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A tour along the Nabatean Incense Route

Vehicle Tour
A tour along the Nabatean Incense Route
  • Drive along some of the known Incense routes, from the Central Negev and Ramon Crater to the lower Arava, just before the route ascends to Petra – the famous Nabatean capital city.
  • The route may traverse firing ranges, and tours taking place during the week must therefore be coordinated with the IDF.

The route begins in the small southern town of Mitzpe Ramon situated on the edge of the Ramon Crater some 80 kms south of Be'er Sheva and 150 kms north of Eilat. Continue in land rovers to the Saharonim (crescents) fortress – a Nabatean fortress on the Incense Route at the heart of the Ramon Crater, named after the Saharonim bush (cocculus pendulus) that grows on the slopes. The fortress location was chosen because of its proximity to the Saharonim spring. Proceed towards the Ardon Stream that separates two valleys – the northern Mahmal valley and the south-eastern Ardon valley and the Saharonim plateau.

Continue along the Nikrot Stream bed to the Nikrot fortress – a Nabatean building and Roman fortress that served as a guard post and is situated on the bank of the Nikrot Stream. It was established by the Nabateans to safeguard the Incense Route.

On the bank of the river there is the Nikrot Well, which provides an insight to the greatness of the Nabateans. It is a covered structure made of chiseled stones that looks low, but is around three meters deep that served as a cistern for rain a flood waters. A stone canal channels the waters accumulated from the Meishar Stream. The ceiling is supported by three round stone arches. The Nabateans did not use wood because it was not found in the region. One can only be astounded and admire the architectural abilities, the attention to detail and the vast knowledge of water preservation, their real greatness and the primary secret of their survival in the desert.

The route continues to the Kazara Stream and the Kazara Ruins, which was a guard post along the Nabatean Incense Route, established on the ridge between the Kazara and Zerorot Streams, to protect the route against robbers.

The route ends at the Moa Ruins – remnants of a Nabatean caravanserai on the Arava border and Arif ridge, 2 kms south east of the agricultural-touristy village of Tzofar. The Arabic name of the site is Moyet Awad. The Nabatean caravanserai was built on the Incense Route and was operative from the mid-1st century BC until the 1st century AD. Shards of pottery from the Roman and Byzantine period were also found at the site, showing that it was still in habited after the Nabatean caravans ceased traveling the region.

More routes nearby