The largest of all of Israel's municipal areas - southern Israel, or The Negev, is a home to some of the country's most stunning sights, nature, and tourist attractions.
Positioned in similar latitude to the Sahara Desert, the Negev is characterized by extreme weather conditions, despite its relative geographical proximity to the Mediterranean.
In olden times the ruling culture was the Nabatean culture, who ruled the area for hundreds of years. Traces of Nabatean villages can still be found in the area, as well as ruins from their succesor's era - the Ottoman Empire.
During the 1950’s’ Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, was an avid believer in the Negev’s ability to become Israel’s forefront for new settlement. So much so that in 1953 he resigned from his public role, and moved to a southern Kibbutz by the name of Sde Boker. There he spent his days working with cattle, serving as a living example of his long term vision for the Negev.
His vision for the area got a second wind with the massive immigration waves of the 1980’s. Many newly arrived Russian immigrants were given discounted housing opportunities in small satellite towns in the Negev, such as Dimona and Yerucham, where they reside till this very day.
Be’er Sheva, the Negev’s capital, and Israel’s seventh largest city, is both a cultural hub and a thriving metropolis, housing one of Israel’s top universities - The Ben Gurion University. The university is named in honor of the man who was the first to imagine the possibility of such a lively metropolis, despite the geographical and physical conditions of the dry, arid Negev.
The area’s native Bedouin population is tribal in origin, wandering around according to seasons and weather conditions. There are many Bedouin villages to visit as you travel around, namely more populated centers such as Rahat and Tel Sheva.
The Negev is also a must for any jeep and four-wheel drive fan. Its endless stretch of land, dotted by hidden waterholes and walking treks, craters and hilly areas, are a perfect location for day trips and overnight walking treks.
Covering 60% of the country’s territory, the Negev is one of the most unique areas in Israel, holding within it natural treasures, off-the-beaten-track waterholes and remote treks, and plenty of holiday opportunities.
Whether you are an extreme sports person, a lover of quiet desert nights or a history and archeology fan - Israel’s south is a real haven for those who love to wake up to the stillness of the desert, and enjoy magic of the Negev's vast terrains. The Negev offers a mix of travel adventures and relaxing holiday opportunities, to suit your travel needs. River treks and waterfalls, historical sites, parks, gardens, rural villages, museums and festivals - the Negev has it all.