Every year in August, in low-light areas of the Negev Desert, you can see the peak of the Perseid meteor shower - the brightest starfall of summer. The Earth passes through a plume of dust particles that, burning in the atmosphere, leave bright traces. Crowds hurrying to make wishes looking at the "shooting stars" rush to field campsites for the night, and there are more people then stars. We found our route in this mess and are ready to share it with you. In addition to the starry sky, we offer the breathtaking view of the Great Crater, colored sands and Yorkeham springs. Let's go, not far here, behind the mountain.
Perhaps the most beautiful observation deck on Makhtesh Gadol is the Avnon Mount viewpoint. Makhtesh Gadol is one of the three Makhteshs in Israel and one of the five in the world. Makhtesh is a special geological formation that is found only in the Negev Desert and the Sinai Peninsula. The creation of Makhtesh is the long process when the river flowing in the narrow cleft, washing out the sand, and stones gradually collapse the walls of Makhtesh until a huge crater is formed. A distinctive feature of Makhtesh is the river bed that washed out the rocks. The former huge river bad that washed out Makhtesh Gadol goes into a narrow cleft to the southeast, called the gates of the devil. Remains of buildings are visible along the dirt road leading to the observation deck. This is the town of oil workers of the British Palestinian Oil Company, established in 1941 as a subsidiary of the British Iraqi Oil Company. British geologists have concluded that oil can be found in Makhtesh Gadol. No oil was found, but the road to the Makhtesh lowland was paved. Our trip will be focused along this road. Imagine you would stay at this wonderful observation deck for the night and watch a Starfall, but the entire territory of Makhtesh Gadol is a nature reserve. You cannot stay here for the night. You cannot light a light; you cannot wander and walk. You cannot make a fire. These acts are harmful to nature and its nocturnal inhabitants. It is useless to argue with the inspectors of the authority of national parks and reserves. You may be penalized with a fine in the hundreds of shekels. Therefore, we will go to a secret place, watching the sunset.
Although Makhtesh Gadol is a nature reserve, some part of it belongs to a private mining company. Once, it was called Harsit vehole zakh. In 1953, the company mined quartz and shipped it to Haifa to the Fenicia plant, where the glass was produced. The road to this quarry is the only place in Makhtesh Gadol where you can stop at the side of the road and watch the stars without annoying the inspectors of the authority of national parks and reserves.
Having prepared a delicious shakshuka in the morning, let you wander along the gentle slopes where the Khatira stream originates. This stream washes out Makhtesh Gadol and carries his waters into a deep canyon. Fossilized plants from the Jurassic period are found along its banks. Do not forget; we are at the bottom of the Makhtesh crater - in the only window to the geological past of our planet.
Colored sands formed near the place where Nahal Khatira leaves Makhtesh Gadol. It is like a huge funnel with sand deposited. The color of the sand depends on its composition. So, for example, sea sand in the tropics consists of limestone, coral, and white shells, crushed by water into grains of sand. That is why this sand is white in color. But, on the other hand, sea sand is composed of various metal compounds that give it a yellowish tint in some places.
After leaving Makhtesh Gadol, we continue our way along the creek of Nahal Khatira. The name of the river is derived from its behavior. It behaves as a "weasel." Indeed, leaving Makhtesh, the stream dives through the limestone rocks and goes deep into the melted limestone. Finally, it goes into groundwater, retaining moisture in a darkened gorge even in the hottest summer.
Spring Yarkam or Yorkam is like a "yorek" that spits out or splashes water in winter. He also collects rainwater. By the end of summer, only a puddle remains, which can still water the animals.
In the northern part of the spring, stairs carved into the rock are visible. They were intended for the descent of camels to the source. The vertical gutter is the result of the activity of the winter waterfalls. From here, the Hatira stream flows further southeast until it flows into the Tzin River.