Eilat and the Red Canyons by Train and Bus
Train travel in Israel has its limits, unfortunately. But before judging too fast, be aware that the state of Israel has only existed for a relatively short period of time and also, that a lot of effort has been made and is still being made, to expand the train network. Therefore, plenty of destinations can not or only partially be reached by train, but we like to think of them as being not rail-able yet. This is the second out of three Bus&Rail articles about great places to visit in the south of Israel, that are reachable with sustainable public transport and hopefully also by train soon. Read below, how to travel to Eilat and the Red Canyons by train and bus.
Outdoor Activities in Eilat
Eilat is the southernmost city of Israel located in the tip of the country right by the red sea between Egypt and Jordan. Even though, in my opinion, Eilat as a city itself is not too exciting, the area around it is famous for many outdoor activities, e. g. snorkelling, scuba diving, and also hiking. The Red Canyon is one of Israel’s great natural sights. The hike will lead you through the gorge, which gets as narrow as 2 metres, and includes some descending, well secured climbs. On both sides, you get to see the red stones that have been shaped over thousands of years by water and wind.
Getting There With Public Transport
Departing from the north as well as from Eilat, travelling to the Red Canyons is very easy. There’s one bus line – Nr. 392 – connecting Be’er Sheva and Eilat, which stops at “The Red Canyon”.
Trains to Be’er Sheva:
Coming from cities in the centre and north, e. g. Tel Aviv, Haifa or Jerusalem, we recommend taking the train to Be’er Sheva. Trains depart at least every 30 minutes from Tel Aviv and the train ride takes 1.5 to 2 hours. Compared to busses, trains are very convenient, fast and also, they are relatively cheap. Schedules can be found here.
Busses to the Red Canyons:
In Be’er Sheva, you can then get on bus Nr. 392, maybe even stop over at Mitzpe Ramon and travel further to the Red Canyon. Alternatively, you can travel to Eilat first from Be’er Scheva, which is possible with several bus lines (391, 392, 393, 397, 794) and do a day trip to the canyons with bus Nr. 392. The busses are operated by Egged and you can find the schedules on their website.
Hiking the Red Canyons
Once you get off at the bus stop “The Red Canyon”, an easy 20 minute walk (1.5km) along the dirt road will lead you into the desert to the Red Canyon Parking:
On the parking lot, there will be a map of hiking routes, which can also be found here. Start along the green marked hiking trail towards the canyons, that you’ll soon reach. After that, you can choose:
1. The short hike
In this case, a black marked trail will turn right after the gorge and bring you back to the entrance of the canyons. From this point, you can just walk back on the green path that you came on or along the blue path, that is further to the left of the green path when walking back to the parking lot. From there, it’s the same way back to the bus stop.
If you choose this hike, you will walk for approximately 2km plus the distance of 1.5km twice between the parking lot and the bus stop, making it a 5km hike in total.
2. The long hike
This option is certainly more exhausting, especially due to a steep ascent in the middle to a viewpoint overlooking the valley. Please note the important information below. However, the hike is worth the effort.
After passing the Red Canyons, you continue along the green path for some time, until a black path turns right. After the steep ascent, the black path will lead you all the way back to the bus stop. This hike has a length of approximately 5.5km starting from the parking lot, which makes it a 7km hike in total.
The Red Canyons are located right inside the Negev desert, so please do not underestimate the heat! Get started either early in the morning or after the peak of warmth. Cover your head, take sunscreen and enough water. 1 litre per person and hour is an appropriate calculation. Also, the entrance is free, but it is not allowed to stay in the area after dark.
That’s all you need to know. If you’re travelling further from Eilat, for example to the dead sea, check out the third article of our Bus&Rail series, that will provide you with a lot of information about public transport and things to do in Masada and Ein Gedi. Now, off you go: Start your adventure! Also, feel free to share this post on social media and tag us, if you find it helpful. We’re more than happy to see, what you’ve experienced!