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Which Kind of Car for Negev?

Geneva, Switzerland
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23 posts
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Which Kind of Car for Negev?

Greetings,

We (wife & I) will be driving up to Tel Aviv from Eilat with respective stop overs at Mitzpe Ramon, Masada, and Ein Gedi. As fond as I am of riding a 4-wheel drive into the desert sunset, is this the way to go, or will it be (rental rate) overkill for the above itinerary? My initial thought was to explore the Ramon crater using our own set of wheels, but apparently this cannot be done?

Any input greatly appreciated.

Mike

Thousand Oaks...
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for Israel
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1. Re: Which Kind of Car for Negev?

Four-wheeling is loads of fun but stick to an air conditioned sedan.

You didn't say when you were going but anytime from late spring to early autumn will have the Negev roasting under a very hot sun. I would not want to be stuck somewhere in the middle of the desert because my 4-wheeler broke down and it's 120 F outside.

Even with a sedan, make sure you bring plenty of bottled water just in case of an emergency stop. Also, make sure you bring a camera since the scenery is awesome!

Jerusalem, Israel
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for Jerusalem
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2. Re: Which Kind of Car for Negev?

Hi Mike,

The only part of your trip for which you need a 4x4 is in the Ramon Crater. You can drive straight through it with a regular sedan, but if you want to go up into any interesting parts of the crater, you will see lots of 4x4 trails, which you definitely wouldn't try to do with a sedan.

Now, if you could get a nice air-conditioned 4-wheel drive car, it might be fun. Whether it is worth the price is up to you. Definitely, if you take a 4-wheeler, take lots of water, and make sure your mobile phone has battery and you have emergency numbers in case of problems.

In Mitzpe Ramon itself, there isn't much to do apart from the Tourist Center (which is on the far side of the crater, travelling from Eilat), and the crater.

If you leave Eilat early enough, and depending on how long you intend to stay at the Dead Sea and Masada, you might want to detour to Sde Boker to see Ben Gurion's grave and hut (they are about 5 minutes from each other), and Avdat - the ruins of a 2000 year old Nabatean town, which is about 5 minutes before Sde Boker, driving towards Beer Sheva from Mitzpe Ramon.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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for Israel
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3. Re: Which Kind of Car for Negev?

I have to admit that during this Earth Week I cringe at the ecological implications of people tooling around the Makhtesh Ramon in a 4X4. I hope it's limited to very specific trails.

Douglas Duckett

Israel
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4. Re: Which Kind of Car for Negev?

I never owned or drove a 4X4 and still am able to tour and see the Ramon Crater pretty well. The road that goes through the crater is a good paved road. Most of the interesting sites are reachable on good gravel roads. Unless you want to get wild (which I wouldn't recommend in any case), any sedan small or big (with a/c!) will do fine.

Geneva, Switzerland
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5. Re: Which Kind of Car for Negev?

Thanks All for your fast replies. Much appreciated. Our Negev/Dead Sea tour will be a two-day affair which comes at the end of 10 days in Israel and Jordan this May. I know that there are guided 4x4 tours of the crater lasting from 2 hours up to a full day, but it would be nice to have a DIY option, if only for added flexibility. Looks as if the extra rental money might be better spent on some souvenirs, though ;-)

Mike

NJ
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6. Re: Which Kind of Car for Negev?

Anyone have any thoughts of using a rental minivan for our group of 11 driving in and around Mitpe Ramon, not too crazy, just enough to get the flavor of it. All this talk of 4x4 is not what we had in mind....

israel
Destination Expert
for Tel Aviv, Galilee, Israel
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7. Re: Which Kind of Car for Negev?

We toured (2 adults, 2 kids 8&7) the Ramon crater late March 2008 with a fiat punto. Roads are paved and for 2-3 hours going from one interesting place to the other is enough. Don't miss the place with the colored sands and bring small bottles to fill.

israel
Destination Expert
for Mitspe Ramon
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8. Re: Which Kind of Car for Negev?

The Ramon Machtesh (usually translated as crater) is a massive cavity erroded into the sumit of an ancient mountain that came into being over a period of several million years and reached the size that it is now almost 65 million years ago.

There are only seven of these in the whole world all of them in this region - five in Israel and two in northern Sinai. The term "Machtesh" literaly translated is "crater" but as there are only seven of this type in the whole world and five of them in the Negev the Hebrew term "Machtesh" has actualy become the technical term world wide and if you look up "Machtesh" up in a good geological dictionary in English you will find it under "M".

The Ramon Machtesh is the largest of the seven and at 42 kms (26 miles) long and an average of 8 kms (5 miles) wide it is just over 330 square kms (130 square miles) and more than three times larger than the second largest Machtesh.

The Ramon Machtesh is also the most accessable of the seven and hense the most toured of them all. There are numerous marked hiking trails in the Machtesh and around it and many of them can be reached using normal cars. There are also a couple of gravel roads in the Machtesh that lead to the trail heads and some of the more interesting sights. To do this wonderous phenomena any real justice you really have to hike, using an SUV is a good second best but their use is heavily restricted.

On the edge of the Ramon Machtesh is a very good visitors center and it is strongly recommended that visitors pass through the ecnter to get upto date information regarding proposed trips.

The best way to see the area and understand it's formation is with a guide - this is also the safest way the danger being getting lost - not security.

The area boasts geological sites unsurpased any where else in the world, historical sites from ancient times, a natural history that is amazing in it's diversity (if you know what you are looking at) and views to die for.

The Ramon Machtesh is well worth a visit - but then I am biased.

If you need any advice or help planing an excursion ito this area just post here and I will be happy to help.

Adam

israel
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for Tel Aviv, Galilee, Israel
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9. Re: Which Kind of Car for Negev?

Most visitors don't have the time or desire to do a long trip at the Ramon Crater, certainly not with kids that get bored easily. So a self guided tour in a regular car, using the guidance provided by the visitors center is sufficient. You won't get lost as you don't go far from the main road and most of the time you have eye contact with it. It is not difficult, is entertaining for kids too with sand and rocks in multi colors, rock formations and sometime wildlife.

Israel
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10. Re: Which Kind of Car for Negev?

I have never heard of anyone getting lost in the Ramon Crater! Great road. Nothing to worry about. Unless you want to make a science project of it, it is an amazing drive. Get instruction of where to stop and what to do at the visitor center in Mizpe Ramon/