Founded in the 1950s as a military outpost and then as a waypoint station for local miners and road workers, Mitzpe evolved into a small town when newly arrived Moroccan immigrants were unceremoniously placed there and told that they would "be living an hour and half from Tel Aviv." Over time, various other groups like part of the "Black Hebrew" community and various strains of the most recent Russian immigration from the early 1990s, have also been placed in Mitzpe Ramon.
Mitzpe Ramon remains small and somewhat struggling, although recently a variety of new age hippies and eco entrepreneurs have succeeded in turning the ailing town into something of a hip eco leave-the-city-behind destination. At the same time, there continues to be dissonance between some of the town's original residents and the more recent arrivees.
Today, Mitzpe acts as a stopping point for travelers going from the North of Israel to Eilat as well as catering to soldiers stationed at the nearby military bases. The town has also developed into a unique eco-tourist destination as it boasts the highest air quality in Israel and a series of breathtaking landscapes. Mitzpe also provides a haven for various kinds of performance artists, new-age healers and desert enthusiasts.
Mitzpe Ramon's biggest sight is the Ramon Crater (Machtesh Ramon), 500 meters deep, 40 kilometers long, 10 kilometers at its widest, and claimed to be the largest in the world. This is not, however, an asteroid impact site: just a particularly large asymmetrical hole dug out of the ground by natural processes of erosion. The Ramon Crater is the largest of three Negev craters, containing geological formations unlike those you would see anywhere else in the world. Together with a magnificent panorama, it presents a fascinating story of geomorphologic evolution. The Ramon Nature Reserve which encompasses the crater and the Negev mountains surrounding is the largest nature reserve in Israel.
Mitzpe Ramon Visitors Center. Located at the edge of the crater, this affords stunning views over the area and has a small and informative museum documenting the geological and natural history of the area - a large picture window in the centre affords visitors a breathtaking view of the crater itself.edit
The Albert Promenade. A trail decorated with impressive environmental sculptures - starts from the Visitors Center and goes along the edge of the Ramon Crater. In the middle of the promenade there is a "bird balcony" which hangs above the crater and offers the best view around over the crater. Visitors can see birds flying under their feet rather than over their head. After the paved trail ends, a path continues along the crater edge and leads to a small observation platform installed atop of a rock resembling a camel.edit
Bio Ramon. A museum showcasing the wildlife of the desert and the crater. The rich collection of desert plants and animals displayed is divided into two parts: an indoor interpretation centre and an outdoor area reconstructing the Negev desert landscape, with desert loess, hamada, sand, cliffs, riverbeds and even a small spring.edit
Outdoor Desert Sculpture Park
Alpacas Farm - the largest outside of South America
Sde Boker - Ben Gurion's Tomb and Negev Residence
The Lost City at Mitspor Eli - near Mash'abei Sade, an early Muslim archaeological site
Treks of various lengths can be arranged in and around the crater. There are many strange rock formations in odd colors to be seen, as well as desert animals including the nearly tame ibex who congregate around tourists, looking for handouts.
Sahar Special Tours (Eyal Korin ,certified tour guide), Mitzpe Ramon, ☎ 972524433286, . Daily guided jeep tours to Makhtesh ramon ,4x4 desert tours to Mt. Karkom , the Nabatean spice route , Zin valley springs ,Petra,Jordan and other beautiful Negev desert sites .edit
Negev Jeep Tours, . Jeeptours with Dutch, Swiss-German, German and English speaking guidesedit
Astronomy - Tel Aviv University's Wise Observatory, . Tel Aviv University's Wise Observatory is here. The Negev has the darkest skies in Israel.edit
Rappelling. You can rappel from the edge of the crater. Not a very long rappel, but great views.edit
Outdoor adventures Experience the depths of the Negev desert including the Spice Route and Ramon Crater along the most picturesque routes by jeep, camel or hiking. Short negev tours depart daily.
Hangar Evan Jeremy Kriker's Dance School, Har Boker st. 4 Mitzpe Ramon (Spice Route Quarter), ☎ 972-8-6595190, . Join the classes of the Dance School that is running 3 days a week (Sunday-Tuesday): the shishkabob dancing etc. Adama also organizes festivals on the main Jewish holidays.edit
The Alpaca Farm
The Wine Route of the Negev
Deep Desert Israel, Mitzpe Ramon, . Unique desert activities in the Negev: Camping journies, 4x4 Jeep tours, Rappelling, outdoor Yogaedit
The Ramon Crater is an amazing place to go hiking, there are many one-day hikes and some multiple-day hikes.
Before starting a hike please go to the visitor center in Mitzpe Ramon and inform a ranger about your hike and route.
Official hiking trails are well marked. Each hiking trail has its own color. The markings are as fallowed: a white stripe then a stripe in the color of the trail and then a white stripe again, for example, white, blue, white. It forbidden to hike off the trails and to hike after sun down. These hiking rules apply for the rest of Israel.
A nice short hike starts at the Minsara and is marked in green. The Minsara is interesting for geologists. Their are two options for this hike, option one is a hike that goes up the Minsara hill and comes back down it is approximately 1km and is an easy hike. Option two is a hike that goes up to Mitzpe Ramon. It is approximately 6km long and is moderate to hard.
The Har Ardon trail is very beautiful, it is moderate to hard. One can start form the Be'erot camping site or on the black trail this will connect to the blue trail that will finish at the Givat Charut parking, from there follow the black trail back to the Be'erot camping site. This trail is approximately 11km long. One can also start directly from the Givat Charut parking and finishes at the parking on bottom of Har Ardon this trail is approximately 5km long.
For any multi day hikes please consult a ranger in the Mitzpe Ramon visitor center.
In Israel one is only allowed to camp in designated camping areas, all of the camping sites in Israel are on a first come first serve bases. Most of the designated camping sites in nature reserves in Israel have no facilities such as running water, toilets, etc. In most cases camp fires are allowed, use only wood from outside the nature reserve as burning trees or plants that grow in the reserve is prohibited even if they are dead.
The Be'erot camping site has most of the facilities that one would need, it has an open Bedouin tent where one can order food or drink a cup of Bedouin tea or coffee for a fee. It also has running water, and reasonable toilets. If you are planing on camping in Be'erot take in to consideration that you will have to pay a fee, for more information about this fee ask at the Mitzpe Ramon visitor center. This site is open for cars.
The camping site in Bikat Machmal is comfortable but has no facilities, fee in not required for this camp site. This site is also open for cars but please respect the environment and the wildlife keep the camp site clean and quiet.
A small cafe/restaurant exists near the Visitors' Center. edit
The Ramon Inn restaurant. Offers a variety of Israeli and non-Israeli foodsedit
Hahavit. The local bar/restaurant provides a diverse menuedit
Mis'edet aKatze. Various homemade food, at reasonable prices.edit
Cafeneto. A small café located by the cliff and near Har Gamal ("mount camel"), offers a variety of breakfasts, salads and sandwiches, and also the best coffee in town.edit
Pangea. Offering delicious fare, such as Kebabs, Grilled Chicken, and the ubiquitous Entrecote Steak. The level of English spoken by the waitstaff is limited, however. As of Dec 2005, their menu was only printed in Hebrew.edit
Hangar Adama, Har Boker st. 4 Mitzpe Ramon (Spice Route Quarter), ☎ 972-8-6595190, . A Dance Company and a Dance School which offers a variety of accomodation: camping, a funky dormitory and luxury mudhouses.edit
Mati and Roni's DeserTent Guest House, Nahal Arava (Across from the town centre), ☎ 050-590-3661, . A warm, relaxing stay in the cold desert nights. In the tent you can find mattresses, clean sheets, warm blanket and pillows for the price of 70 NIS (the cheapest price in the area). You can also order hot meals (made by a cheff, but as a home cooked food) for 60 NIS, or a desert breakfast for 50 NIS. In here you can get information and advises of places to visit, local attractions (camel rides, Jeep tours, rappelling and more), and most importantly safety and security tips for your time in the desert. 70 shekels. edit
The Green Backpackers Hostel, 10/6 Nahal Sirpad P.O. Box 827 Mitzpe Ramon 80600, ☎ +972 8 653 2319, . Mixed dorms and double rooms. Amenities such as Wi-Fi, kitchen, etc. included. Run by 2 experienced tour guides. Welcoming, fun environment.80 NIS (~$23). edit
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!