Hay-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve


The Yotvata oasis is half an hour's drive from the city of Eilat.

This is where a revolutionary project has been established for the restoration of wild life that has become extinct in Israel, in particular the Asian wild ass (onager - Equus hemionus) and the Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx).



Main Points of Interest

Driving path - designed for all types of vehicles (remain inside the vehicle), enabling observation of the animals - Asian wild ass, African wild ass, Arabian oryx, gazelles, addax (white antelope), ostrich, and raptors in cages.

Camping area - at the entrance to the reserve, for individuals and groups, with prior coordination.

Video on the establishment and operation of the Hay Bar.



Observation Points

No particular observation points have been set up within the boundaries of the reserve




The reserve is on the Yotvata salt flats (on both sides of the Arava Road), between Hashayarot Cliffs in the West and the Jordanian border in the East, covering an area of about 32,000 dunams.  It is an arid desert region (annual precipitation only 25 mm rain), however, it is relatively rich in vegetation and is therefore able to maintain a variety of animals.   That is the reason why this area was chosen for the unique project of restoring some of the large animals that recently became extinct.



Reasons for the Declaration

Yotvata Salt Flats are one of the three largest salt flats in the southern Arava (the others are the Evrona Salt Flats and the Eilat Salt Flats, from which only a few vestiges remain).  It is a habitat with a rich variety of vegetation and animals, and that it why it was selected for the restoration project.



Location in Israel

The reserve is in the Eilot region, about 35 kms north of Eilat.   The entrance into the reserve is from the south, opposite Kibbutz Samar.

Except for the visit to the predators center, the trail around the reserve, from which it is forbidden to stray, is designated for vehicles only.


Preservation activity by the Parks and Nature Reserves Authority

In the 1960s, a public organization was established named "Hay Bar", under the auspices of the Parks and Nature Reserves Authority, which was managed by Avraham Yaffe and Uri Tzon.  The purposes of the organization were to restore some of the wildlife that had become extinct in Israel and to reinforce endangered species.  At the beginning of the 1970s an area of 12,000 dunams was fenced in on the Yotvata salt flats, and large herbivores that had become extinct in Israel were brought in (including a few species that had never been in Israel but were endangered in other parts of the world), among them the Asian wild ass, addax (white antelope), the Sahara oryx (Oryx dammah), the white oryx, the African wild ass and ostriches.

In the mid-1980s, another few thousand dunams west of Road 90 were fenced in in order to protect the last population in the world of acacia gazelles (Gazella gazella acaciae), a sub-species of the mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella) that is endangered worldwide, and is under constant surveillance.




The principal designation of this reserve ever since its establishment is to acclimatize and restore desert herbivores to the wild.  To date two species have been reinstated successfully - the onager (Asian wild ass - Equus hemionus) and the Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx).  The onagers were first restored to the wild in 1982 in Makhtesh Ramon, and have established themselves in a considerable part of the Negev Mountains.  The oryx have been returned to the wild in 1996 in the northern Arava and the large waterways.  At the beginning of this century the first attempt in the world was made to re-establish ostriches in the wild, but without success so far.

Other prominent animals in the Hay Bar are the African wild ass, the addax and the Sahara oryx.  The maintenance of these species is part of an international endeavor to protect them in captivity, and they are not intended to be restored to the wild in Israel.

In the open spaces of the reserve there is also a herd of dorcas gazelles (Gazella dorcas), living there quite naturally, as well as acacia gazelles (Gazella gazella acaciae) - a very rare sub-species of the mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella).




Especially prominent in this reserve are the twisted acacia (Acacia raddiana) with its twisted main trunk and curly flowers, and the umbrella thorn acacia (Acacia tortilis), relatively low, more like a bush than a tree.  Also growing here are Halfa grass (Desmostachya bipinnata), common nitraria (Nitraria retusa) and other plants.  The eastern and relatively saltier part of the reserve lacks vegetation altogether.  The acacia trees are the basis for the eco-system in the reserve.  They attract large herbivores as well as an abundance of insects and other animals.



Archaeology and History

There are no historic sites within the boundaries of the reserve, but nearby, to the north, where En Yotvata (which does not currently flow aboveground) rises, are the remains of ancient settlements - an Iron Age fortress and the ruins of a Roman bathhouse.   There is also a British mounted police station.  When it was built the spring was called En Radian. The name Yotvata is taken from the book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 10, which says that Yotvata was one of the stations of the Children of Israel in the desert - "Yotvata is land of brooks of water".



Geology and Geomorphology

The Yotvata salt flats lie in the southern Arava.  The soil substrate in this region is alluvial sediment, becoming more clay-like towards the east of the reserve.




The salt flats absorb water from the streams in the vicinity, mainly the waters from the Yotvata, Argaman and Kodkod streams.    For this reason the water table in this area is high, and a small spring flowed at the north of the reserve up to the 20th century - En Yotvata. 

​​How to get there:

On road 90 (Dead Sea - Eilat), between Kibbutzim Yotvata and Samar.
35 kms north of Eilat
Bus route 390 from Tel Aviv, 390 from Beer Sheva, 444 from Jerusalem, 991 from Hayfa to Samar.​

Length of tour: ​​

About two hours

Recommended season:​

All year round

What else is there?​

Souvenir store, Visitors Center.​

Opening Hours:

Entry into the reserve is closed one hour before closing time:

Sundays thru Thursdays and Saturdays:  8:30 - 17:00
Fridays and eves of religious festivals: 8:30 - 16:00

Sundays thru Thursdays and Saturdays: 8:30 - 16:00
Fridays and eves of religious festivals: 8:30 - 15:00
On the eves of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Pesach:  8:00 - 13:00


Tel: 08-6373057;  08-9580900
Fax: 08-6326172
e-mail:  Haybar-yotvata@npa.org.il

Entry Fees:​

Individuals:     Adult: NIS 28;  Child:  NIS 14;  
Senior Citizen: NIS 14​;  Student:  NIS 24
Groups (over 30 persons):  ​
Adults:  NIS 23;  Children:  NIS 14;  Senior Citizen:  NIS 15

Camping (Personal tents):​
RegularAdult: NIS 53;  Child:  NIS 42
SubscriptionsAdult:  NIS 38;  Child:  NIS 32
Schoolchildren (school outing):  NIS 35
Field studies:  NIS 30 (minimum 2 nights, with prior coordination)

Entry of Pets:​

It is forbidden to bring pets into the Hay Bar, including the camping ground

    Content under construction, the information apears soon.
    Content under construction, the information apears soon.
    Content under construction, the information apears soon.
    Hay-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve