Timna Park

The Negev

The site of some of the world's earliest copper mines (c 5000 BCE), the Timna Valley offers an awe-inspiring desert landscape of cliffs and rock formations in contrasting shades of burnt red, pink and tan. Its scenery and archaeological sites can be explored on over 20 hiking trails – many of them circuits – that take between one and 12 hours. Once you're inside the park, you can stay until sundown.

The new visitors centre screens short films on Timna's geography and ancient methods of copper production; it's well worth spending 10NIS for a guide booklet. Bicycles (20/60NIS per hour/day) can be rented at the visitors centre and the artificial lake, where there's a restaurant and paddle-boating. Historic sites include ancient mining shafts and the remains of smelting furnaces, temples and rock drawings (depicting ostriches, ibex and chariots) dating back to ancient imperial Egypt.

You could easily spend a whole day hiking here, but the park, 30km north of Eilat, is so spread out that you'll need a car.