Ramon Crater, Negev Desert
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Hiking in the Steps of Nabatean Nomads
We had two days to traverse the largest crater in the world, located in the barren landscape of southern Israel's Negev desert. The second day with our guide was the most rigorous. We hiked along a ridge overlooking both sides of the desert--the expanse in each direction seemed endless. It was steep in some places, and I couldn't help feeling like our group was part of an ancient nomad-caravan route. Apparently, it was forbidden for the Nabatean nomads who inhabited this region 2000 years ago to ever drink wine. In fact, it was punishable by death. And I could see why. You needed all your senses and awarenesses to be able to navigate this wilderness and know every step, every rock. Not only that, but raiders once lurked this craggy landscape, ready to rob the traders. We stopped for a much-needed breather in the cool shade of the valley pictured above. The high rock walls means that in heavy rainfall, the narrow passageway floods to the brim. Ramon crater is part of a trans-country hike that extends all the way from the Golan Heights to Mount Tabor.
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