From the highway, Israel’s Negev stretches out like an endless moon landscape. But hidden within this seemingly dry landscape lies the canyon of Ein Avdat, just south of Kibbutz Sde Boker, off Route 40. What a treasure it is, with waterfalls and springs - a perfect desert oasis making for the perfect desert hike.
Ein Avdat is a large canyon in the middle of the middle of the Negev, in between Sde Boker and Avdat Archeological Park, on road 40 towards Mitzpe Ramon. If you're doing a roadtrip in the south of Israel, you definitely shouldn't skip Ein Avdat!
There are two ways to see the canyon, one on each side of the canyon. The southern entrance is easiest to find from road 40, there's a sign on the highway that takes you straight to the park entrance. This entrance takes you to an upper viewpoint of the canyon, but you cannot climb down into the canyon itself. The view however is breathtaking - imagine seeing the view of the picture on the right from above! If you are lucky you can see the ibex (mountain goats) climbing on the walls and eagles hovering the canyon. I really enjoyed visiting the upper viewpoint, but I only recommend it when you have little time or when there are floods in the lower entrance (so when the lower entrance is closed). From the upper entrance you do not get to see the waterfalls and springs, which make Ein Avdat such a highlight to visit.
The lower entrance is on the north side of the canyon. This is the main park entrance, through which you can hike inside the canyon. The entrance is a bit harder to find, because it first takes you inside Kibbutz Sde Boker. Navigate to the Ben Gurion Memorial Site - this is a park dedicated to the first prime minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion. It is well worth a visit, because it boasts one of the best views of the Negev - a panoramic view of Ein Avdat and surroundings. The picture above was taken from that viewpoint. From the Memorial Site, you can find the entrance to Ein Avdat, you cannot miss it once you are at the Memorial Site. From there, you will enter quite a narrow, challenging road that takes you down to the parking lot of Ein Avdat.
What I really love about Ein Avdat is that the hike is very accessible! The parking lot has clean bathroom facilities and cooled drinking water - form there the walk to the first waterfall (the main attraction) is in total no more than 20 minutes. It is a pleasant and easy walk, boasting incredible scenery throughout! You walk next to the Tsin Stream, eventually taking you to a beautiful spring and waterfall which you can see on the right. From there, you can extend the walk, climbing on top of the waterfall to another waterfall and further, to the upper parking lot. This hike however is much longer and for more experienced hikers. Also keep in mind, that if you choose the longer hike, you need a vehicle to take you from the upper parking lot to the lower parking lot, since the hike is not circular.
At the lower parking lot, there is a campsite too. For more information about entrance fees, opening hours, etc. visit https://en.parks.org.il/ParksAndReserves/EnAvdat/Pages/default.aspx.
Keep in mind that you need ample water in the Israeli desert! Throughout the walk, there is little shade available, so I recommend taking a hat with you.
More pictures below!