Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Exploring Har Gamal - Camel Lookout

Although Ramon's Crater is by far the largest geological feature around Mitzpe Ramon, like all holes in the ground no matter how large, it doesn't really become apparent until you walk right up to it. That makes Har Gamal, or Camel Lookout, the most conspicuous geological feature from almost anywhere in town.

Har Gamal is a large hill, rising high above Mitzpe Ramon. It is conically shaped and at the very top there is an enormous erosion structure cut by the wind and rain that looks exactly like a camel. The appearance of this uncanny structure is only enhanced by the presence of an observation deck on top that makes it look like a ship of the desert in full sail across the barren terrain bearing its burden on its back. It may also be that the camel was cut by human hands. I will have to explore this some more.

"A" marks Har Gamal.

Har Gamal topo map. Har Gamal is the conical structure just above the label. The blue pin marks the center of town, close to where we live.

From Mitzpe Ramon, Har Gamal is always viewed in profile, usually with the sun at its back, making it seen mostly in silhouette. It is never so striking as at sunset, and if there are clouds in the sky, they make a splendid display behind the camel.

Har Gamal seen in silhouette on a clear winter day at sunset
(As always, click on any image for a full-size version)

It is quite easy to access the base of the camel's cone, since there is a rugged road that begins at the traffic circle near the Rabin Peace School (a town high school) and takes you to the base of the camel's cone. From there it is an easy walk around the base of the camel over to the rough-hewn steps that allow access to the top. The rim of the crater is unprotected here, so you do want to be careful not to slip and fall. 

In the photo below, I am standing at the base of the cone, looking north up the crater and back into Mitzpe Ramon. (Note our rental car and the tourist at the bottom right. This would not be a good place to have a stuck accelerator!) The setting sun at my back casts a prominent camel-shaped shadow over the desert terrain.

The town of Mitzpe Ramon and Ramon's Crater as seen from the base of Har Gamal

Walking around the east side of the camel's cone provides some vertiginous views, since the crater wall is quite sheer here, plunging a straight 750 feet below. There is a redoubt that is protected by a flimsy guard rail from which spectacular views are available, especially at sunset.

A self-portrait: My shadow cast on the crater's rim at sunset from the redoubt below the Har Gamal cone

 The redoubt below Har Gamal, as seen from the observation deck on top.
Note the crater's main river flowing with water from winter rains.

From the top of Har Gamal there are wonderful views of Mitzpe Ramon that show it as a town perched on the edge of the vast crater. Here are a few.

In this view from Har Gamal we see the perimeter road at the edge of town and the desert field that serves as a buffer between the crater rim and Mitzpe Ramon. Also well seen are the large public art pieces: the "buttons" near center, and the stone megaliths farther up to the left. Just above them we see the support structures of the eerie overlook for the crater off Nachal Gerofit.
(As always, click on any image for a full-sized view)

A view of the "gamal" or "camel" from the base of the cone during sunset. The observation deck is easily seen in this view.

A view of the camel's neck and head from the observation deck on top

This geodesic marker is in the center of the observation deck at the top of Har Gamal. 

Finally enjoy this stitched panorama of Mitzpe Ramon and its environs taken from the top of Har Gamal that shows many of the town's features we have discussed in previous posts.

A panoramic view of Mitzpe Ramon and environs as seen from Har Gamal at sunset. Ramon's Crater at right; the shadow of Har Gamal cast on the desert field separating the town from the crater rim; the old part of town; the town water tower on top of the hill amidst the newer part of town; the industrial area; the domes of the air force radar outside of town at the far left. (Click for larger image)


  1. Beautiful pictures!! Welcome to Israel!

    Interestingly, I think their is also a Camel Mountain up north. I seem to recal doing a tiyul their, many years ago.

    In Phoenix, there is also a "Camelback" Mountain range.

    btw, my husband and I are both originally from Teaneck.

  2. I know Camelback Mountain in Phoenix. Very dramatic. I'll have to check more for the one in northern Israel. We have many friends who made Aliyah from Teaneck, just one town over from Englewood. Thanks for commenting.



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