Moshav Paran – Kibbutz Yahel
Segment length: 45 km
Starting point: Moshav Paran
Ending point: Kibbutz Yahel
Services on route:
Be’er Menuha Junction
Average riding time: 6 hours
Water: 5 liters per person
This segment crosses the Arava Valley watershed, which is called the Noza Ridge. The ridge splits the Arava between the side that drains into the Gulf of Eilat and the side that drains into the Dead Sea.
This section of the IBT also runs alongside the border with Jordan. When Trans-Jordan was established in 1922, the unmarked border with Mandate Palestine ran along the lowest point in the Arava. That was not an easy line to find as the Arava is completely flat for a few kilometers along its center. After Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement, the official border was somehow finagled, marked, and fenced.
Setting out eastwards from Moshav Paran, the route passes under the Arava Highway and reaches a monument to those who travelled to Petra in the 1950s, a dangerous and forbidden undertaking that claimed the lives of quite a few adventure-seeking Israeli youths. The IBT then runs south along the border, passing by the ’Eshet water reservoir and continuing through very arid terrain to the Noza Ridge. Acacia trees dot the area, herds of desert gazelles scamper about, and colonies of hyrax can be spotted among the rocks. The route passes east of the small farm of Kipat Arandal, which not so long ago was a military outpost, and continues through the sandy banks of Wadi Be’ayan to reach the palm groves and fields of the southern Arava. The day ends at Kibbutz Yahel.
- Petra Hikers Monument: On Thursday, August 27, 1953, five Israeli youths went on a journey across the border to see the red rocks of the Nabatean capital of Petra. The five were discovered by the Jordanians or, according to another version, asked for help after one of them was bitten by a snake. They were killed by the Jordanian Desert Police at Bir Madkur. This site was created to commemorate them.
- Noza Ridge: The Hebrew name is derived from the Arabic name, which means “feather range” because the rills of the ridge look like a feather.
- Kibbutz Yahel: The Reform movement’s first kibbutz, Yahel, was established in 1976.
- ’Eshet Reservoir: A reservoir of floodwaters of Nahal Paran, this is one of the largest water reservoirs in the Negev. The pool is a very popular spot for bird watching.
- Nahal Shitta: Acacia trees dot this riverbed, just as its name, which is Hebrew for acacia, hints. This is one of the largest concentrations of acacia trees in the Negev and consequently of desert gazelles, which feed on the leaves of the trees.
- Arandal: A small, single-family farm now sits at this former military outpost. It is located opposite the Arandal oasis in Jordan, which is one of the largest oases in the Arava with abundant water and date groves.