Winter has come to Israel; 35 days of rain, some snowy peaks, and cold nights up in Jerusalem and the Galilee. Tel Aviv on the other hand goes from warm to cold, and even on a day with rain in the morning the sun can come out for the afternoon.
But the true gem of the Israeli winter is the Negev, which does make up for half of the country. The days are pleasantly warm, cool nights and clear skys, the perfect hiking and cycling weather.
Another beautiful feature of the season is wild flowers, all over the desert. Now I have to say, I am not someone that has a huge interest in flowers, yet the contrast of colors you get to see all over the desert in the winter, is just one of those memories you take forever.
Mitzpe Ramon or the farms in the region are good places to stay for 2 or 3 nights if you are looking to explore the region if you are coming for a short visit. There are some great hotel options, and endless options of road cycling, mountain biking or hiking.
There is also a popular ride from Jerusalem, going through the Negev and ending in the resort town of Eilat. Another option, that is being finalized with large government investments is the Israel Mountain Bike trail to Eilat, designed for skilled trail riders; an amazing route.
The farms, small towns, Kibbutzim and Moshavim you pass through in the region also give an interesting window into the pioneering spirit and way of life that allow this once empty desert into a “bread basket” for Israel. Over the past 80 years, Israel and the Zionist movement saw the importance of settling the Negev and knew that the key to that would always be the ability to live and be productive, despite the challenge.
Today, Israelis living in all sides of this Desert grow anything from date trees to fish, grape vines, cucumbers, flowers, basil, tomatoes, and the list goes on. It is truly a source of pride for our small country. The historic leader of this spirit was David Ben Gurion, and his modest burial site is a spot that should not be missed.
See you in the Negev!
Written by Amir Rockman, Gordon Active Cycling Specialist and Guide