The Negev is a desert or semi-arid area that stretches across some 13,000 km2 or 4,700 square miles. While the Negev covers more than half of Israel, it has the lowest population of all regions in the country. The city of Beersheba on the northern end is referred to as the capital of the Negev and has a population of 200,000. Beersheba is mentioned in the bible, Genesis 21, where Abraham dug a well and took an oath with Abimelech to secure this well.
Near the modern city of Beersheba is Tel Sheva, where excavations revealed an Israelite city from the 11th century BC. In addition to the city walls, the gate, store rooms and building remains it features a replicate of the four-horned altar and an impressive water cistern. In 2005 Tel Sheba (or Tel Be’er Sheba) was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, citing that it is one of the most representative tels in Israel with substantial remains of a biblical city.
The northern Negev also shows plenty of evidence of the Nabateans who started to settle this region as early as the 5th century BC. From Petra in the East to Gaza in the West ran the spice and frankincense route, along which we find the Nabatean cities Avdat, Shivta, and Haluza, and Mamshit further North. Don’t miss out on a visit to one of the well preserved antique cities of Mamshit, Shivta, or Avdat, all three of which were recognized by UNESCO for its unique cultural, religious, and agricultural heritage.
But the Negev has more to offer than ancient cultures and archaeology. Lonely Planet ranked the Negev 2nd in place on their Top 10 Regions 2013 list. The Small Makhtesh, for example, is an erosion crater like all other craters in the Negev. Further south lies Mitzpe Ramon which offers a fantastic view of the largest crater of all, the Makhtesh Ramon 500 m (1,600 ft) below. The Makhtesh Ramon has a diameter of around 40 km (25 miles) and offers a variety of places to visit or tours to take, such as the Carpentry (Minsara), the Khan Saharonim, an ancient caravansary, or nearby Mt. Ardon.
I can offer a number of ways to visit and explore the Negev region, from one-day trips to multi-day tours with accommodation in hotels or camping places. Popular destinations in the Negev are the Small Makhtesh, the Large Makhtesh, the Makhtesh Ramon, as well as the Nabatean cities.
Here is an example of a one-day-tour:
Negev One Day Tour