Makhtesh Ramon is a geological feature of Israel's Negev desert. Located at the peak of Mount Negev, 85 km south of the city of Beersheba. The landform is not actually an impact crater, nor a volcanic crater formed by a volcanic eruption, but rather is the world's largest makhtesh. The crater is 40 km long, 2–10 km wide and 500 meters deep, and is shaped like an elongated heart. The only settlement in the area is the small town of Mitzpe Ramon.
A small, well-run hostel with the perfect setup for meeting people - a nice common area and a friendly atmosphere. It serves as an ideal basecamp for exploring the Makhtesh Ramon. The staff have lots of helpful hiking advice for exploring the area. They offer a fully equipped kitchen, a welcoming and warm social space, fresh linens, internet and laundry. They run free sunset tours, star-gazing nights and bedouin experiences.
The Silent Arrow is located on the outskirts of the town, about 15mins walk from the bus station. If you are looking for a relaxing desert retreat for a few days then this is the place. The silent has no electricity. This means it has no wifi, no artificial lighting and no refrigeration. They offer dorm beds as well as private dome suites that look out over the desert. If you want to get off the grid for a few days, this is an incredible spot to do it.
Opened in 2013, the Mitzpe Ramon Visitor Center, is set on the northern cliffs of the Ramon Crater, and tells the geological story behind this unique and amazing work of nature. The area around the visitor centre offers spectacular views out over the crater. The Ramon Crater is the world’s largest makhtesh, and was created by water erosion. The Mitzpe Ramon Visitor Center has exhibits explaining the natural processes which led to the creation of the makhtesh.
The visitor centre also contains a wealth of knowledge when it comes to hiking in the area. Ask them for a map and some recommendations. They will be able to offer some handy advice on potential routes and safety tips.
To Eat and Drink
Mitzpe Ramon is a very small town and as such there are not a whole lot of options if you are looking for a place to eat or drink. My recommendation is to head to the supermarket in the middle of town and purchase everything you need from there. Both of the hostels I have recommended have good cooking facilities. There is a small hummus joint near the supermarket called Jinjy's Hummus that serves tasty take-away. Additionally there Lasha Bakery, a bakery in town that has strong reviews.
The town of Mitzpe Ramon is easily navigable by foot, however if you want to venture any further than that, or if you have plans to go hiking, you really need a car. My recommendation is to head to Mitzpe Ramon as 2-3 day trip out of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem and to hire a car for the length of the trip.
Getting In and Out
To get to or from Tel Aviv, first you will need to make your way to Be'er Sheva. Buses 60, 64 or 65 travel between Be'er Sheva and Mitzpe Ramon, they depart from every 20-40 min. When you arrive at Be'er Sheva Central Bus Station you will need to transfer across the road to the Be'er Sheba Center train station. The train to Tel Aviv from here will cost 27 NIS.
Bus 392 operated by Egged travels between Eilat and Be'er Sheva and passes through Mitzpe Ramon along the way. There appears to be 3-4 buses per day making this trip so you will want to check the timetables carefully to make sure you are in the right spot at the right time to catch it. Head to bus.co.il/otobusimmvc/Lines?LineName=392 for route maps and timetables.