HaMakhtesh HaGadol (The Big Crater) is located near Yeruham in Israel’s desert Negev. Makhtesh is the Hebrew word for a mortar grinder (מַכְתֵּשׁ). The Big Crater got its misleading name in the days when the even larger Ramon Crater was still uncharted. Measuring 5 x 10 km, it’s the 2nd largest makhtesh in Israel.The Negev has five makhteshim out of seven in the world:- Makhtesh Ramon, Makhtesh Gadol, Makhtesh Katan, and two small makhteshim on Mount Arif, south of Makhtesh Ramon. There are two makhteshim in Egypt and some similar formations in Jordan.This makhtesh is drained by one river, Nahal Hatira. Visitors can enjoy the colored of rock formations and colored sands.
What is a “Makhtesh”?
A makhtesh is a geological landform, unique to the Negev desert of Israel and the Sinai peninsula of Egypt. The makhtesh is formed where a hard outer layer of rock (limestone and dolomite) covers softer rocks (chalk or sandstone) Erosion removes the softer minerals which are washed away. A makhtesh has steep walls of hard rock surrounding a deep closed valley. The makhtesh is usually drained by a single wadi.
What to see at HaMakhtesh HaGadol (The Big Crater)
A visit by car Large Makhtesh can include the following attractions:
- Mount Avnun: A sweeping, panoramic view of the Large Makhtesh crater from the western rim, 656 meters above sea level and about 400 meters above the floor of the crater
- The petrified trees
- The “Large Fin”
- The “Small Fin” (short climbs to hills near the eastern rim)
- The Colored Sands Park near the eastern rim which is the most popular of all.
- Har Karbolet: I was there on Shvil Yisrael. This is the scariest!!
If you are curious the makhtesh is suitable for children. There plenty of free parking. Business hours are unlimited. Unfortunately there is no accessibility for handicapped.