From Beer Sheva To The Ramon Crater: The Negev (Desert), Israel: A Photographic Journey

While on one hand not having my iPhone allowed me to be apart from social media and fully enjoy the experiences in Israel, on the other hand I felt handicapped. As in the case of Beer Sheva. We were taking a trip down south to The Negev/The Desert in Israel, and unlike Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with abundance of dining options, here it would have been nice to arrange in advance an authentic meal at a Bedouin tent or have an iPhone to tweet and request some foodie recommendations of the best schawarma or falafel in town.
I had it all planned out. To have a dairy, cheese platter with assortment of salads, lunch, at this tiny artisanal goat farm's restaurant in The Negev, Kornmehl, which I read about in various publications. Their cheeses are prized by top restaurant chefs in Tel Aviv and incorporated by Chef Meir Adoni of the famed Catit restaurant in Tel Aviv into a dinner he put together at The James Beard House. Only thing, the restaurant was closed.
With no plan B in sight, all I could do is make a few phone calls on my borrowed cell to my handful of contacts I saved. Eventually I got to one of my cousins, who grew up in Beer Sheva, but is living in Tel Aviv for many years now. She googled, as I would, and came up with some suggestions. Bed and Breakfast restaurants nearby were closed, they often operate only on weekends. Eventually she came up with a mainstream name we were familiar with, so we went. A nice prelude. The bread and spicy tomato salad were the highlights.
We swung by the Beer Sheva Shuk (Market). For future reference, a separate Bedouin Market operates on Thursdays, but we were there I believe on a Monday.
Can't really tell from this photo but the red in the watermelon in Israel is insanely deep.  
Typical mishmash of fresh produce stalls next to shops selling Nargilas (Hookahs) among other things.
The sign says the eggs are fresh from a Moshav (farm).
I love this snapshot. I only photograph with permission. A strong jaw, structure, the natural pose. The salmon against the dark shirt and the background patina hues playful with the color composition in this photo. This is one of my favorite photos out of Israel.
Speaking of Kornmehl, the dairy goat farm, we called that morning. A young guy answered and said they are open to sell cheeses but the restaurant is closed. When we arrived, the gate at the bottom of the dirt hill road was locked with a large lock and chains. Somehow we managed to get in and buy some cheeses my sister served later on that week with an Israeli breakfast spread. I admire the Kornmehls. They are packing their kids and going on a sabbatical in Australia, at the end of this year. They are sizing down their operation considerably but having their friends operate the restaurant while they are gone.
It's mating season so the male goats are in the pen with the females.
There are many gems such as the Kornmehl's Cheese Farm strewn throughout the desert in Israel. Some vineyards and artisanal breweries and an abundance of artisanal cheese dairy farms. There is camel milk, domestication of camels, herb farms, organic dates, organic crops to be imported to Europe and last but not least bedouin hospitality.
Some hospitality beneath the grapevines. I would love that teapot and the Moroccan glasses as props.
This swing overlooks some of the views below.
Just down the road is Kibbutz Sde Boker (Morning Field), the retirement home and the burial grounds of Israel's first Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben Gurion and his wife Paula. It was Ben Gurion's dream to make the desert bloom, and as you can tell from the photos, this oasis is indeed green and the desert is flourishing.
National Park: Paula and David Ben Gurion: Burial Ground: Israel National Park
Sde Boker and the burial grounds overlook a breathtaking views of The Tzin Rift. We arrived around 4:30 - 5:00 pm when hiking through the rift was forbidden, closed. The Ibex were migrating down to The Tzin stream (dry during the summer) to feed and the hiking part of the, shall we say canyon, was out of bounds.
In my entire life including multiple trips throughout the area I have never encountered so many Ibex. Maybe got a glimpse of an elusive one here and there in the past. The timing couldn't have been more perfect, by pure chance, as the overlook burial grounds and The Ben Gurion Heritage Museum were still open to the public. I think we saw at least 30 Ibex that day. It was an incredible sight and experience especially against this majestic backdrop of mother nature.
There is much agricultural  research and development going on in The Negev ( Desert). I was short of time and really wished to take it all in and enjoy, not rush. An excuse to go back!
We drove further south to The Ramon Crater. Its geological formation is quiet fascinating, the largest of its kind in the world. Read about it in the link. My sister wanted to go rock climbing or snapelling as we call it, just like the folks in the photo below. Just to be clear, we didn't. Maybe some other (life) time.
We curved down the road and drove right into the crater to a place called The Carpentry. It is a phenomena.  This is what's written about it in Wikipedia "In the center of the makhtesh (crater) is Ha-Minsara (The Carpentry Shop), a low hill made up of black prismatic rocks, and interestingly, the rectangular pipes on the side of the hill are made of the same sort of sand found on beaches. As such, this is the only place in the world where prisms made of heated sand turned into liquid which, in cooling naturally formed rectangular and hexagonal prisms, can be seen. These prisms lost no space in the middle during formation."
We didn't make it to The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, that day, but stopped by in Arad, at my aunt's for a coffee break on our way back up north.