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near Taba, South Sinai (Egypt)
The desert section of the Israel National Trail (Shvil Israel) has dramatic scenery with wadis, canyons, mountains and ancient remains. It also includes some exciting sections at height, up and down ladders and metal rungs set in the rock. I have documented the trip in my blog (https://johnponint.blogspot.com/2020/01/israel-national-trail-plans-and.html), and attached is the route I walked, including diversions off trail to collect groceries and for accommodation. This is part 1 of my route, part 2 is at https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/israel-national-trail-part-2-mitzpe-ramon-to-arad-48115884
If you are thinking of walking the Israel National Trail please buy the guidebook ("Israel National Trail: Hike the land of Israel" available from amazon.co.uk). With detailed maps it assists navigation and gives the background on sights you pass, without which you will miss the significance of some heap of stones. More importantly it references essential practical information, such as details of how to obtain water and where you can buy groceries.
This is a narrow canyon with ladders and metal rungs to climb down. Along the bottom of the canyon there are pits which may be full of water. An exciting part of the route!
Night camps are places you can camp in the desert, elsewhere, being mostly Nature Reserve, camping is not allowed. Apart from a sign and some stones there is not usually much at these campsites. Barak Night camp was particularly bare.
The first grocery store north of Eilat is at Be'er Ora, a clean and tidy commuter village where there is also some low cost accommodation.
Be'erot Khan campsite is a National Parks Service site with showers, toilets, Bedouin style tents (or use your own) and a shop selling coffee, coke and ice creams.
At the Camel Riders Khan you can camp or sleep in a Bedouin style tent. Meals are available. Toilet and showers are basic.
Nahal Gishron is the first canyon you reach coming from Eilat (after a few mountains). The rocks are beautiful and there is a ladder and rocks to climb.
Mitzpe Ramon is a town that stands on the edge of a high cliff with great views from the promenade. There is a visitor centre as well as various accommodation options, cafes and a supermarket.
The Negev is a stony, rocky desert. These "sand dunes" get a big billing but they are just some sand piled up against a rocky hill.
The Timna park has a vegetarian restaurant, camping site, artificial lake and some nearby sites, these include Hathor's temple, where Egyptian copper miners worshipped.
These are the ruins of a 2000 year old fortress and khan on the incense route between the Yemen and the Mediterranean coast. Taxes were applied to the spice and incense that passed through. When I visited Archaeologists from Haifa University were sifting through a Roman era rubbish tip.
It is a steep climb up and steep climb down with a plateau on the top where hard dolomite has resisted erosion. The Timna Park visitors centre is at the base of the mountain on the north side.
This is a wadi with a couple of dry waterfalls. In one you climb down what is almost a tunnel (see photos). Eventually the wadi widens out as you reach Raham-Etek night camp, where there is a tank of water to refill your supplies.
Neot Smadar is a kibbutz with guest rooms where you can stay. The kibbutz has artistic aspirations with an unusually decorated water cooling tower. Nearby at the road junction there is a restaurant run by the kibbutz where you can buy soup etc..
A narrow canyon with unusual "pock marked" cliffs
This was my first night camp walking from Eilat. There is very little at these night camps other than a sign and some stones.
This is where I started the Israel National Trail, which is where it leaves the Eilat - Taba road. Maybe the official start is in the Field Study centre nearby.
A narrow canyon with pits in its floor and ladders to climb out of the canyon where it ends. Some of these are filled with water making deep pools. I decided to avoid the risk of crossing such a pool and took the bypass route, which itself required a certain confidence for walking above steep drops.
Mangan nightcamp has a sign and some stones, plus a few acacia trees.
Zofar is a Moshav that has a small supermarket and some accommodation options (I stayed at the "Art house"). Do not believe Google maps, there are no cafes or restaurants in the settlement.