On New Years Day, Kathrin and I visit the Coral Beach National Park, where Snorkeling is allowed along designated routes through a reef. The Red Sea is rather warm, yet a steady breeze makes me shiver. On the following day, we visit the Underwater Observatory close to the Egypt border. In 1974, the Israeli build this futuristic looking thing into the reef, where visitors climb down 6 metres below sea level and watch this fascinating marine world. In addition, we watched an amazing 3-D movie on whales.

Graffiti in Eilat Underwater Observatory Keep smiling!

On the third day, we venture out to hike for a few days through the dessert. The bicycle remains at the AirBnb, and we stuff our backpacks with food and water for the next few days. A bus brings us to the trail head for the impressive Red Canyon trail, from where we walk on through Wadi Shahan. We see rock hyraxes and ibexes. We reach the INT and spend the night on the Raham Etek camp, that is luckily equipped a water faucet and a toilet.

In the Red Canyon In the Red Canyon Raham Etek

The next hiking destination is the Timna National Park, famous for prehistoric copper mines and petroglyph. Flowers start to bloom in the dessert, fueled by last weeks rain. The (not that easy) hike up Mount Timna is pretty popular. We find ourselves in the middle of school classes. Two hikers sit beside the trail and invite us for a cup of coffee. They spotted my nerdy shirt, tell us about their IT carriers and the recent rise of Chat-GPT, a new and amazing generative AI.
It is a strenuous descent for Mount Timna, and a long way to the visitor center. We manage just before sunset. The ranger there insists that we stay at their small trail angel campground. Tomorrow he'll tell us where we will find water on our way to the kibbutz of Neot Smadar.
For tonight, we are grateful for electricity and toilets. A cyclist from Poland arrives later and puts up his tent. We light a small fire and talk about cycling and his self made dry food. Since he is almost at the end of his journey, he provides us two or three portions of his sweet potatoes and dal, enough to carry on for two ore three more days.

Much more lonely dessert trails that appear uninspiring on photos yet amazing if experienced by yourself. We are taken away by those thousand of rock forms, color nuances and petrifications on rocky walls, flats and table mountains in the Arava. Later, we arrive at the INT camp of Be'er Milhan. There is still water, and we get in touch with a some young Israeli long distance hikers that startet at the very beginning of the INT in Kfar Giladi. Now they are almost at the end of their voyage (as well as I am), and it's great to hear how they feel and what they think in the bright light of the full moon.

After a rather cold night, we move on to the next camp, Shaharut. Wadi in, Wadi out. Giant ball shaped rocks at one place. No sounds for hours, except for the rushing of the blood in my ears.

On the following day, our trail leads through the dunes of Kasui where Israeli people go for wake boarding and hiking. The GPS shows a shortcut through the dessert to the kibbutz of Neot Smadar but after half an hour following that trail, it seems rather risky. So we follow the highway for 12 kilometers to get there. It is Shabbath, yet luckily the kibbutz Cafe is open when we arrive in the late afternoon. Some cold beers help to cool the glowing feet and easy the muscle pain. We stay to volunteer for two days, and get a glimpse of what life would be like in this art kibbutz that has only been founded in 1989.

In the Kasui dunes In the Kasui dunes
Neot Smadar
Neot Smadar

Hallo Welt