January 6th 2015
If you enjoy being awed by Mother Nature, a visit to Timna Valley Park should certainly do the job. The nature reserve here is dotted with natural sandstone formations that have been carved out over time by the wind and desert sun. The two most famous formations are known as The Arches and King Solomon’s Pillars. Acacia trees and desert vegetation amidst the surrounding mountain range contribute to the majestic, natural beauty of the park’s landscape.
Situated approximately 17 miles north of Eilat in Israel’s southern Negev desert, the park covers 23 square miles and is the location of the world’s oldest copper mine. For 30 years, archaeologists worked at the site to reconstruct the copper mines, tracing their history back to the Middle Ages. Mine shafts are visible in many places throughout the park.
In addition to the scores of ancient mine shafts and the naturally occurring sandstone formations, another highlight at Timna is a ruined temple originally built for the Egyptian diety Hathor, the goddess of copper. Gazelles and ibex roam the area and may be spotted throughout the park. Keep your eyes open for the ancient rock carvings that show hunters chasing ibex, as well as drawings of Egyptian battle gear.
If you’re looking for recreational activities to participate in with your kids, the manmade Timna Lake, located in the center of Timna Park, offers a playground for young children, paddle boats and a craft booth where your children can create a souvenir with colored sand. A scale replica of the Tabernacle has been erected adjacent to the lake area. Nearby is the King Solomon’s Khan Restaurant as well as a souvenir shop. Overnight camping is available in Timna Park.
Hiking routes are available for those who want to combine a visit to the park with a longer trek. There’s a track for mountain biking and occasional torch-lit, evening dinners coupled with outdoor concerts. During the summer months, take a break from the desert sun and screen the multimedia presentation called “The Mines of Time.” Learn about the many uses of copper and the fascinating history of copper mining, from its origins in ancient Egypt until today.