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The Arad Region is the gateway to the wilderness of the Negev Desert. Though the path through the region begins in populated areas, it stretches south into remote desert, where striking landscapes and immense canyons appear in the Rift Valley and civilization is no longer close at hand. Evidence of ancient usage still fills the region, though; millennia-old fortresses stand atop ancient routes up and down the sides of the rift, and caves near the trail hold Neolithic remains, evidence of human habitation 10,000 years ago.

From the northern Negev plains where Abraham dwelled, the Arad Region of the Abraham Path descends to the scorching shores of the Dead Sea. Here is the traditional location of Sodom, the ill-fated city that was once home to Abraham’s nephew Lot; today, the name Sodom has been given to a geologically unique mountain nearby filled with caves and salt formations, while an eye-catching rock pillar in the cliffs along Highway 90 has earned the nickname of “Lot’s Wife.”

The Arad Region consists of a main route (stages 1-5), which is part of the longer, continuous route of the Abraham Path, and a side route to Masada (stages A1 and A2). These stages branch away from the main route at Arad and provide an easier but still scenic alternative to the isolated wilderness of the main trail.

Several sections along the Arad route do not have water resupply; if long-distance hiking, you’ll need to cache water at Beer Efe and Amiaz Plateau, both of which can be accessed by normal cars. If you’re doing a longer hike continuing south into the Craters region, haArava Junction is your supply point – but groceries are available only by traveling to Dimona, 30 minutes west on Hwy. 25 (take a bus, taxi, or hitchhike there and back).


Accommodations

Accommodations

Stage Location Name Type Price # of beds Contact Information (+###) [country code] Amenities
1 Arad Desert Time Ecolodge G Dorm-style tent 154 NIS/$40, double room from 551 NIS/$140, cottages from 866 NIS/$220 (972) 054-496-1888

seffi@zmanmidbar.net

breakfast, tours and excursions, workshops, wifi, heating, kitchen
1 Arad Desert View – Cohen House G Suits from 350 NIS/$96 4 suits (972) 052-262-7042 air conditioning, kitchen, television, breakfast, bbq
1 Arad Hotel Inbar H Double 520 NIS/$123 100 rooms (972) 08-997-3303 meals, pool, air conditioning, spa treatments
A1/A2 Between Arad and Masada Kfar Hanokdim G Double $216 300+ www.hanokdim.com

(972) 08-995-0097

Bedouin-style tent, cabins, meals, camel rides
A2 3km north of Kfar HaNokdim Tsefira Pool Night Camp C Free Cannot be reserved; just show up Wild camping – no facilities at all, bring your own food and shelter
A2 Masada West Campsite C 50 NIS/$15 (972) 08-628-0404 Bathrooms and water, bring your own food
A2 Masada Masada Hostel Hs Dorm 138 NIS/$38, Double from 327 NIS/$90 88 rooms massada@iyha.org.il

(972) 02-594-5623

air conditioning, meals, wifi, television, pool
2 Beer Efeh Campsite C Free Cannot be reserved; just show up Wild camping – no facilities at all, bring your own food and shelter
3 Neve Zohar Leonardo Privilege Hotel Dead Sea H Double from 828 NIS/$228 388 rooms reservations.leods@leonardo-hotels.com

(972) 08-955-3333

air conditioning, meals, pool, spa, sauna, laundry, wifi, pool
3 Neve Zohar Dora Zimmers G From 1089 NIS/$300 4 zimmers (972) 053-809-7056 air conditioning, kitchen, spa treatments, television, wifi, bbq, laundry
3 Neve Zohar Maya Rooms G From 407 NIS/$112 7 rooms via booking.com air conditioning, bbq, kitchen, meals, television, wifi
3 Neve Zohar Aloni Dead Sea Holiday Rooms G From 291 NIS/$80 10 units (972) 052-262-2669 air conditioning, wifi, spa treatments, bbq, kitchen, television
3 Neve Zohar Dalia’s Holiday Rooms G From 624 NIS/$172 20 units (972) 052-344-4900 kitchen, air conditioning, wifi, television, bbq,
4 Amiaz Plateau Campsite C Free Cannot be reserved; just show up Wild camping – no facilities at all, bring your own food and shelter

Accommodations Key

F – Family Stay
G – Guesthouse (small, locally-owned establishment with private rooms)
H – Hotel
Hs – Hostel (accommodation offering dormitory options)
T – Bedouin Tent (usually dormitory-style sleeping on mats on the floor of a large tent)
S – Shelter (a few areas have free hiker shelters, which are a simple room with cots that hikers can use)
C – Camping (a paid or free place to put down a tent, may or may not have facilities)

Transportation

Getting to the Abraham Path in the Arad Region

The main airport in Israel is Ben Gurion International airport, located between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel has a well-developed and affordable system of public transport that includes buses, shared taxis (known as sheruts) and trains. For bus schedules and prices, see www.bus.co.il. Train connections service the coastal cities as well as Beersheva; see rail.co.il for schedules and prices. Both buses and trains do not run on Shabbat (from Friday evening to Saturday night), while shared taxis run seven days a week.

Tel Arad, Arad, Masada’s eastern parking lot, Neve Zohar, and the HaArava Junction are all served by public buses (except Friday evening through Saturday evening). Local buses run throughout the area between Arad and the HaArava Junction. Both Arad and the HaArava Junction offer public transportation to most major cities in the region; and buses from Masada run to Jerusalem, Arad, and other major cities in the Negev.

Public transportation does not serve Kfar haNokdim or the west entrance of Masada.

Airport Transport to Arad:

Arad is the most accessible public transportation hub in the region.  From Arad, travelers can easily reach any of the sites in the region that are serviced by bus.  There are a number of ways to reach Arad from Ben Gurion International airport.

  1. Train and bus through Beersheva: Trains depart every half hour from the airport to the Beersheva city center (must change trains at Tel Aviv HaHagana station, 1.5-2 hr, 31.5 NIS).  From Beersheva’s central bus station, buses leave every 10-20 minutes for Arad.  Cost is roughly 10 NIS.
  2. Train and bus through Tel Aviv: Take a train from the airport to the Tel Aviv HaHagana station (see above; 16 NIS).  Walk from the HaHagana train station to the Tel Aviv central bus station, then take a bus to the Arad central bus station (four buses a day, 39.5 NIS).
  3. Private taxi: Airport taxis have set prices, with a journey to Arad costing ___NIS with higher costs on nights and weekends
  4. Car rental: Several rental car companies are available 24/7 at the airport. Costs range from $30-60/€22-44 per day with gas/petrol costing about $8/gallon or €1.6/liter. Note that most car rental insurance offered by credit cards is void in Israel. Insurance from most Israeli rental cars is void in Palestinian Territory areas A and B.

Entering by land:

From Jordan there are three crossings into Israel: King Hussein/Allenby in the center, Sheikh Hussein/Beit Shean in the north and Aqaba/Eilat in the south. The closest border to Jerusalem is King Hussein/Allenby, and shared taxis provide transport from the border into Jerusalem city center.  From Jerusalem, buses to Arad through Beersheva are available.

From Egypt there is one crossing into Egypt at Taba. Take a taxi to Eilat from the border, then a bus from Eilat to Beersheva and another from Beersheva to Arad.

Visas:

Citizens of the US, EU, Russia, Japan and most western countries are issued a free 3-month B/2 tourist visa upon arrival which may be extended by applying at a Ministry of Interior office. Visitors from most other countries require a visa in advance. Citizens of most Arab and predominantly Muslim countries can individually apply for a visa but it is difficult to obtain one in practice. The most commonly issued visas for these travelers is through organized tour groups, and the application is often handled by Palestinian tour operators based in East Jerusalem. For specific visa guidelines, check the information provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As of 2013, Israeli visas at the border are being issued on a separate piece of paper and not stamped directly in passports. Israel charges an exit fee of 108 NIS when exiting via a land border (no separate exit fee when leaving via the airport), and 173 NIS when exiting via the Allenby Bridge crossing (known as King Hussein Bridge in Jordan).
On rare occasions, visas are denied or 2-week only visas are supplied to visitors suspected of being involved in political activism. Travellers mentioning they plan to visit Palestinian Territory or friendships/connections with Palestinians, Muslims or Arab people are often subject to additional questioning and delays when entering and leaving Israel/Palestine. In rare cases, visa personnel may request to see a copy of your itinerary, proof of funds, and/or other documents verifying the purpose of your visit.

Sites in the Arad Region:

Dead Sea

After a long day’s hike to the lowest point on Earth, float calmly on the salty surface of the Dead Sea.

Masada

In a mountaintop stronghold between the desert hills and the Dead Sea, walk among ruins filled with the history of kings, warriors, and monks.

Mt. Sodom

Visit this amazing geological phenomenon for the chance to witness a mountain that actually grows taller over time.

Tel Arad

To walkers without a background in archeology, the fortress on the hill may appear as another site with walls and stones strewn around. But Tel Arad is a site of mystery and drama in the development of monotheism.

Mt. Zin

The view of this impressive table-topped mountain and its surrounding foothills is worth a brief jaunt away from the path.

Wadi Hemar

Temporarily abandon the nomadic life to rest where some of the earliest initiators of the Agricultural Revolution settled.

Zohar Fortress

Zohar Fortress91Thumbnail

Enjoy the view down to the Dead Sea from these strategically positioned fortresses built high above an ancient river bed.