KKL-JNF Guide Yosef Speiser, who led the journey in its first week in the hills of the Eilat region, presents a summary of his week.
We began the trip on Monday, February 23, 2015, where Mount Tzefahot begins near Eilat, the beginning of the Israel National Trail (INT). There were 200 people in the group, from all ends of the Israeli society, different ages, excellent people who love the land and would like to improve society.
We climbed Mount Tzefahot and reached one of the most beautiful observation points in Israel. At the guiding point we spoke about Eilat, Aqaba, the gulf, the port, the strategic aspect of the locale, the bird watching center that was rehabilitated by KKL-JNF, the KKL-JNF activities in the area, and so on. After breakfast we continued for a few more kilometers towards Nahal Gershon, where we split up into discussion groups and talked with the aim of getting acquainted with one another.
Later on that day, we climbed to an observation point on the Egyptian border and spoke about the history of the border between Israel and Egypt, the peace accord, determining the historical borders, the new fence and a little about geology. We proceeded to hike on a very impressive trail until we reached the overnight campsite above Nahal Shelomo. In the evening we sat around a campfire, sang Israeli songs and conversed until late at night.
Conversation circle on Nahal Shelomo. Photo: Yoseph Speiser
After the morning discussion circle, we started walking towards Mount Shelomo. At the next guiding point, the topic of geology was resumed and was accompanied by simulations for better understanding, assisted by the children in the group. We also had an important presentation about the disaster when two soldiers from the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit fell in the pass between Mount Shelomo and Mount Yehoram. We ended the trek with a presentation about KKL-JNF's work blazing roads and hiking trails in Israel. After climbing and then descending Nahal Mapalim we stopped to have midday discussion sessions in Nahal Netafim.
The rest of the day included climbing Mount Shehoret, lunch with a panoramic view from the peak of Mount Shehoret, a guiding unit about the topography of the Arava and Eilat, emphasizing the construction of the airport with assistance from KKL-JNF, and about the oil spill in Evrona and how KKL-JNF helped save the nature reserve. Later on we descended to the Shehoret ravine and had a guiding unit about how the ravine was formed fromed geologically, and about the region's indigenous fauna and flora. After descending the falls using ropes, we arrived at the overnight campsite at the mouth of Nahal Shehoret.
After the discussion circle, which included a daily briefing by the guide about the itinerary of the day and the points to ponder, we embarked from the campsite. We bypassed Nahal Shehoret with a challenging climb to Timlat Shehoret, where we stopped for breakfast. We spoke about water in the desert, about the Bedouin population, about the Cartilage Caper and about geomorphology, and we also discussed Israel’s water regime.
We proceeded to ascend a camel trail towards Nahal Raham, where we sat in discussion circles. At the guiding point we spoke about the creation of streambeds, the erosion of rocks in the desert and the soil in the desert, using simulations constructed by the children.
Later on we climbed up to Highway 12 and crossed it carefully towards Mount Uziyahu and the Neshef Mountains. After a steep and strenuous climb, we reached the crest of the mountain for a breathtaking view of the mountains of Eilat and the Arava, where we summarized the impressive geological formation of the mountains of Eilat, the mountains of Edom, the Dead Sea rift, and so on. After a steep descent we connected to Nahal Shani and eventually reached the overnight campsite.
We started the day in the red canyon in Nahal Shani, in an amazing and unique gorge with red sandstone, steep passes and ladders. After leaving the canyon we stopped for breakfast, which included a presentation about the creation of the canyon, sandstone and the wonderful colors. We also had a briefing about the vicinity in the past and present.
Later, in Nahal Shani, we stopped for more discussion circles. At the end of the creek, at the guiding point, we spoke about fossils, the acacia trees and the desert vegetation, the preservation of nature, desertification, the landscape as described in scriptures and the actions of man.
After hiking in Nahal Raham and another guiding session under an acacia tree about phenomena we had encountered, we arrived at the overnight campsite in Nahal Atak. Later that evening there was a session with an ecologist from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA). The next morning we had a summary discussion in the group morning circle.