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Winter Watch 2018: How to safely tour the Negev during flood season

Icon November 20, 2018
Icon By Shai Navon
Icon 0 comments

Israel’s Negev is absolutely breathtaking. A vast expanse of endless desert that makes up roughly half of the country’s square mileage. No area so bereft has ever been so filled with excitement, marvel and drama, particularly in the winter months. In wintertime, mother nature transforms the Negev into a powerful force to be reckoned with. Flash floods can rip through the otherwise dry terrain in an instant, turning the serene region into land masses lashed at and engulfed by angry, yet surprisingly beautiful waves.

So, how do you safely tour the Israeli Negev during the winter months? Here are some handy tips:

Tip #1 – Don’t challenge the weatherman

While the weather can turn on at an instant, forecasts tend to accurately predict when flash floods might occur in the southern region of Israel. And while rainfall might not be dangerous in your hometown, it most certainly can be in the Negev. The region’s geological and topographic makeup create an environment where rain water is not absorbed into the rocky mountains or ground, creating streams of water that rush down canyons and create dangerous torrents capable of sweeping away cars, bridges and more. Don’t try and be a “tough guy.” If the weather report indicates rain and possible flooding – stay away from hiking trails and remote, winding, mountainside roads. Instead, opt for indoor activities like visiting a museum, art gallery, factory or Gymboree (your kids will love this last option!).

Tip #2 – If you MUST see the Negev as it floods, do it safely

Negev Israel

The transformation of dry, golden sandy regions into rushing rivers is positively breathtaking, but you must make sure you’re never in harm’s way, even for a second. For this reason, a jeep tour of the Negev during flood season is not recommended. Instead, join a group led by an experienced tour guide and watch the Negev as it floods from a safe viewpoint. Always make sure your loved ones know where you are, that you are dressed warmly (yes, Israel does get cool in the winter), are equipped with drinking water, something to snack on, a flashlight and a fully charged cell phone in a waterproof bag. Educate yourself about safe and unsafe behaviors and share that knowledge with all members of your group.

One way to safely view the Negev as it floods is to join the Israel Parks Authority’s special flash flood watching events, several of which are held throughout the winter season. You licensed guide will explain the geography and process of flash flooding in the Negev, giving you a unique and rich perspective on how the desert comes to bloom. Most of the tours are led in Hebrew, but many of the guides can accommodate English speakers if requested.

Call *3639 to reserve your spot on an Israel Parks Authority flood watching tour this winter.

Want to experience the Israeli Negev for yourself?

Check out Gordon’s Israel In Luxury Tour.

Tip #3 – Consult with local experts before touring the Negev in the winter

You checked the weather conditions; It’s supposed to rain, but no flood warnings were made. Before heading out on your Negev tour, check with local site experts, who are responsible for nature parks and other outdoor tourist sites. They’ll be able to tell you if the area is sopping, more likely to flood from lighter precipitation, or unfit to visit until it’s drier out.

Here are some important numbers:

In the Dead Sea area:
Nature and Parks Authority at Ein Gedi: 08-658-4285
Ein Gedi Field School (SPNI): 08-658-4288

In the Negev:
Nature and Parks Authority at Ein Avdat: 08-655-5684, 08-655-4418
Har Hanegev Field School (SPNI) at Mitzpe Ramon: 08-658-8615/6

Tip #4- Enjoy your winter Negev tour!

Negev Israel

The Negev is truly a spectacular wonder to behold. Tour the region safely, particularly during the rainy winter months, and you will be amazed by the power of nature and the beauty of a region considered bare and barren. Happy, and safe travels!

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