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If it’s adventure you crave then look no further than the Ramon Crater and the Negev Desert! Just steps outside the stunning Beresheet Hotel, wonder awaits and adventure activities abound (for our review of the world-class Beresheet Hotel, click here). Here’s our run down on all of the best Negev Desert adventure activities available in and around the Ramon Crater.
First, a little background on the Ramon Crater itself. Technically speaking, the Ramon Crater isn’t even a “crater” at all. Using the word crater to describe it is a marketing strategy, and a pretty darn good one I might add! But the fact that it isn’t actually a crater per se hardly detracts from the amazing and breathtaking beauty it offers. It IS crater-like, however it’s real geological name is a “makhtesh”, a word that’s uniquely Israeli but has been adopted by geologists worldwide. What’s the difference? Well, scientifically, a crater is an indentation made by the impact of a meteor or asteroid hitting the Earth.
But no meteor or asteroid has ever hit Makhtesh Ramon. Instead, Makhtesh Ramon was formed over time by a variety of natural forces, most notably erosion, and it is the largest of it’s kind worldwide. What that translates to for you, the traveler, is an incredible and picturesque phenomenon that can’t be found anywhere else on the planet and an opportunity to use one of Mother Nature’s most dazzling backdrops as a launch-pad for thrill-seeking and gorgeous photos.
There are many memorable ways to explore the Ramon Crater. You can go hiking, mountain biking, and even camel-riding. But if these options aren’t enough to peak your sense of adventure, here are some other activities that’ll be sure to get your adrenaline flowing and bring out your inner daredevil…
In the town of Mitzpe Ramon is a fantastic tour company called “Deep Desert Israel” and, among many other activities, they offer a once-in-a-lifetime chance to rappel off the rim of the Ramon Crater itself. Although there are several other locations scattered throughout Israel where rappelling is offered, none can match the experience of dangling in front of the massive and exquisite expanse of the Ramon Crater and climbing down it’s steep walls.
Those daring enough can choose to bounce down cliffs of either 15 or 25 meters.
Deep Desert Israel also provides an incredible chance to plow right into the crater and go off road with experienced guides who detail the geological history of the crater while bouncing you all around (literally) during several hours of jeeping adventure. Go at sunrise or sunset for an even more scenic view! Or after dark for the spooky version! There is also an option available to couple the jeep tour with a Bedouin experience.
We had a phenomenal and incredibly knowledgeable guide named Yohash, who taught us everything there is to know about the history of the Ramon Crater and about life in Mitzpe Ramon and the surrounding area. Here are some awesome photos from our journey…
Deep Desert Israel offers a combination package for those who are interested in doing both rappelling and the off-road jeep tour. And besides providing us with an exhilarating experience, they even accommodated us when we slept right through our alarm and had to be called 15 minutes AFTER our scheduled tour time!
Like skateboarding? Snowboarding? Skiing? Surfing? Sledding? Ever try doing these sports on a sand dune? Well, if you’d like to, then sandboarding just may be for you! And there just happens to be an area of the Negev Desert between Be’er Sheva and Mitzpe Ramon where there are soft and sweeping sand dunes that are just perfect for this sort of thing.
Sandboarding outings can be arranged through Tourist Israel and can be tailored to suit all ages from 2 and up.
HOT AIR BALLOON RIDES
Only a 30-minute drive north along Route 40, in Sde Boker, “Over Israel” offers spectacular sunrise hot air balloon rides over the vibrant, glowing desert landscape between Sde Boker and Mahktesh Ramon.
STARGAZING IN THE DESERT
Although it may not fit one’s customary idea of “adventure”, stargazing in the Negev Desert can be every bit the adventure and provide a unique kind of rush. Let “The Starman”, Ira Machefsky, at Astronomy Israel be your guide. He’ll lead you from the Beresheet Hotel out to one of darkest areas surrounding the Ramon Crater to take in the starry nighttime sky. While Ira’s jokes can be a bit cheesy, he is nonetheless very charming and extremely knowledgeable, and he gives his guests a real treat every time. When we went, Ira not only amazed us and educated us by turning the sky overhead into his own personal planetarium (using laser pointers etc…), but he also enabled us to view Saturn’s rings through one of his high-powered telescopes. Quite a treat and worth the price of admission! And… he takes musical requests! So if Davie Bowie’s Starman (or any other track) is what you crave, Ira will be happy to oblige.
NOTE: The best time to stargaze is summer, especially late August.
Hope you enjoyed reading this article about the many and varied Negev Desert adventure activities available in and around the Ramon Crater. Stay tuned for more in our series of articles, “DIY Israel: Drive It Yourself”. In the meantime, you can read our earlier articles in this series here.
-Wanna read more about exploring the Negev? Click here.
-Planning your next trip to Israel? Click here to find out what you should know before you go.
-Looking for even MORE adventure? Check out our series, “Iceland: Land of Fire and Ice!“