It is highly recommended to visit the ponds which are located north to Eilat and are used as an international birding site.
The salt ponds are located just below bird migration routes from Africa to Europe through the Great Rift Valley. This geologic trench stretches from the Arabah in the south of Israel to the Hula Valley in the north of Israel.
The salt evaporation ponds are 40cm deep and cover an area of 700,000 square meters. Water from the red sea is streamed into the ponds and when it evaporates the salt is recovered by a local salt company.
There is a dirt road between the ponds that allows getting to the “International Birdwatching Center” by car. The center is located next to one of the ponds and has many view points, watching over a variety of local water birds, including a large flock of flamingos.
The flamingos discovered the place around 1990. Back then, a few flamingos used to land here, on their way to warmer lands. The flamingo is a large bird with an unusual color. The adults have white and pink feathers. When they open their wings a deeper red is exposed; further down the wing, the feathers are black. These colors are very rare in nature, and there is a sharp contrast between them. There is no difference in color between males and females.
The flamingos begin their adolescence when they are three years old. During their adolescence, the color of their feathers turns into a darker red. Until then, flamingos only have dark brown feathers. Adults are 140cm high and can weigh in at 2.5kg. The female is slightly smaller than the male. Their beak is shaped in a very special way. It is curved in its center, and its lower part is shorter. The edges of the beak are jagged and are used to filter the food, which is found at the bottom of the ponds. The flamingo has long, narrow, reddish legs.
The flamingos visit the ponds from December to March, and then leave us and head to Turkey, Iran, or Sinai. The young birds are left in Israel to wait for the adults, who will return in the next December.
The flamingos do not like it when others come close to them. They stand in the center of the ponds and when something startles them they spread their wings, take off heavily and expose their beautiful colors.
In addition to the flamingo flocks, we can also notice black gulls and black-winged stilts, resting on the water. According to an unproven hypothesis, the flamingos visit our country in such big numbers because of the war between Sadam Hussein and the Kurds. During the war, the Kurdish leader has dried the ponds which made the water birds leave. Some of them happily discovered the salt ponds near Eilat.