The Arava

Picturesque towns, impressive wildlife, great hikes, and a peacefulness like no other, in the stunning Arava region, one of the greatest hidden gems of Israel.
An oryx in the Arava, Israel

Stunning desert landscapes

As the southeastern-most region in Israel, the Arava offers visitors incredible landscapes, with an incredibly wild and peaceful atmosphere. Those, alongside numerous attractions and unique natural phenomena, make the Arava one of the best-kept secrets of Israel, and a terrific area to explore.

The Arava, located in the southeastern corner of Israel, is one of Israel’s biggest and lesser-known regions. As a long valley that stretches from the Dead Sea to Eilat, it is mostly treated by travelers as a place to pass by on the way to more famous sites. However, few visitors know that the Arava offers a tremendous amount of unique attractions and sites to visit, which makes it a great destination for those looking to go off the beaten path.

Get to know the Arava

The Arava is a narrow and long valley that stretches from the south of the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Eilat and separates the Gilead Mountains to the east and the Negev Mountains to the west. The length of the valley is about 175 km/109 miles from north to south. Historically, the Incense trade route which was used to transport goods from Egypt to India, has passed in the Arava.

Today, this is one of the most densely populated regions in Israel, with a small number of agricultural towns and kibbutzim, as well as several unique natural attractions.

Best places to visit in the Arava

HaShalom Scenic Road

HaShalom Scenic Road is a stunning route that stretches for 25 km/15,5 miles between Moshav Idan and Moshav Ein Yahav, along Israel’s border with Jordan. The road is suitable for all vehicles and the views from it are some of the most beautiful in Israel – the agricultural fields of the villages of Idan, Hatzeva, and Ein Yahav, the irrigation water reservoirs, the magical fields, and views of Nahal Arava, and the Gilead Mountains, are just a small part of what you will see along the way here.

The Hidden Lake

A unique natural phenomenon in the heart of the desert, located a few minutes drive from Timna Park. The Hidden Lake of Timna is a large pool of turquoise blue water in the heart of the desert – a unique sight that will not leave anyone indifferent to it. The lake is located on the site of an old copper mine that closed in 1978 and is created due to groundwater that floods the ground here and thus creates this beautiful pool in the heart of the desert.

The combination of the dry and yellow desert with the special blue shade of the water here creates a very special sight that has no other in the country. Please note – the water in the disappearing lake is not intended for bathing due to extremely high water salinity.

Kasui Sands

Kasui Sands are huge and very impressive dunes that you can walk and play along, creating a huge attraction for children in particular. The spectacular dunes were created as a result of the drifting of sand by strong winds for many years. The sand here is special and as soon as you approach the area you will notice the unique appearance and also the pleasant feeling in contact with the unique dunes in the heart of the desert.

Tsukim artist village

The settlement of Tsukim is located in the heart of the Aravaand offers spectacular desert views in any direction you turn your head. The houses of the settlement are built of stone and natural materials such as mud and blend in well with the desert scenery and the surrounding nature.

The views and the quietness of the small village attracted many artists and creators to move here, and today you can meet them in the artists’ complex of the village, where there are more than 20 units of artists, therapists, and creators. Among other things, you will find here a studio for designing unique children’s clothes, a studio for designing wooden toys, a pottery studio, a jewelry studio, and a complex for creating soaps and natural care products.

Each of those units also offers creative workshops, which can be a great family activity and give added value to your visit. The artists’ village is open every Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Just Aloe aloe vera house

In Moshav Ein Yahav is the only commercial aloe plantation in the Middle East, and from the aloe grown here, cosmetic products are produced that contain all the wonderful properties of the plant: vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes that stimulate cell growth, essential fatty acids and elastin. The unique production process preserves the active plant ingredients and makes the products particularly high quality.

The Aloe Vera House visitor center, located right near the plantation, conducts great free guided agricultural tours on the site, which are a great way to learn about the magic of aloe vera and the history of this unique region.

Crocoloco Crocodile Farm

One of the surprising sites in the Arava is the Krokoloko crocodile farm located in the town of Ovot in Ein Hatzeva. On the farm, among the water pools, you will see no less than 2,000 crocodiles that came here from South Africa, from young crocodiles to mature crocodiles that reach several meters in length.

You can visit the farm only as part of a guided tour, which includes observing crocodile eggs in an incubator, meeting newly hatched crocodiles, fascinating explanations about the life of crocodiles, observing the adult crocodiles, and finally – a particularly intimate meeting with a small crocodile, which you can pet and, of course, take a photo with… The tour of the farm lasts about 45 minutes and is suitable for all ages.

Best hikes in the Arava

Barak River

In the north of the Arava, the Nahal Ashish Nature Reserve. one of the largest nature reserves in all of Israel, offers visitors quite a few different great hikes, with the most recommended of them all being the Nahal Barak Gorge – a circular route, short and full of ladder-climbing challenges.

From the trailhead, which starts 2.5 km/1.5 miles west of Barak River Campground, we will see an intersection of blue and green trail marking – here we choose the blue that leads us up to the Barak River Gorge. From here we will enter a short but challenging section of gradual descent, where we will use ladders, and cross four small pools, which can be full during winter, depending on the time of the last flood was in the area. As soon as we finish this unique and challenging section and go out of the gorge, the route will lead us to the junction of the blue and green paths, where we will choose the green path leading to the left, for a short walk on the cliff that will bring us back to the vehicles.

Shkhoret Canyon

Among the most beautiful and well-known routes that the Eilat mountains and the Arava have to offer for hikers looking for a short and impressive trail. Shkhoret Canyon is a circular route, 4.7 km/3 mile long, that includes impressive rock formations the use of ladders, and breathtaking views of the Eilat mountains. The canyon here was formed hundreds of millions of years ago due to a volcanic eruption combined with flood flow in the area.

The route starts from the Shkhorrt Canyon Campground. From here, as we move further into the canyon, we can slowly feel that we are entering a gorge that is getting narrower and narrower, creating a unique and amazing sight. After walking about 1.1 km/0.7 miles we will reach the ladders and pegs section. At this point raise your head and you will see huge rock walls of different colors such as red, pink, black, and more. After about additional 800 meters/0.5 miles of walking, we will reach a green and red intersection, this time we will choose the red-marked trail with which we will return to the vehicles by walking another 2.8 km/1.7 miles.

Search for posts and destinations

What would you like to find? Search here information and ideas about any location in Israel

Planning your trip to Israel?

Join our exclusive Facebook group for the latest travel tips, real-time updates, travel hacks, and connect with local experts & fellow Israel enthusiasts in our Facebook group