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The Negev Craters

April 17, 2020

The Negev desert is a fascinating place for adventure and history that is mostly and unjustly overlooked. 

Comprising almost half of the territory of Israel, the Negev desert is its least populated area, and home to unique geological formations, ancient history and modern day miracles. 


The most famous geological formations of the Negev Desert are the Makhteshim or craters.  Unlike craters created through impact or collision, the Negev and Sinai craters are formed by erosion, and are unique and typical to these two regions only in the world. These craters are characteristically bowl shaped and drained by a single creek. The outer walls comprised of harder rocks, such as limestone and dolomite, while the softer sandstone and gypsum have eroded exposing the cliffs. The Negev desert has 5 such craters, the largest being the Ramon Crater, which unlike the others is actually drained by 2 creeks.  There is nothing more fun and exciting than taking a ranger or ATV ride through the crater, visiting the ammonite wall of fossils, or the carpentry with its log shaped rocks, or its many hidden nooks and crannies, as was experienced by three adventurous ladies, who spent several hours exploring the sites.


Entry to the Small Makhtesh Crater

Entry to the Small Makhtesh Crater



The Negev desert has a rich history that goes back to ancient Egypt. The pharaohs mined copper in the once rich mines of Timna, currently a national park which is home to some magnificent sandstone rock formations, the most renowned being Solomon’s Pillars and the Mushroom Rock. Later it was home to the Nabateans Incense route, along which camel caravans transported priceless goods from one country to another. Traces of the Nabatean civilization are present throughout the desert, with several settlements, such as Mamshit and Ovdat that have been excavated, revealing their advanced knowledge of desert water systems and architecture, as well as evidence of their travels and hospitality. Today you can take a camel ride near the Nabatean city of Mamshit, and if you are visiting during the festival of Passover (Easter) you will be able to enjoy visiting a recreated Nabatean market selling wares of old. 


Camel caravan in the Negev

Camel caravan in the Negev


Modern day

Today the Negev desert is a place of modern day miracles – ranging from solar farms producing green energy, farmsteads that grow vineyards and make boutique wines, a farm that breeds alpacas, and farms that specialize in providing tranquil retreats, where you can meditate or just enjoy the rejuvenating energies of the desert, with its clear air and starlit skies. In addition to the agriculture and special farming methods developed, the region’s capital – the city of Beer Sheba – is a modern bustling metropolis, with a university that has international academic acclaim, a hi-tech park and cultural institutions. 


Beer Sheva - the capital of the Negev

Beer Sheva – the capital of the Negev


So on your next visit – make sure to ask for this amazing region to be included in your tour itinerary and take part in the adventures it provides. 


Crossing the desert with jeep

Crossing the desert with jeep


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