In the heart of the western Negev, an off-road drive and hiking adventure awaits visitors at the mysteriously beautiful Mount Karkom. Not only is this a wildly unspoiled landscape––an 847-meter-high limestone plateau scored by dramatic ravines––but its thousands of rock drawings and 187 Bronze Age (2350-2000 BCE) campsites also make it an unparalleled human landscape. The fact that some consider it biblical Mount Sinai, a theory pioneered by the archaeologist Prof. Emmanuel Anati, adds to the thrill.
Hikers come across the first mysterious ruin only 200 meters down the eight-kilometer-long loop-trail, on the banks of the Karkom dry riverbed––two rows of standing stones and a rounded wall, which Anati believes was a nomadic shrine of the type the Children of Israel would have built. He even counted 12 standing stones, imagining one for each tribe. This is one of many such enclosures to be seen along the sometimes fairly challenging trail, often coupled with Mount Karkom’s famous rock drawings, depicting worshipping figures, animals and enigmatic symbols.
Hikers must coordinate tour to the site in advance and use a Society for the Protection of Nature (SPNI) trail map (available in Hebrew only) to explore Mount Karkom .
For further directions and assistance, contact the SPNI at firstname.lastname@example.org, or, in Israel, call 03-6388729.