Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve

Top choice wildlife reserve in The Arava

Image by len4ik Shutterstock

Established in 1968 to reintroduce animals that had died out in Israel, this 32-sq-km reserve on the Yotvata salt flats is home to a wide variety of desert creatures. You can drive through, safari-style, but only if you have your own car; count on spending about two hours. Herbivores you're likely to see include the Dorcas gazelle, Nubian ibex, Somali wild ass, scimitar-horned oryx and addax (white antelope).

Drive slowly, don't get out of the car, and of course don't feed the animals. You can open the car windows, but watch out for the ostriches, who sometimes poke their heads in looking for a handout. The facilities for rehabilitating injured animals and reptiles are no longer open to the public. Staff can provide information on hiking in the Arava and the Eilat Mountains and sell 1:50,000-scale hiking maps. The entrance is 35km north of Eilat, across Rte 90 from Kibbutz Samar.


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