From Maaleh Davshon to Ein Akeb
Maps: 1:250,000 - Israel, southern section - topographical map.
1:50,000 - Sdeh Boker.
1:50,000 - walking map with path markings - northwest Negev, map no. 15.
Length of walking route: 7 km.
Duration of route: about 5 hours.
Recommended age of walkers: from the age of 10.
Preferred season: all year round.
Essential equipment: water canteen, hat, comfortable walking shoes.
Medical assistance: on Kibbutz Sdeh Bokker, at Midreshet Sde Boker.
Equipment for geology enthusiasts: nail, 5% salicylic acid, geological hammer.
Vehicle access: the start of the route is passable by all vehicles. The route to Ein Akeb via the Tsin River is passable by 4-wheel drive vehicles only. The route to Ein Akeb via Maaleh Tsin is passable by 4-wheel drive vehicles only. Other vehicles can reach as far as the foot of Maaleh Tsin. The routes through Maaleh Tsin and the Tsin Valley are impassable in the rainy season. Inquiries should be made at the Sdeh Bokker Field School and the Ben-Gurion Academy regarding field conditions before departure. The vehicle route to Ein Akeb is signposted.

Route markings: green.
Security approval: via the Walk Coordination Office, Be'ersheva.
Nature preservation: this is a nature reserve. Please preserve the wildlife, vegetation and mineral life, and follow the nature reserve rules.

Additional information may be obtained from the Sdeh Boker Field School; Tel: 08-6532016

Area of the walking route:
The walking route passes through the northern edge of the Ovdat Heights along the chalk and lime cliffs above the Tsin Valley. The cliffs are cut by deep canyons and contain a number of springs.

We will start our walk at Maaleh Davshon near the Ein Ovdat canyon. We will walk along the Ovdat Heights in an easterly direction along the Tsinnim cliffs and end the walk at Ein Akeb - one of the most beautiful springs in the region.

Route Description:

  1. Maaleh Davshon
    We will start our walk at the foot of Maaleh Davshon near the road that leads to the lower parking lot of Ein Ovdat. We will ascend the winding path along the hawwar rocks (green markings) to the top.
    From the top of Maaleh Davshon there is a spectacular observation point which looks out on the Tsin River, the canyon of Ein Ovdat, Hatsra Ridge, Hatira Ridge and Halukkim Ridge. On the other side of the valley we will be able to identify Midreshet Sde Boker and Kibbutz Sdeh Bokker.
    The Mountains of Edom can be observed from here when visibility is good.

  2. Davshon Heights
    We will continue along the heights and encounter different groups of vegetation according to their habitat: the zygophyllum bush is dominant along the flat plains where the loess dust has settled between the lime and chalk rocks, while the desert wormwood and the desert gymnocarpos, Negev reaumuria and spiky noea grow on the limey and stony slopes.
    After around 800m. along the cliff in an easterly direction we will reach the main course of the Davshon River which ends in a beautiful waterfall across the Tsin River. We will see an Atlantic terebinth at the foot of the waterfall - the remnant of, and evidence of, a rainier climate than the present climate. We will advance about another 500m. as far as the main gorge of the Davshon River. We will ancient dams in the main gorge built across the gorge, the remains of agricultural activities in the area, starting from the Nabatean Era (third century BCE) and ending in the Byzantine Era (seventh century CE).

    This area receives an average of about 100mm. of rainfall a year. The loess and rocky surfaces prevent seepage of most of the water and this causes flooding. The ancient inhabitants used the floodwaters for the cultivation of different crops (including grapes for the wine industry and olives for oil). In the nearby city of Ovdat the remains of 4 wine presses, which served the wine industry, and an olive press were found.

    Further down the river, between the broom and daphne bushes, next to cisterns which fill with water in the winter, there is a spectacular observation point. Along the cliffs you can often see eagles descending to spend the night in crevasses in the rocks. The presence of visitors who stay here during the nesting season (February-May) will disturb the eagles. Please do not go too close so as not to disturb the nesting activities of birds of prey.

    We will continue from the river gorge in a general southeasterly direction, for about 3 km., as far as a dry waterfall. We will see 2 palm trees at the foot of the waterfall as well as cistern which fill up after flooding.

    We will walk carefully around the waterfall up to the edge of the cliff at the top of ascent. The Akeb River and Tsin Valley are in front of us.

  3. The Akeb River and Ein Akeb
    The erosion of the Ovdat Heights by the Akeb River is impressive. The source of the Akeb River (Wadi Um Kaab) is on a wind plain (about 800m. above sea level). From here, the river descends northwards, on the Ovdat Heights, towards the Tsin River.
    There are two springs along the river gorge: the first is upper Ein Akeb located about 3 km. from here (is not marked on the map), and the second is lower Ein Akeb. We will descend carefully along the path to Ein Akeb.

    Ein Akeb is one of a series of ?? springs which emerge along the northern border of the Ovdat Heights. These springs emerge from chalk and lime rock from the Eocene Era and which comprise the Ovdat Heights. These strata narrow in a peg shape from the Tsinnim cliffs to the south to the wind plain. The lime strata are inclined. The water seeps through the lime rocks and stop at the hawwar layer which prevents the seepage to the depths of the ground. The water flows over the hawwar strata and emerge as a spring. This is a ?? spring and emerges at the foot of a conglomerate stratum which was laid down in the Akeb River.

    The water emerges at the head of a 10-meter high waterfall and cascade down into a round 7-meter deep pool. This pool contains water all year round and waters the dense natural vegetation and animals. The vegetation around the spring grows in belts which contain different types of vegetation from each other in terms of growing conditions and the species. The vegetation near the spring requires a large quantity of water (such as reeds and juncus), while the furthest vegetation from the spring grows in drier and more saline conditions (such as salt wort).

    Vegetation which requires much watering grows near the spring, including: ??, the common reed, common rushes, sharp juncus, tamarisk and others. There are even a few very young palm trees on the edge of the cliff. The water of the spring provide a source of life for a rich variety of wildlife. The pool contains: toads, leeches, water fleas, ??, ?? and dragonflies hover above the water.

    Ibexes, hyenas and wolves also benefit from the water and their footprints can be found near the spring. The fowl that can be found in the vicinity include: rock doves, sea bream, oenamthe, scrub warbler, desert swallows, buzzard, red-headed peregrine falcons and even black falcons (it is best to use a bird guide book).

    This is a nature reserve and one of the most beautiful in the region of the Tsinnim cliff. Please follow the nature reserve rules during your stay there and when you live the area.

    Our walk ends at Ein Akeb. You can walk from Ein Akeb to Ein Zik, Ein Ovdat, or return to the vehicle awaiting us at the foot of the Akeb River, or at the foor of Maaleh Tsin.


  1. The Israel Guide, Mt. Negev and the Eilot Region, Keter Publishing, Ministry of Defense Publications, 1979.
  2. Ze'ev Rehess, The Geology of the Northern Negev, Sdeh Bokker Field School, 1975.
  3. Avinoam Dannin, Vegetation of the Negev - North of the Faran River, Sifriat Hapoalim, 1977.