After a long breakfast in Tel Aviv last Sunday we decided to rent a car to visit the Negev, the big desert area of Israel. After approximately one and a half hour of driving in the green the landscape changed into yellow dunes and harsh rocks at the area around Be’er Sheva. We stopped there just to feel the sand between our fingers, then we kept on driving further south. Our final aim was to reach the small town of Mitspe Ramon right in the middle of Makhtesh Nature Reserve. It’s a good starting point for hiking in the desert and you have a breathtaking view over the whole crater of Makhtesh.
We checked into an EcoCamp called Desert Shade with a beautiful view over the Makhtesh and small mud huts to sleep in. One of the guys working there was Adam, a young and very welcoming Israeli who originally came from the North of Israel and had dark and wild curly hair. There were also prisoners doing some kind of community service and a group of difficult teenagers. That night we talked to Adam about the military service in Israel and to another Israeli guy who comes over to the desert every once in a while to work with the kids.
The next morning we went for a hike in the Makhtesh. By car we went to Saharonim. From there we started to hike for a few hours in the desert. Unfortunately there were some school excursions to that hiking trek as well so that we were not the only ones on the trail. But nevertheless although hiking in the sun of the desert can be exhausting, it’s worth it in any case.
The next day we made our way to the Cisterns of Lotz. Although this area still belongs to the desert you will find (cos of the cisterns) a lot of spring flowers here. It’s a peaceful place and not a lot of people are around. It was easy to hike here – no big mountains, just hilly steppe.