Right outside the city of Eilat, you'll find the fascinating desert with its many points of historical interest and natural beauty. Many visitors on vacation in the city choose to take time out of their holiday on the water and put some distance between themselves and the deluxe hotels and shopping malls for a while in order journey into the wondrous desert stretching hundreds of kilometers in every direction.

Desert Jeep Rides

Jeep rides into the desert are usually done with a licensed tour guide who provides detailed explanations about the region's history, landscape, vegetation, and more. Tours can be adapted to every visitor's needs and likes. Many vendors offer Jeep rides into the desert suitable for the whole family. During the ride, it's always possible to stop for a picnic in nature or observe desert animals in their natural habitat. What you cannot avoid is falling in love with the enchanted nature and landscapes of the desert outside Eilat.

Rappelling in the Desert

The Eilat Mountains offer many high outcroppings ideal for a challenging bout of rappelling in the breathtaking natural beauty of the desert. The activity is suited to both experienced rappellers and beginners who've never engaged in this activity before. Rappelling is a wonderful team building exercise and also a way for individuals to face their own challenges and difficulties. All rappelling is done with maximal attention to the visitors' safety.

Camel Riding

One of the best ways to enjoy an authentic, calm desert experience is by riding the animal most closely identified with the desert. A camel ride allows visitors an effortless experience through the Eilat Mountains and the boundless desert. This activity is suitable to groups and families.

ATVs and UTVs in the Desert

Renting ATVs or UTVs provides another fun way to discover the desert's hidden nooks and crannies, while having a great time and building group cohesion. Several vendors in Eilat rent out ATVs and UTVs, and some companies lead guided excursions in which participants ride behind an experienced tour guide.

Biking in the Desert

The comfortable weather from November through April allows visitors to bike through dozens of fascinating desert paths in the Arava Valley to Eilat. There are bike paths for all biking levels. The longest path is a 350-km segment going from the city of Arad in the Negev Desert to Eilat. It's a particularly challenging route and best suited to expert riders, who do the path in five particularly grueling days. Most bikers choose to ride some parts of this segment, especially those closest to Eilat. We recommend biking the path going through the Shehoret Canyon and Amram's Pillars or through the beautiful Timna Park.

Trekking in the Desert

The Eilat Mountains are ideal for trekking and climbing some formidable elevations to peaks offering breathtaking landscapes of Eilat and the Red Sea. A favorite route for climbers is the one going up Mount Solomon, followed by a descent to the Netafim riverbed and spring, the biggest spring in the entire Arava Valley.

These are the most popular desert sites for day trips near Eilat:

The Red Canyon is a deeply-striated, 300-m long natural canyon in the Eilat Mountains whose colorful walls rise to a height of 30 m. The hike goes through a winding, circular cleft enveloped by sandstone walls of deep red interspersed with layers of clay-based rock in exquisite shades of turquoise. The canyon is home to some unique desert vegetation. The site is located a mere 20 km from Eilat.

Timna Park, located some 25 km north of Eilat, features several fascinating spots of archeological and historical importance, unique rock formations, and dry stream beds. Among the famous sites in the park are Solomon's Pillars, the Chariot Paintings, the Arches, and the Mushroom Rock, as well as a manmade lake where you can go paddle-boating. There are many activities suited to the whole family, and at night the rock formations are illuminated with special lighting. The site is considered exceptional for viewing meteorite showers and falling stars. Coming by car makes a road trip to all the interesting sites easy, but it's also fun to tour by bike and on foot.

Shehoret Canyon, located some 10 km from Eilat in the Eilat Mountains Reserve, provides a great, family-friendly walking path replete with exciting stops and adventures. Also known as the Chocolate Kingdom, because of its black, pink, and red rocks, it was created hundreds of millions of years ago by a volcanic eruption of lava, which resulted in the colorful, arresting rock formations that many love to photograph. The 1.2-km long canyon allows visitors to slide down rocks smoothed to a glossy finish by the water that once ran there, search for fossils and rock crystals, climb outcroppings, and observe the beautiful vistas of the Eilat and Edom Mountains. During the hike, be sure to check out a particularly exciting attraction: the ancient leopard traps!

The Evrona Reserve and Salt Pools The Aravat Evrona Nature Reserve, which covers some 40 square kilometers from the southern Arava Valley to Eilat, is Israel's savannah. At the reserve, there are stands of acacia trees, packs of hyenas, unique desert vegetation, antiquities, Doum palms, and above all breathtaking landscapes of the Edom and Eilat Mountains. Just before the entrance to the city, you'll find the Salt Pools, home to thousands of pink flamingos that come to dine at the pools. There are several observation posts and excellent picnic spots overlooking the pools and the birds.

In addition to all of these attractions, Eilat has, since 2010, hosted its annual Eilat Desert Marathon, an international event attracting thousands of runners and sports enthusiasts from all over the world to compete along one of the most unique marathons routes anywhere on planet Earth. The Eilat Desert Marathon combines the mesmerizing views of desert nature with the enchanting vistas of the Red Sea. Not only does the event satisfy the runners' competitive spirit, it also provides great visual pleasure to every participant. The event actually consists of four sporting events: a full marathon (42.2 km), a half marathon (21.1 km), and two short city runs of 10 and 5 km respectively. The Eilat Desert Marathon takes place over three fun-filled days: exhibition day with easy sports activities for the whole family; the day of the run, including the celebratory party that night; and a day of relaxation after the run, including yoga and swimming.