The Steep Ascent to Smadar


Kibbutz Yahel – Smadar

Segment length: 30 km
Starting point:
Kibbutz Yahel
Ending point: Smadar
Services on route: None
Average riding time:
8 hours
Water: 8 liters per person
Level: Difficult

This is the most challenging ascent on the IBT as it involves climbing the highest heights along ancient paths used by the camel caravans that once crossed Nahal Ketura. However, the view that the top offers of the prairie landscape and the mountains of Edom makes it well worth the effort.

The route first goes south to Nahal Ketura. Then it ascends the riverbed to a dramatic, ancient camel path that zigzags up the cliff of the rift valley, runs above the dry waterfall of Ein Ketura, and reaches the Shizzafon Valley.

  • Ein Ketura: There is a tiny spring at the bottom of the biggest waterfall in Nahal Ketura. A few years ago, it still emanated a small trickle of water. In Arabic, the spring and the wadi were called Ain el Qatar, which means “Trickle Spring.” Today, the spring is dry. The Arabic name sounds similar to Ketura, the name of Abraham’s second wife. This appealed to the members of the Israeli government’s names committee since they gave biblical names to the various geographical features of the Negev.
  • Kibbutz Ne’ot Smadar: A group of academics from Jerusalem established this unique kibbutz in 1989 on the abandoned site that once was Kibbutz Shizzafon. The new residents aspired to create an organic farm and a special cooperative community. At the center of the kibbutz, they built a large complex of art studios, which they designed themselves. At the Shizzafon Junction, a roadside cafe sells the kibbutz’s products, including cakes, jams, and wines.
  • Eagle Mountain: A mountain near the cliffs towers above the prairie at a height of 480 meters above sea level. At the top of the mountain is a relay station for radio and television. It offers a dramatic view of the prairie, the mountains of Edom, and the Gulf of Eilat.
  • Solar Energy in the Arava: The first solar field in the Arava can be found south of Kibbutz Ketura. It is one of the largest fields of its kind in Israel.

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