River trail

Despite the infinitesimal amount of rainfall in the area, Nahal Habesor is full of water, and the views of the hills are gorgeous.

THE TRAIL begins with the crossing of a suspension bridge (photo credit: Courtesy)
THE TRAIL begins with the crossing of a suspension bridge
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Nahal Habesor, one of the longest rivers in the northern Negev, attracts huge numbers of Israelis during the holiday and festival seasons.
People flock to this region to enjoy the green landscape and beautiful views and to learn about its fascinating history.
Surprisingly, although it does not receive much rainfall, people settled in the region more than 10,000 years ago. And it’s amazing to see how successful farmers have been recently in engaging in brackish water agriculture. Anybody who has visited this area in the last few weeks has been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the fields covered in pink and purple anemones and vibrant desert colors.
The trail begins at the large sign reading “Nahal Habesor,” just below the tall observation tower. This is a great place to stop the car for a few minutes to let the young ones (in age and/or spirit) climb the tower, from which there is a wideopen view of the countryside.
But don’t dillydally too long, since there’s much more to see later.
When you’re back in your car, turn right onto the winding dirt road and drive along until you reach the unpaved parking lot, just next to the suspension bridge. There are not many ideal spots along the trail to picnic, so you might want to sit down there near the parking lot to eat a light meal before starting your hike. But note that there are no bathrooms or garbage cans there, so make sure to take all your garbage out with you when you leave. You begin the trail by crossing the suspension bridge, which is extremely strong and stable. The bridge is 80 meters long, and while crossing, you will see extensive vegetation on both sides, as well as a large pool of water. On days when the weather is really nice, and holidays, there is usually a long line to cross the bridge, so you’ll need to be patient.
But it’s worth the wait.
After you’ve reached the other side, start climbing up the path toward the memorial that was built in commemoration of two friends who were killed on top of the hill. The view from up top is absolutely breathtaking. You can see the river, as well as the pool you just crossed. If you have time, this is a great place to let the children run around and explore.
At this point, you will need to decide whether to follow the green trail markers toward the farm or to walk back toward the parking lot. If you plan on continuing, it’s best to leave a second car ahead of time at the end of the trail (the path is about two kilometers long).
It’s also possible to reach the farm by car if you don’t feel like going by foot. Just drive along the path until you see the sign for the farm, at which point you should park and continue by foot to the other side of the river. Here you will see a dam erected by Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel-Jewish National Fund, as well as ruins of an ancient aqueduct and drainage holes. An oil press was once used at this location, too. All of the above are proof that a community once lived at this location many years ago.
When you’ve finished visiting the farm, there’s another stop you should make. If you return to your car and drive toward Be’er Rabuba, you can see the impressive, 20-meter-deep Rabuba Well. It dates back to a Beduin village that was abandoned during the War of Independence. Like other wells in the area, Rabuba was restored by the British during the Mandate period. If you can climb up to the edge of the structure that houses the well, you will have a fantastic view of the horizon, as well as of the water reservoir.
Location: Habesor region, near Beersheba
Level of difficulty: Easy and appropriate for families with children. There are pools of water in which you can swim.
Length: Up to a full day
Season: All year long
Directions: Drive south on Route 234 toward Tze’elim. Turn right onto Route 222, then follow signs for Nahal Habesor.