Compared to other countries Israel is something totally different. It is not only about its religion, unusual traditions and colourful culture. The winding roads between the pinky-red secret mountains, across the desert definitely mean one of the best road trip destinations ever!
Israel is a relatively small country with a really well-built road network. It is extra easy to navigate even through the whole country making stops at several points of interest. It has everything, what we would need: rich history and architecture, unique small towns and villages, enchanting landscapes and crystal clear water beaches.
As we arrived at Ramon Airport, Eilat, this diving paradise was our starting point. The city is very divisive: I couldn’t decide if I like it or I simply want to run away from this crowded hotel jungle. But still, this hotel jungle can be a real jewel for divers, a playground for families or a shelter for backpackers.
Referring to the beaches the North Beach provides the luxury of five-star hotels with several restaurants and bars, while the South Beach has more „take it easy” vibe. The Dolphin Reef and Princess Beach are perfect for observing dolphins in their natural environment or immersing yourself in the fabulous world of the Red Sea. The Village Beach and the Dekel Beach offers sandy beaches, cool live dj sets and israeli flavours, not to mention the beautiful scenery, as the sea merges with the red painted mountains.
It is a short ride (25 min) to reach the Red Canyon from Eilat. Here I have to mention, that the route is quite adventurous: the road surrounded by the vast mountains seem to be endless and to lead to nowhere. The unique formations can be seen by different trails for hikers:
- Green trail: I can describe it as a small adventure park for families providing short (2km) and longer (5km) version. At the beginning the canyon is wide, but after a while it starts closing and we can reach the deep, narrow part by handles.
- Black trail: If we follow this trail, we can go back to the parking lot or follow our tour along the Southern Wadi Shani. Please note, the way back to the starting point leads up the canyon and mountains, so I really don’t reccomend it for those who have a fear of heights.
- Red trail: it is a 6 km long trail, mixed with the black-marked trail.
- Blue trail: it is much more longer leading to the Mountain Neshef.
The Red Canyon was my top „must-see” place in Israel. I have to tell you guys, it was worth to see: the whole reserve, the surfy creations of nature are fascinating, especially as the sunlight plays upon the rocks changing their mesmerising gold-red colour.
The next stop of our road trip was the Timna Park located in the Negev Desert. This barren, yet enchanting area – 15000 acres – surrounded by golden mountain ranges hides magical desert tales, which come alive at night under the stars.
Seeing the breathtaking masterpieces of the nature – the different geological formations – I had my doubts: some of them look like man made statues and giant rock-hewn faces.
The park provides marked trails for hikers and for bikers as well. Some animals are active during the day, so not to follow the trails is forbidden. I really recommend to arrive at the park by car, because the distance between the formations and canyons is fairly large, not to mention that the oasis is located literally in reserve’s centre. It is the green gem of the desert with a luring lake, palm trees and super cool camp site in case, if we want to enjoy the „desert-feeling” by night.
And yes! We tried it, we loved it: the sundown painted pink-purple abstracts on the sky, while the mountains dressed fleming red. The visitors left the park, so I had the feeling the entire desert is just mine. The marvellous creations of the Timna Park are lit up at night showing us something totally different: the „Wonderland” of ancient times. My very favourite one was still the oasis by night. I just stared at the scenery taking a journey to another world, to the fabolous world of Aladdin’s Agraba.
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea or rather floating in its „wonder-water” is simply one of the Israel’s highlights. We can take a dip in its emerald green, healing water at several free beaches, like in Neve Zohar, in Ein Bokek or Ein Gedi (for an indefinite period closed).
I choosed the free beach of Ein Bokek, but my original plan was to visit the coast in Ein Gedi. Ein Bokek provides free amenities, like drinking water, shower, toilettes, umbrellas. The only think that was not really me: never ending, sky-reaching hotel buildings behind me. For seeing the more natural part with the awesome dried salt clusters along the coast, we had to leave the public beach. Apart from that „swimming” in this incredibly oily-salty water is firmly superb experience. The water is extremely rich in minerals, it has countless health and skin benefits and… to be honest, who wouldn’t want to float carefree, weightless at the lowest place on Earth, while getting younger, silky skin and sunkissed?
For our stay I found in Ein Gedi the best camp site ever! A damn good place with painting-like scene, authentic israeli draught beer, hummus and the best pizza – yes pizza – in the country. The camp site is kind of luring hippi paradise up the hill with the magical Dead Sea in front of you. Ben, the guy at the reception welcomed us following: „Enjoy your stay, and you can do here everything. But really…everything.”
The perfect ending of our Spa day was just looking at the sundown by the sea, listening to mixture of country and jazz music from the hammock and getting high from not our joint. I swear, from not our!
Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
It can be kind of mini stop while staying in Ein Gedi or on the way to Jerusalem. Ein Gedi is Israel’s biggest oasis hiding hazardous trekking trails, siren springs and waterfalls.
The nature reserve is open every day 04.00 pm except Friday and holiday eves. I can assure you, even if you don’t like hiking, you will appreciate the refreshing water surrounded by lush vegetation, hills, desert and the Dead Sea.
It is about 1,5 hour drive from Ein Gedi and offers something different after hiking, floating in the Dead Sea and chilling in hammock. This surreal place brings to life the tiny pieces of history and religion while walking silent in the Old City of Jerusalem. The four quarters, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Armenian show us exactly, how special Jerusalem is. For more relaxing time with bars and restaurants is recommended West Jerusalem, the modern part of the city.
In case, if you want to continue your trip, this place is perfect to reach Tel Aviv or Haifa, but we took the direction back to Eilat.
Israel is the place, where the desert meets the sea, the elements of different religions melt and lush green oases come to life in the middle of nowhere.