Darga Canyon (El Dara’je) – Day Hike

Darga Canyon ( El Dara’je)

Duration

Day-Hike

Distance

 

3 km on the plateau
6 Km in the Canyon

Difficulty

Easy, but cold!

Start

Metzokei Dargot

End

Shore of the dead sea

Nearset towns

Ein  Gedi, Mitzpe Shalem

Transport

bus, hitch-hiking

Preferred  Season

January-May


Preface

The dead sea, with no question one of the wonders of the world and a breathtaking place, has a few beautiful, deep canyons, well carved  into the rock. The cliffs surrounding the dead sea are about 400 meters high, which make for dramatic landscapes of the sea, as well as amazing canyons to hike through. Darga Canyon (Dara’je by some people) is one of the two we recommend. If the winter was generous, then there is an abundance of clean, and very cold water, and the high walls of the canyon with their remarkably beautiful geological features make for an extremely picturesque experience. Take a look at the photos below to get the idea!


Planning

  • Towns : There are no real towns around, mainly just Kibbutz’s and Moshavs (See Glossary). On the other hand, the starting point is on the Jerusalem-Eilat highway, road #90, where many busses pass, so you can easily leave from Jerusalem, or Be’er-sheva, the city which acts as the gateway to exploring the south.
  • This is a Wet Trail, meaning, the canyon is narrow, and when the pools are full of water the only way of continuing on is by swimming to the other side. Anything that can get damaged by water – cell phones, papers, ID’s etc. must be kept in water-tight sacks!
  • Equipment: waterproof sack, and a rope (around 6m) with one carabineer can also be helpful.
  • Getting There & Away
      1. Public Transportation : the Stating point is at the gate of Metzokei DragotResort. This is just above the check-post on road #60, some 2.5 Km north of Mitzpe Shalom (See map).  Any bus from Jerusalem to Eilat will let you down at the check post.
        1. 486 – leaves from Jerusalem CBS  almost hourly, and it takes about 1:00 to get to the turning point. The first bus leaves at 08:00.
        2. 384 – Leaves from Be’er-Sheva CBS around 09:00, 09:30,12:30 (Times Varies through Seasons !!!)            and it takes about 2 hours to get the turning point.
        3. All hours are due to changes through the season  and should be reconfirmed at a CBS, by phone or online   throuhg either : http://www.egged.co.il/Eng/  OR http://www.bus.co.il/ (the eng button is on the left).
      2. Road Map in English

    1. Hitch-hiking : This is an excellent example where hitch-hiking is relatively easy and fun. You can try your luck either from the western exits of Be’er-Sheva (Khativat Ha-negev Interchange or Sarah Interchange) or from Dimona Junction. If you’re coming from Jerusalem, the Trempiada (Hebrew from “the place you try to catch a ride with someone) at Ha’giv’a Ha’tzarfatit is the known place at Jerusalem to pick up riders who want to get to the dead sea.
    2. Where to stay \ Eat:
      1. On the way In:
        • Of course Matzokei Dragot Resort, which is also the  Starting point, is an excellent selection, with superb views to the dead sea and quietness that most of us can only dream of.
        • Other good options are Kibbutz Ein Gedi to the south, the SPNI Field School with it’s youth hostel (a bit pricy) is also a good idea, and you can get good info and guidance there.
        • If you’re not tight on the budget, a stay at any of the Dead Sea Hotels is a unique experience, with thermal beaches, therapeutic mineral mud pools and all the other luxuries that high quality hotels offer…

 

    • Supplies
    • Generally, as this is a day-hike, and you can easily return to your home-base at the end of the day, the best place to supply is either Jerusalem, Be’er-Sheva, Dimona or Arad. At all of the CBT’s, ATM’s, food and camping supplies are easily reached. You can also find more basic supplies at Kibbutz Ein Gedi
    • Relevant Phone numbers:
      1. Park Rangers :
      2. Field School (SPNI) :  08-6584288,   [email protected]
      3. Emergency : 100. The Local S&R team is well experienced and equipped and operated by the Police.
      4. Cellular Covrage : Is available Only before entering the canyon. Inside the canyon there is NO Cellular Signal

 

The Route

Dragot Canyon Trail Show in a larger map

–      Starting and ending Points :

      • Start Point : Metzokei Dragot (מצוקי דרגות – כפר נופש  ).
      • Ending Point :  Shore of the Dead sea, where  Dragot (Darga) Stream meet the dead sea.

–      Day 1 – from  

From the parking outside the gates of the Resort, we’ll head west on the Green Marked trail (White-green-white). The trail heads west, then winds to north-west. After about 3.5 Km, the green trail crosses the canyon, making a 900 turn south. At the same time there is a bifurcation, and another trail, marked blue, will leave towards a general north-west direction. From here on in we’re going down into the Canyon. Make sure your equipment is in Water-tight sacks and head down.
The navigation is very straightforward. There is only one way – down. Take care as you slide down the natural-made chalk and limestone slides. If you’re doing this trail in a not-so-hot day, you will probably get cold at some point.

At the middle of the trail there is an opening and widening of the canyon, and you can get some sun. Take advantage of this point for rest, and to get your body temperature back to normal.

–      History: The dead sea, in contrary to the High Negev and west Negev Areas, has always been populated.  It has a reach and diverse part in Jewish history – from the days of the Conquest of the land by the 12 tribes after exodus (about 1,250 BC ),  through the days of the Maccabees and of course to the big tragedy of the First Jewish–Roman War in 66-73, with the UNSECO  world heritage site of Massada  being  the stage   for the last stronghold, where jewish zealots  who took over Massada,  and held it for months,  under heavy roman siege.

–      Bible

–      Connection to the next Trek

    • If you enjoyed this lovely day-hike, you would probably like the Tzroya-Arugot hike, which is just 20 minutes south, behind  Kibbutz Ein Gedi.
    • South & Big Makhtesh Trek – is a beautiful 3 day hike through the unique Small (Katan) and big (Gadol) Makhtesh, a unique geological phenomena unlike any other in the world. The Trek starts at Ha’arava Crossroad  (צומת הערבה) which is just 45 minutes or one lift south on the #90 Road.
    • East Ramon Trek – This very versatile, wild, and quite trek, starts (or ends) In Sapir, in the Arava. Sapir is also located on road #90, 1.5 hours south, by car.

 

Gallery