The Negev Desert tour my favorite tours to do in Israel! Sadly, not many chose to go there, usually due to lack of time but I would actually allocate at least a full day to spend there. As an Israel private tour guide, I can assure you there are many hidden spots that not many know but for that you will need an SUV 4X4 (that I own).
Did You Know?!
When I give guided tours of Israel I tell my guests that in order to survive in the Negev desert, some plants have developed a unique mechanism for optimizing water absorption: It’s done by a deep root system that is able to reach the groundwater or by a broad, but shallow root system that allows water to be absorbed from the upper layers of the soil meant to collect the water from the flash floods that hit the area, once or twice every winter.
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Other plants have developed a different mechanism for reducing water loss by diminishing the leaves’ surface area; thus reducing the amount of water evaporation; other plants shed their leaves in the summer, or grow leaves in the winter that get smaller in the summer.
I try during my private tours of Israel that I give in the desert to show one example of these kinds of plants. One example is the Acacia trees that are widely spread in the Judean Desert and in the Negev.
Highlights of the Negev Desert Tour
Ben Gurion’s Hut:
Paying Homage to the Father of the State of Israel
Ben-Gurion is the father of the state of Israel: At 35 years of age, he got elected as secretary of the Histadrut (One of the most powerful institutions back then). In the 1930’s he leads the Mapai Political Party. As a result, Ben-Gurion became de facto, leader of the Jewish community in Palestine. In 1946 he head the World Zionist Organization. Lastly, elected prime minister of the state of Israel in May 1948. He finally retired in 1963. For sure a stop you have to do when you’re on the Negev Desert Tour
Read More About in My Article David Ben-Gurion
Richard Lichtheim, a known revisionist at the time wrote a letter to Ben-Gurion in Feb 1960. he told him he had what Bismarck defined as “Civil Courage”. In other words, the courage to take decisions that aren’t popular; or decisions that would require an enormous struggle to get them accomplished.
Lichtheim continued: “that’s the trademark of a true leader which isn’t just a politician but a visionary”. Indeed those are the qualities Ben-Gurion was blessed with alongside with determination; taking calculated risks; a historical consciousness and relentless persistence to reach one’s goals.
There is a famous anecdote about young Ben-Gurion: In the late 1910s tried to get accepted to the Jewish defense organizations called Hashomer (“The Watchmen”). Ben Gurion was declined, the very short guy, barley 5′ 0″, could hardly handle riding horses and shooting a rifle at the same time.
The Ramon Crater (Makhtesh Ramon): A Real Geological Wonder
In the Negev Desert, next to the town of Mitzpe Ramon there is a geological wonder, unique to the Negev Desert and the Sinai Peninsula. When I give a private tour of the Negev I like to ask my guests: How do you think this enormous hole in the ground was formed?!
Then the little ones usually are eager to answer first and say: “a meteor!”
So firstly allow me to clarify, Ramon Crater is not an impact crater from a meteor; nor a volcanic crater formed by a volcanic eruption but the world’s largest Erosion Cirque.
Simply said, the crater was created by the slow and gradual erosion of soft rock layers that were under harder layers of rock. The crater’s center used to be the head of a mountain, the crater’s lips are still facing the top of the mountain that no longer exists, and the mountain’s face has eroded slowly to become a crater.
Which Conditions Do You Need to Form a Makhtesh?
In general, the craters in the Negev are not simply created. We’ll need a combination of several conditions for an erosion crater to be formed: asymmetric anticline; layers of rock, that differ in degree of hardness: top layers of hard rock, such as chalk or dolomite, and below them soft rock layers like sandstone; the downcutting of a river removing the crater’s low-drift basin; and desert climate (Dryness that protects the crater walls from weathering).
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Please pay a visit to the Makhtesh Ramon Visitors Center (if you’re without an Israel private guide). It’s about an hour experience but very cool with some visuals about how the crater was formed. After getting some information go down to the crater, don’t see it from the top only.
The Crater contains a diversity of rocks including clay hills known for their colors and forms. The north-eastern edge of the makhtesh was once covered by spiral ammonite fossils: ranging from the size of snails to that of tractor wheels – these have been extracted so only smaller fossils can be found today.
More geological phenomenons are waiting for you down such as:
Once an active volcano erupted thousands of years ago and caused it to be covered in lava which quickly cooled in the open air, converting it into basalt. Limestone covered by basalt can also be found in smaller black hills in the southern part of the makhtesh.
HaMinsara (The Carpentry Shop)
In the center of the makhtesh is HaMinsara (The Carpentry Shop), a low hill made up of columnar jointed sandstone – polygonal prismatic columns of quartzite.
Nahal Ardon in the east of the makhtesh contains several vertical dikes. Occasional geodes of celestine can be found next to some of them.
Last but Not Least: Ein Avdat National Park
Ein Avdat – the kingdom of ibex and vultures
At the foot of Midreshet Ben Gurion, the Tsin Stream has carved out a deep and impressive canyon
Three springs feed a brook that flows all year round and an enchanted oasis. Ein Avdat – the kingdom of ibex and vultures.
As a private tour guide in Israel, this national park is one of my all-time favorites.