Israeli national trail - best trail in the world
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National Israeli Trail

The National Israeli Trail

The Israel National Trail (INT), known in Israel as “Shvil Israel”, crosses the country from the north to south, from tip to tip. It is over 900km long and opens a window to the natural and cultural world of Israel. One of the most rewarding stretches of the trail is its southern part- the part through the Negev desert. As opposed to some transitions along this trek, that happen gradually, entering the desert happens pretty much overnight, when you arrive at Arad. On the day before you’ll still be hiking through the lush and green Yatir forest and on the next you’ll be trekking along rocky bare canyons, with no shade but an occasional Acacia tree. Seasonal waterholes that would barely constitute as “rocky puddles” anywhere else will excite you and send you kneeling down to wash your face.

The shortage of water is felt not only along the hikes themselves, but also at night. Many of the campgrounds of the desert, most, in fact, do not have any facilities whatsoever- water included. This means that you will have to prepare your hike and think of solutions for getting water at campgrounds. You can check out our water in the desert section for more information.
The desert sections of the INT are generally longer and more challenging than those up north. Much of the Israeli National Trail in the Negev crosses through Nature reserves. In these areas camping overnight is only allowed in designated campgrounds. This is the main reason that most through-hikers tend to stick to the same daily sections that have evolved over time along the trek, even though pace and fitness level vary from hiker to hiker:

Desert day 1- Nahal Hemar
Starting point- City of Arad
Finishing point- Beer Efee CG
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Desert day 2- Biqat Tzvaim
Starting point- Beer Efee CG
Finishing point- Tamar Stronghold CG
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Desert day 3- Small Makhtesh (crater)
Starting point- Tamar Stronghold CG
Finishing point- Eli ascent CG
Distance- 22km
Attractions- Ancient trail, Hidden spring, Roman rouins, Challenging climbs, Amazing view of the crater, tilted layers of rock, Colorful rock.
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Desert day 4- Palmach Ascent
Starting point- Eli ascent CG
Finishing point- Oron Factory
Distance- 20km
Attractions- Ancient trail, Hidden spring, Roman ruins, Challenging climbs, Tectonic cracks, Historical pass, ladders, view of the large crater, Colorful rock.
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Desert day 5- Karbolet Makhtesh Gadol (the rim of the large crater)
Starting point- Oron Factory
Finishing point- Mador hill CG
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Desert day 6- The Zin valley
Starting point- Mador hill CG
Finishing point- Hod akev CG
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Desert day 7- The Avdat Plato
Starting point- Hod akev CG
Finishing point- Hava waterhole CG
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Desert day 8- Hava Canyon
Starting point- Hava waterhole CG
Finishing point- Mitzpe Ramon
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Desert day 9- Makhtesh Ramon (Ramon crater)
Starting point- Mitzpe Ramon
Finishing point- Nahal Gvanim CG
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Desert day 10- East Ramon 1
Starting point- Nahal Gvanim CG
Finishing point- Gev Holit CG
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Desert day 11- East Ramon 2
Starting point- Gev Holit CG
Finishing point- Sapir
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Desert day 12- Arava spring route
Starting point- Sapir
Finishing point- Barak Canyon CG
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Desert day 13- Barak and Vardit canyons
Starting point- Barak Canyon CG
Finishing point- Zihor- Paran CG
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Desert day 14- Shizafon
Starting point- Zihor- Paran CG
Finishing point- Shahrut
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Desert day 15- Shizafon
Starting point- Zihor- Paran CG
Finishing point- Shahrut
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Desert day 16- Entering the Eilat mountains
Starting point- Shahrut
Finishing point- Beer Milhan CG
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Desert day 17- Down to Timna
Starting point- Beer Milhan CG
Finishing point- Mangan CG
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Desert day 18- Timna Park
Starting point- Mangan CG
Finishing point- Raham-Etek CG
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Desert day 19- Amram Pillars
Starting point- Raham-Etek CG
Finishing point- Shhoret canyon CG
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Desert day 20- Ein Netafim
Starting point- Shhoret canyon CG
Finishing point- Har Yehoram CG
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Desert day 21- Final day
Starting point- Har Yehoram CG
Finishing point- Taba/ Eilat
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