The Arava Savannah

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Moa – Moshav Paran

Segment length: 35 km
Starting point: Moa
Ending point:
Moshav Paran
Services on route: Zukim
Average riding time:
5 hours
Water: 5 liters per person
Level: Moderate

Savanna landscapes, acacia trees, gazelles in the valleys, and ibex on the mountains all add to the great diversity of desert scenes along the IBT. The desert is not a homogeneous bloc of mountains and wadis, rather it is home to a wide variety of landscapes, each with unique characteristics. The third day of the journey introduces riders to a completely different landscape than that seen during the two previous days.

Itinerary:
From Moa, the path ascends along the Nahal ’Omer Riverbed. At the junction with Nahal ’Ashosh, it follows the ’Ashosh around the settlement of Zukim and then along a dramatic single across the Zofar Plateau, passing by the rock inscriptions in Nahal Za’af. On reaching the riverbed of Nahal Barak, the IBT crosses the asphalt-green ridge that leads down into the broad channel of Nahal Paran. After crossing the riverbed, the route climbs the ’Eshet Hills and descends to the entrance to Moshav Paran. (Please note that the route between Nahal ’Ashosh to Zofar can be missed easily due to washouts by winter floods.)

  • Nahal ’Ashosh Riverbed: The head of Nahal ’Ashosh is on the wide, flat saltpan of the Meshar. From there, it descends through the soft chalky rock deposits in the ’Ashosh nature reserve, cutting out a remarkable group of trapezoid table mountains. Just where the IBT enters the ’Ashosh Riverbed, at a sharp bend in the riverbed, stands a large ancient acacia tree that is a good place for a break.
  • Nahal Paran: The Paran is the largest riverbed in the Negev; its nearly five-mile-wide channel can fill with water during a flood. Its Arabic name is Wadi Al Jerrafi, which means, “the Sweeping River” – a fitting name for the strong floods that can fill the riverbed more than once in a rainy winter and sweep away anything and everything in their path. The head of the river is in the Sinai Peninsula and its drainage basin covers more than 13,000 kilometers. After the river crosses the Arava Highway (Route 90), its name changes to Nahal Arava, but do not be mistaken, it still is the same Paran that makes its way to the Dead Sea. There is no connection between this river and the biblical Desert of Paran, other than their shared name.
  • Rock paintings in Nahal Za’af: The source of the Arabic name of this river, Wadi Abu Honiac, “River with a Small Chin,” is a secret guarded by the ancient nomads of the Negev. Perhaps the solution lies in rocks within the stream, which are engraved with figures of camels, mountain goats, dogs, ownership marks of camels, and human figures.
  • Telem Eshet Hills: Telem Eshet is a narrow valley formed along a geological fault line in the folded layers of the Menuha Ridge. At the eastern side of the valley is a conical hill, Kippat Eshet, formed by a geological uplift with all the layers inclined evenly around the hill, thus making it into a perfect dome from all sides. In the upper layers of the hill ancient geological layers are exposed – early signs of a formation of a new makhtesh.

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