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Eilat

Wadi Shelomo

K20/K33

Nizzana

Yotvata

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The week's birding was based at the Topaz Hotel in Eilat - chosen because it was the cheapest (yet more than adequate, with a comfortable large studio for the three of us, including air conditioning and TV). For those not wanting to find Kibbutz accommodation outside of the area, being based in Eilat was more than adequate - there are many good sites within half an hours drive. For those who don't want to drive, the Eilat resort area can be walked, and there are plenty of different bird rich habitats. A car is a much better idea - we booked ours as part of the package in England. All inclusive cover is a must - we were broken into at Nizzana (the cassette radio was the target), although this is the exception rather than the rule. The roads are generally good, with petrol stations reasonably regular. Food isn't too cheap - we found the shawama and felafel the best buy, although there is a very good restaurant at the Yotvata holiday village. Water is a must - 1  litres cost  1, but the tap water to refill can be safely taken.

Currency in Israel is the Shequel, and it is best to take dollar travellers cheques, although Sterling is also accepted. Exchange booths are cheapest (common in Eilat) since no commission is charged.

Security forces are evident all the time, although this presented no problem at all. Checkpoints are dotted around the area, but we weren't stopped. The main hold-up is back at the airport on departure - massive queues build up due to the security screening - a pain but comforting. Our flight was direct to Ovda airport, which is a small military airport 50 minutes from Eilat. Flights to Eilat are via Tel Aviv (sometimes with an aeroplane change, since it is very small).

The date was chosen to coincide with early migrants and late winter visitors. However, there doesn't seem to be an ideal time, since birds are moving through all the time, and individual winter stragglers and vagrants also occur. Even in March the days can be very hot, with cooler extremes during the night and on days with a strong wind. It even rains sometimes! Our visit followed an unusually cold spell, with north winds on arrival. This resulted in a sudden surge in migration, with thousands of raptors and passerines passing through early in the week.

Clocks go forward mid March in Israel, which meant that first light was around 6:30, and last light around 7:00. Occasional mosquitoes were heard (and dispatched), but weren't a problem. Birding can be done throughout the day, although early morning is best for desert birds, early and mid morning generally for raptor passage.

There is plenty available before leaving home - Gosney's guide is portable and useful, although some of the sites now have minor changes, Steve Whitehouse has a good selection of reports, and the Internet is worth checking for latest information. When in Eilat, up to the minute gen is essential for specialities. The Information Centre is average for this purpose. It's much better to chat with other (of the many) birders that you meet - the North Beach at dawn and before dusk is the best place to do this.

For reference, Johnsson and MacMillan (Middle East edition) cover most problems, but an extra such as Hollom (Birds of the Middle East and North Africa) is useful for unexpected species. Half reasonable maps are available with car hire and from the hotels, but it is better to buy one (Sanford sell a very good yet pricey relief map of the north and south of Israel).

English is widely spoken, and Hebrew road signs are usually followed by an English version.

Home

Paintings gallery

Video clips

Images

DVD

Contact

Site map

Links

Content

Introduction

Eilat

Wadi Shelomo

K20/K33

Nizzana

Yotvata

Species list

Text only