Frequently Asked Questions
What airport should I fly into to Join Negev Trek?
Ovda Airport is the closest airport to Mitzpe Ramon- an hour away. direct flights land there from several destinations in Europe. We will be happy to assist you with a pickup from this airport.
also possible are flights to Tel Aviv-Yafo (TLV), the major airport in Israel. If you’re arriving from elsewhere in the Middle East, you can travel overland from Jordan or Egypt.
How do I get to Mitzpe Ramon?
From Tel Aviv airport: The best way to get to Mitzpe Ramon is to take a combination of train and bus. After you get your bags, you will exit into a large lobby. You can get cash from an ATM and, if you wish, purchase a cellular SIM card. To get to the train, exit the lobby straight ahead and turn left following signs for the train. There are several machines for purchasing tickets, either with cash or credit card. Buy a ticket to Beer Sheva. You can view train schedules here: http://www.rail.co.il/EN/
You will get off at Beer Sheva Merkaz station, a ride of about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Upon exiting the train station building turn left and walk across the parking lot to the central bus station.
Look for the bus number 60 or 65 to Mitzpe Ramon. No need to buy tickets ahead of time, you can get them on the bus- cash only. Mitzpe Ramon is the last town on the line.
Remember that there are no Israeli buses from early afternoon on Friday until an hour after dark on Saturday. Plan your transportation accordingly. Cars can be rented at reasonable rates at the airport and in any major city, including Beer Sheva. By picking your car up at a location other than the airport you will actually save the airport fee.
Am I fit enough to hike the Negev Trek?
Many people ask whether they are fit enough to Join the Negev Trek. Physical fitness is very personal and varies greatly from person to person. There is no one standard of who is “fit enough” but here are a few questions that can help you determine for yourself:
Can you walk 16 km (10 miles) in one day? The best way to find this out is to pack a day pack and head to a hiking area near where you live. Choose an intermediate trail of about 10 miles and see how you feel as you walk. You may wish to build up to 10 miles over time, by starting with shorter walks.
Do you have any joint problems that could prevent you from walking for five days in a row? Walking and carrying weight can be hard on joints. If you have arthritis, or have had any surgery on your knee, hip or ankle joints, consult a physician before joining.
Do you have any other ailments that could affect your ability to walk long distances?
For example, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, back pain, and many other ailments could prove painful and dangerous on a distance hiking trail.
Do you sleep well outdoors?
Much of your ability to hike for five days in a row will depend on the quality of rest you get at night during the trek. If sleeping in sleeping bags, in a tent, without showering for 5 days in a row is something you are comfortable with then you will probably get a good night sleep and “recharge your batteries” well after every day of hiking, otherwise, you will find that starting a long day of hiking through the desert after a restless night is very unpleasant and even harmfull.
When in doubt, schedule a checkup with your physician.
Are there shorter versions of the Negev Trek?
The basic plan of the guided Negev Trek is 5 days long. We offer 3 day options as well. If because of a tight schedule, or difficulty levels you wish to join the trek late or leave early, we do offer this option. Our support vehicle makes the daily drive to the campsites in the afternoon of every day so you can easily join an ongoing hike in the morning, or drive out from the campsite after packing up in the morning, in case you need to leave early. Inquire with us about the cost of the shorter versions to fit your schedule.
When is the best time to join the trek?
Winter and spring months are the best time to go on this trek. Hiking in the fall is possible as well and quite enjoyable. Desert climate can be unpredictable during any time of year so pack light rain gear whenever you come, and keep track of flash flood warnings. Hiking in the winter may allow you to witness rain in the desert- an amazing combination, and the spring offers the chance to see the desert bloom with flowers.
Summer months are too hot for backpacking the long trails of the Negev and we do not run the trek during this time of year for danger of heat stroke and dehydration.
Are water sources available and how much do we carry?
There are no sources of drinking water available between campsites. At night our support vehicle will provide water for drinking, cooking, basic hygiene (no showers), washing dishes and filling up for the next day. 4.5 liters per person per day should be enough for drinking.
Bailing water from desert springs and water holes is not recommended under any circumstances, even if you have experience drinking water from such sources, because it puts pressure on local eco systems and requires purification.
Where do we sleep?
All of the nights along the trek will be spent under the starts in wilderness designated campgrounds. These are primitive campgrounds with no facilities at all. Camping outside designated campgrounds in nature preserves in Israel is illegal.
The support vehicle will meet you every night and supply fresh drinking water and will deliver your personal night luggage, along with tents, sleeping matts, cookware and supplies, firewood and trash bags. We will also provide some lighting. There are no toilets or outhouses and all trash and toilet paper will need to be collected and driven out.
On the self-guided program you will be responsible for setting up your own tent- our staff will be happy to assist.
Help with food preparation is welcome and usually guaranties a reasonable dinner time.
Make sure you have adequate gear. You will need to bring a good sleeping bag. Check temperature ratings on your gear and average temperatures for the season you will be camping to make sure you will be warm enough. You’ll need a flashlight as well, or preferably a headlamp.
Lamps and other hiking gear is available to rent for an added cost.
Footwear and clothing
The most important thing in planning your trek is to bring comfortable, worn-in footwear. We recommend sturdy hiking shoes or boots as the trail involves some sections of rocky rough terrain. Hiking in Sandals is hazardous.
Since the support vehicle will be carrying your luggage, bring plenty of warm clothing for the night and fresh socks for each day. While hiking it’s a good idea to layer clothing for changing weather. A wide hat is highly recommended as there is very little shade along the trek. Long sleeves and sun protective cloths are much more effective than sunscreen for protecting your skin.
Maps and books
The Negev Trek is planned along the marked trails of the Negev, and a considerable portion of it is spent along the Israel National Trail.
Information about the INT can be found in these books:
Israel National Trail and the Jerusalem Trail by Jacob Saar and Yagil Henkin
Walk the Land : A Journey on Foot through Israel by Judith Galblum Pex
Both available on Amazon.
Detailed 1:50000 topographic maps will be provided to participents of self-guided treks for the time of the trek. If you wish to purchase or rent additional maps- this is possible at the Mitzpe Ramon visitor’s center and at The Green Backpackers hostel.
Even though the trail is marked, it’s always a good idea to hike with a detailed map and know how to use it for navigation. The maps have water sources marked, but they’re not reliable.
Check out the maps on this website, including the full route on one map and the entire trail divided into shorter sections.
Trail Markers and GPS
All of the trails in Israel, including those hiking along the Negev Trek are marked and maintained by the committee for trail marking in the society for preservation of nature in Israel (SPNI).
The system is unified on a national level- three stripes of color indicating the direction of the path. Markers are generally painted on rocks and occasionally appear on posts or pegs. From each marker, the next one should be visible. Different colors do not represent difficulty, simply different trails. Along with your map you will receive a list of the various sections for each day including the color you will be following. Be aware that these markers are sometimes lost or destroyed, so keep your map handy and make sure you are proficient at reading it.
Be aware that occasionally paint blazes are altered or destroyed by weather, animals or local graffiti artists. SPNI does their best to make sure the trail and its blazes are well-maintained, so please inform our staff, or point out to the guide, if you find a section with missing or damaged blazes, so we can notify SPNI (email@example.com).
Food and supplies
Starting from your first packed lunch, all of the meals and snacks will be supplied by the support vehicle.
The meals that are not included are:
- Dinner on the first night in Mitzpe Ramon (hotel and hostel staff can recommend local stores and restaurants).
- Breakfast of the first day of hiking. A packed meal is available at most hostels for an additional cost.
If you have favorite foods, snacks or energy drinks that you would like to bring along, you may include them in your night luggage and they will be delivered every night to campsite by the support vehicle.
Vegetarian options are available for no additional cost for all meals supplied. For vegan options or other special requirements, including food allergies, please contact us in advance. An additional cost may apply.
How long is the Negev Trek and how long is the hike every day?
The Negev Trek is currently only offered along one section of the INT (Israel National Trail) with an extension along one more trail in the Ramon crater. The hike in total lasts 5 days and crosses over 75 km of diverse desert landscape. 3 and 4 days options do exist.
The longest day of hiking is 19km and the shortest is 13. Slow hikers will require 8.5 hours to complete the long day and fast hikers may complete the shortest day in as little as 4 hours.
Our guides will set an early departure time to accomodate these distances,(breakfast will be offered accordingly) hiking at a comfortable continuous pace with occasional “breather” brakes for drinking.
An extended lunch break will give you time to rest and take in your surroundings.
For self guided trekkers, every evening our support staff will be happy to point out potential spots for such breaks on the next day’s trail.
Detours and small explorations are up to you, as long as you stay on marked trails, but always leave enough time to arrive at the campsite one hour before sun-down. That way you will have enough daylight to unload your luggage and set up your tent.
Is it safe to hike in the Negev and travel in Israel?
Many people hike the trails of the Negev alone and have found this to be safe. We do not recommend hiking alone, and that’s precisely one of the reason we developed the Negev Trek.
Your guides are experienced, certified and well trained.
The trails are extremely well-marked, and passing hikers and jeep drivers in Israel tend to be very helpful and welcoming towards foreign hikers. There is little crime, if any, that happens along the hiking trails, and though cases of car break-ins at trailheads have been reported, such things are relatively easy to avoid. The Ramat Negev and Har Hanegev regions are very stable, and were almost unaffected even at times of security tension in other parts of the country.
The main dangers of the Negev Trek are those you will find hiking in any desert environment- dehydration, heat stroke and loose footing. Wildlife in the Negev desert is harmless, for the most part, and though poisonous snakes and scorpions do exist in the area, cases of serious medical emergencies resulting from bites or stings are extremely rare, as are, in fact, cases of none severe snake-bites as well.
Take special care when moving rocks or when sitting down to avoid unwanted encounters.
Cellphone coverage is surprisingly good along the trails, even in the desert, and though there are some canyons without reception, you’ll usually not have to walk far to get a signal.
In any case of emergency dial 100 for the police.
Traveling to and from hikes on public transportation is extremely safe and comfortable, and many tourists even hitchhike and enjoy meeting and talking with local drivers. Though if you do choose hitchhiking- it’s always better to do it in groups of two or three.
While the media often portrays Israel and Palestine as perpetual hotspots of violence, the tourist areas of the region are generally very safe with a high level of security. Tourists have not ordinarily been targets of violence in the region.
Crime and violence levels in major cities are much lower in Israel than in major American cities. Murder, rape and theft rates in Israel are similar to rates in Germany, which has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe.
How much does it cost to travel in Israel?
What should I budget for the Negev Trek?
Many prices in Israel are somewhat on par with prices in the United States, and slightly less expensive than Western Europe. Transportation and hostel accommodations are reasonable, but not dirt cheap. Food prices can be quite expensive, but are cheaper in Jerusalem and Beer Sheva, and most expensive in Tel Aviv. Once on the Negev Trail, there really is no-where to spend money, and all of your needs are included. You will however have to buy your own dinner in Mitzpe Ramon your own breakfast and packed lunch on the first day of hiking.
For the rest of your trip in Israel your budget will depend much on the level of luxury you expect.
If you stay in dorm B&Bs or homestays and eat 1 or 2 meals in restaurants, your daily budget will be more like $50-100 (€30-70) p/p per day. If you stay in private hotels and eat all your meals out, you should budget $100-$150 (€70-110) p/p per day.
• train ticket from Tel Aviv airport to Beer Sheva: 35NIS
• city bus: 6-8NIS
• Bus from Beer Sheva to Mitzpe Ramon: 17NIS
• car rental per day: 200-325NIS
• gasoline/petrol per liter: 6NIS
• double private hotel room:450-600+NIS
• single bed in dorm accommodations: 80-130NIS
• pay camp site with showers per person: 60NIS
• felafel sandwich: 18NIS (
• sit down meal in a restaurant: 50-90NIS per person
• 20 oz. bottle of soda in a convenience store: 8NIS (
• jar of peanut butter at a grocery store: 20NIS
• dehydrated rice or pasta dinner from grocery store: 12NIS
Other trails in Israel
Are there any other long hikes and treks in Israel?
There are several long trails in Israel that offer an unforgettable scenic, spiritual or cultural experience.
Take a look at the Jesus Trail in the Galilee
Or choose a section of the Israel trail that fits the amount of time you have to spend hiking in Israel.
If you have about a week check out the Golan trail
And If you are interested in an amazing desert hike for the winter- check out Arif Karkom.
Where can I find good information about other great desert hikes and treks in the Negev?
The best website out there, that has information about all the best hikes and desert trails in the Israel Negev desert is NegevTrails.