inisrael: Eilat    
Eilat Travel City and Hotel Guide  

Ready, set, go!
(photographs courtesy of the Israel
Nature Reserve Authority Archives)

The suggested tour routes that follow are suitable for the whole family. For your convenience, the maps indicate tourist sites and routes from Eilat northwards along the eastern axis, along the Arava road (route 90) and from Eilat along the western axis following route 1 2. Important - please make sure to take drinking water and a hat with you.

Amram Pillars and
the Shehoret Canyon

See regional map #1.

At the 20 km marker (1) on the Arava road, turn westwards following the route marked in blue, and continue to the Amram Pillars. Some 7.5 km from the road, the track ends in a parking area (2).
A five minute walk will bring you to the Amram Pillars (3), a series of pillars of rock along the western wall of the Amram crater. They were carved into the colorful sandstone of the cliff walls by the flow of water, cutting deep ridges and creating the pillars like a relief sculpture.Halfway back along the trail, as you pass the fork in the road (4), turn southwest and follow the trail marked in green. This will lead you to the mouth of the Shehoret rivulet (5). Park your car and walk along the "green" trail in a westerly direction until you arrive at the mouth of the canyon with walls a sheer 20 meters high. Here you will see dark granite rocks and boulders that are among the world's most ancient - some 600 million years old! After about an hour's walk through the canyon, the terrain begins to change. The walls drop away and a wider vista opens up as you walk between pale young chalk rocks and sandstone in a variety of shades; their presence here at the same level as the baserock is evidence of a geological rift. Together, they create a fascinating panorama. Carry on another 1 00 meters along the right side of the arrow until you find red markings (6) and follow this trail to the right (in a northerly direction). After a short, steep incline, you will arrive at a lookout point affording a view of the entire Arava basin. Now continue eastwards following the red markings until you reach another lookout point and then descend to the plain below, where you meet the trail marked in black (7). This trail I leads southwards (to the right) bac the parking area (2). Along the way, you will pass characteristic desert flora, and if you are lucky, you may also see some desert fauna. It takes about three-quarters of an hour to get to the Amram Pillars and back. The tour through the canyon takes about three hours.

Timna Park
The Timna crater is surrounded on three sides by cliffs hundreds of meters high. It is also surrounded by breathtaking landscapes including ancient copper mines. The turn-off from the Arava Road leads to the park's main gate. Once inside the park, you will enjoy such sites as ancient cave drawings depicting men on chariots doing battle. The natural arches along the western cliff tops are a result of centuries of erosion. At the foot of the arched pillars is an ancient Egyptian mine with vertical tunnels and horizontal galleries. Our route leads to the "mushroom" rock located in a small depression of the Timna Park plane. This is an amazingly mushroom-shaped boulder of red sandstone carved by wind and water. The ground of the park is covered with shards of ancient clay ovens used for smelting copper during the Egyptian period. Solomon's Pillars are made of sandstone that juts out in ridges from the tall straight cliffs along the south-western face of Mt. Timna. The pillars were carved out through centuries of water erosion. At the foot of Solomon's Pillars are the remains of a temple to the mining God built by the Egyptian copper miners. Above the temple is an engraved rock which bears the praises that Ramses the Third bestowed on the Egyptian God of Mining. The park includes a lake fed by a pump which brings it water from an underground aquifer. Near the lake is a parking area, restaurant, picnic grounds, drinking water and conveniences.

Eilat Heights
Route #12 from Eilat winds its way through the expansive landscapes between the Edom and the Eilat Mountains. This is the ancient road to Mecca which was built at the beginning of the 8th century by. the Egyptian ruler, Mahmud lbn Tulun. The road connected Egypt with the Eilat Heights and Eilat with Aqaba and Mecca.

Mt. Yoash
At the peak of the Eilat Heights we encounter a junction with a road going off to the south. This road leads to the summit of Mt. Yoash overlooking the Eilat Heights' most beautiful panorama. From this vantage point you can see the borders of four countries - Egypt, Saudia Arabia, Jordan and Israel. To the south you can see canyons and cliffs, and to the east, the Gulf and city of Eilat.

Ein Netafim
From the top of the Eilat Heights, a dirt trail winds its way eastwards and descends to a parking area. A tour route marked in green descends along a narrow ravine to a pool at its lowest point, the "kalachat". The pool is at the base of a waterfall descending from the top of the Netafim River Canyon into a small basin carved out by the British. The pool developed and filled drop by drop, and herein lies the origin of its name (translation: Well of Drops). Follow the black markings for the path leading to the basin.
If you arrive here in the early morning or late afternoon, and you keep very still, you may see some of the region's wildlife, such as rock rabbits, gazelles, or flocks of birds such as Tristam's Grackle and trumpeter finches. Ein Netafim is the only source of water in the area, making it a popular watering hole. The tour of Ein Netafim takes about a half hour.

Mt. Hizqiyahu
Milestone 82 marks the peak of Mt. Hizqiyahu. On old maps the peak is listed as having an altitude of 833 meters. The peak is actually 838 meters high. From this vantage point you can look out over the Eilat mountains, the Arava desert and the Edom mountains on the east, and over Moon Valley whose wild landscape looked to the first settlers of Eilat like the face of the moon, hence its name. To the west, you can see the ancient route to Mecca, "Darab AI Haj", that crosses the Sinai desert, descends to the Gulf of Eilat and continues on to Mecca and Medina.

The Red Canyon

See regional map #2.

From Mt. Hizqiyahu continue northwards, passing through a distinctive landscape of black and red mountains, with gravel and pebbles covering the slopes. These are the Neshef Mountains, made of volcanic rock. After the road crosses the Neshef Mountains, it arrives at a wide junction with a road leading eastwards (1) (marked in red). This road leads to the Red Canyon. Follow the road for about 2 km until you arrive at a parking area (2). From here, carry on along the trail marked in green, until you arrive at the canyon (3). The canyon is about 1 50 meters long and 2-3 meters wide. The canyon walls reach a height of 30 meters. The dominant color in the canyon is deep red, with sandstone in various shades of red, purple and white. Flood waters widened the canyon and created niches where one can stop to rest. At the end of the trail (4), the canyon widens and colors change. The trail leading back follows the path of the rivulet to the south and back to the parking area (2). The tour through the canyon and back takes about two hours.

Birdwatchers Tour

See regional map #3.

The birdwatchers tour, adjacent to the salt ponds, starts from Meeting Point (1) and follows the north shore. You will see a variety of sea birds such as gannets, cormorants, western reef heron, and gulls. Continue northwards along the water canal. On the right you will see the Oceanography & Lakes Research Institute which, among other things, is involved in the study of aquaculture. All along the canal a variety of birds can be seen, including: small waders, gulls, waterfowl and migrating songbirds such as Bee-eaters, Dead Sea Sparrows and Spanish Sparrows. When you arrive at Eilat saitflats, you can visit the ringing station for songbirds (2) (a walk of about one kilometer), or stroll through the date grove (3) where you will encounter yellow or grey wagtails, pippits, wheatears and swallows. There are other varieties of birds in the area, some of which find shelter among the branches of the date palms. Carry on northwards along the eastern shore of the canal in the direction of the Jordanian border crossing. You'll arrive at the entrace to the Bird Sanctuary where indigenous trees have been specially planted and recycled refuse provides birds with a welcome food source.

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