The Negev is a large desert that covers the entire southern half of Israel. The least populated area in Israel, it is a home to (among others) the nomadic desert people known as the Bedouin. The Negev offers some truly breathtaking scenery and is home to some fascinating sites and places.
* Beer Sheva (Beersheba) - the Biblical City of Abraham and de facto capital of the Negev
* Arad - lively modern town on the edge of the Negev
* Dimona - the third largest city in the Negev
* Eilat - the southern-most Israeli city, located on the Red Sea coast, a major centre for domestic and international tourism
* Lehavim - adjacent to the Lahav forest on a group of hills overlooking the Negev Desert
* Mitzpe Ramon - a small town overlooking the Machtesh Ramon crater
* Netivot - small city, home (and now gravesite) of the Baba Sali, a famous rabbi
* Ofakim - established as a regional center for the rural communities in the area
* Omer - small village near Beer Sheva
* Rahat - the largest Bedouin settlement in Israel, and the only one to have the status of city
* Sderot - small city, known for its contribution to the Israeli music scene
* Tel Sheva - founded in 1968 as part of a government project to settle Bedouins in permanent settlements
* Yerucham - small settlement located near the Large Crater
* Avdat - the largest ancient Nabataean city in the Negev, now a National Park
* Dead Sea - the lake and immediate surroundings forming the lowest point on Earth
* Ein Avdat - beautiful steep canyon and a popular hiking spot
* Masada - high on a plateau above the Dead Sea, the scene of the Zealots' last stand against the might of Rome, a powerful symbol for modern Israel
* Judean Desert - for a small part in Israel, also encompasses much of the West Bank
* Yotvata - a large open Natural Reserve north of Eilat and a Kibbutz with the same name
The Negev is the southern region of Israel, covering 55% of the state's territory and inhabited by some 379,000 Jews and 175,000 Bedouins (Bedouin is an ancient word reffering to the term Desert Man). Contrary to the usual view of a "desert," the Negev is not covered with sand. Rather, it is a melange of brown, rocky, dusty mountains interrupted by wadis (dry riverbeds that bloom briefly after rain), and deep craters. The area was once the floor of a primordial sea, and a sprinkling of marine snail shells still covers the earth here. Aside from the natural wonders, the Negev plays host to a great number of ancient sites, displaying the rich history of this crossroads of trade between Asia, Africa, and Europe.
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea, borders Israel, the West Bank and Jordan. It is the lowest point in the world at 394.6 m (1269 ft) below sea level. Currently, 25 km of Dead Sea coastline lie within Palestinian Authority territory, including Qumran and Ein Feshka.
Dead Sea scrolls and Qumran
The Qumran Ruin is a complex of structures located in the Yehuda Desert on the verge of the Dead Sea. It can be found on a barren terrace between the Dead Sea and the cliffs where the long-untouched Qumran Caves reside. The Qumran Ruin is located just next to the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, some 1300 feet below sea level and several kilometers south of Jericho, and is one of the main tourist attractions in the Dead Sea area.
The design of the Qumran ruin is unique, with many large halls that used to serve public functions, and a relatively small number of living quarters. The main structure used to have several rooms arranged around a central courtyard. Additional building complexes, to the south and east of the main building, have contained long halls, rooms and ritual baths. A large number of mikva’ot (ritual baths) were found throughout the site, as was typical of public and private buildings in Jerusalem in the Second Temple period.
Beside the spectacular archeological value of these ancient ruins, Qumran is best known as the nearest settlement to the burial place of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves around the area, and have been considered to be the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times. The scrolls consist of about 825 to 870 separate documents of great religious and historical importance that include the only known existing copies of Biblical documents created before 100 AD.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were most likely written by the Essenes, a strict Torah observant, Messianic, new covenant Jewish sect during the period lasting from about 200 B.C. to 68 A.D. They enhance our knowledge of both Judaism and Christianity, and represent a non-rabbinic form of Judaism alongside a wealth of comparative materials for New Testament scholars.
Visiting the Qumran National Park is an exciting and inspiring experience. The most important findings in the area are the ones from the end of the Second Temple period and from the Bar-Kochva rebellion era. It is possible to see the cave in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, and other structures that were excavated nearby. An audio-visual presentation tells the story of the site and the people who used to live here. In addition, it is possible to take a short walk up the Qumran canyon, in a nice desert surrounding, and appreciate the one-of-a-kind surrounding of the lowest place on earth.
The Dead Sea is unlike any other place in the world. It is one of the main attractions for tourists visiting the Israel, and for many good reasons. Thanks to the climate and the mineral qualities of the area, it holds a variety of therapeutic qualities and offers many beauty treatments and body massages you only have to choose from while visiting.
At minus 416 meters below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth. It is a very sunny area, with 330 days of sun a year and a miraculously dry air, unpolluted so it can purify respiratory systems. The sea itself is the only un-drownable lake on earth, and the sensation of floating in reading position in the salty water is one of the unique pleasures travelers from all around the world come to the Dead Sea for.
Because of its therapeutic qualities, the Dead Sea is the ultimate Spa destination. An assortment of mineral waters of various qualities is used for therapeutic and cosmetic treatments, and the mineral-rich springs rise from deep down into little ponds along the shores. The well-known natural black mud is another famous Dead Sea feature, which improves blood circulation and relieves tensions of mind and muscle. The outdoor activity of getting covered by mud is one that a visitor to the Dead Sea should not miss.
Besides being a relaxing resort, the Dead Sea is also a fascinating and lively location with many attractions for more active travelers. These include the Qumran National Park, with its ancient caves on the northern shores where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest biblical documents known to men, were found. The Ein Gedi Botanical Gardens offer a fun trip for flora lovers, with more than 1000 species of plants from around the world. The Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is another great place for visitors to view some bird sanctuaries and wildlife of the desert. The Arugut reserve, with its series of shallow pools, perfect for bathing, is another popular destination for a short trip, and the Zohar Fortress and Canyon, a canyon in white soft limestone, is also worth a stop.
There are many other routes and small trips to take while visiting the Dead Sea. You can easily find useful information in the tourists Information center in Ein Bokek center, where most of the area’s hotels are located and few restaurants and shops can be found as well.
Ein Gedi Wild Life
Ein Gedi is an oasis located in the Judian Desert, near the Dead Sea, between Masada and the caves of Qumran.
The Ein Gedi National Park is the biggest and the most important oasis in Israel. The park is found in the Dead Sea Valley, which is an effect of the Great Rift Valley. In the park there are two sprung-fed rivers that streams for the all year: the David Stream and the Arugot Stream, and two more springs the Shulamit and Ein Gedi springs, also flow in the reserve.
Ein Gedi Kibbutz is a kibbutz located few dozens of meters southern than the park. In the kibbutz there is a beautiful botanic garden with more than 900 species from the entire world. The garden, that covers about 100 dunam, is the only botanic garden in the world with a settlement.
Masada is a magnificently located fortress site in Israel's stark Judean Desert, close to the Dead Sea. The last Jewish holdout to fall to Rome in 73 CE, Masada symbolizes the exile of the Jewish nation from the Holy Land. Its violent end has become a symbol of bravery and self-sacrifice since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.In the first century A.D. nearly a thousand Jewish rebels who believed in zero-tolerance toward the Roman rule took over the fortress and were surrounded by the Roman army, which left behind the most complete siege works in the world. When defeat appeared imminent, the rebels chose to commit suicide instead of giving in and spending the rest of their lives as slaves. This made Masada a symbol of the human spirit’s yearning for freedom.
Masada is the most visited site of all the archaeological sites in Israel and one of its main tourist attractions. It contains ancient palaces and fortifications located on top of an isolated rock plateau in a stunning desert site overlooking the Dead Sea. And it holds a great historical value, too.
Masada (meaning ‘fortress’ in Hebrew) became known for its attributed mythic significance in the First Jewish-Roman War (also known as the Great Jewish Revolt).
The Israel Nature and Parks Protection Authority had expertly restored the ruins of Masada, so visitors can almost re-live the last days of this heroic story’s main characters. The latest attraction is the remarkable new museum, with nine dramatically lit rooms displaying some precious finds alongside life-size statues. In the Masada museum, visitors can easily picture the lives and deaths of these Jewish fugitives, who refused to surrender.
Beyond the mythic importance of this site, you will find the Dead Sea and desert mountains views absolutely stupendous. The cliffs on the east edge of this Dead Sea site are about 1,300 feet high and the cliffs on the west are about 300 feet high. The fortress can be reached from two directions today - either from the Dead Sea in the east, via the original and steep “snake path”, or from the west on a path built from the old Roman ramp, offering an easier climb or a cable car.
Masada, whose Hebrew name means fortress, is on a breathtaking rock plateau with steep cliffs rising on all sides. Roman client King Herod the Great constructed a fortified palace complex atop of the plateau between 37 and 31 BCE. During the Jewish rebellion against Rome in first century CE, Jewish zealots took refuge in isolated Masada. After remaining there for seven years, the zealots finally fell at the hands of the Roman army in 73 CE. However, rather than be killed or enslaved, the holed up rebels chose to commit a mass suicide, a deed which forever enshrined them in the annals of Jewish history. After extensive excavations in the 1960s, the disturbing actions on Masada became thought of as courageous and valorous.
Masada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been granted a special place in the heart of the Jewish nation. Though the actions of the zealots are still debated, Masada has become synonymous with the tragic and much-mourned downfall of Jewish life in the Holy Land. More recently, this symbol of death has been contrasted with Jewish rebirth, the founding of the State of Israel. Indeed, many Israeli soldiers, sworn in atop Masada, emotionally chant, "Masada shall never fall again."
Through Masada, both Jews and non-Jews can better understand both the history of the Jewish nation and Israel's deep importance to all Jews.
Masada is a world heritage site and a very popular tourist destination. It is definitely one of your must-see sites while visiting the holy land.
Mitzpe Ramon - Ramon Lookout is a town in the Negev desert of southern Israel. It is situated on the northern ridge at an elevation of 2,400 feet (800m.) overlooking an enormous erosion cirque known as the Ramon Crater. This crater, or “Machtesh”, as it is called in Hebrew (a term also used by geologists around the world) is 28 miles long and five miles wide. It is a formation unique to Israel and the Sinai.
Due to the desert climate, Mitzpe Ramon experiences very hot summers and cold winters.
Of all of Israel’s desert regions, the Ramon area has the most varied and lush flora. This can be attributed to the variety of habitats found here and to the difference between the climactic conditions on the Ramon Ridge and those on the Machtesh floor. The high regions of the Ramon Ridge, such as Mizpe Ramon and the Loz Cisterns, have a steppian climate. Because of the cold desert winters, the flowers here bloom in late winter and early spring, a time when the ridge is awash with color.
The Machtesh floor is drier and hotter than the ridge. Saharo-Steppian flora (originating in the Sahara Desert and the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula) are most commonly seen here. The desert springs and the damp soil near them also give rise to a special habitat. Rushes, whose leaves have needle-like points, cattails, and reeds grow near the fresh water. This is evidence that there is groundwater close by, even if none is visible.
Thanks to the variety of habitats in the Ramon region, many species of animals choose to make their homes here. Because of the size and remoteness of Machtesh Ramon and stringent nature-conservation efforts in the Ramon region, the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority decided this would be an appropriate place for the reintroduction of animals which had disappeared from the Negev Desert landscape. One was the onager, a wild ass which cannot be domesticated.
The Nubian ibex, once in danger of becoming extinct in Israel, now romps happily on the cliffs of Machtesh Ramon. The Negev highlands also has populations of leopards, hyenas, dorcas gazelles, wolves, red foxes, Afghan foxes, caracals, sand foxes, and Syrian hyraxes. The small rodents - fat sand rat, garden dormoose, and golden spiny mouse - and the many reptiles in the Machtesh are harder to spot. These animals are on view at Bio-Ramon.
The clear unpolluted air and the altitude of Mitzpe Ramon makes it a great place for star gazing at night. Hikers and bikers will find here interesting desert challenges. There are also a reasonable accommodations here for all : Guest House, Campground, B&B; and hotels
Mitzpe Ramon Attractions and activities
The Alpaca Farm
The Alpaca Farm is the only farm in the world where over 400 exotic alpacas & Lamas are raised and where the entire process of growing and spinning them can be observed.
The Desert Archery Park.
The Desert Archery Park in Mitzpe Ramon is the only place in the world where you can enjoy a game of archery while hiking through 300 dunam of natural desert terrain. Decide the length of your archery course (1-4 km) and play this wonderfull game.
Karkom Jeep Tours
Karkom Jeep Tours in the Negev Desert
The Albert Promenade.
A trail decorated with impressive environmental sculptures - starts from the Visitors Center and goes aloin along the edge of the Ramon Crater. In the middle of the promenade there is a “bird balcony” which hangs above the crater and offers the best view around over the crater. Visitors can see birds flying under their feet rather than over their head. After the paved trail ends, a path continues along the crater edge and leads to a small observation platform installed atop of a rock resembling a camel.
A museum showcasing the wildlife of the desert and the crater. The rich collection of desert plants and animals displayed is divided into two parts: an indoor interpretation center and an outdoor area reconstructing the Negev desert landscape, with desert loess, hamada, sand, cliffs, riverbeds and even a small spring.
Eilat is Located at the southernmost tip of the country, Eilat is blessed with everything that makes a perfect vacation - beautiful
mirror-like sea, lively beaches, seafront bars and restaurants, first-rate hotels, all kinds of watersports, diving, partying and
desert-based activities. spectacular underwater world and coral reefs, diving clubs, desert treks, camel tours and even swimming with dolphins. 320 km (200 miles) away from the tension often felt in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, Eilat is a convenient escape for Israelis on vacation, but during the mild winter months also attracts thousands of European sun-seekers.
Breathtaking scenery of the magnificent Red Mountains and the crystal-clear Red Sea gloriously lap this exciting fun. Eilat provides its visitors with the ultimate relaxation, given greatly by the magical beauty of the desert-like nature.
All this, along with the endless sun and the pleasant, warm winter, makes Eilat the leading tourist city in Israel, preferred both by foreign visitors (European charters mostly) and Israeli vacationers.
Eilat (pop 55,000) is the southernmost town in Israel, isolated from the rest of the country by the Negev desert. It is sprawled along 7 kilometers of Red Sea coastline, between the borders of Egypt and Jordan, and offers spectacular views of the Gulf of Aqaba. Originally a strategic military outpost, Eilat's first incarnation was as a port, used for importing goods from Asia, such as oil and vehicles. In the 1970s, tourists began visiting Eilat. They were attracted by the coral reefs, sandy beaches, and the dry and sunny desert climate. The town began to develop, and tourism has become its main industry.
Today, the 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) North Beach area is full of hotels with opulent names like Herod's Palace and Queen of Sheba.
The Tayelet promenade extends the length of the beach front and hosts numerous stalls, street artists, restaurants, and fashionable shops.
The promenade has great views of the bay, and each evening it is full of strolling tourists. The southern beach, which has coral reefs, is protected by the Israel Nature Reserve Authority. It has many public beaches and excellent scuba diving centers. The Navy and commercial ports lie between the south and north beaches.
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