WHAT IS SO GREAT ABOUT THE NEGEV DESERT IN ISRAEL?
The Negev is called the land of endless wonders. On cool summer nights, large, like in a planetarium, stars burn over the head of the traveler, and at dawn, the bizarre bends of the marvelous rocks begin to come to life. Squat trees cast dancing shadows on the sand, and the azure sky contrasts softly with the pastel gold of the earth ...
Traveling along the roads of the Negev, you will discover the ruins of ancient cities, walk along steep hidden paths and admire the graceful bed of deep rivers. No, this is not a reservation: there are many springs in the desert; plunge into the coolness of their water after a tiring hike is an untold pleasure.
Here, in the mountainous regions of the Negev, tourists will find a unique aroma of the desert, a relaxing atmosphere, and a wonderful climate at any time of the year. There are tons of attractions, good restaurants, luxury hotels, and a variety of outdoor activities waiting for you.
There are three deserts in Israel. The Negev is the largest and driest of them all. That is why the Negev is named (translated from Hebrew as "dryness"). The desert is real - not at all like the Judean one, where oases with flowering trees are periodically found. However, nature is unique here. The picturesque desert stretches over an area of 12 thousand square meters, it makes up about half of Israel's territory.
In recent years, the Negev has developed into an extremely significant and extremely popular tourist attraction. Here you can ride mountain bikes, book a jeep excursion, go down a cliff into a deep gorge and visit nature reserves where giraffes, ostriches, hyenas are hiding, Alpine goats, and other exotic animals graze - the dream of every self-respecting photographer. Flocks of migratory birds make a stop in the desert on their way to southern countries.
The town of Mitspe Ramon is comfortably located near the amazingly picturesque crater Makhtesh Ramon in the Negev desert. Despite its relatively remote location from the center of Israel, Mitzpe Ramon has become a popular tourist destination.
HISTORY OF MITZPE RAMON IN THE NEGEV
Mitzpe Ramon was founded in 1951 on the site of a camp for construction workers who were building a highway in this place to Eilat. In the early years of the settlement, due to the remoteness of the city, residents had to deal with great difficulties, it was not easy for them to establish a water supply, garbage disposal, and there were serious problems with electricity. In the sixties, immigrants from North Africa and Romania settled in this city, and Mitspe Ramon began to develop rapidly. Today, this cozy city is home to about 5,000 residents, many of whom are from the CIS countries.
Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev is a truly amazing place. In the heat of August, when there is nothing to breathe in the coastal lowland and the humidity reaches 80-90 percent, it is easy and free to breathe here under the scorching sunlight at an air temperature of + 35 degrees Celsius. The climate in the Negev Desert is very dry and cool at night, to put it mildly, but for those who like to splash in the water, all hotels have indoor pools.
The city of Mitzpe Ramon is located adjacent to the world's largest crater Makhtesh Ramon. The crater itself was formed as a result of unique geological phenomena, nothing like this is found in other places. The lower rocky base was destroyed by hot underground streams, after which the upper layers fell down and formed a crater 300 meters deep. And now, on the exposed rock sections, you can look inside the Earth and try to describe the processes that took place about 200 million years ago.
However, modern people are not pioneers here. On the edge of the crater, a site of ancient people from the Eneolithic period was discovered, and flint tools from the Neolithic period were found on the slopes. At the top of the ridge, the Nabateans left their traces.
you can stay in Mitzpe Ramon both in a luxurious ultra-modern hotel with an air-conditioned pool, champagne, espresso coffee, from the windows of the rooms of which a dizzying panorama of the crater opens, and in a small hotel located literally on the edge of the Makhtesh rock. The small rooms are comfortably furnished. Surprisingly beautiful places are located not far from the city - Sde Boker, Ein Avdat, Borot Lotz, and others, to which excursions are regularly organized.
On the edge of the crater, there is a museum, where you can see the most interesting finds.
In these parts, among the hot sands, you can find a piece of Paris - this is the La Chocola cafe, which belongs to the Belgian chef and chocolatier Marc and his wife Hagit. In this cafe, you can taste the most delicious coffee in Israel, and the owner of the establishment prepares incredibly delicious chocolate and sweet desserts. The furnishings of the middle of the last century, solid European furniture, old photographs on the walls, French music create the ersatz of traditional France.
In April 2011, Mitzpe Ramon gained even more popularity due to the Bereshit Hotel, which was then inaugurated. And he deserves to pay attention to him. It was built by a British businessman, David Lewis. Earlier in 1984, he built the first hotel of the ―Isrotel chain, King Solomon in Eilat, famous and loved by many tourists around the world.
David Lewis, the owner of the Isrotel chain, decided to fulfill his long-held dream, and in 2011 opened a luxury hotel on the edge of the crater in Mitspe Ramon. This is the 13th hotel of the chain. The name of the hotel - "Bereshit" - translates as "At the beginning or, Genesis". This is the name of the chapter with which the reading of the Torah begins.
Israel's Las Vegas is said to have grown in the Negev Desert, and it took David Lewis twenty years to realize his dream of a hotel on the edge of a natural crater. The architects have neatly blended the building into the natural landscape. The hotel overlooks the crater. When you sit on a glass veranda, and there is an abyss under you - everything grows cold inside from fear, but, as they say, experts: "then you get used to it ..."
The construction of the hotel lasted for five years. In total, the hotel territory covers an area of five hectares. Investment in the project amounted to $ 45 million.
From the hotel brochure, you can find detailed information about it: there are 111 rooms, created according to standards not usual for Israel: rooms of 42 meters, instead of the usual 28 or 32, and the area of the presidential villa is 200 meters. The 40 hotel rooms have private pools. The carpets and lamps that adorn the rooms were specially brought from Morocco. The hotel has pools with underwater music, a spa center, a banquet hall, several restaurants, a horse stable. In addition, the hotel staff offers an entire entertainment program for guests.
So, for example, you can attend photography lessons or creating jewelry, model ceramics. You can climb from the bottom of the crater in a hot air balloon or take a ride in jeeps, bugs, horses, bicycles. All sports interests were taken into account: tennis courts were even built here. In general, the concept of the hotel is to give hotel guests the opportunity to completely disconnect from the frantic city rhythm and noise…. Throughout the hotel, guests are driven in special electric vehicles so that even the noise of the engines does not disturb the silence.
CRATER MAKHTESH RAMON
Is there something in Israel that is not found anywhere else in the world? - There is! This is Makhtesh (crater, hollow, depression, God's foot) Ramon, the largest geological park in the world. 40 km long, 8 km wide, and 500 m deep - this is Makhtesh Ramon.
Due to erosion of the soil, which lasts for millions of years, unique geological layers can be observed here. The observation deck, towering over Makhtesh Ramon at an altitude of 892 meters above sea level, opens up stunning, unearthly views of the crater, from here it opens its entirety.
There are two versions of this amazing natural phenomenon. Some geologists suggest that craters (there are four such craters on the globe, three of them - Makhtesh Ramon, Makhtesh Big, and Makhtesh Small - in Israel, and one more - on the Sinai Peninsula) were formed due to the displacement of soft and hard rocks of the earth. Another theory insists on the meteorite origin of the craters since anomalous geological rocks are present in Makhtesh Ramon, which are not found anywhere else on earth.
Lava lakes, a wall of ammonites (ancient predatory snails), the size of which reaches half a meter, colored sands, and mountains ... On an area of 60 square meters. m there is an object called "Joiner". At this point, crystals grow from the ground, having from three to eight faces, resembling pencils (or blanks for carpentry work). Apparently, this is the result of the combination of magma with sandstone. But why only in this place?
It is very interesting that from the point of view of Italian archaeologists, Mount Crocus, or Karkom, is one of the majestic ridge crowding around Makhtesh, and is the biblical Mount Sinai; For the last 20 years, they have been conducting intensive archaeological excavations there.
One of the mountains located here was once a volcano, and today there is a cooling lava lake near it. The "Crazy Wall" may seem beautiful and unusual - the layers here are bent in a loop and are arranged in the reverse order (most likely, this is the result of tectonic impact).
There is kaolin, multi-colored sandstone, gypsum, and many other rocks, which were mined uncontrollably until 1994. But then Makhtesh Ramon was taken under state protection and in 1998 declared a geological reserve - there is not equal to him in the world.
Once these lands were famous for the fact that the ancient trade route of incense passed here, and the cities of the Nabateans existed not far from it. One of them is located here - this is the city of Shivta, which has survived to this day in the form of ruins, but, nevertheless, gives an idea of the city and the way of life of local residents.
Despite the desert terrain, the flora and fauna of the crater can be called rich and varied. During the day, it is extremely difficult to see animals, often tourists only manage to see footprints in the sand, by which one can judge that snakes, hares, other small rodents, predatory animals, large birds of prey, mountain goats are found here. The latter, by the way, feel like full-fledged owners here and are not afraid of people. The goats not only do not run away from excursions, on the contrary, but they also roam freely and unceremoniously enter even the courtyards of residential buildings and hotels.
Today, the road leading to Eilat passes through the crater. Jeep safaris are arranged here, tourists are offered to do Snepling (descent along a steep cliff with the help of climbing equipment), excursions along the crater to natural formations, and the ruins of ancient caravan sites are conducted.
LOCAL ATTRACTIONS IN THE NEGEV DESERT
After familiarizing yourself with the Makhtesh Ramon crater, you can visit other local attractions. The largest astronomical observatory in Israel operates in Mitzpe Ramon, the telescope diameter is 1 meter. You can take a morning walk along the local alleys or in the sculpture park. "Hai Ramon Park" has a unique botanical garden, and you can also see six habitats of desert animals.
Mitspe Ramon is an ecotourism center! After leaving the city and delving into the desert, you can visit ecological farms, where very cozy houses are rented. Here you can enjoy wonderful breakfasts, relax in the jacuzzi, admire the amazingly beautiful landscape.
A short drive from Mitzpe Ramon, there is an alpaca and llama farm. Here you can ride these amazing animals on a desert safari, as well as purchase colorful skeins of soft wool.
The bulk of the inhabitants of the Negev are Bedouins. In recent decades, they have been actively involved in the development of the tourism industry: picturesque tents have been set up here and there, in which a weary traveler can drink a glass of hot tea with mint or a cup of excellent black coffee, taste traditional flatbreads and, smoking a hookah, stretch out on carpets and pillows to think about the soul, about the eternal ...
Surprises await travelers who are fond of history.
In recent years, archaeologists have been able to excavate six Nabatian cities scattered throughout the Negev, including Mamshit, Shivta, and Avdat.
The Nabatian kingdom is considered one of the greatest civilizations of antiquity. The ingenious Nabatians laid a caravan route through the Negev desert - from Petra to the Mediterranean coast, along which spices were transported. Its length is 1600 kilometers, it runs along with such picturesque corners that you rarely see even in the movies.
The spice trade was an extremely lucrative industry - the Nabateans had been in it for thousands of years, from the third century BC. Subsequently, these talented people switched to agriculture and invented such effective methods of cultivating sandy and infertile, at first glance, soil that scientists who are engaged in improving the farms located in the desert have not yet been able to unravel all the secrets.
Networks of elaborately laid catchments, reservoirs, and canals allowed the Nabateans to collect rainwater that was not absorbed by the soil and irrigate their fields with an intensity comparable only to a downpour.
Nowadays, tens of thousands of foreigners and Israelis set off on an exciting journey along the ancient Caravan Route, repeating the route of the spice carriers.
You should start your walk-in Avdat, a beautifully preserved city from the Byzantine period. Impressive ruins and landscapes will appear before your admiring gaze, from which it is impossible to tear yourself away. After the restoration work carried out here, it seems that life has returned to the city.
After passing the camel caravan, you can walk around the central market, look at the church and burial caves. In the new tourist center, located at the entrance to the ancient city, English-speaking guides will tell fascinatingly about the way of life and inventions of the Nabateans. There - at affordable prices - you can buy spices and perfumes that reproduce the aromas of ancient incense. You will surely feel the atmosphere that prevailed in Avdat 1,700 years ago.
Are you ready to explore the Negev Desert? I think the second part of 2021 will be a wonderful time to travel to Israel with a private tour guide! Israel is fully vaccinated and most of the sites mentioned above are open :), so what are you waiting for??? contact me today, and let's go down to the Negev Desert!