Possibly the grandest and most awe-inspiring natural site in the whole of Israel, the Makhtesh Ramon is a giant geological feature at the peak of Mount Negev, roughly 50 miles south of Beersheba near the tiny settlement of Mitzpe Ramon.
The main attraction at the Ramon Nature Reserve (the country’s largest national park), is Ramon, the largest makhtesh in the world. Measuring 25 miles in length, 5 miles in width, and more than 1,500 feet deep, the Ramon appears at first glance to be a massive impact crater (that would be some meteor!), but it isn’t.
Instead, it is a geological landform that is unique to the Negev desert. In essence, a makhtesh is a sort of valley or canyon with steep walls formed by erosion that occurs when heavy rains drain in the center of a mountain or peak. Most makhtesh contain one drain (or wadi), but the mighty Ramon has a total of three.
Despite being located in a remote region, there is a great deal for visitors to the park to do. Here, the name of the game is scenery. The best way to take in the amazing sights are at the Mitzpe Ramon Visitors Center on the edge of the crater, where you can enjoy the view through a large picture window while learning about the geology and history of the region.
Another excellent way to experience Ramon is via the Albert Promenade, which meanders around the edge of the makhtesh, culminating in the so-called “bird balcony” – a vantage point that juts out into the canyon.