Out of all of the things you could spend money on during your visit to the desert, a jeep tour is probably one of the best ones. Here's why:
1. Jeep tours are great one a tight schedule
If you don't have a lot of time in the area, a jeep tour is a great way to cover a lot of distance and see much of the Ramon Crater (it's not really a crater, but you will have to join a tour to learn why), in as little as 2.5 hours. You'll get to drive down the cliffs, arrive at some of the best viewpoints and, ride along hidden canyons and visit unique geological features. With a length of 40 km and a width of 10km, the Ramon crater (not really a crater, remember?) and its hidden gems take several days to cover on foot or even by private car.
2. Jeep tours are great for any season
In Mitzpe ramon and the surrounding area hiking is possible even in the summer, but you will have to set out pretty early as it does get hot later in the day. This means you'll probably finish early as well. Relaxing back at your hotel or hostel is one option for the rest of the day, but a jeep tour offers an exciting yet air-conditioned option which will allow you to enjoy the desert even at mid-day.
In the winter, on the other hand, the weather is perfect for long hikes. Jeep tour, however, are still very popular because they offer the opportunity to catch a glimpse of some of the miracles that happen here in the winter- flash floods, being the most note-worthy of them all. It is very hard to know where to go to see one, and it can be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. Jeep guides know the area and the safe spots to watch a flash flood from. They can make sure you'll get pictures and memories of a lifetime, and still survive to tell the tale.
Speaking of hiking:
3. A jeep tour is very easy to combine with hiking
Don't limit yourself to a hotel pickup. Jeep tours can double up as your private trailhead dropoff or pickup. By doing this you will widen your selection
of hikes and you can pick hikes that are not necessarily circular. You can arrange this ahead of time with most of the jeep tour companies, but some companies already have this option fixed in their registration form. Depending on the time of year and the length of the hike you might want to do you can either start from town and go on a trail that will end at a pickup point (The carpentry hike is a good example), or ask your driver to drop you off at a trailhead at the end of the tour.
4. Jeep tours are a great intro to the area
If you're planning a stay of 2 or 3days, and especially if your stay is longer than that, a jeep tour is your best first trip. It is the best introduction you could get to the desert before you go on any of the hikes on your own. You'll get to know the surroundings and learn about the geology, the plants and the animals you might encounter on the hikes. Your guide on the tour will be a great source of information about the different hikes and will be a happy to recommend the best ones according to weather, difficulty level and any special interests you might have.
5. It is plain old exciting
You just can't deny it: Bouncing around in a 4X4 along the edge of a cliff, driving for several (long) minutes at a 30° side angle and climbing so steeply you see only blue out of the front window are all great ways to get your monthly fix of adrenaline in just a couple of hours.
In an age when the biggest challenge faced by most modern SUVs is a speed-bump at your local mall, letting a Land Rover run free on desert rocks feels a bit like releasing a wild animal back into nature, and joining in on the ride makes the little child in you giddy. Don’t worry- there is enough of a variety of trails and passes around the area so the level of bumpiness can be adjusted to your comfort, especially if you've booked a private tour. You'll still get the idea even if you choose not to break any ribs or hit your head in the ceiling.
6. Your guide is first of all a "local"
Forget guidebooks and online articles. If you really want to get to know the town of Mitzpe Ramon, or the surrounding area- ask a local. Want to know about a good restaurant? ask your guide. Want to discover the local music scene? Ask your guide. Which National Parks are worth a visit? You got it- your guide.
For two and a half hours (at least) you have a chatty local at your disposal, and there is only so much you can talk about rock.
Forget about concierges or information booths. Mitzpe Ramon has Jeep tour drivers.
7. Jeep tours are great for bonding
Whether you've chosen to book a private tour or join others on a pre-scheduled tour, jeep tours are fun and interesting, and people always walk away from them with great connections. This is true for families that have known each other for years, and it's true for complete strangers who met on the tour for the first time.
The joy and excitement of spotting a Gazel, sharing a cup of coffee, and leaning on each other on the bumps is a reason on its own for going on a tour.