Ecotourism at Kibbutz Lotan offers a variety of tours, eco-activities and workshops to groups of all ages and sizes. Join us to explore and learn how we live and interact in the desert. Groups experience first hand what it means to combine fun and creativity to meet the complex challenges of living in the Arava Valley.
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Along the Syrio-African Rift Valley – Arava and the Dead Sea
We will head out from Lotan bright and early, and head up along the Rift Valley towards the Dead Sea. On t he way, we will make a detour onto the Peace Road, right along the border with Jordan, and make our way to Masada. There we will discover the story of the last stand of the Jews against the Romans after the destruction of the Temple in the year 70CE. There we will also talk about the problematic issues surrounding it. From there, we will head to the Dead Sea to drift in the extremely salty water (about ten times as salty as sea water). Here we will see the impact humans have had on the natural environment in the form of the ecological disaster unfolding there. We will head back down to Lotan, and visit the biblical city of Tamar, on the southern border of the United Israelite Kingdom almost 3000 years ago.
Mining, Biking and Hiking: Park Timna
Heading out from Lotan, we will proceed to Timna Park, site of the oldest copper mines in the world. We will discover the mining operations especially under the New Kingdom in Egypt under Pharaohs Seti and Ramses I, II and III, about 3400 years ago. There we have an opportunity to rent bikes and make our way through the park by pedal-power. Here we can also go for hikes, for a wide range of skill levels. One of the most beautiful, but also hardest hikes takes us up the geological trail to Mount Timna to a breathtaking view over the entire Arava valley down to the Red Sea, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. On the way back, we will stop at the Hai-Bar Nature Reserve, where desert animals that used to roam here are being released back into the wild.
On the Flyway of the Birds
We are on one of the most important bird migratory flyways in the world. In this tour, during the migration season, we will visit the important birding sites in southern Israel to see which migratory birds have arrived, as well as the local desert species that call this arid landscape home. Such species as Crowned Sandgrouse, the very rare Hoopoe Lark, Hooded Wheatear, Mourning Wheatear, Trumpeter Finch, and Desert Lark can be seen around here. We will also focus on the highly impressive raptor migration in season, sometimes seeing thousands of Black Kites, Steppe Eagles, Honey Buzzards and Black Storks migrating together. All this against the backdrop of the stark beauty of the desert landscape around here, where there are marvelous hiking opportunities for all ability levels.
Human habitation in the extreme desert – 7500 years of settlement
In this tour, we start with probably the oldest temple in the world, dating to 5450 BCE, and the human settlement around it. From there, we will visit the remnants of the Roman fort of the 4th Century CE, and see how they survived in the desert in the environs of a natural oasis. We continue on to a very intriguing farm from the Early Moslem period, from the 8th Century CE, with an ingenious irrigation system first developed in Persia. It provided for Moslems on their way to and from Mecca on their Hajj. At the end, we will head to Amram's Pillars, where there are remnants of copper mining amid a breathtakingly colorful landscape.
Eilat Mountains Excursion
We will head to the Red Canyon for a hike through this primordial landscape through one of the most beautiful cracks in the sandstone. There is an option to do a longer hike or a short hike. From there, we will head along the Egyptian border to Ein Netafim, the only natural water source in the Eilat mountains. After a hike and climb down to the small water trickle we will see how the animals survive in this extreme desert climate. To top this off, we will head out to one of the highest points in the area, to a lookout over four countries: Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Here we will learn about the background to the international borders with Egypt and Jordan. This excursion can also include magnificent hiking trails in the mountainous areas above Eilat: Gishron, Mappalim and others.
Renewable Energy and Agriculture in the Desert
The Arava valley is energy independent throughout the day already today, and in this tour we will visit several different methods of generating renewable energy, primarily through solar power, and learn about the various techniques used. We will also visit the regional agricultural research and development station to see what the cutting edge is in desert agriculture, whether in research concerning field crops such as onions and garlic, or ways of increasing the productivity of pomegranate trees, or the research done in growing dates in brackish water. From there, we will head out to a farm where this practiced on a daily basis.