After leaving sunny Ejlat, we headed north on road number 40 which runs towards Makhtesh Ramon. The landscape was becoming increasingly mountainous and barren. In fact, we were in the Negev Desert, which covers almost half of Israel’s territory.
On the way, there’re few cars, but on the other hand we could see a lot of warning signs forbidding going off the main route, as the road we were driving was as a matter of fact in the centre of a huge military range.
Never would I have thought that traveling through a monotonous desert landscape could be so thrilling. Awareness of the nearby range, the absence of any civilization let alone gas stations appeals to the imagination. On the other hand, the landscape that surrounded us forced frequent technical stops… of course to take photos ?
After a few stops, a huge rock wall appeared on the horizon, which seemed to have no end. It’s called Makhtesh Ramon. Makhtesh is a unique rock formation, which looks like a crater, but its creation has nothing to do with volcanic activity, nor the meteorite impact.
Makhtesh was created hundreds of millions of years ago when the ocean was located in the Negev Desert area. The slow withdrawal of the ocean formed a valley that further deepened as a result of weather conditions and water erosion.
Makhtesh Ramon scale surprises. It’s 1640 ft deep, about 31 miles long and less than 7miles wide. It’s the largest ‘crater’ of this kind in the world. The Ramon Nature Reserve is located on its site, where you can see not only numerous interesting rock formations, but also capricorns.
When you’re in the area, it’s worth visiting Mitzpe Ramon Visitors Center, where you can see an interactive show that explains the history of the makhtesh creation, as well as its name. Admission costs 28 ILS (24 ILS student ticket) or it’s free of charge with Israel Pass.
Makhtesh was named after Israeli fighter pilot and astronaut Ilan Ramon, who in February 2003 died in the Columbia space shuttle crash. Apart from the museum, the tragic fate of the astronauts taking part in the Columbia mission was commemorated by giving their names to the the seven hills surrounding the makhtesh. Makhtesh can be visited on foot, horse or off-road car. Admission to the reserve is free and at the Mitzpe Ramon Visitors Center reception you can get maps with detailed trails.
We decided to take a short walk along the cliff. Amazing views of makhtesh can be seen right next to Visitors Center and from the viewing platform – Camel Mount, which looks like a sitting camel.
Makhtesh Ramon scale makes a great impression, especially at sunset when its colours become sharp.
The walls of the crater look as if colourful layers were applied to them. Standing there I felt as though I were in the middle of nowhere… literally at the end of the world.