorm rooms, and also operate a nearby camping ground. There’s a communal kitchen and hospitality tent, making it a great option for self-caterers.

Desert Routes Inn
Desert Routes Inn

Desert Days: Negev Eco Lodge (058 484 2357, 052 617 0028; http://www.negevecolodge.com; Tzukim; d weekday/weekend 450/525NIS, per child extra 50NIS)(map)
Nine cabins made of straw bales and mud provide a base for city dwellers seeking a tranquil desert escape. The surrounds are stony and stark, but there is an unusual string of desert pools to soften the overall effect. Each cabin can sleep up to six, and green features include self-composting toilets, recycled grey water and solar-generated power. Breakfast costs an extra 50/30NIS per adult/child. To reach the lodge, turn off Rte 90 at Tzukim and follow the ‘Desert Days’ sign.

Desert Days: Negev Eco Lodge
Desert Days: Negev Eco Lodge

Neot Semadar Guesthouse (054 979 8433; http://www.neot-semadar.com; d weekday/weekend 430/480NIS)(map)
A minimalist aesthetic is the hallmark of these sustainable built and attractive cabins, which are set in a garden on the edge of an olive grove. Each is equipped with a fridge and kettle, and the room charge includes a breakfast basket. Other meals can be taken at the nearby inn.

Neot Semadar Guesthouse
Neot Semadar Guesthouse

Kibbutz Ketura Country Lodge (057 941 9109; http://www.keren-kolot-israel.co.il;  weekdays/weekends NIS350/400, d 440/530)(map)
Ketura’s guesthouse is comfortable and extremely well maintained. Three types of room are on offer: the ‘Marulla’, which sleeps up to four and has a private terrace; the two-room ‘Pitaya’ family suite, which sleeps up to eight; and the four-room ‘Argania’, which can also sleep eight. All have kitchenette and cable TV, and there are communal BBQs. Facilities include a basketball court, football field, alternative health centre (treatments from 180NIS), bicycle hire, and on-site coffee shop (open 8am to 11pm every day except Shabbat). Guests receive a free tour of the kibbutz and are welcome to join members for a dairy dinner (adult/child 35/30NIS) in the communal dining hall. Egged buses traveling along Hwy 90 will drop passengers at Ketura (40 minutes from Eilat; be sure to specify Kibbutz Ketura, not Ketura Junction). From Eilat, Regional Council bus 20 also stops here.

Kibbutz Ketura Country Lodge
Kibbutz Ketura Country Lodge

Kibbutz Lotan Guesthouse (08-635 6935; http://www.kibbutzlotan.com;  weekday/weekend 300/370NIS, d 370/440NIS)(map)
There are two types of accommodation on offer at this kibbutz: simple but comfortable guesthouse cabins with kitchenette, bathroom, air-con and outdoor seating area; and hippy-ish mud eco-domes (some with private bathroom and some with shared facilities). Prices include breakfast in the kibbutz tea house, and other meals may be enjoyed with kibbutz residents in the communal dining room. Lotan is known as a ‘baby-butz’ because it is relatively small and many of its residents are  young (the average age is 40), so there’s a lively atmosphere. Facilities include shady gardens, a children’s playground, a basketball court and a soccer field. Meals make the most of home-grown vegetables and dates, as well as dairy products made on site, and both vegans and vegetarians are catered for. Egged buses travelling to/from Eilat will drop passengers on Hwy 90 near the 1.5km-long access road to the kibbutz (45 minutes from Eilat); Regional Council bus 20 comes to the kibbutz itself.

Kibbutz Lotan Guesthouse
Kibbutz Lotan Guesthouse

Midbara (052 701 0444; http://www.midbara.co.il; Tzukim; d weekdays/weekends 800/900NIS, q 1200/1500NIS)(map)
The settlement of Tzukim is becoming a tourism hotspot, with a boom in construction of desert lodges. Midbara is definitely the most attractive of these, offering 11 well-spaced, comfortable and stylish mud cabins scattered along a valley planted with fruit trees. All its cabins have kitchens, a few have indoor fireplaces and most have a private relaxation pool and hammock. Children love the free bike hire and on-site animals (chickens, a camel), so it’s a great spot for a family holiday. Note that prices drop for stays of multiple nights. Tzukim is 113km north of Eilat. To reach the lodge, turn off Rte 90 at Tzukim and follow the ‘Desert Days’ sign.


Nof Zuqim (08-658 4748; http://www.nofzuqim.co.il; Tzukim; standard weekdays/weekends 820/1130NIS, d with panoramic view 1040/1430NIS)(map)

Nof Zuqim
Nof Zuqim

A great deal of thought has gone into the design of these mud cabins overlooking a stony wadi in Tzukim. Each is extremely well equipped and tastefully decorated, and has an outdoor BBQ and private balcony with hot tub. It’s worth paying extra for a cabin with a panoramic view, as the mountain vistas are magnificent. A delicious breakfast can be delivered to your cabin for 54NIS per person.

Nof Zuqim
Nof Zuqim

Neot Semadar Inn (08-635 8180; http://www.neot-semadar.com; Shizzafon Junction; labneh 26NIS, cheese platter 50NIS, mains 40-45NIS; h7am-7pm Sun-Thu, 7am-3pm Fri)(map)
A lush rear garden gives this roadside inn its name (neot means ‘oasis’). Operated by the kibbutz of the same name, it serves home-made goats cheese and labneh, as well as a range of salads, egg dishes, dips, pasta and cakes made using organic produce. Be sure to try one of the home-made fruit nectars or juices.

Neot Semadar Inn
Neot Semadar Inn

March 2019 – Shambala Festival ✯ Desert Celebration ✯

Tue 19 March 2019 | 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Beer Menuha – Beer Menuha, South Israel, From 250 NIS

Shambala Festival ✯ Desert Celebration ✯
Shambala Festival ✯ Desert Celebration ✯

We have missed you ☺

A colorful tribal gathering of Spirit ~ Love ~ Healing ~ Dance & Celebration
✿ 18-20/10/2018

Purim was incredible.
We experienced something special and magical together.
And we received such exciting feedback
As well as requests for more magical spaces like this.

So here it comes.
Shambala Desert Celebration!

Tribal, colorful and magical.
A space for play, celebration, freedom and love.
A festival that is a musical journey from all the worlds!
We will let go of everything and fly together (TAZ) into free space.
3 days of celebration in a desert community, 2 stages with amazing music, top DJs, live shows and workshops that open our hearts and consciousness.

✿ The musical journey
We are planning a magical, deep musical journey that will uplift us like never before.
There are 2 dance floors – there will be two sets to choose from most of the time.

✿ Desert Stage
Dance temple in the heart of the desert – there we will be ongoing musical journeys with the best electronic music, live shows, world music and more.

✿ Village Stage
This is a space for amazing music from all over the world, a magical ambient and many movement workshops.

♫ Noa Zulu ~ Savanna ~ Tribal acoustic trance experience – LIVE
♫ Ori Bankhalter
♫ LIVE נתנאל גולדברג – טריו – נהר של אור
♫ Pettra – Ethnic Progressive Trance
♫ Pepa Danza & Ori Yavor ~ LIVE Ecstatic Dance
♫ Light Child Project
♫ Yudan
♫ Yonder
♫ Yair Go-Love
♫ Ammonite
♫ Mark Berkovic – Satipatthana – PsyChill
♫ Ecstatic Dance with Makatu & Light Child
♫ Dj Lila
♫ Dj Spiritito
♫ Sufi Haim ~ מסע נשימה אל תוך הצ’אקרות
♫ 4 Elements TranCeremony ~ DJ GoLove

And more surprises coming soon!

✿ Healing Temple
Supportive space for healing with an amazing team of therapists and healers.

✿ Evolution Space
A space for high quality workshops – self-development, consciousness, movement and manifesting a new world.

✿ Sacred Fire

✿ A nourishing space for touch and water sessions in various modalities – plus a heated pool for water treatments.

✿ The location is perfect for this season. The new location is ‘באר מנוחה’ an event space in wild nature, near פונדק 101 – (the desert will catch your breath). Close to the desert ashram, an amazing location for festivals with everything we need!

✿ We will have the best quality sound system.

✿ Food is vegan – delicious, healthy and at a good price. Sushi, soup, stews, shakes, vegan pizzas, salads, desserts and more.

✿ The celebration is intimate. Up to 500 participants. We anticipate being sold out again this year, we recommend purchasing your tickets as soon as possible!

EARLY BIRDS – 250 NIS – First 100 tickets – SOLD OUT
>>> 280 NIS – 100 tickets – Super early sale
320 NIS – 150 tickets – Early sale
350 NIS – 150 tickets – Regular price

Kids under 12 years old enter for free
Teenagers 13-16 years old – 120 NIS

Check Out The Event Page On Facebook



Um Ali Bread Pudding

This dessert, known as Um Ali Bread Pudding, is named after the mother um Ali. Om Ali was the wife of a ruler from the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt called Ezz El-Din Aybek. Her rival Shagaret El Dorr was the second wife of that ruler. After his death, Shagaret El Dorr arranged for Om Ali to be murdered, and to celebrate, she requested from her cooks to come up with the most delicious dessert they can think of to distribute to throughout Egypt. The successful recipe was a special pastry with milk and honey, that was named Om Ali. A gold coin was added to each plate & distributed in the streets of Egypt. Shagaret El Dorr ruled Egypt for some time in the name of her husband, and later died in a conspiracy too. This dish to date is still known as Om Ali. This dessert is a quick and easy way to win legions of hearts. It’s also a mouth-watering way to use up stale croissants – or a great reason to go and buy some!

Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding

You can eat the ‘original’ Um Ali Bread Pudding in several restaurants in Jerusalem and buy it from street vendors at the markets in Jerusalem. Further, this recipe serves 4 persons and it takes a half hour to cook it and 15 minutes to prepare it.

  • 4 all-butter croissants
  • 2 tbsp raisins or dried mixed berries
  • 2 tbsp flaked/slivered almonds, plus extra to sprinkle
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 250ml/9fl oz/generous 1 cup milk
  • 5 tbsp caster/superfine sugar
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp orange blossom water
  • 250ml/9fl oz/generous 1 cup whipping cream
  • 4 tbsp desiccated/shredded coconut
  • 1 small egg, beaten

    Um Ali Bread Pudding
    Um Ali Bread Pudding

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
  2. Tear up the croissants into bite-size pieces, place on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until crisp and golden.
  3. Spread the baked croissant pieces across the base of a baking dish, about 28cm/11¼in square.
  4. Sprinkle over the raisins, almonds, pine nuts and pistachios, making sure they are spread evenly.
  5. Heat the milk in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of the sugar and mix well to dissolve.
  6. Reduce the heat to low, add the cinnamon and orange blossom water and heat through at a gentle simmer for 3–4 minutes.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat and leave it to cool so that the egg will not scramble when it’s added to it.
  8. Meanwhile, put the cream and the remaining sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture forms soft peaks.
  9. Sprinkle in the coconut and gently fold to incorporate.
  10. Add the egg to the cool milk mixture and whisk to combine.
  11. Ladle the mixture into the baking dish and spread the whipped cream over the top.
  12. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until everything is bubbling and the top is golden, if necessary placing it under a hot grill/broiler for the last 1–2 minutes to brown the top.
  13. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for a couple of minutes. Serve warm.
Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding

Southern Negev Desert Night Tour

This desert jeep tour from Eilat allows you to experience the magic of an Arabian night, under the star spangled desert night skies. Running daily during the summer months, this unique desert tour explores the mountains of Eilat in the southern Negev Desert by 4X4 and follows the most scenic trails in the Eilat area.

It is well known that the desert comes to life at night and during the tour we look out for local wildlife such as wolves, hyenas, foxes and gazelles. The desert nights are particularly renowned for their exceptionally starry skies and your tour guide will point out the various constellations while sharing some fascinating insights into the history and geology of the area.

We stop en route to enjoy sweet desert tea and pita bread prepared on a campfire, while we relax and take in the fabulous views and magical desert atmosphere.  We take another break from the jeeps to enjoy a short walk by the light of the stars.

This desert tour is in open-topped Land Rover jeeps for a full outdoor ’Desert by Night’ Negev experience.  Places on our desert jeep tours from Eilat are limited to preserve the quality of the tour.

  • Price as a regular tour: $64 adult, $59 child.
  • Private Tour: Up to 4 people 320$ in total, 5 people or more 75$ p.p.