Tour to 3 Eilat Parks: Timna Park, Coral Beach and Bird Sanctuary
When I visited Eilat in Southern Israel the last time in March 2017 with a friend of mine, one of the days we took a 3 Eilat parks tour. A van picked us up at 9 am and drove us just outside of the town to the Eilat Bird Sanctuary first.
Tour to 3 Eilat Parks
Eilat Bird Sanctuary
Our guide at the Bird Sanctuary was Eilon, a young volunteer doing this for a year before his military service.
We learned many important things about the birds.
Did you know that birds migrate by sensing the Earth’s magnetic field or the star movement? Humans cannot see any of that.
Birds start to migrate when they feel the days are getting shorter. Most birds prefer to migrate above the land where they can find more food, and where milder wind makes it easier to fly.
The researchers assume that the birds know where exactly to migrate (even when migrating for the first time) thanks to genetics. They have the instinct still from the Ice Age. But now because of the global warming some birds still fly to warmer destinations even though it’s not necessary any more, e.g. in Turkey.
Certain bird species collect more fat first (in the chest and legs) and then fly at night.
Once migratory birds reach Eilat, they collect more fat in the whole belly, they triple their weight and they migrate at once at night (no daylight as it would be too hot). They migrate faster every night without any week breaks unlikely to when in the European forest because here it is 3,000 km of Sahara desert to fly through.
Each year 1 billion birds fly through Eilat but 70% of them die because of no food in the desert, some fall, some get eaten by predators etc.
There are 4 different migratory ways from Europe to Africa and the biggest one goes through Eilat. When migrating fro Europe to Africa, Eilat is the last stop to get food and fat before flying through the unpleasant Sahara desert. On the way back to Europe, birds recover in Eilat after flying above the hot Sahara desert with no food.
The Bird Sanctuary Center was built here to recover the salt mash that was destroyed when Eilat city was constructed. Now the sanctuary workers catch the birds to check the fat to know if they are able to fly through desert. And then they release the birds. The guide showed us a barn swallow they caught on that morning and my friend let her free.
Once Eilon explained to us the most important information about the migratory birds in Eilat, we went for a short walk around the Eilat Bird Sanctuary and spotted black winged stilts.
Our Sanctuary visit brought me back to childhood when we learned about the migratory birds. I never realized that Eilat was such an important migrating spot until our visit.
The Great Syrian-African rift caused the foundation of Timna Park. Before it was under the sea which is why now it’s full of sand and minerals. Nowadays, Eilat area gets just 25 mm of rain per year which is why the Timna Park is so dry.
Some locals found green stones in Timna, then went home and tried to make jewelry for their wives. They realised the stone started to melt. It was 7,000 years ago when they tried to mine the copper as one of the first minerals to be digged out. In the beginning, they were mixing copper with other stones until they realised they could make metal weapons only out of copper approximately 3,500 years ago. They put 5 kg of stone with copper and 50 kg of burning material to heat it up in fire. The Egyptian army used metal weapons which is why they were so strong.
The oldest copper mines in the world can be found in the Timna Park.
There’s very few bushes and trees to burn to make copper which is one of the reasons why the copper stopped getting excavated there. In the middle of the 12th century BC the Egyptians, the first Timna Park miners, left Timna. Then also other cultures came, such as Arabs, Endomines, Romans etc.
Together with learning about copper, we also saw some incredible rock formations, such as the Mushroom or Solomon’s Pillars.
The Mushroom rock formation and the surrounding area are made of the Nubian sandstone which is the same as Petra in Jordan is made of. The Nubian sandstone is easy to be drawn into to make different signs. Some sandstone signs were used in wars.
Then we made another stop at the King Solomon’s Pillars where we saw Hathor’s Temple and some rock engravings as well. Although the Pillars are named after the King of Solomon, he never really went to the mines but he did cross the area when he went to meet up with the Queen of Sheba.
Timna Park is such a unique place not just because it’s one of the world’s biggest parks. You need to visit if you go to Eilat. I took a lot more photos in the valley, and wrote about Timna Park in another article.
Timna Park Solomon’s Pillars
Timna Park Mushroom
Coral Beach Nature Reserve
After the Timna Park, the van took us to the Coral Beach Nature Reserve which is located on the way from Eilat to the Egyptian border. We rented snorkeling gear and jumped into the Red Sea to observe coral reefs full of fish. The water felt cold because it was windy and my underwater camera stopped working right in there after I took 2 photos. Well, not the best experience ever but I shouldn’t care about the material things, right? Although I had to throw away the camera after our visit, I did enjoy the short snorkeling in here.
To protect the coral reef, you can only enter the sea from a bridge and snorkel around the designated area. It’s not possible to swim among the corals which on one hand is disappointing, but on the other it makes a complete sense. It’s necessary to do it that way so people don’t damage the coral reef.
If you don’t want to snorkel, you can still enjoy the beach or look at the fish from the bridge. Thanks to crystal clear water, you will see fish swimming around the corals even from the bridge.
This 3 Eilat parks tour is good for you if you don’t have much time in Eilat but you would still like to get a glimpse of the best natural parks in the area. I’d prefer to have at least 1 extra hour at each park to be able to fully enjoy them without rushing.
Alex is a crazy Slovak girl who made traveling the reason of her life. In March 2011 she quit her stewardess job and hasn't stopped ever since. Her motto is ''I live to travel, I travel to live.'' She writes about crazy travel, fun adventures and sexy photos.
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