Mitzpe Ramon – Ramon Lookout is a town in the Negev desert of southern Israel. It is situated on the northern ridge at an elevation of 2,400 feet (800m.) overlooking an enormous erosion cirque known as the Ramon Crater. This crater, or “Machtesh”, as it is called in Hebrew (a term also used by geologists around the world) is 28 miles long and five miles wide. It is a formation unique to Israel and the Sinai.
Ramon Crater is the largest one one of the three Negev craters. It contains geological formations unparalleled elsewhere in the world. Together with magnificent panorama, it presents a fascinating story of geomorphologic evolution. The Ramon Nature Reserve encompassing the crater and the Negev mountains surrounding it is the largest nature reserve in Israel.
Mitzpe Ramon was originally founded in 1951 as a camp for the workers building the road to Eilat. The town’s first permanent residents, immigrants from North Africa and Romania, settled there in the 1960s, and it became the southernmost of the Negev’s development towns.
The development of Mitzpe Ramon was adversely affected by the opening of Route 90 in the late 1960s. After the inauguration of this highway, traffic to and from Eilat bypassed Mitzpe Ramon almost entirely. However, growing interest in ecotourism, jeep trekking and hiking, and the upgrading of Route 40, which is considered a more scenic route to Eilat, have improved matters since the mid-1990s.
There is a visitors center overlooking the Ramon Crater and the fit can walk down into the crater for a 4 to 5 hour trek without any shade. There is a Lama and Alpaca farm and other attractions.