Water in the Desert
Water in the Desert
Welcome to the desert. The scenery is breathtaking, the landscape is challenging and the weather is unpredictable. Hiking and trekking here is nothing like any hike you've ever done - and drinking water is going to be your first challenge.
Tap water in towns around the desert is almost always good for drinking, but you're not going to find that many taps in the wilderness and along the hikes.
In general you should always carry a lot of water - for a full day hike, for example, you should have at least 4.5 liters. That, of course, covers single day hikes, but what do you do if you want to enjoy one of the many backpacking and camping trails we have here? Such trails (amazing, all of them) are well marked and easy to get to, but you will not arrive at a source of drinking water during the entire hike. Almost all the campgrounds along these trails are simple primitive campgrounds- a designated area where you are allowed to camp and light a fire, but they have no facilities whatsoever- including water.
The most common solutions are water caching or water deliveries.
Water deliveries are the best and safest solution for hikers in the desert. A jeep driver arrives at the campground and hands you water bottles or a tank of drinking water.
You can also arrange for food items to be delivered in the same way (food should never be cached because even when it is extremely well packed it still draws animals and occasionally theft).The driver will collect your garbage and can also pull a hiker out if they are unable to continue the trek for some reason. In an area with little cellphone reception the driver can also act as your emergency contact, and will notify the authorities if you fail to arrive at the meeting point- while you might be unable to call for help with no cellphone reception.
For water cashing: the cheapest company that does water cashing in the whole Negev desert region, and one of the most reliable ones - is called: Yanir Bamidbar.
Prices are around 70 ILS for 6 Liters of water - In all campsites along the Negev part of the National Israeli Trail.
80 ILS for 6 Liters of water in the camp sites on the Ramon Crater Loop or along Arif Karkom trail campsites.
As for relying on natural sources of water for drinking: There is a serious risk involved here - such sources are very unreliable, and you really need to know the weather patterns and keep track of rainfall to be able to estimate if a source will have enough water or not. Even if you're relying on information from other hikers who passed through your planned filling spot just a few days prior, there is always a danger of someone swimming, washing or otherwise polluting the water. Immediately after the rain there is less risk involved, but in the months that follow you are not only putting yourself at risk- you are also putting more pressure on the desert eco system where animals and plants rely on the water.