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The Craters Region offers travelers a wide diversity of landscapes and experiences. The six-day walk along the Negev Highlands Trail that comprises the middle section of the Craters Region serves as a community-based tour of some of the region’s differing populations, stopping at a number of hospitable Bedouin tents and small desert towns and communities.

Many other parts of the region, however, qualify as some of the most remote sections on the Abraham Path. The walker’s experience in these areas is characterized not by communities and cultures (which are almost nonexistent in the rugged wilderness), but by natural splendor and the allure of the wild desert. Nevertheless, even these farflung areas show archaeological signs of ancient habitation, from fortresses to ancient foot routes to an impressive Nabataean city. It’s clear that the Negev has hosted numerous trade routes between more populated parts of the world since antiquity and that people have been finding ways to live here since long before the luxuries of modern technology opened up the desert to the casual visitor.

The “craters” from which the region takes its name are another point of interest along the path. Known as makhteshim in Hebrew, these geological formations are not, in fact, craters at all – they’re a type of box canyon found only in the Negev and Sinai.  The creation of these geological formations owes to the presence of the nearby tectonic plate boundary that also created the Dead Sea rift valley. The makhteshim are stunning at first glance, but also hold many subtler treasures – brightly colored dunes and sandstones and fields covered in ancient deep-sea fossils.

Parts of the region are remote, and long-distance hikers will need to cache water supplies at certain stage ends, as there are no other water supply points. The stage ends where you’ll need caches are Tamar Fort, Colored Sands, and Wadi Holit. The latter cannot be accessed by normal cars and you’ll need to hire a jeep to drop water off for you.


Accommodations

Accommodations

Stage Location Name Type Price Contact Information (+###) [country code] Amenities
1 Tamar Fort Campsite C Free Cannot be reserved; just show up Wild camping – no facilities at all, bring your own food and shelter
2 Satan’s Mouth Campsite C Free Cannot be reserved; just show up Wild camping – no facilities at all, bring your own food and shelter
2 Small Crater Campsite C Free Cannot be reserved; just show up Wild camping – no facilities at all, bring your own food and shelter
3 Ein Yorkeam Campsite C Free Cannot be reserved; just show up Wild camping – no facilities at all, bring your own food and shelter
4 Merhav Am Khan Merhav Am G Large Shared Khan: 85NIS; groups only – minimum of 380NIS
Small Shared Khan: 95NIS; groups only – minimum of 420NIS
Private Rooms: 450NIS
Stone Cabins: 650NIS for up to 5 guests; 90NIS for each additional guest
Wood Cabin: 800NIS for up to 5 guests; 90NIS for each additional guest
*small additional charge on holidays/weekends
+972 (0)8-657-1963

mimidbar@gmail.com

Food if coordinated in advance; cooking space; restrooms
5 Midreshet Ben Gurion Sde Boker Field School G Single in dorm-style room: 240NIS

Double in dorm-style room: 290NIS

Each additional person in dorm-style room: 120NIS
Single in guesthouse: 320NIS

Double in guesthouse: 420NIS

Each additional person in guesthouse: 150NIS
*Small additional charge on holidays/weekends

+972 (0)8-653-2016

orders.boker@gmail.com

Food if coordinated in advance; restrooms; air conditioning
6 Abdeh Eid’s Bedouin Tent T 200NIS/person, half-board Coming soon meals; water; restrooms
6 Abdeh Ya Halla Camp T 200NIS/person, half-board +972 (0)54-748-7005

+972 (0)57-851-9806
bedouinhospitality@gmail.com

meals; water; restrooms
6 Off Route 40 Between Sde Boker and Avdat Han Shayarot G Camping: 60NIS

Bedouin-style tent: 85NIS

Single room: 370NIS

Double room: 475NIS

+972 (0)8-653-5777
shayarot@netvision.net.il
breakfast (add’l 45NIS); half-board option (add’l 125NIS); sleeping bag and towel rental (30NIS); tours
6 Off Route 40 near Avdat Carmey Avdat Farm G 400-650NIS for a private cabin +972 (0)8-653-5177
farm@carmey-avdat.co.il
orchards; rock pools; jacuzzi (some cabins); food/restaurants
6 Off Route 40 near Avdat Oriyya Farm G Double: 600NIS

Weekend, 2 night min: 1500NIS

+972 (0)50-980-0069
oriyya12@gmail.com
air conditioning; kitchen; spa treatments
7 Hava Salaam Abu Bliya’s Tent T 200NIS/person, half-board +972 (0)50-542-3523

*Arabic and Hebrew only

meals; water; restrooms
8 Arikha Farhan Tent T 200NIS/person, half-board +972 (0)54-908-3573

*Arabic and Hebrew only

meals; water; restrooms
8 Arikha Salman Sadan’s Tent T 200NIS/person, half-board +972 (0)54-600-1357 meals; water; restrooms
8 Arikha Muhammad Hareinik’s Tent T 200NIS/person, half-board +972 (0)54-533-8381

*Arabic and Hebrew only

meals; water; restrooms
9 Mitzpe Ramon Silent Arrow Hs Communal tent (mattress provided): 80NIS

Single hut: 150NIS

Double hut: 250NIS

+972 (0)52-661-1561

hetzbasheket@gmail.com

water; restrooms; communal kitchen; bonfire/bbq facilities
9 Mitzpe Ramon Green Backpackers Hostel Hs Dorm: 88NIS

Double: 285NIS

Double Economy: 275NIS

Twin/Triple/Quad: 300-500NIS

+972 (0)8-653-2319

greenbmr@gmail.com

communal kitchen; free wi-fi; laundry; internet station; luggage storage; towel rental
9 Mitzpe Ramon Desert Shade G Single: 200NIS

Double: 300NIS

+972 (0)8-658-6229 restaurant; wi-fi; restrooms
10 Makhtesh Ramon Saharonim Night Camp C Free Cannot be reserved; just show up pit toilets
10 Makhtesh Ramon Be’erot Night Camp C Camping in private tent/under basic shelter: 16NIS

Bedouin-style tent with mattress: 75 NIS

+972 (0)8-628-0404 restrooms; showers; water; snacks; basic gear/maps for sale; sleeping bag rental (10NIS)
11 Wadi Holit Gev Holit Night Camp C Free Cannot be reserved; just show up Wild camping – no facilities at all, bring your own food and shelter
12 Wadi Zafira Wadi Zafira Night Camp C Free Cannot be reserved; just show up Wild camping – no facilities at all, bring your own food and shelter
12 Sapir Sapir Park C Free Cannot be reserved; just show up Camping in town park; water available nearby
A1 Mamshit Mamshit National Park C Camping in own tent-53 NIS/$15 pp; camping on mattress in large, Bedouin-style tent-75 NIS/$20; family-sized “tukul” (small hut)-350 NIS/$96; cabin-450 NIS/$124 +972 (0)8-628-0404, ext. 1

savit@npa.org.il

bbq; electric outlets; basic kitchen; water; showers and toilets
A1 Mamshit Cameland Negev Camel Ranch G double occupancy hut-$56, each additional person-$20 +972 (0)8-655-2829

kurnob@gmail.com

jeep and camel tours; showers and toilets; meals; kitchen; pickup and dropoff to surrounding area


Accommodations Key

F – Family Stay
G – Guesthouse (small, locally-owned establishment with private rooms)
H – Hotel
Hs – Hostel (accommodation offering dormitory options)
T – Bedouin Tent (usually dormitory-style sleeping on mats on the floor of a large tent)
S – Shelter (a few areas have free hiker shelters, which are a simple room with cots that hikers can use)
C – Camping (a paid or free place to put down a tent, may or may not have facilities)

Transportation

Getting to the Abraham Path in the Craters Region

The main airport in Israel is Ben Gurion International airport, located between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel has a well-developed and affordable system of public transport that includes buses, shared taxis (known as sheruts) and trains. For bus schedules and prices, see www.bus.co.il. Train connections service the coastal cities as well as Beersheva; see rail.co.il for schedules and prices. Both buses and trains do not run on Shabbat (from Friday evening to Saturday night), while shared taxis run seven days a week.

HaArava Junction is the beginning of the Craters Region route and is serviced by many public buses.  The town of Yeruham, approximately 10km west of the Large Crater, and Dimona, just north of Mamshit, are both serviced by public transportation and also serve as relative transportation hubs in the region. Mitzpe Ramon, on the edge of Makhtesh Ramon, serves as a hub farther south in the region. Merhav Am, Sde Boker, and Midreshet Ben Gurion are all along the path and accessible by bus.

Airport Transport to the Craters Region:

There are a number of ways to reach the public transportation hubs in the Craters Region from the Ben Gurion International airport.

  1. Via Beersheva: For information on getting to Beersheva, see Beersheva Region Transportation.  From the Beersheva central bus station, buses are available to haArava Junction (depart hourly), to Mitzpe Ramon (depart every 30-45 minutes),  and to Dimona (depart every 15 minutes).  From Dimona, buses depart every 75 minutes for Yeruham.
  2. Via Tel Aviv: Take a train from the airport to the Tel Aviv HaHagana station (depart every half hour).  Walk from the HaHagana train station to the Tel Aviv central bus station.  The Tel Aviv bus station offers service to haArava Junction (departs every hour and a half), to Dimona (leaves once a day at 16:30), and to Mitzpe Ramon (leaves once a day; time varies).
  3. Private taxi: Airport taxis have set prices.  Consult an airport employee for more information.
  4. Car rental: Several rental car companies are available 24/7 at the airport. Costs range from $30-60/€22-44 per day with gas/petrol costing about $8/gallon or €1.6/liter. Note that most car rental insurance offered by credit cards is void in Israel. Insurance from most Israeli rental cars is void in Palestinian Territory areas A and B.

Transport to Other Locations in the Craters Region:

  • Merhav Am can be reached by a bus from Dimona, which departs roughly every 2-4 hours and travels via Yeruham.
  • Sde Boker and Midreshet Ben Gurion can be reached by bus from Beer Sheva. A number of lines depart roughly every half hour to hour. They can also be reached by buses departing Dimona every 2-4 hours.

Entering by land:

From Jordan there are three crossings into Israel: King Hussein/Allenby in the center, Sheikh Hussein/Beit Shean in the north and Aqaba/Eilat in the south. The closest border to Jerusalem is King Hussein/Allenby, and shared taxis provide transport from the border into Jerusalem city center.  From the Jerusalem central bus station, direct buses to haArava Junction and Beersheva are available; from Beersheva, travelers can continue on to many accessible locations in the Craters Region. Alternately, the Aqaba crossing in the south brings travelers to Eilat; from Eilat, buses are available to haArava Junction (the Craters Region’s starting point) and to Mitzpe Ramon (its endpoint).

From Egypt, there is one crossing into Israel at Taba. Buses travel from Taba to Eilat throughout the day; from Eilat, buses are available to both the start and end points of the route through the Craters Region.

Visas:

Citizens of the US, EU, Russia, Japan and most western countries are issued a free 3-month B/2 tourist visa upon arrival which may be extended by applying at a Ministry of Interior office. Visitors from most other countries require a visa in advance. Citizens of most Arab and predominantly Muslim countries can individually apply for a visa but it is difficult to obtain one in practice. The most commonly issued visas for these travelers is through organized tour groups, and the application is often handled by Palestinian tour operators based in East Jerusalem. For specific visa guidelines, check the information provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As of 2013, Israeli visas at the border are being issued on a separate piece of paper and not stamped directly in passports. Israel charges an exit fee of 108 NIS when exiting via a land border (no separate exit fee when leaving via the airport), and 173 NIS when exiting via the Allenby Bridge crossing (known as King Hussein Bridge in Jordan).

On rare occasions, visas are denied or 2-week only visas are supplied to visitors suspected of being involved in political activism. Travellers mentioning they plan to visit Palestinian Territory or friendships/connections with Palestinians, Muslims or Arab people are often subject to additional questioning and delays when entering and leaving Israel/Palestine. In rare cases, visa personnel may request to see a copy of your itinerary, proof of funds, and/or other documents verifying the purpose of your visit.

Sites in the Craters Region:

Makhteshim

Trekking through these expansive landforms is an experience unique to the region, for they exist only in the Negev and Sinai.

Mamshit

Stroll through the ancient market city that was once at the center of the region’s bustling incense and spice routes.

Ein Avdat

Follow a desert stream as it winds between towering canyon walls and discover hidden pools, waterfalls, and wildlife around each bend.

Avdat

Wander the ancient streets and crumbling structures of the old Nabataean trade hub at Avdat, taking in stunning views of the surrounding Negev Highlands at every turn.

Makhtesh Ramon

Amble through millennia of geological and cultural history as you descend into the vast reaches of Makhtesh Ramon.