View from Hod Akev, Negev Desert, Israel

The 3 Negev Craters – “Inn to Inn” 3 to 5 days Trek

Hike the 3 Negev Craters (Makhtesh) in one “Inn to Inn” Trek. Visit amazing viewpoints, canyons, and magical desert springs. A real desert experience!!

Overview Map

5 Days Negev inn to inn trek overview map

Click Map to Enlarge

There are only a few towns and villages in the vast space of the Negev desert, posing a big challenge to plan an Inn to Inn Trek. To solve it, we had to use longer vehicle transfers compared to the other treks. However, the result is a challenging trek that connects the 3 Negev carters (Makhtesh) and passing through some of the most exciting paths the Negev Desert has to offer:

The best time of year for this trek are the winter months December-March. With mostly pleasant temperatures and still a very low chance for rain. In November and April, it is still possible to hike, but with a higher risk of “suffering” hot weather.
Pay attention to the weather forecast regarding the risk of flash floods. In case of such a threat, we will guide you with the necessary changes in the route to stay safe.

Day by Day Itinerary

Day 0 – Yerucham

  • We will meet in the afternoon/evening for a detailed briefing meeting to discuss all aspects of the trek, provide you with maps, and make sure that the GPS app function properly.
  • Preferred Lodging: Desert Iris, Yerocham
  • The next morning a taxi will take you to the trailhead.

Day 1 – The small & Big Makhtesh

  • Hatira Canyon from "Nakeb el Yahud"
    Hatira Canyon

  • Distance: 14 – 21  Km. (7-10 Hours) / Climb: 550 m (Several distance options to choose from)
  • Starting Point: Head of the Scorpion Pass
  • End Point: The big Makhtesh
  • Overnight: Yerucham
  • Preferred Lodging: Desert Iris, Yerocham
  • Our accommodation is in the small desert town Yerucham
  • A short taxi ride will take us to the trailhead at the head of the Scorpion Pass.
  • If you opt for the more extended version, start by making the short 4 Km (Way and back) walk to a fantastic viewpoint over the Small Maktesh (Crater).  If you prefer to walk only 14-16 Km, you can skip this side trip.
  • The route then takes us through an ancient small fort and interesting rock formations down to the deep Hatira Canyon.
  • In the Hatira Canyon, we will pass two amazing spots: The “Nakeb el Yahud” pass & Yorkeam Spring.
  • For dessert, we will climb to the top of the eastern wall of the crater for a great view of the Big Makhtesh.
  • After descending into the Big Makhtesh, a short taxi ride will take us back to the hotel in Yerocham.

Day 2 – Daroch Horseshoe and Zin Valley

  • Zin valley from Daroch canyon
    Daroch Canyon
  • Distance: 15 or 21 Kilometers (7-10 Hours) / Climb: 550 m
  • Starting Point: Near Merchav Am
  • End Point: Midreshet Ben-Gurion
  • Overnight: Midreshet Ben-Gurion
  • Preferred Lodging: Local B&B.
  • A short taxi ride will take us to the trail-head near the religious community of Merchav Am.
  • We start the walk in the wide Hatzatz Wadi. If you are lucky and making this walk in January, you have a good chance to encounter fields of beautiful Narcissus flowers. The scenery of the flowers blooming in the middle of the desert is truly unique!
  • From the ridge, at the end of wadi Hatzatz we descend into the Daroch canyon. The canyon has a narrow and exciting section, featuring the beautiful rock formation nicknamed the “Daroch Horseshoe”.
  • Shortly after, all of a sudden, the view opens up on the Zin valley below.
  • After a steep descent, we reach a dirt road at the bottom of the valley.
  • At this point (after 15 Km), you can end the hike and go the remaining 6 Km with a “Jeep Taxi”. (Must be prearranged at an additional cost of 300 NIS for up to 6 persons)
  • Or follow the dirt road and reach by foot your accommodation at Midreshet Ben-Gurion.

Day 3 – To Ancient Avdat via Akev Spring

  • View from Hod Akev, Negev Desert, Israel
    Hod Akev
  • Todays hiking starts directly from our accommodation.
  • The total walking distance is 19 km. However, you can “save” the first 6 km which are on a dirt road with a “Jeep Taxi” (Must be pre-arranged and has an extra cost of 300 NIS for up to 6 hikers)
  • The first highlight of the day is a climb to “Hod Akev” (translates to “Needle of the heel”). It is steep and at times, technical and vertiginous ascend. Many hikers will find it very exciting; others might prefer to avoid it. (For those that prefer to avoid, there is a comfortable bypass).
  • The top is a tiny flat area with steep cliffs on all sides and a breathtaking view of the Negev Desert.
  • The much easier descend to the other side takes us to another desert gem. Ein Akev spring. A magical desert spring with a deep pool and icy cold water. A fantastic swimming opportunity in the middle of the desert.
  • The trail continues up the Akev wadi to the upper Akev spring. A Much smaller spring, but still a great resting point.
  • Another 5 km further, we reach the end of the trail and the ancient Nabatean town of Avdat, definitely worth a visit. (Closes at 16:00)
  • A short shuttle will take you from Avdat to our Hotel in Mitzpe Ramon.

Day 4 -From Mitzpe Ramon to “Ramon tooth”

  • Ramon Tooth (Shen Ramon)
    Ramon tooth
  • On the edge of the Ramon, Crater cliff sits the visitors center. A mandatory station before a visit to the Makhtesh area. The visit includes observation from a panoramic observation window. A dynamic and interactive exhibit that combines videos and a 3D model of Makhtesh. Another section is dedicated to the story of Ilan Ramon (The first Israeli astronaut). It includes exciting films and a display of exhibits from his journey to space. It is recommended to book ahead of time (English tour). Phone: +972-8-6216859
  • From the Visitors center, we descend rather steeply down to the bed of the crater.
  • After several kilometers, we reach the foot of the southern wall of the crater.
  • One of the highlights of the day is the climb to the top of the wall to the “Shen Ramon” summit (The “Tooth of Ramon”) where you get a 360 degrees panorama of the Makhtesh and the surrounding Negev desert.
  • After a steep descent to the other side of the mountain, we reach another impressive landmark: The Ammonite wall.
  • From here, its a short distance to the main road #40 that crosses Makhtesh Ramon, where a Taxi will take us back to our hotel in Mitzpe Ramon.
  • If you still have some power go on a Star Gazing tour. A fantastic night experience.

Day 5 – Mount Ardon and Nekraot HorseShoe

  • The colorful Makhtesh Ramon viewed from the summit of Mount Ardon
    View from Mount Ardon
  • Distance: 16 Km (7-8 Hours) / Climb: 600 m
  • Starting Point: Road #40, Makhtesh Ramon.
  • End Point: At the foot of Mount Ardon.
  • The morning starts with a short taxi shuttle to the heart of Mitzpe Ramon (Where the previous day ended).
  • After a few smooth and flat kilometers, we will make a short but steep climb to Mount Saharonim. A knife-shaped ridge that is part of the crater’s wall.
  • To our left, we get a great view of the Ramon crater. We follow the ridge near the top of the “knife” and descend on the other side to Nekarot Wadi.
  • We walk through this beautiful horseshoe-shaped canyon with its unique colors and rock formation.
  • Another few kilometers further, we reach the foot of Mount Ardon, the final highlights of the trek and a perfect dessert for our adventure.
  • The ascend is tough and steep, but worth every bit of effort. The views of the Makhtesh from the summit are amazing.
  • After the descend to the other side of the mountain, a “Jeep Taxi”  will take us back to Mitspe Ramon.