Hod Akev - Unreal Desert Hike (2022)

Hod Akev - Unreal Desert Hike (1)

Hod Akev - Unreal Desert Hike (2)Get there with Google MapsHod Akev - Unreal Desert Hike (3)Get there with WazeHod Akev - Unreal Desert Hike (4)Get there with Moovit
Trail MapHod Akev - Unreal Desert Hike (5)Hike it with Google EarthTerrain View
Distance: 20kmTime: 6+ hoursDifficulty: Advanced
Ascent: 550mHod Akev - Unreal Desert Hike (6)Trailhead and Markers Gallery

Click here to go straight to Hikers’ Notes.

It’s desert hike season here at Hiking the Holyland. And today’s post brings us to Hod Akev, perhaps one of the most surprising, beautiful, and surprisingly beautiful hikes we’ve been on this month.

I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but I had no idea what we were getting into when we set out to hike Hod Akev. I knew we were in for the long haul – the very shortest version of the hike was at least 10 kilometers. And the longer version (which we were sure we wouldn’t have time for) was 17K.

Well, guess what? Somehow we managed to turn our excursion to Hod Akev into a 20 kilometer hike. That’s right.

And while we were at it, we climbed 550 meters into the sky.

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But the crazy thing about this hike was that it was just so beautiful. It was worth every step to climb the chalk white mountainside, see the incredible views at the top, and then discover a magnificent desert oasis (total surprise).

Even the short walk through Sde Boker at the end of the trail would have been a highlight on its own.

Here’s what our epic hike through Hod Akev was like:

Ho Hum, Another Day, Another Desert

We started the hike in a lot on the outskirts of Sde Boker. While we made our way through an opening in the fence and followed the red trail into the desert, we discussed which version of the hike we would follow.

As we walked, the red trail led us down through classic desert scenery. There were rocks and small pebbles beneath our feet. And we began to see cliffs and mountains emerging from the shadows in the distance.

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On this part of the trail, we really had no idea what lay in store. At all. We hoped for canyons and riverbeds, or maybe a really cool mountain to climb. And then, after turning onto the black trail and several kilometers of walking, a very large mountain appeared.


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My husband wondered if wewere going to be climbing the mountain.I said: no way. It was far toolarge. But, I added: if it was part ofthe hike, then that would be fine too.

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The Part Where We Climb the Mountain

At the end of the blacktrail, we made a right onto red. Wecrossed through an off the beaten track campground. And then it became abundantly clear: the redtrail would be leading us right up the mountain.

The scenery as we approached Hod Akev was other-worldy.

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The sky was the crispestshade of cerulean, with cirrus clouds spattered around like white paint on ablue canvas. The mountain rock was starkand chalky in some places, like cut clay.In others, piles of sandy stones gathered to form sharp peaks.

We began to climb, movingfrom the sun into the shade of the mountain.We followed the trail through the rocks.And then we followed a white stone “stairway” which led into theheavens.

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Finally, when we were almost at the top, we decided to break away from the path onto an alabaster cliff. This Sunday’s brunch was going to be eaten while gazing out upon an absolutely spectacular view.

Breakfast of Champions

We unwrapped our sandwichesand poured coffee. It was one of the mostmemorable picnic spots we’ve ever been in.

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At this point, it was clear that Hod Akev was something special. Even if we turned around right after brunch and went home, it would have been worth the one and a half hour drive.

But we weren’t turning around. Instead, after a full on meditation on the wonders of nature, we got back on track and finished climbing to the top of the mountain.

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We emerged from the shadowsof the white cliff and into the sunshine.

Mountain Climb – Part II

Funny enough, at the top of themountain there was another mountain peak in the distance, steady andsteep. The red trail actually led aroundthe peak, giving hikers the chance to follow the path without doing anyclimbing.

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But there was a greenbreakaway trail which led up to the top of the mountain and back down, meetingup with the red trail on the other side.Or course, we had to see what was up top.

The climb was challenging,and we were winded as we reached the summit of the mountain. But, the view from this tippy top point ofHod Ekev was even more beautiful than before.And standing up on the summit, we truly felt that we had reached the “Hod”or “sharp tip” of the mountain.

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Discoveries in the Desert

From here, we followed thepath back down, then proceeded to take a long and beautiful walk in totalisolation. Desert cliffs rose all aroundus. There were boulders to climb and beautifullandscapes to photograph. And wherever there was a channel in the stone, plantsflourished and flowers bloomed.

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We saw purple flowers and yellow flowers, all eagerly awaiting the next flash flood to replenish their water supply.

Several kilometers later, wehad a decision to make. Would we followthe black trail back to cut this hike to a short 12 kilometers? Or would we choose the 17 kilometer trek andget in a full day of exploration?

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We studied the map anddecided on something different: a whole new trail that would lead us throughwhat looked like a beautiful riverbed (Nahal Zin), and hopefully be somewherein between 12 and 17 kilometers in distance.(Spoiler alert: the new trail we chose was even longer! But still totally worth it.)

Right to a Secret Oasis

We made a right onto the blue trail. And there, a white stone riverbed opened up before us. There were a few tourists there. And wet footprints. And reeds. Which led us to suspect that there was something more going on here.

We glanced at the signs – Ein Akev. We hadn’t seen it on the map. But if there was a spring, it was definitely worth making a two minute detour to the left to see what it looked like.

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And wow…were we surprised.

Ein Akev

This was no ordinary desert oasis. We weren’t looking at a few plants growing out of trickle of water.

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Instead, it was a full-on crystalpool, in surroundings of white rock. Awaterfall poured down into the pool, creating layers of algae on the wallsaround it, along with ivy and other trailing vines.

There were people here enjoying the desert oasis, bathing suits on, basking in the shade. We wondered if there was a way to easily access Ein Akev – these tourists didn’t look like the type to hike ten kilometers to get here.

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Near the first pool satanother, equally beautiful, but without any swimmers

We just couldn’t believe that this incredible watering hole (with two waterfalls) sat right here in the middle of the desert. And we were also pretty surprised that we hadn’t heard anything about it before.

It was late in the day, so we couldn’t give Ein Akev the time it deserved. We made plans to go on a real vacation sometime soon – one where we could relax at every beautiful point on this hike without feeling the need to push forward and return home.

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I Know Your Secret

As we left Ein Akev, the mystery of the tourists was cleared up. Several jeeps sat lined up in the parking lot. And as we followed the dust road back through the desert, the jeeps passed by one by one, filled with contented travelers at the end of a great day.

As for us, we were happy to bewalking. We may have left the mountainand the spring behind, but the desert remained quiet and beautiful – with some of the most spectacular scenery we’veseen on any of our desert hikes.

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We followed the blue trail a bit further, then made a left onto red which took us on a journey through Nahal Zin and approached Sde Boker.

Little Trails, Each a Unique Snowflake

The last part of the hike required careful attention to the map and the trail markers as we followed the red trail past several crossroads, all the way up to the large road around Sde Boker. As we neared the top of our ascent out of the riverbed, our favorite desert friends came out to greet us.

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It wouldn’t be a desert hike without an ibex.

Once we were back in SdeBoker, we followed the final trail – a beautiful sunset walk along a promenadeon the outskirts of the city. Even thislittle walk was absolutely gorgeous, quiet, and quaint.

Children rode their bicyclesover the sand framed by a desert mountain back drop. And one family used the great lighting and pleasantweather to snap some family portraits in the setting sun.

Just twenty kilometers later, we were back at our car again. The hike to Hod Akev had been an amazing journey that was full of surprises.

All in a day’s work. Or a day’s play. Or both, I guess.

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Hikers’ Notes:

Here’s what you need to know about this hike:

  • Best suited to fall, winter, and spring.
  • Not good for dogs.
  • Bring plenty of water, sun protection, and good hiking shoes.
  • Don’t forget swim gear for Ein Akev.
  • Not suitable for those who have a fear of heights.
  • As with all desert hikes, always keep an eye out for trail markers! If you lose the trail, go back to the last place you saw a marker and look for the next one.
  • Check the weather for flash flood warnings before you go.
  • Once you get back to Sde Boker, you must find your way back to the car. I recommend you use Google Maps (your parking location can be found in the table up top).
  • This hike will take at least six hours. Plan accordingly, and make sure you return before dark.
  • Use the trail map, Google Earth file, and trail marker gallery in the table up top to find your way. Amudanan.co.il is also highly recommended. This hike should not be attempted without thorough planning and preparation using the tools in the table.
  • Trail colors to follow: Red, Black, Red, Green, Red, Blue, Red. See trail map.

Don’t forget to read my guide to the navigational features in this post before you hit the trail!

Trail map from Amud Anan.

Questions? Have you hiked Hod Akev? Do you want to?? Let’s hear about it in the comments!

Hiking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. Information is provided free of charge; it is each hiker’s responsibility to check it and navigate using a map and compass.

These springs are suppose to have year round water and we were hiking in the early spring after a winter of plentiful rain so instead of carrying the water, we carried a water purifying devise with which we planned to make our own drinking water from the springs we passed.. We had to walk around the kibbutz and down a dirt road for about 5 kilometers before we reached the trail where we had left the Golan Stone.. There was a group of girls on a school hiking trip eating lunch around the deep, lovely spring, so we walked back along the running stream, around a corner, and found ourselves a ledge in the rocks where we ate our lunch of pita with egg salad, corn chips, and cherry tomatoes with carrots sticks.. Don and Taffy in Ein Shaviv ( עין שביב ) but where is the water?. We enjoyed the perfect spot for a few minutes, but then we worried about the kilometers still ahead of us so we walked quickly back to our packs and continued on the trail for about 20 minutes until we reached the place where it turned out of Wadi Hava up into another ravine.. We needed water so we left our packs, took empty water bottles with the water purifier and set off to Ein Hava a spring which was indicated on the map.. I walked back down and Don came back without the water.

Trail Flow (Ridden Direction). Trailforks scans users ridelogs to determine the most popular direction each trail is ridden.. The colour categories are based on what percentage of riders are riding a trail in its intended direction.. > 96% > 90% > 80% > 70% > 50% < 50% bi-directional trail no data. Trail Last Ridden. Trailforks scans ridelogs to determine the last time a trail was ridden.. Trail Ridden Direction. The intended direction a trail should be ridden.. Downhill Only Downhill Primary Both Directions Uphill Primary Uphill Only One Direction. Trailforks scans ridelogs to determine which trails are ridden the most in the last 9 months.. xActivity Recordings. Trailforks users anonymized public ridelogs from the past 6 months.. mountain biking recent mountain biking (>6 month) hiking (1 year) moto (1 year). Heatmap of where riders jump on trails.. Trails Deemphasized. Trails are shown in grey.. disable. Only show trails with NO bikes.. enable. Save the current map location and zoom level as your default home location whenever this page is loaded.. Save

We’ll start the trek in Sde Boker, near Ben Gurion’s burial site, cross the Zin Valley, climb to the Divshon high land, dive into Ein Akev Spring, explore Ein Shaviv jungle and sleep in a campsite near Hod Akev.. They might ask for the trail numbers, you can find them on the map at the "Israel Hiking Map" link above.. You’ll find the red trail mark (for more on trail marks in Israel here ) that will lead you down into the Zin Valley.. Follow the blue and then red hiking trail (also the Israel national trail) that will take you up to Hod Akev- a beautiful small mountain, inside the Zin Valley, that gives you a great view of the surrounding area.. If this is your option, you’ll follow the red trail all the way to the top of Hod Akev and then continue down to the Hod Akev campsite, where you’ll spend the night.. Climb back up the ladders from Ein Akev and follow the green trail and then the blue trail that is a shortcut to the Ein Shaviv jungle.. Climb back up the ladders and walk the black (also the Israel national trail) trail mark to the upper Ein Akev spring (upriver to Ein Akev spring), about half an hour hike.. From here you’ll follow the blue hiking trail (also the Israel nation trail) to Ein Shaviv, around a two-hour hike.. If you're heading to Ein Shaviv jungle, make sure you coordinate the military training area with the army (only Ein Shaviv is located inside the training area).. Ein ShavivFrom Ein Shaviv follow the green four by four trail mark for 6 easy kilometres until the Hod Akev campsite, where you’ll spend the night.. The trail will become a blue four by four trail, follow it until you get to Mezad Zin - one of the many archaeological sites scattered along the spice trail.. The spice trail is an ancient trail from the Roman era that transferred special spices from Sheba (in today’s Yemen) across the Saudi Arabia desert, through Petra (Jordon) and the Negev desert to Gaza.

Overnight Location: Hotel in Dimona Distance: 21 km, 8-10 hours, 550m ascent. Alternative option: 17 km, 7-8 hours, 450 m ascent Meals: Breakfast. Making your final descent into the valley, you can opt to take a 6 km transfer in a Jeep taxi (not included) back to your accommodation, or reach it on foot by hiking the remaining 6 km.. Book Now This tour is based mostly in 3-star hotels with one night’s stay in a hostel.. 5 breakfasts are included on this tour.. Accommodation for 5 nights is included.. Additionally, always check the weather forecast for flash flood warnings.. Learn More Negev Desert Hiking Tour Map

But one thing I’ve learned hiking through desert trails in the past few months is that the desert has its own unique beauty.. Right near the city of Arad lies a long and lonely trail through this kind of sparse beauty.. True, there are some interesting landmarks on the trail (a few wells and Rahamim Cistern), but for the most part, this 7.5 kilometer walk is about wandering in the silence under the wide open sky.. We followed the blue trail,. admiring green desert plants on the way.. He must have also felt like. this trail was a good place for quiet meditation.. Towards the Cistern After breakfast, we made our way back to the blue trail and continued through the desert.. At the cistern, we made a. right onto the red trail, which the map said would lead to Nahal Hesed, a dry. riverbed.. A Bit of Bouldering After Nahal Hesed, the red trail got close to the city of Arad.. Climbing Back to Civilization From here, we followed the trail through more interesting terrain, up some rocky channels towards the city.. As with all desert hikes, don’t veer off the trail!. If you lose the trail, return to the last place you saw a trail marker and look for the next one.. Use the trail map, trail marker gallery, and Google Earth file to find your way on the trail.

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