Flooding in the Desert Land

The Negev Desert is usually a dry land, yellowed, cracked and baked under the sun’s constant rays of heat. There are moments, rare moments, when this arid land flows with water. A desert flood is a sight to be seen. Heavy or light, it is what brings life to this land. It is a rainfall in Jerusalem, cascading down the mountains and filling the wadis, that provides the moisture for the desert plants and eventually drains into the Dead Sea — restoring its ever lowering water-level.

A “wadi” is the name for a seasonal river in Arabic. During most of the year, sections of these dry-riverbeds are commonly used as part of the trail network across the Negev. There are a few days a year where these wadis become streams or rivers, a magical event of water reinvigorating the parched land.

If you happen to be in Israel during a heavy rain (remember, you need it to be raining in Jerusalem) here are a few places to go to get a glimpse of the floods. (Please keep in mind your safety… Drive carefully, step carefully, and be smart.)

  • Og river – on your way down from Jerusalem towards the Dead Sea (there are 3 popular points along the river):
    • Next to Mishor Edomin Junction (put in GPS/Waze: תצפית נחל אוג)
    • 3 km after you turn right towards al-Nabi Musa. Pass the graveyards, keep driving until you come to a bridge above the river
    • Next to Kibbutz Almog. Turn right at Almog Junction next to the gas station and drive 2km until you come to a dead end. From there, it is a  5 minute walk until the river bed.
  • Qumeran river and waterfall within Qumeran Nation Park area. This may be the most impressive view point (check with the park if the river is flowing before paying the entrance fee).
  • Kidron river
    • 200m after Ovnat turn right onto a dirt road and park your car off to the side.  Continue by foot along the short trail to HaEtekim cliff viewpoint, which offers a good view of the stream. The full hike is about a 20 minute ascent.
  • Darga River –  near the bridge on route 90
  • Rain near Arad causes floods in the Tze’elim river.
    • On your way from Arad to Massada, before reaching Kfar Hanokdim, turn left onto a dirt road towards Tsfira Pool. When you come to a dead end, park and walk a few minutes until you reach the Tze’elim river bed.

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