The Negev Desert

Trip Start Dec 12, 2007
Trip End Dec 24, 2007

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

As a traveller one thing you are always certain about is change! Barry and Brenda were meant to join us today but unfortunately Barry was not well. So, when Emanuel arrived at 7:30 AM and told us this we asked the Samson family if they would like to join us. So, a bit later than planned, we all set off for the Negev.
As usual, the first stop was for a good cup of coffee in Be'er Sheva, the last town north of the Negev Desert.
Next was a hike in the Ein Avdat National Park. This was too much for the two smallest Samson's, Iskandar-Achiezer and Camille-Honorive, so they and Mom, Sandrine, stayed with Emanuel to drive around to meet us at the other end of the one-way "Wilderness of Zin" nature trail.
Eddie, Pierre-Emmanuel, Annie and I set off for a really amazing walk. We met some groups of school children who had walked to the stream and pools and then turned back as they were too small for the climbing part of the trail. It was not as arduous as we had been led to believe but it did take us up some very steep steps, at some places there were steel ladders to climb up but the views along the way of the canyon and the Negev Desert were pretty spectacular. We reached the top sooner than expected so wandered around a bit more while waiting for our ride.
A real treat for the children (young and old :-) was a visit to the Bio-Ramon Desert Animal Centre at Mitzpe Ramon. Here we got to see all sorts of desert animals including the expected lizards and snakes along with the most beautiful miniature tortoises and some pretty big porcupines.
We also learnt that, contrary to popular belief, a porcupine does not shoot its quills out. The quills are much like hair, some of which are actually quite soft. Their defence mechanism is in the few really hard quills. If they are in danger they will run as fast as possible and, when the predator is gaining on them, they will stop dead and stick the hard quills up in the way of their predator. The result is a very big OUCH and the porcupine being left alone.
After lunch at the only hotel in Mitzpe Ramon, it's not a very big place, we went to see the huge Maktesh Ramon Crater. This is quite an amazing crater, 40 kilometres long, 8 kilometres wide, 300 metres deep and looks like a mini Grand Canyon. We stood looking at the view until the cold wind drove us back into the car.
We then went and waited for the bus to take the Samson's to Eilat before driving back to Jerusalem. That night we were moving to stay in Yael's basement flat for a couple of nights so we had a casual supper with her before heading off to bed.
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