The Ramon Crater comprises Israel’s largest national park, the Ramon Nature Reserve. The crater is not technically a crater but a makhtesh. Rather than being formed by the impact of a meteorite or volcanic explosion, like true craters, a makhtesh is formed by erosion. This type of crater is found only in the Negev Desert in southern Israel and the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. The Ramon Makhtesh is the largest one, at 25 miles long and 5 miles across at its widest point and over 1600 feet deep.
The town of Mitzpe Ramon, about 53 miles south of Beersheva, sits on the northern rim of the crater. Learn about the formation of the makhtesh and its plant and animal inhabitants at the Mitzpe Ramon Visitor’s Center and enjoy the stunning view from the lookout there. Then head down to the valley floor to explore by 4X4 and/or on foot.
Within the makhtesh, you’ll find geological wonders and incredible views everywhere you look. Take a jeep tour or choose from a range of hikes, most of which are easy to moderate. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some of the local fauna but they can be quite shy.
Nabatean traders passed through the makhtesh on the way to the port at Gaza. The ruins of the Khan Saharanim (a khan or caravanserai is a roadside inn) can be seen near the only natural source of water and the lowest spot in the crater, Ein Saharanim.