If you’re after a desert adventure in Israel – or at least some amazing desert hiking – the new Negev Highlands Trail is where you want to be heading!
This modular trail enables visitors to plan an awesome hike through some of the Negev’s most spectacular scenery. Also known as the Har HaNegev trail, expect to come across ancient caravan camel routes (called Nakebim), as well as some fantastic ruins and impressive natural sites, as well as diverse, modern towns and communities.
To get an idea of the trail and where it runs, check out the image below. As you can see, the typical trail hike takes around 6 days, and is split into 6 main modules (each module is represented by a different color).
If you fancy trekking the whole route, expect imposing landscapes combined with eye-opening visits to the local communities on the trail.
For example, at the start of the trail in Merhav Am there are traditional religious Jews, in Sde Boker kibbutz and Midreshet Sde Boker there are the idealistic “Kibbutzniks” and a cosmopolitan group of academics and desert-lovers. In the villages of Ovdat, Nahal Hava and Aricha meet the local traditional Bedouins, who offer hospitality in their tents. In the town of Mitzpe Ramon, there’s a ton of things to enjoy (read our insightful guide to this must-see desert town).
The views are what many of you will be after, and where can you go wrong with views of Zin Valley, Zinim cliffs, the oases of Ein Akev and Ein Saharonim, and the spectacular natural crater Makhtesh Ramon with its cliff walls and great peaks.
You’ll also come across desert animals of all sorts (watch out for caracals, wolves, ibex, and various desert birds of prey), most of which only come out at night, while the desert fauna that pops up in the Spring may well astound you!
The perfect time to hike in the desert has to be in the Spring, with the few drops of rain that hit this area (80-100 mm of rain per year) more than enough to truly make the desert bloom. Once Summer hits, the heat may be too overbearing to take on this trail in its entirety.
Check out the Har HaNegev trail website in English, which gives a great overview of the area, plus tips on where to stay and how to plan for your trek.