• Talma Gotteiner

Mitzpe Ramon, A Stopover and Sleepover Midway to Eilat – Oct 2017

Updated: Apr 22


Hi there!

I'd like to introduce you to a location that you may or may not have heard of, on your next visit to Israel. You can either plan to visit it directly or add it as a lengthier stopover on the way to Eilat. I visited there for one night during the Sukkot holiday and would like to share a few places with you. There is much more than the agenda below, but I’ll leave additional activities for another post.

Trip Itinerary Options:

  • Stopovers on the way to/from Mitzpe Ramon:

  • First Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion’s Desert Home at Kibbutz Sde Boker

  • Carmey Avdat Farm and Winery

  • ‘Sfinat Midbar’ – Camel Rides and Beduin Hospitality

  • Mitzpe Ramon Sites

  • Ramon Crater Visitor Center

  • Ramon Crater – ‘Stone, Wind, Water’ multicolor sand pit

  • Ramon Crater – ‘Carpentry Shop’ geological site

  • Alpaca Farm Mitzpe Ramon

  • Astronomy Star Gazing

  • Desert Sports Activities

Trip Anchors:

First Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion’s Desert Home

I can’t write a post on Mitzpe Ramon without mentioning this important stopover, especially if this is your first time in Israel. Ben-Gurion, was a visionary Prime Minister, who had both the luck and responsibility for establishing a new state. After formally proclaiming establishment of the State of Israel, Ben-Gurion led the Independence War and establishment of several of today’s state institutions. The hut at Kibbutz Sde Boker is where he chose to live upon retirement from office (twice). The humble abode reflects both his character as a person who practiced what he preached (i.e. settlement of the Negev Desert and personal contribution) and brings to mind the Jewish adage “Who is rich? He, who is contented with his lot.” (Jewish book ‘Pirkei Avot’). This modest man, went to shear sheep in the morning, went on to respond to numerous letters from the public and state ending his day by reading some of his thousands of books in 11 languages. He still invokes true admiration.

Aside from the actual hut, which was left intact per his instructions, the visit includes two films: one an overview of his life and one focusing on his leadership skills and key decisions that he took on various political issues of his day. In addition, there are a number of exhibits related to his life including several interesting letters, personal effects such as his notebook of family birthdates, gifts related to his office and a room with interactive quiz games.

Ramon Crater – ‘Stone, Wind, Water’ Multicolor Sand Pit

The Ramon Crater is a beautiful geological formation worth seeing. I’m not going to spoil the visitors center explanation on how it was formed, but a perfect stopover that does not require any tour guides is the “Stone, Wind, Water” location (I’m afraid it’s only in ‘Waze’ in Hebrew so you should ask someone to put it in for you). You should come prepared with empty bottles and plastic spoons so that you can collect your own multi-color sand bottles.

Additional Options:

Stopovers on the Way to/from Mitzpe Ramon

Carmey Avdat Farm and Winery

A small private farm that is a dream come true for a nice family. We stopped over on the way to Mitzpe Ramon for some wine tasting and made some nice purchases. The kids enjoyed their fresh grape juice, which is unbelievably naturally sweet. Just so you know, you can take a tour and even stay at their BNB, but should reserve in advance.

‘Sfinat Midbar’ - Camel Rides and Beduin Hospitality

The term ‘Sfinat Midbar’, when directly translated is ‘Ship of the Desert’, which is a flowery name for a camel. The location is a Beduin hospitality campsite. You need to get someone to put it in Waze in Hebrew (חאן ספינת מדבר). You can order a tent or meal in advance. We just ordered, coffee, tea, Baklava cakes and a camel ride. It was awesome! Camels are tall so when they get up and down you lurch forwards and backwards and it’s a bit like a roller coaster.

Mitzpe Ramon Sites

Ramon Crater Visitor Center

The visitor center is the place to go in order to learn about the topography and geology of the crater, how it was formed and what it contains. The site includes both a film and a 3D model. If it’s your first time and you don’t have a tour guide, the visitor center will fill in the knowledge gaps.

Ramon Crater – ‘Carpentry Shop’ Geological Site

The ‘Carpentry Shop’ (‘Ha’Minsara’ in Hebrew) is another location that you can put in Waze in Hebrew alone (get help) for a self-guided tour. The site contains numerous polygonal prismatic columns made of quartzite that were created during a volcanic eruption. It’s a unique sand formation and interesting to see. There are wooden steps leading to the top of the hill and a short dirt pathway down. The whole stopover takes about half an hour.

Alpaca Farm’ Mitzpe Ramon

Apparently, Lamas and Alpacas appreciate the dry desert climate of Mitzpe Ramon as much as they do their South American homeland. A visit to this privately-owned farm includes an explanation about the history of the farm, much information about Lamas and Alpacas in general, a separate guided explanation of the small wool making factory that is located on the farm and Lama and Alpaca rides for small children as well as much fun feeding by the kids and no less fun spitting by the Lamas and Alpacas. Also, a newly learned tip is that you should plan your visit in Passover so that you get to watch the shearing activities. The visit to the farm is a highly recommended family activity especially with small children. See below. Isn’t she adorable?

Desert Sports Activities

Although we had a restful trip, you should know that there are awesome sports activities available. I’m including a few links in case you want to check them out. Bike riding (‘Negev Land’), rappelling (‘Deep Desert Israel’, ‘Adam Sela’ ‘4XDesert’) and jeep + walking tours (‘NegevJeep Day Tours’, ‘Beresheet Desert Tours’) to name a few.

Astronomy – Star Gazing

Due to the low density of the population in the desert, Mitzpe Ramon offers a wonderful opportunity for star gazing since there is less “white noise” from the residential area. In other words, the stars shine brighter when the background sky is dark and is not lit up by electricity from street lamps and homes etc. From time to time there are public festivals of star gazing at Mitzpe Ramon usually during the summer and holidays so you should keep an eye out for events. However, in case there are none, you can order a privately guided star gazing activity at ‘Astronomy Israel’.

For those who are interested, you can come prepared with the following audiobook "Astronomy I: Earth, Sky and Planets".

Food and Accommodation

Chronologically, our first sit-down meal was dinner at a restaurant called ‘Tzokim’ located near the Visitors Center. Unfortunately, because it was night, we couldn’t enjoy the view of the crater that is one of the highlights of the place, but we enjoyed the Mediterranean style meal and especially the service. The waiter was flexible enough to provide chicken from the couscous dish with rice instead of couscous for one of the younger customers in our group.

Our next meal was breakfast at the Isrotel Ramon Inn Hotel (‘Pundak Ramon’ in Hebrew). The hotel itself is perfect for families. All the rooms are actually small apartment suites with spacious rooms. Ours included two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom and a separate toilet for convenience. Moreover, the hotel has many facilities for your leisure including a swimming pool, fitness center, pool table, tennis table and a playroom for small children with guided activity hours and a small family show at night. To get back to the food topic, the breakfast is Israeli at its best. It includes a fine spread of numerous fresh salads, cheeses, various eggs, fish platters, casseroles, homemade jams (truly, made by the head chef), breads, cakes and more. It is not a fancy hotel, but it is clean and pleasant and serves its purpose. It was my fourth time there so I honestly recommend it.

The last sit-down meal we had was again dinner on the way back. We stopped over in Beer-Sheva at a nice pasta place called ‘Pastina’. They even have gluten-free pasta so I was able to join the fun. Their secret is in the sauces, which include several meaty ones (sausage based, Ragu style and goose breast) as well as other nice veggie ones.

I'm adding a few additional options for you. With respect to restaurants in Mitspe Ramon you are welcome to try the following for dinner: ‘Hahavit’, 'Innsense’, ‘Pangea’, ‘Hakatze’ and ‘Hadasaar Natural Living Restaurant’.

With respect to accommodation, a fancier hotel is 'Beresheet Hotel'. Other regular hotels are ‘Ramon Suites Hotel’ and ‘Mitzpe Ramon Guest House’.

Our timeline:

I’m not going to include a timeline because it is a leisurely visit, but I will put a few stopovers on the map to give you an idea of their location between Tel-Aviv and Mitzpe Ramon.

This is what it looks like on the map:

I hope I was able to convince you to include ‘Mitzpe Ramon’ in your itinerary. It’s just as unique as Eilat and well worth a prolonged stopover. Would you like to share one of your experiences there?

Best,

Talma

Post Visit Note: I've added a link to a hiking trail nearby with a view of the crater from the top of Mount Ardon.

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#History #Attractions #Sports #Geology

Disclaimer: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links, I will receive a small percentage of the profits at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Israel-Best-Trips.com

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