The Ramon Crater in Israel is often very simply described as mere a place to do some hiking for those who enjoy unmatched scenery in a unique geological phenomenon. However, this kind of broad description doesn’t even begin to describe the immense glory of this natural wonder that’s given it a title of ‘must-see’ by those who have actually visited the crater.
As you stand at the edge of the Ramon Crater and look outward, you being to realize it’s size and the fact that it carves its path almost directly through the center of the Negev desert. The brisk wind whips up the sand as drifts of varying colors make their way among the buttes. Makhtesh Ramon – the proper name for the Ramon Crater – is among the most awe-inspiring sights in all of Israel, yet for some reason it is known as somewhat of a secret wonder – often skipped over or viewed as a quick stop-over during the drive from Tel Aviv to Eilat.
A Crater Forged Like no Other on Earth
At 40 kilometers in length, nine kilometers in width and roughly 400 meters in depth, it is truly one of the most unique craters on Earth – and that is partly because the Ramon Crater is simply not a crater in the commonly-referred to sense. It’s an erosion crater – the world’s largest, in fact. Formed by neither meteor impact nor volcanic activity, the Ramon Crater began as a crack made larger and wider through millions of years of erosion and rainfall. The local story behind the ‘crater’ name is that there simply isn’t an appropriate English word for Makhtesh – which simply adds to the site’s mystique.
No matter what kind of excitement or challenge you’re looking for – the Ramon Crater delivers. For those on a short timeline, one-day tours are available, but to fully appreciate the vastness of the crater, there are multiple-day hiking and biking excursions to be had. Off-road (guided) trips are also available to explore some of the hard-to-reach nooks.
And don’t be surprised if you spend hours in the crater without seeing another tourist. It’s not uncommon for visitors to the Ramon Crater to go hours without seeing another visitor – aside from the odd bird or other desert life. Follow the markers along the trail and you’ll find yourself among Camel Hill and Ramon’s Tooth – just two of many colorful rock formations that you’ll encounter along the way.
At the Ramon Crater, There’s Something for Everyone Day and Night
For every skill level, there’s a hiking path within the Ramon Crater. However, if hiking and/or biking isn’t your thing, you don’t even need to set foot into the crater to experience its wonder. Many take in the spectacular view from the nearby Beresheet hotel or some other vantage point while a large number of people flock to the edge of the crater each night to witness the wonder high above the crater – the uninterrupted night sky – filled with nearly as many stars as there are grains of sand in the crater below.
The adventurers can try abseiling the crater walls with expert guides or hop on a jeep for a 4X4 our of desert. Desert archery is a huge attraction for kids of many ages and provides hours of family fun. Just outside of town the Alpaca farm provides lots of fun with its fast range of Alpacas, Lamas, Sheep and other unique animals (make sure you check out the feeding hours). If you feel like a true desert style hospitality you are invited to visit the bedouin camp and enjoy a true cultural experience and even spend the night like a true desert son.
For those who wish to stay the night near the Ramon Crater in comfort, there are essentially two main options. For the more luxurious at heart, the Beresheet, as we mentioned previously, is located very close to the crater and offers a fantastic view of the both the crater and the night sky. The more budget-friendly iBike Active Boutique Hotel is also an option. Both hotels have plenty of trail maps and all the things you need to make your visit to the Ramon Crater as enjoyable as possible. As well, the Ramon Visitor Center offers interactive views of the crater and information about the many things to do and tours to be enjoyed.
David Ben-Sira. A passionate traveller, full time tour guide at Kenes Tours and part time history teacher.