Makhtesh Ramon

Mitzpe Ramon sits on the edge of Makhtesh Ramon (Ramon Crater), one of the world's largest craters. The crater walls are layers of different-color sandstone rock beds containing fossils of shells, plants, and trees. The crater floor is covered with heaps of black basalt and beds of multicolored clays. A makhtesh is an erosion cirque walled by steep sliffs and drained by a single watercourse. "Makhtesh" means "mortar" in Hebrew (as in mortar and pestle). Makhteshim are found only in the Negev, where there are five, and the Sinai, where there are two more, although there are similar land forms in Turkmenistan and Iran. The Makhtesh Ramon Nature Reserve is the largest protected area in Israel. Makhtesh Ramon is the largest makhtesh, and is 300m deep, 8km wide, and 40km long. We also photographed Mahtesh HaGadol and Makhtesh HaKatan. There are two smaller makhteshim on Har Harif in the Negev.

Nubian ibexes (Capra nubiana) live in hilly, desert areas. Once rare, but now that they are protected legally, you can see them in the Judean desert and the Negev.

ibex ram ibex ram ibex ewe ibex ewe climbing down ibex ram ibex ewe

Flowers in the desert.

Charlotte and jeep yellow blossom daffodils

The Ammonite Wall, part of the southeast crater wall, contains hundreds of fossil ammonites.

Rani climbing the ammonite wall ammonite fossil several ammonites

Hiking the crater floor. Hercules cargo planes from the nearby airbase fly surprisingly low.

Paul and Rani makhtesh makhtesh tilted layers makhtesh Paul hiking rock layers crater vista caravanserai caravanserai rock layers rock layers crater wall tilted rock layers Charlotte and Rani hiking wadi wadi Hercules flying low pair of Hercules, flying low tilted rock layer watercourse


phlox butterfly spiny bush bird

Lunch with the Bedouin.

Bedouin camp camel paddock

tea pot tray of tea Bedouin woman with tea Charlotte drinking tea lunch Bedouin child Bedouin child Bedouin women and children Bedouin woman and toddler Charlotte and Rani playing with Bedouin child

ginger cat tabby cat ginger cat camel and dog goat goat donkeys camel closeup

Our old DEC coworker, Ira Machefsky, now runs Astronomy Israel in Mitzpe Ramon. Ira sets up his telescopes on the desert plateau away from all light pollution.

dinner with Ira telescope in the desert


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Last modified 29 June 2016