15 fascinating facts about the deserts in Israel
27th May, 2023
The deserts in Israel are fascinating places to visit. But what makes these arid areas so interesting and why should you care? Read on to find out…
- The Deserts in Israel
- Interesting Facts about Deserts in Israel
- 1- The Negev Desert – covers the half country
- 2- Unique Living Species of the Negev Desert
- 3- The Judean Desert – home to the Dead Sea
- 4- The Arava Desert – A Land of Sand Dunes
- 5- Distinctive Variety of Birds of the Arava Desert
- 6- The Rare Species of Syro-African Rift Valley
- 7- The Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve
- 8- The Stunning Views of the Sinai Peninsula
- 9- A Variety of Archaeological Sites of Israel’s Deserts
- 10- Home of Bedouin Tribes
- 11- The Extreme Temperatures of Deserts in Israel
- 12- The Deserts in Israel Receive Very Little Rainfall
- 13- The Ramon Crater – The world’s Largest Erosion Crater
- 14- The Yatir Forest – The only Pine Forest in the Desert
- 15- A Popular Destination for Off-road Exploration
- The Deserts of Israel: To Conclude
- Interesting Facts about Deserts in Israel
The Deserts in Israel
There are two main deserts in Israel – the Negev Desert and the Judean Desert.
The Negev Desert is the larger of the two, covering over 60% of Israel’s total land area. It is located in the southern part of the country and is known for its rocky terrain and dry climate. Despite its harsh environment, the Negev is home to a variety of plant and animal species, as well as several important archaeological sites.
The Judean Desert, on the other hand, is smaller and located in the eastern part of Israel. It is a hilly, rocky desert that extends from the Dead Sea in the north to the Arava Valley in the south. The Judean Desert is known for its dramatic landscapes, deep canyons, and numerous historical and religious sites, such as the ancient fortress of Masada and the Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.
While Israel has only two main deserts, they are both significant and offer unique environments and attractions for visitors to explore. They are super fascinating too! Lets find out why…
Interesting Facts about Deserts in Israel
As a tourist in Israel, you will find yourself surrounded by some of the most spectacular deserts in the world. From the famous Dead Sea to the Negev Desert, various stunning desert landscapes are full of fascinating facts.
These deserts are full of unexpected secrets and wonders that attract tourists from all around the world. But if you are still struggling and don’t know where to start? I have a solution for you.
Hook your imagination and delve into these 15 fascinating facts about the deserts in Israel!
1- The Negev Desert – covers the half country
Approximately 60% of southern Israel’s land mass comprises the Negev desert. Although only 10% of the population lives in this region, it is filled with history.
The Sinai Peninsula bounds the desert on the west. In contrast, the Jordan Valley is on the east, with its apex at the south.
Fun fact! the name Negev, or Negeb, is derived from the Hebrew root n-g-b, which means “to dry” or “to wipe dry.”
Ancient settlements and Copper and Bronze age artifacts have been found in this area. Exploring the deserts in Israel is an incredible experience. Taking a guided tour is the best way to appreciate its beauty and discover more about it.
2- Unique Living Species of the Negev Desert
One of the many reasons you should take advantage of the tour of the Negev desert is its incredible wildlife. Negev wildlife is as beautiful and exciting as it gets.
The deserts in Israel are full of distinctive creatures. Some of them are rare and hard to spot. At the same time, some are easier to encounter. Here are some animals to put on your “must-photo” list in the Negev desert.
Ibex is the iconic animal of this desert. It is a species of wild mountain goat having extraordinarily long antlers that twist backward.
If you travel through the Negev valley, keep your eyes open whenever a hike crosses cliffs. You’ll find them casually resting or walking up and down cliffs.
The Dorcas Gazelle have adapted well to the Negev. They usually get their hydration from the plants they eat. These animals are also good at handling extreme heat. But they like staying in the shade until the sun cools.
Most of the tourists imagine sand-colored camels roaming around freely across the desert. But in reality, this is not the case. Nearly all the camels are domesticated, owned by the Bedouins in the desert.
If you are lucky enough to spot any of these gorgeous animals, do not disturb them. Respect their distance and take plenty of pictures.
3- The Judean Desert – home to the Dead Sea
Located in the center of Israel, the Judean Desert has a dry climate. It is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. The Judean Desert is also home to some of the most iconic sites in the Holy Land.
The Dead Sea, one of the lowest points on Earth, is located in the Judean Desert. It is the world’s deepest hypersaline lake. Its salt content and mineral-rich mud make it an ideal destination for visitors worldwide.
On top of that, a combination of salt, minerals, and mud offers therapeutic benefits. The place is considered ideal for spa treatments and relaxation.
Additionally, mountaintops, canyons, and other natural wonders provide striking views, perfect for travelers looking for another-level desert experience.
4- The Arava Desert – A Land of Sand Dunes
The Arava is an alluring part of Israel, stretching from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Eilat along the Israel-Jordan border. Even though it is a desert, it is not barren.
This place has many tourist activities, such as hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, and eco-art. There is a lot to discover here.
Additionally, the farmers in the Arava have an impressive output, providing over half of Israel’s agricultural exports. For those interested in visiting, planning the trip for the temperate winter months is recommended to avoid the burning summer heat.
5- Distinctive Variety of Birds of the Arava Desert
The Arava desert in Israel is a paradise for birdwatchers. It has a distinctive variety of birds that attracts nature lovers from all over the world.
This desert is home to an extensive range of bird species, including the African Stone-curlew, the Long-billed Pipit, the Cormorant, and the Spur-winged Lapwing.
These birds create a unique and vibrant atmosphere in the Arava desert, providing a memorable experience for visitors. For instance, the African Stone-curlew is a large, characteristic-looking bird with bright yellow eyes and a long, curved bill.
The impressive variety of birds that inhabit the area adds to the beauty of the desert and makes it an ideal destination for birdwatching.
6- The Rare Species of Syro-African Rift Valley
The Syro-African rift valley is one of the rare ecosystems that exist in the deserts in Israel. It is home to numerous species of plants and animals that are not found elsewhere in the world.
For example, you can only find the mountain gorilla in the forested areas of Virunga volcanoes. Other rare species in the deserts in Israel include the Israeli Dabb lizard, the Sand Cat, and the Mountain Gazelle. These species are the only ones of their kind worldwide and a must-see for any nature enthusiast.
7- The Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve
The Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve is located in the southern Arava Desert of Israel. This park covers around 3,000 acres of Israel. Here you can find various animals, including the endangered Persian Onager, Syrian wolf, and Nubian ibex.
The reserve is also one of the only places in the world where you can observe the Arabian Oryx in its natural environment. This area also has an educational center, which offers guided tours and lectures on wildlife and desert ecology.
It is an excellent opportunity to get an up-close and personal experience of the reserve’s unique wildlife and stunning scenery. Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve is the perfect place for tourists to explore and learn about the majestic desert.
8- The Stunning Views of the Sinai Peninsula
Israel offers some of the most breathtaking views of the Sinai Peninsula. Touring the region is a great way to experience the vast expanse of the desert.
From the warm sun to the cool nights, this area offers something for all who wish to explore it. In addition, the region is home to some of the oldest monasteries and churches in the world. Plus, this area is also rich in incredible ancient ruins and archaeological sites.
With its remarkable views, diverse culture, and rich history, a visit to the Sinai Peninsula is an unforgettable experience. Take the time to appreciate the beauty and peace of the desert, and you won’t be disappointed.
9- A Variety of Archaeological Sites of Israel’s Deserts
Israel is home to some of the world’s oldest and most diverse archaeological sites, many of which can be found in the country’s deserts. The Negev Desert, in particular, is home to various ancient settlements, such as Avdat, Mamshit, and Shivta.
These sites are evidence of the diverse and vibrant culture that thrived in the area. The traces of these historical places appear from the Nabatean period in the 4th century BC to the Arab period in the 12th century AD.
In addition, the country’s deserts offer a wealth of cultural and historical artifacts, including the remains of old roads, forts and fortresses, and ancient monuments.
For example, the ancient rock-cut tombs of the Avdat National Park are a must-see for visitors to deserts in Israel.
10- Home of Bedouin Tribes
The deserts in Israel are home to several Bedouin tribes. These tribes are known for their nomadic lifestyle. They call themselves the Naqab.
These tribes have been living in the deserts of Israel for centuries. They have distinct cultures and traditions that have been passed down through generations.
The traditional dress of Bedouin Tribes includes brightly colored embroidery and elaborate headdresses. These tribes are a fascinating insight into the culture of the Middle East and provide tourists with a great experience.
11- The Extreme Temperatures of Deserts in Israel
Deserts in Israel are renowned for their extreme temperatures, with the average temperature ranging from -4 to 42 degrees Celsius. During the day, the heat can be intense, and during the night, the temperatures can dip to freezing levels.
One example is in the Arava desert, which can reach a scorching temperature of 43-46 degrees Celsius in the summer. Traveling to the desert requires being prepared for both extreme hot and cold temperatures.
12- The Deserts in Israel Receive Very Little Rainfall
The deserts in Israel are known for their eccentric ecosystem and extreme temperatures. Despite the harsh environment, these barren landscapes receive very little rainfall.
In fact, some areas may only receive rain for a while. For example, the Negev Desert receives less than 3 inches of rain annually, while the Arava valley only gets rainfall of 25-50mm, yearly.
This makes the Negev Desert one of the driest places in the world, with many of its plants and animals adapted to survive with very little water.
13- The Ramon Crater – The world’s Largest Erosion Crater
The Ramon Crater is the world’s largest “erosion cirque” or Makhtesh. It is the geological feature of Israel’s Negev desert, present in the small town of Mitzpe Ramon.
The place is one of the most outstanding sights of deserts in Israel. It is a popular stop for travelers heading toward the Dead Sea.
If you want to explore Makhtesh Ramon, start from the Mitzpe Ramon Visitors center. Here, you can learn about the geological formation of the crater. There are many opportunities for cycling, mountain biking, rappelling, and hiking in the crater.
Ramon Crater is one of the best places to contemplate the stars. Star-gazing is a famous activity in this area. Hundreds of thousands of people watch stars and amazing meteor showers yearly.
The views of the crater are always a treat, no matter how many times one has seen it. It is one of the most mesmerizing places in the world.
14- The Yatir Forest – The only Pine Forest in the Desert
The Yatir forest is the largest desert forest in Israel. It is named after the ancient Levite city whose ruins are found within it. It covers an area of 74,000 acres.
The forest is situated on the Hebron mountains of Beer Sheba. It is the place where the orchards and scrublands of the Mediterranean area collide with the Negev and the Judean desert.
The Aleppo pine is the primary tree in the forest, showcasing its capacity to adapt to severe and abrupt environmental changes.
The climate is primarily agreeable, with cool and delightful summers and chilly winters. Exploring certain sections of the forest in the winter is an enchanting event.
15- A Popular Destination for Off-road Exploration
Israel is a popular destination for off-road exploration, especially for those looking to experience the diverse deserts that span the country.
From the Negev Desert in the south to the Golan Heights in the north, the deserts in Israel provide attractive landscapes. They also have exclusive terrains that make for an exciting off-road adventure.
There are plenty of activities to enjoy, such as sand-boarding, dune-bashing, and camel-riding, giving visitors a chance to explore the area in a fun and exciting way. With its stunning landscapes, variety of activities, and warm climate, it is no wonder why Israel is such a popular destination for off-road exploration.
The Deserts of Israel: To Conclude
Israel receives a great deal of tourism, which is no surprise. There is simply something magical about the deserts in Israel. The massive sand dunes and sporadically sprinkled lines of green palm trees are just breathtaking.
Israel’s miracle in the desert is not only mysterious but something that will continue to grow. The incredible views of the desert in Israel are the hiker’s paradise. It is also a dream of a photographer to capture these beautiful scenes.
Some rare wildlife species also exist in these Israeli deserts along with the peace.
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