On the Way to
The Small Crater (5 km by 7 km) is the smallest among the 5 large unique geologic depression forms known as Makhteshim (geological erosion cirques) in the Negev desert and Sinai. A Makhtesh is a wide depression – a perfect crater, surrounded by tall limestone cliffs, with sharp rims, and a single drainage outlet. The drainage outlet of the Small Makhtesh is located on the south-east side. There are also two paths descending from the rim of the makhtesh, leading to its bed. The lowest point of the crater (on the east side) is 13 m below sea level, while at the lookout point it is 480 m above sea level. This Makhtesh was charted in 1942 by Jewish explorers.
Today this nature site is open to the public popular for hiking – but all the routes are highly difficult, advisable for good-walkers. There are the two observation points on the south west side which can be reached from the Ma’ale Akrabbim road.
Best of all it is only a short drive away from your hotel in Dimona or Beer Sheva.
From the parking lot there is a half hour walk to the observation point of the Makhtesh Katan or to Ma’ale Eli.
About 400 meters above the lowest point below, from Ma’ale Eli, one can see all the way to the Arava valley and the southern tip of the Dead Sea. Descending this solid lime-stone cliff you will see fossils of the marine creatures that used to live in the ancient ocean that covered this are 100 million years ago. The trail is very steep and includes narrow ledges and a short climb down a hand-hold ladder. The is also a railing along a narrow rock slide. If I did it – you can do it, too.