After the camel ride, we headed to the town of Mitzpe Ramon, which is built right on the edge of Makhtesh Ramon, aka Israel’s Grand Canyon (makhtesh means crater). The makhtesh is huge (25 miles long x 5 miles wide), so we only saw a tiny bit of it, but what we saw was awesome — in the literal sense of the word. The pictures won’t do it justice, but we’ll try.

We started at the top of the crater, about 1000 ft. above the crater floor, at an observation spot called Har Gamal (camel hill). Its obvious why…

at the foot of Har Gamal, at the edge of Makhtesh Ramon

panoramic view from the edge of Makhtesh Ramon - another example of a surprising absence of barrier between hiker and cliff edge, to the right. Roy is at far left. Doesn't he look good?

We drove down a switchbacking road to the crater floor and went to an area known as The Carpentry.

the Carpentry is covered with quartzite prisms

Its called "The Carpentry" because the prisms look like they are made of wood

the hexagonal rocks were formed when molten lava caused the quartzite to crack

at the bottom of the hill was a vendor selling mahlabi from a cooler in the back of his van

Sarah enjoying a refreshing mahlabi

mahlabi is a creamy pudding topped with rosewater syrup, coconut, & peanuts

A paraphrased history of the creation of Makhtesh Ramon, according to Discovering Natural Israel, by Michal Strutin:

Although many people think that an asteroid has to hit earth to create something like this, Makhtesh Ramon is actually an erosional crater. This whole area used to be underwater (over 200 million years ago), which created layers of sandstone covered by layers of limestone & dolomite (harder stone) created from the remains of marine animals. Tectonic movement pushed the layers upward, breaking the limestone and then water wore away the soft sandstone on the inside–like eating a soft-boiled egg and leaving the shell.

hiking through the Makhtesh

celebrating our hike & the beauty of the makhtesh with some yoga poses

After the hike, we drove to a different part of the makhtesh with piles of different colored sandstone. Children played among the piles, collecting samples of the different colors for souvenirs or art projects.

piles of different colored sandstone

some of the wildlife at Makhtesh Ramon . . .

this might be a colchicum, or sand lily

agama lizard

an ibex! related to the goat

rotem, or broombrush