The Israeli desert with its breathtaking landscape and various attractions is offering the perfect place for a holiday. The Negev invites the visitors to an exciting journey that is rich in variety of opportunities.Israel is a small country with 62% of the total area occupied by the Negev desert. The reddish gleaming desert terrain is characterized by many impressive geological rock formations. The visitors enjoy here a unique view of an untouched vastness - silent and majestic.
There are traces of past civilizations and their agriculture as well as archaeological sites. The Negev offers an unmistakable backdrop for encountering the Bedouin tribes - people of the desert.
The Israeli desert is special for the following reasons:
- The desert is very near: just 4 hours of flying from Europe. Israel has two international airports - Ben Gurion and Ovda, which guarantee a short trip to the desert to all travellers (half an hour to an hour and a half). Starting from November, there will be direct flights from Europe and Russia to Ovda airport including Ryanair, Wizzair, and SAS.
- Easy to Hike and Bike: There are a lot of marked paths. Israel offers the most imposing hiking trails of the world and hundreds of safe paths lead through the Israeli desert.
- Cordial local population: The desert dwellers are friendly and hospitable and make the desert experience both pleasant and exciting for visitors.
- Tourists Activities: Along with the development of accommodation, the huge offer of tourist activities has converted the Negev in a popular, interesting, versatile and creative destination in recent years.
- Magnificent landscapes: Lots of tourists today, enjoy the charm of the Negev with its landscapes rich in variety
- There are spectacular sand dunes in the north.
- The Ramon Crater is present in the middle with its bold cliffs and seasonal water sources.
- In the east, one experiences the African desert with wide savannas and acacia trees.
- To the south, one finds red and black granite, contrasted by sandstone foothills having a powerfully pleasant colour.
During a desert trip of approx. 3 hours, you can get to know the entire spectrum of the desert landscape and enjoy its variety, which one experiences in other deserts often only with a long trip of several kilometers. Many tourists decide for to stay for 2 or 3 days in each region of the Negev.
- The Negev is very safe to travel. In case of emergency, the rescue units working in the area are some of the best trained in the world and are always close by. Should anyone require medical assistance, Israel offers high quality, first class advanced western medical services.
More information and tips for accommodation and recommendations:
NEGEV - LOCATION AND APPROACH
Landing at the airports of Ovda or Eilat with the onward journey to Mitzpe Ramon or Sde Boker:
Public means of transportation:
Bus 392 from Eilat to Mitzpe Ramon and Be'erSheva, stops at the airport of Ovda on Sunday at 07:13, 08:41, 09:43, 14:12, 15:41, 17:43.
Arrival at the central bus station of Mitzpe Ramon after about an hour and a half.
Mondays - Thursdays at 07:13, 07:41, 09:43, 14:12, 15:41, 17:43.
Car rental in Eilat, Mitzpe Ramon and Be'erSheva:
There a multiple option in renting a car in these cities. There is a choice of international and Israeli companies.
Landing at the Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv and onward journey for Negev to Mashabei Sadeh / Sde Boker / Mitzpe Ramon
Public means of transportation:
Bus routes 370/380 from Tel Aviv to Be'erSheva, routes 446/470 from Jerusalem to Be'erSheva.Train from Ben Gurion or Tel Aviv to Be'erSheva.
From Be'erSheva bus routes 60, 64, 65, 660 Departure every morning 6 o'clock onward (approx. every 20 minutes). Arrival in Mashabei Sadeh in 35 minutes / SdeBoker area in 55 minutes / Mitzpe Ramon in 1 hour 20 minutes.
NEGEV ROAD DISTANCES
|Old Town Beer Sheva
|Ben-Gurion's House in Sde Boker
|Hai Bar Wildlife reserve Yotvata
NEGEV DESERT - DON'T MISS
At the heart of Israel’s vast Negev Desert, lies the Ramon Crater, the world’s largest erosion crater,also known as Machtesh Ramon. Encompassing a vast diversity of rocks of fantastic colors and forms, this mesmerizing natural phenomenon measures 40km in length and between 2 and 10km in width, shaped like an longated heart, and forms Israel’s largest national park, the Ramon Nature Reserve. Far from the city lights and crowds, featuring multicolored sandstone, volcanic rock and fossils, the Ramon Crater is often described as Israel’s very own Grand Canyon. The truly stunning views from the 300m edge lookout point of Machtesh Ramon, reminiscent of a Hollywood backdrop offer a powerful experience for tourists from all over the world, all year round.
15,000 acres in a horseshoeshaped valley surrounded by steep cliffs, Timna Park is an extraordinarily stunning experience and an absolute treat for hiking enthusiasts. Here you'll witness the marvelous works of nature, as well as the amazing wildlife, plants and trees which make the desert their home, surviving in the harsh arid conditions. With its multitude of attractions, colorful sands and craggy mountains, Timna Park is an incomparable visitor magnet.
Credit: Daphna Tal
Timna Park - An Exhilarating Desert Adventure
Sandboarding in the desert
An iconic desert experience. The plush sweeping sand dunes of the Negev desert allow you to glide down sitting down or standing up at an exhilarating pace. This is a fantastic and very special skill, which once you master (it’s really very easy) you can call yourself a genuine sand surfer – how cool is that?
Negev at night
The sky of the Negev at night is a mesmerizing sight. Simply look up once darkness sets and you will immediately be struck by the splendor of millions of twinkling stars, lighting up the blue-black darkness in a radiance that can only be seen in the dessert.
Sunrise at Masada
Available only to those brave enough to climb atop by foot - watching the Sunrise at Masada is undoubtedly one of the most unforgettable experiences to be had in Israel. The slow rise of the sun as it emerges over the Jordanian Moab Mountains and the Dead Sea, shedding its light on the surrounding desert landscapes, is a truly spectacular sight, one which you will not soon forget.
NEGEV - ISRAEL’S MAJESTIC DESERT
Where Adventure and Inspiration Await
An ideal destination for travelers who love adventure in the great outdoors. The south of Israel is sparsely populated, but packed with fascinating sites and activities.
With amazing natural wonders and beauty, the South boasts magnificent views that are guaranteed to take your breath away, from sunrise to sunset. A desert but definitely not deserted, there is so much to see and do here – there are many extraordinary geological marvels, significant historical landmarks and wonderful nature reserves, where you can go hiking, cycling and camel riding, or enjoy adrenaline-charged safari rides in the desert. Simply put, this majestic Southern region is one of the country’s greatest assets and an absolute must on the itinerary.
A remarkable glance to the history of the State of Israel, Sde Boker is a Kibbutz originally established by pioneers, with the mission to settle the Negev in the early 50’s. Sde Boker is renowned as the home of David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister whose home is now a museum open to the public.
A truly unique attraction, offering a multi-sensory experience of the exceptional nature of the Arava region. Visitors to the center can discover advanced farming methods, the local flora and fauna, climate challenges, and special qualities of the soil and water of the desert.
A visit to Nevatim, the home to Cochin Jews, is a fascinating experience. Cochin Jews, originally from India, immigrated to Israel after the establishment of the State. Cochin Jews consider themselves as one of the most ancient Jewish communities in the world. The Center for Cochin Heritage at Moshav Nevatim tells the story of this unique community.
Israel’s own version of the famous “Burning Man” festival; where for 6 days, a temporary city is set up in the Negev desert, creating a platform which allows a communal life style, creativity, art and radical self-expression.
The Bedouin Experience
The Bedouin hospitality is a truly unrivalled experience, one which is both highly enjoyable and culturally engaging. A group of nomadic tribes indigenous to the area and dating back many hundreds of years, the Bedouins of Israel continue to live in traditional ways, opening their hearts, their homes and their way of life to the public, to share in their customs and their world-renowned hospitality. From camel riding to traditional Bedouin meals and even overnight stays in traditional Bedouin tents - all these are immensely popular attractions with tourists in the region, and an opportunity to discover and connect with a longforgotten way of life.
The Culinary Queens of Yeruham
For a truly memorable local experience, make sure to visit the Culinary Queens of Yeruham – a unique project, in which the wonderful women of Yeroham host tourists from far and wide for an excellent traditional meal in their homes, creating an unforgettable experience of smells, colors and flavors. Get to know the real life of locals through their fascinating stories, while tasting the ethnic delicacies and enjoying their amazing hospitality.
The Old City of Be'er Sheva
Said to have been founded by biblical Abraham, Be'er Sheva is one of the oldest cities in the country, with evidence of a settlement dating back thousands of years. As charming as it is historic, the old city of Be'er Sheva offers a fascinating mosaic of urban spaces, and exploring the Old City will reveal a rare wealth of unique architecture, extensive history and stories as old as time.
Carasso Science Park
New in the Old City of Be’er Sheva, the Carasso Science Park, spread over 4.25 acres, is the largest science park in Israel. Engaging and entertaining for all ages, Carasso Science Park features an interactive museum and a scientific garden with games and hands-on activities. The park also offers ten interactive exhibitions in various fields of science including: Genetics, Communication, Microelectronics, Nuclear Energy and more.
Arad of the new millennium is a town with young spirit and rich experience. Arad and its surroundings have been blessed with beautiful landscapes, desert tranquility, and many walking trails nestled amongst untouched desert nooks, suitable for any age or style. With lots of attractions and plenty of tourism sites in and around the city, Arad is the perfect starting point and your natural gate to the perfect desert vacation.
The Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve is the area’s largest animal breeding and reclamation center for animals before they are reintroduced into the wild. The reserve boasts wonderful attractions that are an absolute delight for animal lovers, including the predators’ center with its live predators and small desert animals, a Nocturnal animal’s observatory in dark room conditions and 12 square kilometers of ground where herds of herbivores roam free.
The south of Israel is a total dream destination for adventure-hungry travelers. Its unique and challenging terrain make for an ideal setting for various extreme sports and activities including abseiling down steep ravens and canyons, dirt biking and off road cycling which are extremely popular in this area as are the 4x4 adventure drives which are all the rage for locals and tourists alike.
A definite throwback, this is still most authentic way to explore the marvelous desert surrounding. Riding on the back of a Camel is an activity found in a number of camel farms across the Negev and one guaranteed to last in your memory.
EVENTS IN THE NEGEV: CALENDAR
Round The Arava Race - The 63-kilometer bike race named after Yoni Friedman offers a breathtaking desert landscape, endless expanses of nature, the power of spirituality, serenity and serenity and a connection to an extraordinary sporting experience. The starting point and end of the race are in Moshav Hatzeva.
Darom Adom is an annual festival held during the Anemone flower's blossoming season in the northern Negev region. The festival offers agricultural tours, farmers' markets, and countryside lodging, as well as sports activities such as marches, race, bike tours through the red fields of the northern Negev and other activities such as artistic performances. The local tourism association "Shikma Besor" is responsible for the festival and its yearly activities.
The cherry festival takes place in the Yatir Forest, which is the largest forest in Israel where large orchards of orchards grow, and is a 5-minute drive from Be'er Sheva. The event includes a cherry harvest for the whole family, sweet and sour snacks, baking pita bread, sheep herding, cheese gibbon, local farmers' market, klezmer melodies, climbing wall, omega and many other activities for the whole family.
Experience the magic of Ramadan nights in Rahat - when the night becomes a day and the streets are bustling with life. Join an unforgettable tour at the most special time of the year, giving a unique glimpse into Bedouin culture in Rahat. Meet the authentic dishes, absorb the fragrances of spices and roasted coffee, discover the secrets of Rahat from local guides and enjoy street performances, Debka music and more.
The Cinema South Festival, initiated by the School of Sound and Screen Arts at Sapir Academic College, started in 2002 with an emphasis on student films. Within a few years, however, became the festival an international film festival that provides a central stage for Israeli cinema, international quality and radical cinema. The festival takes place every year in June for five full days in various locations throughout the northern and western Negev. This is a festival that opens its doors to anyone, free of charge. The South Cinema Festival is produced from a unique cultural agenda relevant to the place where it was created.
The International Fringe Festival Beer Sheva is a multi-disciplinary festival that crosses audiences and ages and constitutes a quality stage for the best Israeli and international artists from the fields of theater, dance, music, street art and the plastic arts. The festival is considered one of the major fringe events in Israel and the largest and leading cultural festivals in the south of the country. The festival was recently received by the EFFE (European Festivals Association) and is gaining a reputation as a prestigious event.
Negev Of Stars - Like every summer, the Earth passes through the shrapnel left behind by the comet SWIFT-TATTLE. These fragments penetrate our atmosphere and create a spectacular view of "shooting stars". During this time in the Negev celebratethe people the amazing experience of the Perseid Meters, a number of astronomical events - a joint observation of the meteor shower, observation points with elaborate telescopes, lectures and many other activities.
The Tamar Festival is a combination of the ideal Israeli soundtrack and the spectacular vista of Masada and the Dead Sea region. The extraordinary experience takes place with concerts over 4 days at various locations and at different times over 24 hours, when the audience ventures out to the country's most extraordinary sites and landscapes.
Desert Magic Festival - The first Bedouin festival: A variety of experiential activities for the whole family that provide an authentic glimpse into the ancient Bedouin tradition.
The Arava Film Festival is a unique event that has been going on for several years every November in the heart of the Arush Nature Reserve, adjacent to Tzukim. The films at the festival are screened in the evening and in the night, under the stars in the open air. They are the first line of international production that has been screened at world film festivals in the last year. Among the films of the festival are films for children and teenagers, as well as short films produced and filmed during the past year in the Arava. The films are screened on a giant screen and the audience can relax on a spacious and surprisingly comfortable platform, which was built especially for this purpose in the valley between the mountain cliffs of the eastern Negev.
Ben-Gurion's march has been taking place for more than 20 years, at the initiative of the Ramat Negev Regional Council, following the daily sporting march of the first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, during his stay in Kibbutz Sde-Boker. The march takes place on three tracks – a short track for families (7 km), a medium pathway (15 km) and a long one (22 km).
Docaviv Negev - Docaviv, the Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival, is the largest film festival in the city of Tel Aviv, and the only festival in Israel dedicated in its entirety to documentary films. In order to expose as wide an audience as possible to documentary work, the NPO also organizes a regional festivals: Docaviv Negev, held in Yeruham, as well as dozens of documentary film screenings at cultural centers located throughout the country. Each year, Docaviv NPO awards Israel’s largest prize for an original Israeli documentary production, and alongside it, prizes for the Best International Film Award, prizes for outstanding student filmmakers, and an additional prize within the Depth of Field framework, for innovative, inspiring documentary films from around the world.