We left Tel Aviv early, after one last morning run on the beach, and drove south to the Negev. It was fun to watch the landscape change drastically, from urban to agricultural to desert.
The desert is an incredible place — our goal was to spend as much time as possible just taking in views of the scenery. We spent the afternoon hiking in Ein Avdat National Park, known for its icy desert streams, which are fed from an underground water source.
We had dinner in the small, laid-back and artistic town of Mizpe Ramon, and spent the night at the charming Carmey Avdat farm. It’s a vineyard and winery, and also rents out small and comfortable guest cabins. It was cozy and peaceful, and in the morning they brought a cooler to our cabin door, packed up with a perfect fresh Israeli breakfast.
After breakfast we spent a half day hiking in the beautiful Makhtesh Ramon, the world’s largest natural crater, with the help of an excellent guide, Dariya. The crater, formed through tectonic shift and erosion, is so vast that we would have had a hard time knowing where to start. Dariya, a devoted desert dweller of several decades, knew exactly where to take us, and pointed out interesting natural forms. She called the crater “a window into the history of the world” because of the way the minerals build up in layers, now visible in the cutaway sides.
We stopped for a coffee break under an acacia tree, interrupted quite a few times by training fighter jets from the nearby army base whizzing (disarmingly closely) overhead.
Before saying goodbye to Mizpe Ramon, we stopped at one other attraction we’d read about — the alpaca farm. We didn’t take a tour, but we did get to say a quick hello to some of the animals.
On Monday afternoon, we began our stunning drive south to Eilat.
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