A nice cool treat at Ein Akev

On this adventure in the desert, I took a trip to Ramat Davshon and Ein Akev in the Nahal Tzin area, which included a refreshing dip in the cool spring water.

EIN AKEV is one of Israel’s better-kept secrets. (photo credit: MEIR ORBACH/SPNI/WIKIPEDIA)
EIN AKEV is one of Israel’s better-kept secrets.
If you’re like me – always searching for ways to spend my weekend other than lounging on the beach or at the poolside – then you’re in luck. I recently took a trip to southern Israel that was really special. I was hesitant to go, thinking that it was still too hot outside, that there was no way I was going to enjoy hiking in the desert before temperatures dropped a little. But if you plan well (read: find a hike with a natural pool you can jump into to cool off in) you can truly enjoy the beautiful open spaces of Israel’s majestic desert.
So on this adventure in the desert, I took a trip to Ramat Davshon and Ein Akev in the Nahal Tzin area, which included a refreshing dip in the cool spring water. The trail leading to Ein Akev is challenging at times, and we’d worked up quite a good sweat by the time we reached the spring, so I wouldn’t pick this hike if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea. And if you love the idea, but are still concerned with the hot temperature, you can also wait a month or two and then do this hike in more clement weather.
Ein Akev is one of Israel’s open secrets. On the one hand, many Israeli teens have done this hike at some point either with school, their youth group or just with friends, since it’s part of the Israel National Trail. For some reason, though, it’s not as popular among adult hikers. I guess most people think of the streams that crisscross across northern Israel when they conjure up a water hike in their mind.
If you’re planning on visiting Ben-Gurion’s tomb, you’ll have a great view of Hod Akev, the pointed mountain jutting up near Ein Akev. Of course, you’ll be able to see the mountain as you walk by, but it’s also really nice to view it from afar. Actually, from Hod Akev, there’s also a nice view of Bik’at Tzin, Nahal Akev and Ramat Boker. If you’re looking to engage in an extremely challenging climb up the side of the mountain, there are pegs in the side rocks to help you climb up. But that wasn’t something I was interested in doing, since I had my mind set on reaching that spring that would be full of cool, refreshing water. Ein Akev truly was a desert oasis and the experience of bathing there was unforgettable.
EIN AKEV, also known by its Arabic name Ein Um Kaab, is a beautiful spot that is covered with black flintstone, which is so stark against the light desert sand. There are plenty of shady corners near the pool, which makes lounging in the area surrounding the pool quite comfortable. The water was surprisingly clean and clear and so welcome after our long, hot walk.
Ein Akev is divided into upper and lower sections, with most of the popular areas located in the lower section. There’s a waterfall that falls from the upper section down into a deep round pool in the lower section. Another happy fact you might want to know is that the spring is full of water all year long. Surrounding the pool, you’ll see lots of palm trees and water plants.
Although it’s September already, and temperatures are not reaching midsummer highs, it’s still pretty hot out, so I recommend doing this hike in the early morning hours. The circular trail is about 12 k. long, which means the hike is at least a half-day long. If that seems a bit long for you, and you’d be happy to skip the entire hike and just hang out at the spring, another option is to go with two cars (as long as one of them has four-wheel drive). You can drive straight to the spring from Road 40 and follow the black trail markers. The parking area is located about 500 m. from the spring.
We didn’t have a car with four-wheel drive, so we walked the entire trail, following the green trail markers. The serpentine parking area is located next to Midreshet Ben-Gurion. The first section of the trail is a bit steep as it climbs up to Ramat Davshon. It’s a bit of a shock to start the hike with this steep ascent, but soon enough you’ll get past it and then the walking is much easier.
The trail goes through an area that is part of Ramat Avdat. It’s easy when you’re walking along a trail to get busy talking with your friends or family members or get lost inside your own thoughts. The surroundings on this trail are so interesting, though, that you should definitely pay extra close attention to the scenery around you as you hike along. Some of the attractions you’ll pass by include two waterfalls and a Bedouin tent where you can book a meal (ahead of time).
The path along the plateau is about 4 km. long, and then you begin to descend towards the lower section of Ein Akev. This section of the trail is not so steep, so the walk down is quite enjoyable. The moment you see the blue water of the pool, you’ll forget all about how hot you were on the long walk.
On weekends and holidays, the pool is usually pretty full, but there’s always room for more hikers looking to cool down. After you’ve had your full of bathing and resting in the shade, it’s time to start your hike back up to the starting point. This time, you’ll follow the blue trail markers, which passes through Nahal Akev.
After about 2.5 km. of walking along the trail, you’ll reach a fork in the road. At this point, you should continue along the path with the red trail markers, which will bring you through Bik’at Tzin on your way back to the parking area.
Directions: Drive on Road 40 and turn right towards Midreshet Ben-Gurion. At the roundabout at the entrance, turn right and drive along the road until you reach the parking area.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.