Hiking in the Negev
The Negev's trails take in a surprisingly wide variety of desert landscapes. Particularly recommended are those around Sde Boker, Mitzpe Ramon, Timna Park and Eilat.
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) has field schools with lodging at Mitzpe Ramon, Eilat and the northern Arava settlement of Hatzeva. Although they serve mainly school groups, staff are usually able to provide up-to-date information about local hiking trails and sell 1:50,000-scale hiking maps. Another good bet is to chat with staff at hostels – the people at Green Backpackers in Mitzpe Ramon and the Sde Boker Field School are particularly helpful. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority staff at the Makhtesh Ramon Visitors Centre in Mitzpe Ramon are a great source of information and maps.
The Negev environment can be unforgiving so make sure to follow these safety guidelines:
- Bring a 1:50,000-scale SPNI hiking map.
- Walk only on marked trails.
- Bring (and drink) plenty of water.
- Use sunscreen.
- Cover your head.
- Don't hike in high summer or in the middle of the day (noon to 3pm).
- Avoid the Israel–Egypt border area.
In winter, check the weather forecast to make sure you don't get caught in a flash flood.
Don't hike by yourself and be sure to inform someone of where you are going so that they can sound the alarm if you don't return from your hike as scheduled.
If you get lost in an area with phone reception, call the Israel Nature & Parks Authority hotline on *3639 to find out if a ranger is nearby. If you need to be rescued, dial 100 (Israel Police).