Timna Valley Park
If your tour of Israel includes a visit to Eilat, you'll want to make a stop at the nearby Timna National Park, where nature, history, outdoor recreation and archaeology meet. The nature reserve here is dotted with natural sandstone formations, created by the wind and the desert sun. The largest formations have been named "The Arches" and "King Solomon’s Pillars." The sandstone and local desert vegetation combine to give this oasis a special feel.
Timna is also home to ruins of an ancient temple for the Egyptian deity Hathor, the goddess of copper. The temple's location makes a lot of sense, since Copper mining was a popular pastime in this area, and you can see scores of ancient copper mines in the environs of the park. In fact, Timna's copper mines are the oldest to have been unearthed anywhere in the world. In the summer, you can see a multimedia presentation entitled “The Mines of Time,” which describes the uses of copper and its history from ancient Egypt until contemporary times.
Animal lovers will enjoy the freely roaming local animal life. Gazelles and ibex can be seen strolling through the park and are generally not bothered at all by the human tourists. Evidence that these animals have roamed the area since ancient times can be seen in the ancient rock carvings, which show hunters chasing after ibex.
Hiking routes and biking trails are available for Timna's more adventurous visitors. If you enjoy camping, consider staying overnight in the cool desert air. Timna's man-made lake offers paddle boating activities, which can be especially fun in the morning hours. Near the lake is a scale model of the ancient Tabernacle, as it would have stood in the Sinai Desert while the Children of Israel traversed it for 40 years on their way to the Promised Land. Children will also enjoy the colorful playground and the crafts booth for creating sand souvenirs.