Mitzpe Ramon (or interchangeably Mizpe Ramon) is a small town with a world class view over some unique natural phenomena.
In the early 1950’s the young (and poor) state of Israel had to accept over a million immigrants from all over the world. Small towns were built all over the country without the proper infrastructure to supply jobs and means of leaving for the inhabitants that arrived with no property, common language and in many cases modern skills. The most remote town was Mizpe Ramon located 80 kilometers south of Beer Sheva (Beersheba). Luckily for you (and us as well), this town has not changed a lot and with only 4,000 habitants it has succeeded in surviving without disturbing the splendor of nature. Mitzpe Ramon is situated just on the slope of the Makhtesh Ramon (or erroneously the Ramon Crater) – a unique form of a valley created by natural forces that looks like a huge crater. The Negev desert has three such Makhatesh forms: “Small” “Big” and the largest called the “Ramon.”
Mitzpe Ramon accomodation
Mizpe Ramon has only two hotels that are marketed as “cyclist” hotels. One of them is brand new – Bike Inn and the other — Pundak Ramon or Ramon Inn, which used to be the only one in the town adapted to accommodate the needs of cyclists. Cycling has become an extremely popular sport in Israel in recent years.
There are a lot of very affordable B&B options in the town, in all levels. On my last visit I stayed at a small place run by an English speaking couple who provide archery activities as well.
Mitzpe Ramon hiking and camping
A word of caution: before going on any hike in Mitzpe Ramon or any other places in Negev desert, please be aware that during the summer temperatures can go up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). And also, watch out for venomous snakes.
The Ramon Crater is something out of this world — it’s like you’re in another planet! It’s a great place to hike and camp. There are both one-day and multiple-day hikes, depending on your choice. If you choose the multi-day hikes, please contact a guide or ranger at the Mitzpe Ramon’s visitor center, which should also be your first stop before starting your hiking adventure.
At the visitor center, inform your guide or ranger about your hike and route. There are some well-marked official trails, which each trail having its own color. The markings are as followed: a white stripe, then the color of the trail, then the white stripe again (such as white-blue-white). Hiking off the trails and hiking after sunset are absolutely forbidden. These rules apply to all the hiking activities in Israel.
A short hike begins at the Minsara and is marked in green. The Minsara is a particular interest to geologists. The Har Ardon trail is a moderate-to-hard hike, but the views it offers are very beautiful.
Mitzpe Ramon nightlife
The cultural center of Mitzpe Ramon is called “Adama” (earth) is run by two of Israel’s top dancers: Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dror. They manage a dancing school and a dancing group that is a run like a commune; and is by far the most interesting place in Mizpe Ramon (apart from the natural treasures surrounding it). Night life scene in Mizpe Ramon includes one jazz club operating only on Thursdays. But do not underestimate the quality of the performers. The NYC jazz scene is full of Israelis, many of whom are glad to spend their vacation in this beautiful place and if you are lucky you might find fine musicians playing in Mitzpe Ramon.
There is one brand new gourmet restaurant “Chez Hugene” and one with food local food called “Hakatze” – meaning “The end (of the road)”. The only pub in the town is “Hachavit” (The barrel), but it was closed on the Saturday evening that I was there!
Of course you could always head into the Makhtesh for some star gazing.
Near to Mitzpe Ramon
Near to Mitzpe Ramon is Ein Avdat and David Ben Gurion’s Kibbutz, home and grave at Sede Boker.
How to get to Mitzpe Ramon
Highway 40 passes through Mitzpe Ramon while going on its way to Eliat (from Beer Sheva, which is 85 kilometers north of Mitzpe Ramon).
There are buses from Beer Sheva that run more than once an hour and buses from Eilat several times a day. The bus numbers to Eilat are 64, 65, 60 and 392.
Getting around Mitzpe Ramon
Mitzpe Ramon is best explored by car or by foot. Once you’re on the crater, you can go there foot, by car, or oddly enough, by llama (you can hire these creatures from the Alpaca Farm).