Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve is located in the southern part of Israel’s Negev Desert, a region known as the Arava, between two rural kibbutzim, Yotvata and Samar. Yotvata is 35km north of the beach resort city of Eilat and makes an interesting stop on the drive from the center of the country to the Red Sea and Eilat.
Two addax at sunset in Yotvata. Image MathKnight
The purpose of the Yotvota Hai-Bar Nature Reserve is to breed and nurture endangered and locally extinct animals and then reintroduce them to the Negev Desert. There is a focus on animals mentioned in the Bible but the animals are not exclusively from Israel or the Middle East, the reserve also cares for, and breeds animals from other habitats around the world. Some of the animals who make Yotvata their home include the Oryx, ostrich, sand cat, gazelle and Arabian wolf and birds of prey like the Griffon vulture.
There are three sections to the 12 square km park and if you have rented a car you can join one of the hourly tours in the Open Area section of the reserve where visitors drive through in their own vehicles. During the tour of this first section of the reserve visitors must stay in their cars. This open area is home to herbivores creatures which benefit from the acacia trees that grow here giving shade and food in the form of fruit and leaves.
The stunning landscape that is found at Yotvata by fabcom, on Flickr
In the next section of a tour of Yotvata, the Predators Center, carnivorous animals are kept in enclosures, they include canines, felines and hyenas. The carnivores include leopards, wild cats, caracal, hyenas and foxes. Here you can see birds of prey and reptiles like snakes, lizards and rodents.
The final section, the Desert Night Life Exhibition Hall, is a dark room where visitors can observe the nocturnal behavior of animals which only come out at night like bats and barn owls. The day and night hours are reversed in this section so that animals are active when visitors come.
Yotvata Opening Times
The park is open from 8:30 am to 5pm, in winter until 4pm and on Fridays from 8:30am to 3pm.
You can visit all three of the sections, or just the Predators Center and Desert Night Life Exhibition Hall, or just the open area or you can come to see the predators being fed in the evening but only if prearranged.
On Saturdays at 11am you can join a tour and see animals being fed.
Entrance to the Open Area in your own vehicle costs 27NIS for adults and 14NIS for kids.
Visiting the rest of the site on foot costs 27NIS for adults and 14NIS for kids.
A combined ticket to both the self driven Open Area and the rest of the site is 43NIS for adults and 22NIS for kids. It is possible to camp overnight at the reserve for 50NIS for adults and 40NIS for kids.