The Sand Dunes and “Tiger Temple”
The trip begins at Ketura intersection. Those arriving from the Arava arrive at the junction and turn west to Highway 40 (the Mitzpe Ramon road) called Ma’ale Grofit. Pass Kibbutz Neot Smadar with is colorful houses and the House of Arts with the high water tower to the Neot Smadar Inn. From this point connect to Highway 12 and continue another six kilometers until you turn left onto the road leading to the Ovda Valley, the Air Force base and Shacharut settlement. An additional 6 km drive will lead up to a dirt road to the left (east) , marked in red and next to it a sign indicating
“Shayarot Cliff Reserve and Nahal Yitro”. On an easy dirt road, notice the sand dunes descending to the right. Continuing on a further 2 km approximately and larger sand dunes are seen until you reach the Great Dune and Sand Dune Reserve. You may park in the parking lot, climb, and slide down the dunes and soft sand.
The composition of the sand is unusual and approximately half of the grains consist of tiny marine fossils.
After visiting the dunes, return to the road and continue another 2.5 kilometers until the road divides from the road leading to Shacharut to the road leading to the air force base, at which point you can return to the Ketura intersection. On the east side of the road, there is a unique prehistoric site, surrounded by a low fence and known as “Tiger Temple”. An explanatory sign is located near the site.
On the eastern fringes of the Uvda Valley, there is a large concentration of archeological sites discovered from various historical periods, attesting to settlement in the region and ancient agricultural activity. Near the “Tiger Temple” there are several concentrations of ancient storage gourds.
On your way back stop and observe the viewpoint at Mount Ayit. The best time to arrive is during the afternoon when the sun shines on the Arava and the Edom Mountains, you can see the dunes that start from the Edom Mountains and merge into the Arava Valley, the Jordanian settlement of Rahma, the fields and the kibbutz orchards of Yahel, Neot Smadar, Lotan and Ketura.
From the observation point descend the road to the Ketura junction and turn south on the Arava road to Yotvata Park for home-made ice cream, in a variety of flavors.