We will begin the trip at the Ein Hatzeva antiquities. On top of a small hill, three fortresses were built during the First Temple Era, one on top of the other. Especially impressive are the remains of the lower fortress, which is from the days of the Kingdom of Judah (8th – 9th century BCE). The larger fortress, which covered an area of ten dunams, was surrounded by a double wall with rooms in between the walls.
Watchtowers were built on three of its corners. An interesting finding, which was discovered in a pit near the foundations of a small structure, was shattered ritual objects from an Idumean temple, about seventy of them. In the Roman period there was an inn here and a bathhouse, whose remains are clearly visible on the ground. Researchers have identified the place as the biblical Tamar and the Roman Tamra. Between the bathhouse and the fortress is the famous Ein Hatzeva buckthorn tree, the largest in Israel. The tree used to enjoy the waters of Ein Hatzeva, but the spring dried up, and the tree survives today thanks to the irrigation it gets from KKL-JNF.
After visiting the site, return to the Arava road and drive in the direction of Moshav Idan. Peace Road starts a little before the entrance to Idan and is marked in green. Here we turn south and proceed to our next stop, the Hatzeva reservoir, which is located 600m east of the road. The road to the reservoir passes a landscape of badlands on lissan marl rocks. KKL-JNF constructed the reservoir as part of a large system of reservoirs in the Arava. The reservoir’s capacity is 1.8 million m3 and it covers an area of about 500 dunams.
The Peace Lookout. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik.
The reservoir stores floodwater that is used to irrigate the agricultural fields of Moshav Hatzeva. It is also used to dilute the brackish water that is pumped from wells in the vicinity. When the reservoir is full, additional water continues flowing down the channel and is collected in two additional reservoirs—the Idan reservoir and the Ne’ot Temarim reservoir—and is used to irrigate the fields of the Sedom Plain. The three reservoirs also supply water for supplementing the groundwater.
Back on the Peace Road we proceed south to the Peace Scenic Lookout, an observation deck constructed by KKL-JNF on the left side of the road. The lookout was built in a way that blends in with the surroundings and overlooks the magnificent landscapes of Nahal Ha’arava and the mountains of Edom. At the foot of the lookout there is a short circular trail that goes through narrow crevices of lissan marl.
Lissan marl is sedimentary rock that was in the lake which used to cover the area from Hatzeva to the Kinneret tens of thousands of years ago. The water level of the lake fell, and the rocks were exposed to the air. Since lissan marl is very soft rock, the rain easily slits it and splits it. The trail reaches a high point (be careful!) and then turns right and returns to the lookout. The walk takes about five minutes.
From the Peace Scenic Lookout the road proceeds south. Just before the entrance to Moshav Hatzeva the road turns left. If you wish to enter Hatzeva, you are invited to continue straight and visit the Children’s Grove there. The preschool children and the adults of Hatzeva renewed an old grove that was planted in the days of the first pioneers. Bright signs were added to the old and young trees, which tell about the usefulness of trees and recount legends about trees in the lore of desert dwellers.
Gidron River crosses the cultivated fields of Moshav Hatzeva. The tire marks that marred it for years have been blurred, and travelers are invited to explore and enjoy. Proceeding on the Peace Road, we will arrive at a small recreation area commemorating Oren Lior, who fell in a battle nearby. In the grove there you can see palm trees, buckthorn, acacia and tamarisk trees that were planted in his memory.
Peace Road continues through a large grove of date palms and reaches a fork in the road. Bear right and proceed along the Arava streambed. The landscape does not recall a usual streambed. Here there is a large system of shallow channels, and it is often hard to discern a defined channel. The watercourse, which flows north from here to the Dead Sea, collects great quantities of rainwater that flows from the mountains of Edom and the Negev. The large acacia trees indicate that there is a great quantity of groundwater here.
Photo: KKL-JNF Archive.
Next to the greenhouses of Ein Yahav, the road turns left at the sign to Jabel Hufira. It passes agricultural areas and crosses the Arava streambed. Here one should pay attention to something surprising. On the left side of the road between the tamarisk trees is border stone 94, which is was placed there pursuant to the peace accord with the Kingdom of Jordan. However, we seem to be going beyond the border, in accordance with the land exchange agreement with the Jordanians. Then the road passes another border stone, number 93. Across the way one can already see the Hufira Scenic Lookout, which is our next stop.
At the Hufira Scenic Lookout, KKL-JNF also constructed a covered observation point that blends in well with the landscape. From here one has a great view of the farmed fields of Moshav Ein Yahav, the mountains of Edom, and the mountains of the Negev. The Peace Road continues to Moshav Ein Yahav and ends there.