The Negev highland trail encompasses nature, culture, and history in the stunningly wild setting of the Negev Desert. As you wander through the imposing landscape you are sure to encounter the people that live along the way and get to know about their ways and beliefs.
In Merhav Am you will meet traditional religious Jews, relatively recent arrivals to the highland.
In the kibbutz of Sde Boker and Midreshet Sde Boker you will meet both the idealistic “Kibbutzniks” and a big cosmopolitan group of academics and desert-lovers.
In the villages of Ovdat, Nahal Hava and Aricha you will come to know the traditional Bedouin population and enjoy their hospitality right at their tents.
In the town of Mitzpe Ramon you will meet the whole range of other tourists and Israeli service-givers from all over the country.
Hiking the trail you will be marveled at the sight of the magnificent natural sights and the spectacular views of the desert.
Among these are the breathtaking Zin Valley, the astounding Zinim cliffs, The enchanting and refreshing oases of Ein Akev and Ein Saharonim and the inspiring and awe striking Makhtesh Ramon with its cliff walls and great peaks.
Most of the animals in the desert come out at dusk and dawn and many are only active in the night time. With patience and luck you could maybe observe a fennec, a caracal or a wolf.
In the daytime scavengers and birds of prey fly majesticlly above and rock hyraxes and nubian ibexes can be frequantly seen on the slopes of the Zin Valley. The latter is also a regular visitor to Mitzpe Ramon and to Midreshet Sde Boker. An outstanding variety of desert birds can be watched in the Negev highland either near water sources or from designated outlooks.
The desert’s plants are surprisingly diverse and come in very staggering shapes and colors. The poor rainfall in winter and spring is more than sufficent for flowers to bloom and for the highland to get covered with green. When summer comes all the vegetation that wasn’t eaten turns yellow, while in autumn the desert stands “naked” and desolate looking, though it’s actually only waiting for a few drops to flourish once again.
The Negev highland is dotted with antiquities telling stories of its past. Starting with petroglyphs engraved by nomads as far as 6000 years ago, moving on to the great waterholes and ruins of the first sedentary settlers of the region and then to the more complex constructions built by the Nabateans who later succeeded them. Of our era Byzantines’ towns and farms as well as villages of the early Arab period contribute much to our understanding of the Negev’s heritage and development. All of the above are threaded on the trail, creating a fascinating timeline.
The very trail is a living relic as it’s based on ancient camel routes called “Nakebim”, paths which use the natural topography and were made to facilitate the caravans’ passableness. Walking on the trail is literally following in the footsteps of the ancients (or at least in their camels’ hooves) and it’s also following the Bedouins’ way, your own and the desert’s.