Ein Bokek, NachalTzafit and a short visit to Tamar Ha’Mikrait, Ir Ovot

Along route: Ein Bokek bathing springs, Nachal Tzafit and the Zanvanim reserve. We recommend you bring a bathing suit for swimming at the Ein Bokek springs.

Our tour begins at the north entrance of the Ein Bokek hotel zone. We will park at Ein Bokek Reserve parking lot, located on Road 90, as per the signage. The entrance trail to Ein Bokek is to the west, just below the parking lot. We begin on the black marked dirt track, westbound, for about 1 kilometer until we reach Ein Bokek springs.

This area has a spring surrounded by flora that thrives on water and heat, all these are hidden under the shade of huge boulders. Throughout history Ein Bokek was used as an important water source in the desert, located on the main route ascending from the Dead Sea to ancient Arad.

In the past few decades Ein Bokek springs were contaminated by an unusual concentration of salt due to a leak in the manufacturing pools of the Rotem Amfert Plant. A settlement was reached between the Parks and Nature Association,  the Water Authorities and Rotem Amfert, resulting in the Plant’s stream fresh water into the springs in order to reduce the salt levels that contaminated it.

Continuing to Nachal Tamar and Tzafit

We return to the car and head south about 30 kilometers along Road 90. We turn south at the Arava Junction and park the car at the near-by petrol station. 50 meters south there is a sign for “Nachal Tamar”. Continuing approximately 1 kilometer on the dirt track until we meet the green marked trail we reach the starting point of the Nachal Tamar trail. Here we will climb west in the canyon- like path of Nachal Tamar via 2 ladders and several ropes. This is a challenging and riveting trail!

Where the green and blue trails meet, we will turn south onto the blue marked trail for about 2 kilometers. Our destination is the meeting point of the blue and black trails at the top of the Nachal Tzafit Canyon. At this intersection we turn east onto the black marked trail, into the beautiful Nachal Tzafit Canyon. Our trail continues for about 1 kilometer and as we exit the Nachal we will notice a comfortable dirt trail that runs parallel to the Arava Road. We will continue on this road for about 2 kilometers north back to our car.

Tzafit and Tamar Canyons developed over millions of years thanks to the strong erosion of the limestone and as a result of the development of the Dead Sea and Arava rift which is part of the Syrian-African rift. The powers of erosion wore out the rocks and created grooved canyons inside the cliffs, which are a big attraction for us hikers.

The floods in the desert rivers are a fascinating phenomenon of nature, gigantic fortitudes of water flood the rivers, renewing the desert landscape and filling the cisterns. Hiking in the rivers during a flood is forbidden and can be life-threatening. In April of 2018 a terrible tragedy befell a group of pre-army students where 9 boys were killed in a flood in Nachal Tzafit.

We will head south on Road 90 for about 25 kilometers until we reach Ein Hatzeva, at this junction we will turn west onto Road 227. After about 300 meters, we will turn south toward Ir Ovot, and Fort Hatzeva where we can park and visit. The impressively restored fort hosts remnants from the Israeli Era and from the Roman and Nabatean Eras. On site is an ancient Jujube tree, around 1000 years old! If it could speak, surely it would tell amazing stories of the olden days. The Hatzeva fort is a site that dates back to the time of the Judean Kingdom and it was recognized as the Biblical Tamar which was built by King Solomon, as described in the Bible. The site was destroyed and re-built several times throughout history. The Romans built a stronghold on the site used to guard the Ma’ale Akrabim path and the vital spring. During the British mandate, the site was a station for the British Mounted Police. During the sixties a religious group with different messianic beliefs occupied the site under the guidance of Simcha Perlmutter , this group built the community Ir-Ovot.

From the Tamar Ha’Mikrait site we will continue to one of the accommodations offered by the Arava communities.