Shauli Lev and Gidi Bashan cycled across the Negev on our trail, joined by Eyal Fogel. When they got back, they told us their unforgettable experiences and adventures.

Continuous and Comfortable Trail-riding on the Israel Bike Trail from Mitspe Ramon to Eilat


Dates: January 29, 2017–February 4, 2017 – seven straight days.

Who: Two riders, age 60 and 65 (Gidi Bashan and Shauli Lev), joined, beginning on the fifth day, by Eyal Fogel.

Logistics: Overnights at organized sites, riding without bed rolls, equipment brought by friends and local service providers.

Weather: Ideal wind conditions and no rain.

Bikes: Good 29-inch mountain bikes

Table of Route, Times and Distances





Starting Time

Ending Time

Time in movement

Distance (km)

Cumulative climb (m)

Jan. 29

Mitspe Ramon


Khan Be’erot

10 am

3:30 pm




Jan. 30



Friend’s house

8:15 am

2:40 pm




Jan. 31



Khan Aviran

9 am

2:50 pm




Feb. 1



Yahel guest house

8:15 am

1:35 pm




Feb. 2



Camel Riders tent camp

7 am

3:30 pm




Feb. 3


Be’er Ora

Tamar Bamidbar

7 am

3:45 pm




Feb. 4

Be’er Ora




1 pm





307 km

3,395 m


We are both experienced mountain bikers. In 2011 I rode the Israel Bike Trail before it began construction. In 2014 I started the trail from Mt. Hermon, intending to cycle it every month on the weekends. A group of friends started the project together, but due to circumstances, we were unable to finish it.

Ever since the trail from Mitspe Ramon to Eilat was completed, I had been thinking about cycling it continuously for seven days. This was a new experience for me.

Day 1: From Mitspe Ramon to Khan Be’erot

The evening before, it had snowed on Mt. Ramon and the temperature is very low. The sun is struggling to warm the frozen earth.

Great excitement over a dream come true, mixed with some concerns over the magnitude of the challenge.

יום 1 זה השער רוכבים בו יבואו מוקטן

We start out at 10 am, knowing that the first day’s ride won’t be long. The cycling flows nicely, the rocks aren’t wet and everything is comfortable until we reach the edge of the makhtesh after the Nahal Hava single track and…the camera (a good friend on such a journey) is nowhere to be found. I don’t hesitate; I cycle back, while Gidi stays to watch my pack and make tea. I find my “friend” on the trail about 6 km back. I’m glad I didn’t give up. Even the “short day” of 38 km turned into 50 km – and that’s quite a challenge for the first day.

Farther on, we don’t give up the side trip to the Mahmal Fort. Worth the effort.

יום 1 מצד מחמל Medium
















The climb to the top of the Noah Ascent flows nicely. We ride slowly and carefully down to the Israel Bike Trail single track. Here’s where the celebration of color starts, magnified by the sun as it dips westward. The single flows smoothly, pure joy. Even the end, along the oil pipeline, isn’t difficult. We arrive happily, although my legs certainly have their say about the unexpected effort.

The single coming from the Noah Ascent:

סינגל מעלה נוח

At Khan Be’erot we have a hot shower and a tent with amenities awaits. We meet another pair who were also cycling the trail. The brotherhood of riders.

Day 2: from Khan Be’erot to Tsofar

The sun is smiling but the morning is still cold. The nocturnal animals had been partying at the garbage cans and the food bags and the place was a mess! Getting ready goes smoothly, and wrapped in warm clothing, we set out. The beginning is on vehicle roads, wide and comfortable; a riot of colors and sights accompany us on the descent to Wadi Nekarot. We enter the wadi and the single track built on both banks. I remember the ride in the wadi in 2011 when a whole group was scattered across the wadi in a desperate attempt to avoid the deep wadi gravel that’s so hard to ride on. This time it’s different. You can only be amazed at how smart the trail builders were in finding stable terraces. You do have to cross the wadi, and it’s rough pedaling, but it’s worth the effort because on the other side a beautiful and comfortable trail awaits you. Happily for me, my cycling partner is Gidi Bashan, who has lots of experience in bike-trail building in JNF forests. Gidi shares his expert perspective and that added a lot.

The ride was fun and we quickly reach the dry Nekarot Cistern. 

יום 2 הסינגל בנחל נקרות

Continuing along the southern bank brings us to the junction, and we turn to Mt. Masa through Wadi Evus and the Katsra Fort.

It’s a comfortable ride on a moderate slope as far as the steep ascent to the fort. The scenery changes and we’re surrounded by dark flint. We begin cycling the single track, ascending fairly moderately to the Katsra Fort ridge. The ascent is steep at some points, not too bad if you walk your bike a few meters.

From Katsra Fort, there’s a long descent, via Wadi Katsra, with a little pedaling, not the kind that stops you. The way continues in the wadi and the single track prepared for us leads left and north on the ascent to the ridge where the “slide” awaits us.

The Mountains of Edom are across from us, while the soft and pleasant single track leading us securely to Moa. From there, it’s another 3 km to Tsofar to stay overnight at a friend’s house.

Day 3: From Moa to Paran

The Arava warms us up, body and soul. The third day is a turning point (that’s the way it is on journeys of more than three days). We backtrack to Moa. The sign at the entrance and the familiar milestone welcome us. The broad trail takes us along the spring route to Wadi Ashosh. We enter Wadi Tsofar and the Tsukim single track that climbs slowly up to the Tsofar Plateau. The trail is comfortable and a moderate climb brings us to the watershed. From there, it’s a pleasant descent to an acacia tree that hosts us for brunch.

Farther on, we link up the spring route again and glide into Wadi Paran and Moshav Paran. Even the detour west and south of the moshav, to its “backyard” at the foot of the Eshet Hills, adds atmosphere. There’s actually something to be proud of in this particular backyard – Khan Aviran. A pleasant hot tub and good conditions get no argument from this pair of tired but happy riders.

We’re glad we didn’t go according to our original plan  to spend the night “by starlight” because the sky is cloudy and a light rain is falling before dawn. 

יום 3 נחל צופר

Day 4: From Paran to Yahel

We wake up to a gray day. It’s our fourth straight day, something neither of us had experienced before. A pleasant surprise awaits us today. I thought innocently that riding along the Arava road would be long and boring. But that’s not the way it is. We cycle along a broad road, mostly along a water pipe that had been concealed with a great deal of effort. The result: long, level stretches that expand our souls. We ride from one water-pipe connector junction to another. The good thing is that we don’t hear cars (even if we can see them from afar). I admit that this surprised me and made me happy. I knew this part of the Arava only from the window of a galloping car. It’s so different when you’re pedaling your way toward the infinite horizon.

 יום 4 מרחבי הערבה

We reach the very, very moderate climb to the watershed separating the Arava and the salt flats and the Gulf of Eilat. Our destination: Notsa Spur, which turned out not to be as high as we thought. And then this good ride, too, comes to an end, at the Aharandal Farm orchards and after that, the boundary marker with Jordan. There’s something special about cycling along an international border (without guards!). We pass the date plantations of Kibbutz Yahel and in the afternoon we enter the gates to Yahel’s pleasant guest house.

In the evening, Eyal joins us, having arrived by bus with his pack and his bike. That was an experience too. 

יום 4 אבן הגבול

Day 5: From Yael to Shaharut

We have a long day ahead, on which two segments of the trail link up. We take the challenge seriously and at 7 a.m. we’re on the road. We start out pedaling through Yahel’s date palms, which we had visited yesterday. The continuation is along a “corduroy” kurkar trail parallel to the Arava road. This illustrates how nice yesterday’s route was, which kept its distance from the busy road. The cold air spurs us quickly onward until we reach the underpass under road 90 at the entrance to Wadi Ketura.

We get onto a single track that makes its way between rocks and stones and moves us smoothly ahead to the “heroic” ascent before the dry waterfall of Wadi Ketura. A bit of a rest, some healthy nourishment, a warming cup of tea, and we’re ready for the ascent. A kind of tense quiet envelops us before the task. Good thing that I’m easy on myself. This is the fifth day, and my body has been working hard, but I don’t demand anything that will take revenge on me later. And so, step by step by step, we ascend, walking our bikes. I thank the people who prepared a place to walk next to the steps. Twenty minutes later the ascent is over, and we’re feeling happy, but at the same time a little sense of too-bad-it-was-over-so-quickly. We’re not lazy; and so we walk up the hill next to the trail to take in the view of the Arava and the Mountains of Edom in the east. Back on the trail, we cycle slowly across the rocky surfaces. Then, in a moment of distraction my front wheel gets stuck in a hole and I vault spectacularly over the handlebar. But I do a perfect rollover that enables me to get up without injury right before the amazed and worried eyes of Eyal, riding behind me. 

יום 5 מעלה קטורה

I don’t know whether it was luck or something else, but I remember to give thanks that I escaped with no injury whatsoever.

יום 5 ראש מפל קטורה

We continue to an acacia tree and from there, we walk our bikes up to the top of the dry waterfall at Wadi Ketura. The view is fantastic and we feel the overwhelming power of nature. It’s worth the detour to walk over to this special place. From here we continue along the fence of Kibbutz Neot Smadar to the Neot Smadar Inn, where they pamper us with a delicious meal and drinks – without a doubt a great place to re-energize.

From there we continue on a wonderful single track that crosses the Kasuy Dunes. The built ascent is nothing less than a masterpiece, both in planning and implementation. It’s kind to riders, allowing them to breathe, enjoy and reach the top smiling. The descent flows down from the beautiful dunes, pleasing to heart and soul. We pass the Kasuy Dunes campgrounds and reach the road leading to Shaharut. A short ride along the road to the beginning of Wadi Yitro, through which we ascend eastward to the edge of the cliff overlooking the Arava. We are rewarded well for our effort – a spectacular view of Kibbutz Grofit and Kibbutz Yotvata, the afternoon light reddening the Mountains of Edom, a soul-rejoicing sight. A proper rest and we continue on the single track hugging the edge of the cliff and glide flowingly down to the Camel Riders’ Khan, built especially for trail cyclists. A pleasant surprise: a warm shower, a good camping stove, soft LED lighting and a good tent to protect us from the great cold outside. We feel huge satisfaction as well as cumulative fatigue. We fall asleep early ahead of another challenging day. 

יום 5 מאהל שחרות

Day 6: From Shaharut to Be’er Ora

You get up in the morning and head for the faucet, open it and…nothing! The water has frozen in the pipe. But slowly it starts dribbling out and we fill our bottles. We start out on another long day, riding the single track with a blue sky overhead and the sun that doesn’t really start warming us up yet. The single track brings us again to the edge of the cliff south of Shaharut and from there it’s a quick descent along Wadi Zugan to the Uvda Valley. Only when we get there do we defrost as we pedal south toward Be’er Milhan. It’s not exciting, and it’s a good thing that the pedaling isn’t crazy-hard. Lucky for us, there’s no headwind. We meet a father and son from Holland on the way; they’re hiking the Israel Trail. The day isn’t far when we’ll see European riders on the Israel Bike Trail. These are fascinating encounters even though they’re brief.

The built single track takes us up to the saddle of Mt. Berekh where it intersects with Wadi Botem. The climb isn’t easy for a tired body. We walk our bikes carefully down and in Wadi Botem we break away for a fabulous view of Makhtesh Timna. The view is so magnificent that it takes our breath away. Quiet all around us, nature at the height of its power. Suddenly a group of cyclists shows up, led by Yoni from Samar Bike. We leave the view to them and continue along the flowing single track to the foot of Sayarim Ascent and from there to the Etek water holes (there’s no water). The continuation flows along Wadi Etek and Wadi Raham. Gidi remembers that he took a trip out here when he was 4 years old with his father, who was serving in Eilat.

We decide not to go north to Maktesh Timna; we’re happy we’ve got a reservation at Tamar Bamidbar Inn, where we’re hosted by the kindly Tamari family, who have wisely turned their parking spot into a minimalist but sufficient house for guests. We enjoy a rich meal both in quality and quantity, and quickly fall sleep, tired and very pleased.

יום 6 סינגל

Day 7: From Be’er Ora to Eilat

Our last day. The trail from Be’er Ora to Eilat passes along the slopes of the Eilat Mountains, through a variety of colors and types of rock and changes of scenery. It’s not boring like I thought it would be. For the first time on this journey, beads of sweat appear on my forehead. We meet the challenge of the ascents and smile on the downhills. A strong northern wind is blowing, which we’re very lucky to have at our backs. We pass close to the Pillars of Amram and reach the Shehoret Canyon. There’s a moderate ascent that pedaling makes harder. But this part, too, comes to an end and the descent to Wadi Roded, on the way to Wadi Netafim, is quick and beautiful.

יום 7 שחור ולבן

We arrive a bit tired to the Mt. Simhon and its roller-coaster bike trails. Somebody has taken the trouble to bring a table up here and an Israeli flag, making riders like us happy. Eilat is spread out below, the sea is blue, dotted with sailboats, a calm and pastoral sight. We’re glad to be here. We already miss the special moments of joy and satisfaction.

יום 7 שחמון

The end of the trail lies ahead. We pedal along the bed of Wadi Shlomo, which is eroded and there’s no trail. We come out of the wadi and head north along the edges of fine villas with swimming pools, gliding down to the main road near the naval base. A little farther on a sidewalk and we reach the sign welcoming us to Eilat. A reason for thanksgiving.

Gidi doesn’t give up on his little dream to take a dip in the Gulf of Eilat at the end of the ride.

On Saturday we look for a way to pamper ourselves but the tumult of the city puts us off after the quiet of the desert.

יום 7 סיום


How to sum up such a journey?

A dream come true. Seven days of cycling with no mechanical problems; two and a half tumbles that caused no real damage; an abundance of varied scenery; single tracks penetrating isolated parts of the country; weather that worked in our favor; a quietness that was beautiful and calming, deep conversation among friends, food that we made or was prepared for us by others. The feeling at the end is an interesting combination of:

Achievement: To ride seven straight days – quite a physical challenge.

Satisfaction: Making a dream come true.

Joy: That we could do it, that it was a success, that we had no real problems.

Pride:  We could and we did, with a smile and no suffering.

Appreciation: For the imitators, planners and builders of this wonderful trail, first and foremost Hillel Sussman.

Hope: That many more riders will have the privilege of enjoying this good and strengthening experience – Israelis as well as foreigners.

Desire: For the trail-building project to go on and be completed soon, and we’ll be able to pedal all the way along it.

And the journey isn’t over; even if we ride other trails, this experience will always stay with us.

והמסע לא תם, גם אם בשבילים אחרים נרכב, החוויה הזו מלווה אותנו.