The world’s hottest new tourist destination: The Negev

Published on Friday, 18 January 2013 by Webmaster

The world’s hottest new tourist destination: The Negev
Looking for a new place to explore next year? The Lonely Planet recommends Israel’s Negev Desert as the No. 2 tourism destination for 2013. And Conde Nast Traveler named Beresheet resort in the Negev city of Mitzpeh Ramon as one of the world’s best new hotels.

“For decades the Negev was regarded as nothing but a desolate desert. But today, this region is a giant greenhouse of development. Think eco-villages, spa resorts and even wineries. In the next few years a new international airport at Timna is scheduled to open, followed by a high-speed railway to Eilat and more hotels,” the Lonely Planet explained.

The Red Sea resort city of Eilat is the best-known tourist site in the Negev, with its luxury beach hotels, coral reef, snorkeling and diving, and many other attractions.

About 15 miles north of Eilat in Timna National Park, you can tour the world's oldest copper mines, take a paddleboat out on a manmade lake and enjoy magnificent desert scenery. Between Timna and Eilat is the Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve, which specializes in breeding animals mentioned in the Bible and other endangered desert species.

But there's much more to the Negev than these two southernmost gems. Ramat Negev is a region spanning the central third of the Negev — more than a million acres, equaling one-fifth of the territory of the state of Israel. It's bordered on the north by Yeruham and on the south by Mitzpeh Ramon. According to Raz Arbel, head of the Ramat Negev Regional Council's tourism department, most of the area is comprised of little agricultural villages and kibbutzim – all worth a visit. He recommends spending two days in Ramat Negev, a 90-minute drive from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

What Do you Think? Have your say!