The sandy Negev desert makes up more than half of Israel's land mass, but just because it's a desert, doesn't mean it's desolate. The Negev encompasses fascinating vistas, history and creativity:
Here we will zero in on the attractions of the eastern part of the desert: the narrow Arava Valley, stretching 180 kilometers (112 miles) from the Dead Sea down to Eilat, bordered on the west by the Negev highlands and on the east by the Edom Mountains of Jordan.
For tourists, there’s never been more to experience in the Arava: ancient archeology, timeless Bedouin hospitality, funky eco-art, hiking, biking, horseback riding, bountiful farms, birdwatching and lots of activities for children, including ice-cream workshops.
Believe it or not, farmers in the Arava’s three distinct regions – northernmost Tamar (Sodom Valley), Central Arava and southernmost Eilot – produce more than half of Israel’s agricultural exports. ...
The agricultural moshav (collective village) of Ein Yahav also contains the Aloe Vera House visitor’s center and factory store selling Just Aloe products produced on the moshav; and the Porat Apiary where you can sample honey the local bees have made from wildflowers and fruits. ...
Staying overnight is not a problem; there are hundreds of bed-and-breakfast options in the Arava range from wooden chalets to eco-huts and Bedouin-style tents, according to the Central Arava Regional Council’s Tourism Department. There are hostels, campgrounds and romantic cabins, too.
Dining options are plentiful. In addition to traditional Bedouin cuisine, Arava eateries offer Israeli, Mediterranean, Asian, Italian and South American cuisine.
The Arava tourism website does not yet have an English version, but a brand-new 36-page English brochure detailing all of the Arava’s attractions, eateries, services and accommodations can be emailed by request from [email protected].