Have you ever seen flowers blossoming in the middle of the desert? I saw it a few times during the past two years, and it’s amazing! Last week, I went on a trip with my friend who is crazy about flowers. She wanted to see narcissus flowers in Nahal Hatzaz, a short wadi in the middle of the Israeli desert. So, we went there. And after walking about 4.5 kilometers, we finally found them! The narcissus, by the way, blossom here only in winter, so make sure to come in the right season! The trail is very easy and clear. Here’s a summary of the hike.
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Important to note:
- The hike is under your full responsibility, so please be careful while hiking.
- Make sure to bring comfortable shoes, at least 2 liters of water, and a hat. If there’s a lot of sun, put on some sunscreen, too, because there’s no shade on the trail.
- Check the weather forecast before coming. If it’s too hot, don’t come. If it’s rainy, check if there are flash flood hazards.
- Coordinate your hike with the Coordination Center of the Southern Command. The last bit of the trail, where the narcissuses are, is right next to IDF training grounds. So, to be on the safe side, make sure to coordinate your hike with the coordination center. You can reach them via phone number (+972)-08-9902927/6.
How to get to the head of the trail?
The trail is in a pretty remote place, so I would suggest renting a car to get there. If you’re not renting a car, you will need to take multiple buses and travel for about 2.5 hours until you reach Merhav Am, a religious community town near the trail. From there, you’ll need to walk about 1.4 km to the start of the trail. If you’re coming from Be’er Sheva, your ride might take shorter.
Anyway, we took a car and parked it close to road 204, at the beginning of the trail. It was a bit stressful because it seemed like the middle of nowhere and there’s a phenomenon of car break-ins in this area of the Negev. So, we hoped that no one will come to break into our car and steal it. If you want to be on the safe side, you can park your car in Merhav Am. But the town is only open on weekdays, from Sunday to Friday afternoon. If you’re coming on Shabbat, there’s no safe place to park the car.
The beginning of the trail is marked by a brown sign saying “Nahal Hatzaz” (in Hebrew: נחל חצץ). It is about 600 meters northeast of the entrance to Merhav Am.
The hike in Nahal Hatzaz:
Length: 4.5-km one way. Two-way it is 9-km.
Duration: About 2-hours in each duration, so 4-hours in total.
View the trail on Israel Hiking Map: Click here for the trail map.
We started the hike from Nahal Hatzaz Campground (1), which is situated right next to road number 204. It’s a basic campground with no facilities at all. From there, we continued eastward on a black-marked trail.
In Hebrew, “Hatzaz” means “gravel.” We walked on a dirt route for about 2.8 km. Then, we reached a signpost, with a sign pointing left to “Hatzaz Water Holes Single Track.” (2) We turned left according to the sign and continued on a trail with no color mark for about 340 meters. Then, we reached the Hatzaz Water Holes (3).
The Hatzaz Water Holes were dug by the Nabateans about 2,000 years ago. They were meant to capture rainwater during winter. Water canals were built around the holes, to collect the rainwater into them. Until today, rainwater fills the holes during rainy winters. If you’ll be lucky, you might come here when the holes are full, and you can swim in them. When we were there, the main water hole was empty. We climbed into it using a set of stone-carved stairs and looked inside. There’s a fabulous tree growing right above this water hole, which adds to its beauty.
We retraced our steps back to the black-marked trail and continued along the dry wadi of Nahal Hatzaz. About 1.5 km later, we reached another trail junction, this time with a red-marked trail (4). We continued straight on the black-marked trail.
To the narcissus of Nahal Hatzaz:
From this point on, the trail becomes more interesting. We left the dirt Jeep road and started walking on a pedestrian trail only. We passed by some shallow water holes, that were filled with water. Then, when we were starting to get hopeless about finding narcissus flowers, we finally found them (5)! They are about 1 km from the trail junction.
The narcissus is among the most beloved flowers in Israel. There is even a children’s book in Hebrew called “Narcissus the King of the Swamp.” My friend got very excited from seeing the flowers. To tell you the truth, I was less excited. There weren’t a lot of flowers, only a few patches here and there. But it’s always amazing to see colorful flowers in the desert.
We took a few photos, spent time with the flowers, and then made our way back to the car. And we were happy to find the car safe and sound where we left it!
Nahal Hatzaz is a short and pleasant trail, that fits everyone. When we were there, we saw many groups of elderly people walking to see the narcissus flowers. If you love flowers, it could be a great experience for you! For another flowery experience, read my post – Celebrating Anemones in the North-Western Negev.
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Hiked this trail in January 2022.
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