The Incense Road

Posted by on September 24, 2012


Matan, Shneor & Yoav


From Moa to Makhtesh Ramon


21 Sep , 2012


Matans Picasa
Shneors FaceBook

The Story

After riding in the Nabatean incense road from Avdat to Makhtesh Ramon, it was time to ride the part that leads from the Jordanian border to the makhtesh.

Shishvil – The incense road

Since the ride was going to be long and the starting point is rather far away from our homes, we decided to leave on Thursday night and spend the night in Hatzeva, close to Moa.
We stayed at a place called “Shvilim Bamidbar” (Desert Routes). It offers very nice facilities and they even allowed us to park the bikes next to the room.

Since we had nothing to do, we decided that it might be a good idea to get a plan ready for the morning.

We woke up early in the morning and went to a nearby gas station to get some fuel and some breakfast.


We ate quickly and rode down highway 90 to the start of the trail next to Moa, where we stopped to deflate the tires a little bit.

And to have a go at making a Bollywood movie.

After we understood that we’re better at riding than making movies (which says something about our filming skills), we got back to riding.

We arrived to the first Nabatean station in the Israeli section on the incense road: Moa.

Moa ruins in the background

We decided to skip the tour inside the ruins and keep on riding.

Since the trail basically runs inside Wadi Katsera and Wadi Nekarot, it’s a mixture of deep gravel, not-so-deep gravel and the occasional hard-packed section.
This means that unless you’re willing to get stuck every 5 meters, you need to use the throttle rather freely. Even when the trail weaves left and right.

We climbed out of the wadi through Katsera ascent, which wasn’t much of a problem to tackle.

And we headed towards the second Nabatean station: Katsera fort.

Katsera fort in the background

Katsera fort

We still had to ride up one last hill before we could rest near the ruin.

This required a little bit of elbow grease.

We stayed at the ruin for a short while.

After a short rest, we headed down the hill and towards Wadi Nekarot.

This is where the gravel got deeper.

So it’s time to hit the gas!

We arrived at the third Nabatean station: Nekarot fort.

Nekarot fort

We wanted to stop for launch, so we looked around for an old Nabatean cistern.
This meant leaving the bikes behind and heading on foot.

No sign of the cistern

Getting warmer

And warmer. Literally.

Ahh! There it is! Well, that's bloody far away.

Shneor and I decided that it’s to far to walk just because of the small chance that there are water in the cistern.
So we sent Yoav on a recon mission.

When Yoav found out that there’s no water in the cistern, we headed back to the bikes and found a nice spot for coffee (and tea) and launch in the shade of the cliffs.

The sea squill is the harbinger of autumn.

Although Shneor never noticed that autumn is here.

We finished our launch and left for the final part of the trip. We were faced by, you guessed it, more gravel!

The trail is great to ride in. Open stretches of deep gravel, mixed in with tight turns with either hard-packed ground, sand or loose gravel.

The desert does hold its own pleasant moments.

As we moved on, I kept telling myself to keep the throttle wide open so the front wheel won’t wash out in the gravel.
And it went just fine for the most part.

But then I hit a spot of really deep sand in the middle of a small chicane. The bike went one way, I went the other and in the end, we both went down.

Luckily I managed to get my speed down a bit, so no harm came to me or the bike (other than a headlight that stopped working). So I picked up the bike, and we rode on.

It was quickly apparent that the nice little face plant had no effect on my right hand. Or maybe I just got a blow to the head. I’m not sure.

We had to cross a few obstacles on the way. Yoav went at it in the straight forward way,

While Shneor and I tried to bypass the rock step by going through the riverbed.
Although I got through problem free, the VERY deep gravel proved to be a major challenge for the Tenere.

We got through, but all the pushing and pulling took it’s toll and we decided to take a rest.
After we rested, we headed out of the Wadi and into Makhtesh Ramon. We quickly arrived at the fourth Nabatean station (and last one for us): Khan Saharonim.

Khan Saharonim in the background

And I was still throttle happy.
Must be a blow to the head.

From Khan Shaharonim we rode a few more kilometers to the rode and then up to Mitzpe-Ramon, where we stopped for one last tea break. And so I could check if I had no headlight because the bulb went out or something a bit more serious.

It was just the bulb

We finished our tea, and headed back home.

2 Responses to The Incense Road

  1. peleg

    well done.
    how tenere rider handle with the dash-dash?

    • Matan

      Apart from a short section of really deep gravel, Shneor handled the Tenere very well actually.

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