The ‘Incense Route’ was a network of ancient roads that enabled transferring precious spices and perfumes across the Arabian Peninsula to the Mediterranean coast. Incense, spices, perfumes, and other luxury goods were carried on caravans of camel across thousands of miles, starting at the Southern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, and ending at the Mediterranean coast. Here, cargo ships distributed the valuable goods through the Mediterranean Sea.
Part of this important route passed across the Negev, in the southern part of Israel. This special off-road private tour will follow some of these ancient trails. We will drive across enchanting wilderness landscapes and visit fascinating and mysterious archaeological sites, caravanserai of the ancient convoys.
The Incense Route and the Negev
The full length and exact path of the Incense Route is still not fully known. It began somewhere in Yemen, passed through Mecca, Medina, Petra, and ended in the ports of Gaza and El-Arish. The path from Petra to the Mediterranean coast is better documented. It passed the Aravah and the traversed through the heart of the Negev, including a difficult cross of the Ramon Crater. Its main rest stations along this part were at Moa, Horvat Katsrah, Metsad Nekarot, Metsad Saharonim, Metsad Mahmal, Avdat, and Haluza. All of these archaeological sites are today UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
2 Days Tour Along the ‘Incense Route’
Except for Avdat, all the other sites along the ‘Incense Route’ in the Negev can only be reached by off-road vehicles.
In cooperation with a off-road tour company, we can now offer an exciting two day journey along this historical route. On the first day we enter the route from Roar 90 in the Aravah, and navigate to Moa, Horvat Katsrah, Metsad Nekarot, and Metsad Saharonim, and the steep ascent of the northern cliff of the Ramon Crater, we end the day with the stunning views from Metsad Mahmal, and head camp for the night, either in tents, in a Bedouin camp, or in a hotel in Mizpe Ramon.
Aside the majestic desert landscapes, some of the sites we will visit are unbelievably well preserved, although they were all abandoned more than 1,200 years ago! Next to some of the sites, remains from agricultural farms can still be traced, attesting to the amazing ability to cultivate in the Negev in the Byzantine period.
It is also possible to set just one day of this tour, but we highly recommend executing both days.