We are humbled in the vastness of the desert, and beholden to its unfathomable beauty.
Drive to Ramon Visitors Center and discover the phenomenal Ramon Crater, a unique geological formation unlike anything anywhere in the world, with fossils dating back nearly 200 million years. This is the largest of three natural craters, and a striking part of the Negev’s features. Enjoy a scenic jeep tour in the crater. Continue to En Avdat National Park and see an oasis in a spectacular canyon in the middle of the desert. Greenery flourishes around its pools and ibex and other animals come to quench their thirst. Our first view is from the upper entrance followed by a drive to the lower entrance and a short hike along the canyon to the water pools. Afterward visit the ancient site Avdat nearby, ruins of the Nabatean city located on the perfume road that stretches from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean coast. The city was named after the Nabatean king Oboda (30–9 BCE), who was buried there. (Petra was the capitol of the Nabatean kingdom.) Return to hotel for leisure. (B)
Enjoy a free day on your own or choose from one of the optional tours.
Option 1: Jerusalem: Mt Olive – Gethsemane – Old city; Western wall – Via Dolorosa – Return to Mitzpe Ramon
After breakfast ascend Mt. of Olives for a spectacular view of Jerusalem overlooking the Old City. The mount is covered partly in olive trees, cemeteries and churches. Descend Mt. Olive to visit Garden of Gethsemane alongside the Church of All Nations. Enter the Old City of Jerusalem and walk along the Via Dolorosa (Stations of the Cross), believed to be the path that Jesus walked on his way to being crucified, and visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the holiest site in Christianity. According to Catholic tradition, this is sire where Jesus was buried and resurrected.
On to the Western Wall, the most sacred place for Jewish people—the remains of the wall that surrounded Temple Mount.
Option 2: Jerusalem: Yad Vashem – Israel Museum – Return to Mitzpe Ramon
Drive to visit Yad Vashem, the official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, established in 1953 and located on Mt. Herzl. Our last stop is at the Israel Museum; See the scale model of Jerusalem from the Second Temple period and the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Shrine of the Book. Visit Bethlehem if time permits.
Option 3: Dead Sea: Masada – Swim and Float – Return to Mitzpe Ramon
Enjoy the famous Israeli buffet breakfast in your hotel. Drive east to visit Masada high above the Dead Sea, set on a giant cliff—the greatest castle in history build by King Herod, some 2000 years ago. A cable car takes visitors up the cliff to an unforgettable tour of the palaces, warehouses, resident areas, water complex, impressive fortified system, and the most fascinating views of the Judean Desert. Descend Masada by cable car and enjoy the unique experience of swimming and floating in the Dead Sea! Return to hotel for overnight.