Sde Boker

Sde Boker is a Kibbutz in the central Negev (the south of Israel), most famous for being the past residence of the first prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, who moved there after he left his office in order to live his ideals of settling the Negev. The name Sde Boker also commonly refers to the nearby ecologic settlement and educational complex, officially called the Ben-Gurion College, at the edge of which is the tomb of the late prime minister and his wife, set on the ridge overlooking the mighty Zin Valley.

This page relates to the Kibbutz itself and the College, as well as the surrounding area. Under the Do section you'd also find some suggestions for hiking and Jeep trails.


Kibbutz Sde Boker was established in the first years of Israel, the late 1940s. Shortly thereafter, prime minister David Ben-Gurion passed through there during a tour of the Negev and was highly impressed by how the residents actually lived the Zionist ideals of working the land of Israel and settling even the harshest of its regions, the Negev. He announced that upon his retirement, he himself would move there and live the rest of his life in the Kibbutz, which he mostly did until the last of his days. The old wooden house where he lived with his wife, Paula, has become a museum where guided tours are conducted.

The nearby Ben-Gurion College was built while he was still alive (though not yet named after him, of course) mainly as a study center of the Negev. In time, several academic and educational establishments were founded there, the most prominent ones being a campus of the Ben-Gurion University, a "field school" providing guidance and ecologic education for visitors, and a boarding school named the High School for Environmental Education; also the Israeli research institution of solar energy is there. The complex initially provided accommodation only for workers and students, but in the 2000s the joint ruling body of these institutions has decided to build additional housing units and allow anyone to rent or buy property there. Most buildings were built with an environment-friendly orientation.

Both the Kibbutz and the College were built on the northern ridge of the Zin Basin, an opening in the Zin Stream – a dry stream, one of the largest in Israel. The only other nearby settlements are the very small religious community Merkhav Am, as well as some agricultural and/or tourist-oriented farms.

Get in

By car

Highway 40 passes by the Kibbutz and the College, as well as the sites of Avdat and Ein Avdat. From Beer Sheva, drive south for about 45 minutes, following the signs to Eilat via Mitzpe Ramon. After you pass Halukim junction, you'll see on your left the Kibbutz (1 minute away from the junction), the College (4 minutes), Ein Avdat (10 minutes) and Avdat (13 minutes), where you'll also find a large gas station with a cafe. Alternately, coming from the south, the area is 2½ hours drive from Eilat: leave the city by highway 12 (towards the Eilat Mountains) and follow the signs to Mitzpe Ramon; about 20 minutes after passing through Mitzpe, you'll reach Avdat.

The small settlement Merkhav Am is on route 204 just east of Halukim junction (north of Sde Boker on highway 40, follow signs towards Yerucham).

By bus

All following lines drive on route 40, so they all stop in the Kibbutz and the College, as well as the sites of Avdat and Ein Avdat:

By foot

The Zin Basin just below Sde Boker contains many popular hiking destinations. It can be reached in several fun ways by a hiking trip of several days. In fact, the Israel National Trail goes through it, from where you can take a 3-hour detour through either the Kibbutz itself or the College. Coming from the north, the trail gets to the basin in 1-2 day hike from the Large Makhtesh just south of Yerucham. Coming from the south, it's a 2-3 day hike from Mitzpe Ramon.

Also, some 1-day hikes connect nearby destinations, e.g. between the ancient city of Avdat and the Ben-Gurion College. Consult the Do section below.

Get around

Getting around by foot in any one of the settlements and sites really isn't a big deal, as none of them is any larger than one kilometer. Getting between them is fairly easy thanks to the pretty frequent aforementioned buses, though remember that public transport in Israel doesn't operate during Sabbath time (Friday evening to Saturday evening). In a car, one can get between any of Sde Boker, the College, Avdat and Ein Avdat in no more than 15 minutes at worst. Taxis are also available, most easily in the small shopping center in the Ben Gurion College. Do keep in mind that you'll have to call and order one, as they don't normally just go around driving between these somewhat godforsaken places; and that they cost extra during Sabbath.

Getting around the valley can be done by hiking, cycling or driving, though mostly by 4×4 as most dirt roads are inaccessible for normal cars. Consult the Do section below.


Ben-Gurion's tomb on the Zin ridge


Ancient temple in Avdat
The Ein Akev oasis

Eat and drink


Go next

Routes through Sde Boker

Beer Sheva Arad, Dimona, Yerucham  N  S  Mitzpe Ramon Eilat

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, July 28, 2014. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.