Eilat

Eilat Travel guide

Eilat, the southernmost city in Israel, located in the Arava desert, serves as a port and as a tourist center. Towards the end of the Israeli War of Independence in 1949, the fishing village of Um al-Rashrash was captured by the Israeli army. At first, the location served as an army comp. In 1952, Eilat became a civilian settlement and it was declared a city in 1959. Since then, the city has developed into one of the important focal point of tourism in Israel thanks to the uniqueness of its Red Sea coast, its coral nature reserve, its pleasant climate in winter, and its landscape of the meeting of desert, sea and mountains. This led to the development of a tourist infrastructure of dozens of hotels and vacation apartments, with thousands of rooms, restaurants, shopping centers and many attractions including diving, sea sports and desert trips.

Eilat - The dolphin reef

Eilat – The dolphin reef

A few kilometers from the city, one kilometer from the oil terminal, we can visit  the Dolphin Reef. In this unique enclosure, the visitor can swim or dive to see dolphins exercising and to watch nature films about dolphins.

The Dolphin Reef- in Eilat

The Dolphin Reef- in Eilat

A few hundred meters farther, we reach Almog Beach –  the coral reef nature reserve. Even with no previous experience, the visitor may have a short instructional session and then have an amazing swim into the spectacular world of silence of the coral reef. In close proximity of the reef, the visitor should not miss The Under water observatory in which you can have a close look at life in the coral reef, and may take a submarine ride 60 meters under the sea or imagine an under sea trip with a simulator.

The Underwater Observatory in Eilat

The Underwater Observatory in Eilat

In addition, the hotels in and around the city offer desert trips into the Eilat mountains, a cruise around the Bay of Eilat and of course, swimming and sea sports at one of the Red Sea beaches.

Eilat north Beach

Eilat north Beach

Top places to visit around Eilat

Beyond sun- drenched beaches, scuba diving sites, and water sports, a trip outside the city of Eilat will lead you to a number of especially interesting sites around it:

Bird Watching in the Southern Salt Pools north to the city of Eilat: where during migration season in the spring and fall, you can find an abundance of migratory birds, including flocks of pink flamingos, and spectacular salt crystals gleaming in white.

The salt ponds near Eilat

The salt ponds near Eilat

Thirty-five kilometers due north of Eilat lies Yotvata Hai- Bar Nature Reserve. It was established to foster the breeding of animals mentioned in the Bible and other endangered desert animals. The Reserve encompasses a variety of arid- land habitats including acacia groves, salt- flats, and sand. The visit to the Yotvata Hai- Bar is an almost exclusive opportunity to witness the desert wildlife up close: the wild Asiatic ass- untamable and highly enduring and fit; the African wild ass—the progenitor of the domesticated donkey; the Arabian Oryx, whose image provided the logo for Hai- Bar Yotvata and whose straight, parallel horns some say are the origin of the unicorn legend; Sahara Oryx- raised at Hai- Bar Yotvata as part of an international effort to save this species from extinction; addax, ostriches, and more. The predators in their special enclosures include the wolf, Ruppell’s fox, Blanford’s fox, spotted leopard, caracal, wild cat, and striped hyena. Reptiles, rodents, and raptors are also on display.

Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve

Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve

About twenty- five kilometers from Eilat lies Timna Valley Park, located in a horseshoe- shaped valley, part of an erosion crater, measuring 7 kilometers in diameter.  The park is a geological window revealing a variety of rock formations: sharp edged granite on Timna Mountain to one side, and across from it, the soft lines of the red and white sandstone cliffs, surrounding the park. The breathtaking view of the acacia trees and the desert foliage, along with the gazelle and ibex herds roaming free, is visible to visitors above the cliffs. There is a large concentration of archeological sites involving copper mining in the valley. The mining of copper in Timna began over 6,000 years ago, towards the end of the 5th millennium BCE. It is the site of the oldest mine in the world, from the time in which man first learned to produce copper. This is also where the iron and bronze age revolution took place, featuring everyday use of metal in human life.

Timna park in the Negev

Timna park in the Negev

A few kilometers south of Timna you will find Shehoret Canyon, a highly recommended site to visit. The trail includes an easy, not- too- long hike in a beautiful canyon, where you can witness colorful rock layers, water- filled cisterns, typical desert flora and fauna, and- after a simple hike up the mountain- a beautiful view of the entire Gulf of Eilat, also known as The Gulf of Aqaba.

Shkoret Canyon

Shkoret Canyon

South of the city, not far from the border with Egypt, there is a recommended hike to the top of Mount Zefahot. Here, The Gulf of Eilat is revealed in all its glory- the city, its northern Shore, and its port. Across from it, you can see the Jordanian city of Aqaba. The encompassing view from the summit gives a lookout south to the horizon, where four different countries can be seen: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel. This trail also marks the end (or beginning) of the Israel National Trail.