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  • Writer's pictureIdo Gayer

The Wonders of the Desert Day Tour

Updated: May 16, 2023

A unique character of Israel is its diversity. 2 hours away from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, a Terra incognita exists, a place where once Lawrence of Arabia wrote about, where extinct cultures were blooming, Egyptian Pharaohs trying to eliminate nomads tribes and where gods were created to help survive the hardships of the furnace-like summers and cold-as-arctic winters.



The rounded hills of upper Judean Desert.

After leaving the rumbling, noisy and crowded central Israel will drive south, depends on the departure location and your interests we might pass next to the Israeli – Gazan border, if so we'll stop to take a look, hear and to share about the geo-political complicated situation Israel and the Palestinians are having on the last few decades.


Continuing southward we will Arrive to Sde Boker, a Kibutz of pioneers who "Flourished the Deseret" (the words of Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion), we will visit Ben Gurion's tomb overlooking the Negev desert and Tzin riverbed and continue on to reach the ancient city of Avdat. Avdat is one of the remaining cities of a mysterious culture called "Nabateans" who bloomed and expanded in the Greek – Roman times on the region of the Arab Peninsula, Jordan & Israel, trading for spices and knowing the secrets of collecting and storing water in the deserts. few centuries later the Nabateans disappeared from the pages of history - why, when & how ? All in our tour! (not the best marketing sentence, ah ? but believe me, it's fascinating!)


 

All Ground Up tours are customizable according to your needs, interests, walking abilities and schedule. Contact us for more information!

 

Another option which is off the beaten path, is a sided tour to the south east, to the Israeli - Egyptian border, this time we won't discuss the geopolitical issues on the borders, but we will visit the peaceful, quaint town of Ezuz to see and hear the story of this out of ordinary place, from there we will drive back to the Old Turkish - German railway station at Tel Nitzana which crossed to the Sinai peninsula pre WW1 and had a logistical key factor in the conquest of the British in the war (and later on in Israel's 1948 independence war). If Nabatean and desert archology is your taste, I wouldn't miss one of the Nabateans cities of Shivta or Halutza (Elusa) which where part of the incense and spice route connecting the Arab peninsula to Europe via the Negev desert and the Mediterranean sea.

Later on, doing our way to the main road, we will visit a high-desert winery or a desert dairy farm to talk with the locals about the way of living in a remote and harsh desert region. We will arrive at Mitzpe Ramon, a small, colorful, vibrant and remote community sitting on the edge of the largest Makhtesh (similar to a crater, but not a crater) having a moon-like views of the mountains and hills belongs to the Upper Negev Desert. To finish the day it's recommended to stay the night in one of the "Desert Farms" such as the Alpaca Farm, A family owned small farm, with high quality cabins in the middle of the desert, many animals around and great hospitality and service, definitely out of the tourists path. If you would like to eat dinner (who wouldn't ?) one of the local restaurants at HaBereh or HaHavit are my favorite places to meet the locals, breathe the clean, fresh air of the desert and ofcourse - eat good food.


Hiking in Arugot Canyon outside of Ein Gedi Oasis.

In our second day we can continue down and hike in one of the trails of Makhtesh Ramon, as Parsat Nekarot (The grottos horseshoe in "free" translation) or visit the canyon and springs of Ein Avdat, visit the UNESCO world heritage site "Mamshit" and to meet a Bedouin family, have a local, delicious meal and here about the Bedouin way of life, heritage and why they chose the harsh landscape of the desert as their backyard.


The desert is big, vast and in a glace looks empty with no culture, people and wildlife. But once you spend 2-3 days in the desert's mountains you will learn to notice the beauty in simplicity, the serene nature of the people, the amount of wildlife that is hidden and just waiting for sundown and that the desert acts like an amplifier for our thoughts and emotions. It's not by accident the Israelites spend 40 years in the deserts or the American naturalist / philosopher Edward Abby wrote most of his pieces in and about the desert or T.E Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) found the desert as his true love.


“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”

― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire


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