What comes to mind when you think of the desert? Perhaps a scene from Lawrence of Arabia or The Ten Commandments with a solitary person in a white robe and sandals struggling through endless sand and large dunes whipped up by brutal winds under a scorching sun. The Negev in southern Israel can be oppressively hot, but you won't see the type of sand dunes associated with the Sahara or other deserts. Actually, the Negev is filled more with dirt, rocks and canyons, which are no less forbidding. The Negev is also beautiful, highlighted by remarkable landscapes, waterfalls, caves, archeological sites, cities, craters and a rich history.
In 1947 and 1948, when the boundaries of the Jewish and Arab states were being debated by diplomats, David Ben-Gurion
insisted the Negev be part of the Jewish state. Though it was virtually uninhabited and thought by many to be uncultivable, Ben-Gurion knew this region was needed if the state was to grow. He also had faith the desert could be tamed and turned into a place where Jews could settle and prosper. More than 50 years later, his vision has been realized.
The gateway to the Negev is a place that once was little more than a watering hole for Abraham's
sheep. Today, Beersheba is a modern city of 130,000. Further south is Kibbutz Sde Boker, where Ben-Gurion
made his home. Today, the hut where he lived is a museum devoted to his legacy.
The Central Negev is marked by Makhtesh Ramon, which is usually referred to as a crater, but is actually a valley surrounded by steep walls.Rappeling off the edge of the crater is popular, but not recommended for beginners. For those who don't mind a less direct route, there are trails for hikers into the crater.
Learn more about the Desert
Virtual Tour content provided by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise(AICE). To find more information about the sites on our trip and general facts about Israel visit the Virtual Israel Experience
at AICE's Web site.