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Horseback vacation Makhtesh Ramon Israel
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Endurance riding in Israel c. Claudia Ziegler
Horse riding in Mitzpe Ramon
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Camping in the Negev desert
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Horse riding holiday Makhtesh Ramon
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Horse riding in the Negev desert
Horseback vacation in the Negev desert
Join this exciting and fast-paced ride in the Negev desert of Israel, a unique and adventurous trek for experienced riders. The riding includes a two-day 100km round-trip to Makhtesh Ramon, a unique geological feature only found in a small area of Israel and the Sinai peninsular in Egypt.

The makhtesh looks like a crater but rather than being formed by an asteroid or by volcanic activity, it is the result of erosion. The word ‘makhtesh’ actually means ‘mortar grinder’ in Hebrew, reflecting the bowl-like shape of the feature. This particular makhtesh is the largest and is also unusual in having two rivers draining from within.

This horse riding holiday has exclusive access to the Negev Desert and Ramon Crater National Parks, exploring these areas with their interesting geology and ecology. One night is spent camping within the heart-shaped makhtesh, a truly unique experience with the sky so full of stars it is hard to believe.
Extended periods of trot and canter cover much of this stunning desert landscape, with many interesting and unique plants and animals to look out for. Accommodation is on an alpaca farm with comfortable cabins run by a local family, apart from one night camping inside the crater.

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from FC of Tangara da Serra on 28/09/2019

Ride Summary

What was your overall impression of the holiday
The horses are excelent also landscape, people so nice and warm.
Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Speed of response     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Efficiency     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Knowledge     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Other(please specify)     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Riding tour leader
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Horsemanship     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Pacing of Ride     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern for Safety     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Culture     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern with Environment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Language skills     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments

Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments

Meal Quantity     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor
Camping Equipment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Transfer arrangements     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other ride staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:

Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
The distance from de town require a car for Diner and lunch, there is no Taxi Cab.
What could we do to improve this ride?
Let some car available
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Long climbs in rock roads
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:

May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments:

Unicorn comments:

Day 1
Take an overnight flight to arrive at the airport in the morning and transfer to the farm. After settling in to your room you will have a tour of the farm before a relaxed lunch. In the afternoon you will have a short introductory ride to get to know the tack and style of riding, getting your first glimpse of the spectacular makhtesh ‘crater’. You will discuss the plans for the week with your guides over dinner in The Stone Hut café. (L,D)

Day 2
After breakfast you mount up for a full-day ride. You might venture into the highlands of the National Park, or visit the local Bedouins, stopping for lunch on the trail and returning to the farm in the afternoon (25 Km). Dinner is your own choice tonight, you can go into town and sample one of the local restaurants, get food delivered to your room or cook something for yourself with the facilities provided. (B,L)

Day 3
Today you set out on a full day ride into Makhtesh Ramon (55 Km). The ride starts out at a swift pace from the farm to Mitzpe Ramon, passing along the edge of the town which is perched right on the edge of the crater. You will ride along the breath-taking rim of the crater, with plenty of opportunities to take photographs along the way. Then, leaving civilization behind, you ride out into the desert following a maze of trails which your guide knows intimately. Every opportunity to trot or canter is taken as the horses expertly move across the rocky ground. Even away from the crater there are many undulations and slopes to overcome. Make sure you drink plenty of water out here! Your guides take you to one of the more accessible sides of the crater and you make your way in to this incredible and unique area. When descending the steep rocky sides of the crater you may need to dismount and lead your horse, but their sure-footedness and balance make easy work of the angles. You will see many interesting geological developments as you ride across the crater floor with an incredible array of colours in the rocks. You are racing the sun as you make your way to the campsite, and sparks can literally fly as the horse’s shoes strike the flinty stone in the gathering dusk. Once the horses are fed and watered you can sit around the fire as your dinner is cooking. A traditional South African dish, the Potjie is cooked in an iron pot sat in the flames and produces a wonderful vegetable stew. There are tents available for those that want them, or you can sleep out in the open, feeling the light breeze across your face as you fall asleep under a blanket of stars. (B, L, D)

Day 4
You rise with the sun today with the sounds of the horses nearby. Breakfast is served and then it is time to mount up again and set out across the crater floor. Keep an eye out for deer amongst the hardy bushes that line the dried river beds, and if you are very lucky you might even spot some wild ponies. The dramatic scenery of the crater provides the backdrop on the 45km trek back to the farm. There are many more opportunities for faster riding today and some more stunning photo spots to take advantage of. You will find yourself riding directly towards an impossibly high cliff at the edge of the crater, which when you arrive has a cleverly worked path snaking up the sides. The horses power up, still full of going after the two days and it is a surprise when you get to the top that the ground is relatively flat. It is much cooler outside the crater and suddenly you start to see signs of civilization again. You might spot an adventurous cyclist tackling some of the trails, or a local family out for a walk, having seen no one else all day. The horses know they are heading for home now and put on an extra burst of energy to take you across the terraced slopes of desert hills and past the tree plantations that mark your return to the inhabited world. Finally, you crest one of the hills and see the farm spread out below you. The whinnies of the other horses welcome you back as the sun sets behind you, and you can say you have conquered the crater. The horses enjoy a good roll in the sand and are set free to enjoy as much food and water as they want. You have time to go back to your room and enjoy a shower and a change of clothes before meeting back at The Stone Hut for dinner and to relive your adventures. (B, L, D)

Day 5
Today you have a relaxed morning as you recover from the intensity of the last two days. You might choose to go in to town or spend some time with the other inhabitants of the farm – the llamas and alpacas are real characters – or you could simply relax on the porch of your cabin with a book. In the afternoon, meet back at the stables for a relaxed ride out from the farm. Yesterday’s horses are having a well-earned break so you get to meet a new companion today. Ease out your muscles with some gentle trots and canters as the fresh horses are eager to show you that they are just as good as the endurance horses from before! You will get back to the farm around dusk and have the choice of what to do for dinner. (B)

Day 6
Today you take another full day ride out into the Negev. To explore as much as possible, the horses may be trucked out to a new starting location from which you ride out on a new adventure. Your hosts know this area better than anyone and will know the best places to visit depending on the conditions. You might ride back in to the crater from the other side and find the black rocks, or travel out to one of the many vineyards in the area to learn about the local wine industry. The opportunities are endless and you will wish you had more time to explore them all! A farewell dinner is served in The Stone Hut as you share photos and memories from you time with these wonderful hosts. (B, L, D)

Day 7
After breakfast you just have time to say goodbye to the friendly farm inhabitants before transferring back to the airport. (B)

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

There are over 30 horses at the farm with a mix of breeds and sizes. Around half of the horses have Arab bloodlines and are used for the endurance trails. The horses are all well adapted to their environment and have been trained for endurance work. They are well tempered and fit to allow for long canters across the desert and equally steady climbs where the terrain dictates. With exclusive access to horse riding in the Negev Desert and Ramon Crater National Parks, the riding is often fast-paced across open desert or along trails. Trotting and cantering are the favoured paces and used as much as possible. Many of the horses are forward going and most prefer to be ridden with a very light contact. There is a selection of level-headed horses for riders who like to relax a little more on the rides but the horses are generally very keen! The horses are ridden in lightweight western saddles, although a few English saddles are used on some horses. There is some walking required when going up or down the steep sides of the crater.

It is compulsory to wear a riding helmet for this ride - we strongly recommend that you take your own properly fitted helmet, although there is a selection of different sizes available to borrow on site.

Rider requirements

This is an endurance-based programme where riders will need to be experienced and capable of maintaining trot and canter for extended periods of time. There may be some rough terrain on the rides and at times riders will need to dismount and lead their horse when going up or down steep ground. Guests are welcome to help groom and tack up the horses but this is not required. The minimum age for this ride is 16 years but the riders must be experienced.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Accommodation is in shared cabins on a farm which provides a base for the riding holiday. Guests will stay either in one of the cabins (2-3 people) or the family suite (3-5 people). Cabins are open plan with a double bed and 2 sofa-beds. The family suites have a double bedroom and separate living area with 5 sofa beds. All accommodations have their own bathroom, fully equipped kitchenette (fridge, stove, oven, dishes and tableware), dining table, air conditioning and cable TV. Each cabin or suite also has views of the desert and farm, with a shaded porch overlooking the alpaca and llamas. One night of this tour is spent camping in the desert. Guests can sleep in individual tents or choose to sleep out in the open if the night is warm enough. Blankets are available to borrow from the farm with advanced notice, subject to availability.

There is also an option to stay in 'Studio Khan', a dormitory-style cabin which can sleep up to 20 people. The sleeping in the studio is with sleeping bags on mattresses over a wooden floor. With heaters in the winter and cool natural breeze when summer. Blankets and bed sheets are available by request.

Outside the studio is a large balcony and an equipped kitchen and large dining tables. There are also several showers and bathrooms and a large and cosy area for a big bonfire or stars watching. The studio is available for groups of 6 or more.

Your hosts are vegetarian and provide an array of delicious fresh local vegetarian dishes as described in the itinerary. Meat-based meals are available in the town as well as further selections of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Please note that pork is rarely available in Israel due to local customs. Portions are very generous and meals are usually eaten all together in a family style.

Breakfast: Bread, soft and hard cheese, yogurt, cereal/all grain, fresh vegetables, tahini, eggs, homemade sliced cake.

Lunch: Sandwiches, fruits, energy bars, pitta bread with vegetables and dips. 

Dinner: Traditional dishes such as shakshuka, falafel, couscous and homemade soups. On the night camping in the crater you will be served Potjie, a vegetarian South African dish cooked over open fire in an iron pot containing of vegetables, grains, and rice and sometimes meat. 

On evenings when dinner is not provided your hosts can recommend food suppliers from the nearby town that can bring the food to the room. There are also many restaurants in Mitzpe Ramon. Expect dinner in a restaurant to cost 100-150 ILS per person. The farm can arrange transport/taxi up to 50 ILS a direction. Please follow the links to see the menus of some local restaurants in English.




Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

The following information is provided as a guide and updated regularly however visa requirements can change quickly and depend on diplomatic relations. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.


British, EU, Canadian and U.S.A. passport holders don’t need a visa to enter Israel as a tourist for a period of up to 3 months.
It is for the Israeli authorities to determine the right of entry into Israel, if you have any particular concerns about visas or entry into Israel, you should contact your local Israeli Embassy. Visitors entering via Ben Gurion airport are given an entry card instead of an entry stamp in their passport. While this practice is in place at other ports of entry, there have been instances where passports have been stamped for entry purposes. You should keep your entry card with your passport until you leave. This is evidence of your legal entry into Israel and may be required, particularly at any crossing points into the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

You should expect lengthy personal questioning and baggage searches by security officials on arrival and departure from Israel. Electrical items, including laptops, may be taken from departing passengers for security inspection and either stored in the aircraft baggage hold, or returned to you in the UK. Damage may occur. If you arrive with valuable personal items (computers, camcorders etc.) you may be required to pay a deposit that is refundable on or after departure. Israeli security officials have on occasion requested access to travellers’ personal e-mail accounts or other social media accounts as a condition of entry.

The Israeli embassy in the UK can be contacted at:
Address: 2 Palace Green, London, W8 4QB. Telephone: 020 7957 9500. Email: Website:

The websites below give up to date travel advice tailored to their citizens on: Entry requirements; Health; Safety and Security including terrorism; Money and Local Customs. Please ensure you have checked the country you are travelling to is a suitable destination for your personal circumstances before booking your holiday.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on 0207 008 0232/0233 or at

In the USA the Department of State gives travel advice at

In Canada the Government of Canada gives travel advice at

In Sweden the Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives travel advice at

The British Embassy in Israel can be found at: British Embassy, 192 Hayarkon Street 6340502, Tel Aviv, Israel
Telephone: +972 (0)3 725 1222
Office Hours Local Time: Monday to Thursday, 8am to 4pm, Friday 8am to 1:30pm

US Embassy in Israel can be found at: 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv Israel 63903
Telephone: +(972) (3) 519-7575
Emergency after-hours telephone: +(972) (3) 519-7551
Office Hours Local Time: By appointment only from 8 to 11am, Monday – Friday, except for the first Wednesday of each month and during Embassy closures.

Canadian Embassy in Israel can be found at: Canada House, 3/5 Nirim Street, Tel Aviv, 6706038 Israel
Telephone: (011 972 3) 636-3300; Within Israel (03) 636-3300
Office hours local time: Monday to Thursday: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Swedish Embassy in Israel can be found at: Embassy of Sweden, P.O.B. 9393, Tel Aviv 6109301
Telephone: +972 3 718 00 00

Last update: 3/10/2017

Climate Summary

The best times to go riding in this area are in the spring (March-May) and autumn (September-October) when temperatures are slightly cooler and it is not too wet or dry. It can get very hot in July and August, and riding is often not possible during the middle of the day. In the winter it can get very cold in the desert, especially at night and ground frosts are common. Average rainfall is generally quite low, and the summer months often see no rain at all.

Climate Chart

No special health precautions are required for visits to Israel, for further details please see your local doctor. We do advise taking plenty of sunscreen!

For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at

We strongly advise you to consult with your General Practitioner before travelling. The best medical advice regarding suitable immunisations and prophylaxis to enable you to travel safely requires knowledge of your medical history and therefore cannot be covered in this advice sheet. Recommendations are also subject to change and it is important to obtain the most up to date information available.

Health (ride specific)

There are no specific health warnings for this ride, although it is strongly recommended that you use plenty of sunscreen and drink lots of water.


In Israel the power sockets are of type H. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. These sockets are unique to Israel, you will need an adapter to charge devices. In most cases, European style plugs can be used.

Film and Camera Equipment

It will be possible to charge batteries and cameras each night in the cabins. It may be possible to charge devices from a battery pack on the camping night but it is recommended that you charge cameras or devices well the night before or take spares.

Packing List

We have put together a suggested packing list for your trip. This should be used as a guideline as requirements may vary according to the time of year and your personal preferences.

• Riding Helmet - we strongly recommend that you wear a properly fitted riding helmet of the current standard which is PAS015. Please note that it is mandatory to wear a riding helmet on this ride and there is a selection of helmets available to borrow at the farm.
• Jodhpurs - jodhpurs, breeches or other comfortable trousers (jeans may rub and can also be quite hot)
• Riding Boots - it is important to have correct shoes or boots for horse riding. Jodhpur or ankle boots with a rubber sole are recommended but sturdy shoes with a definite heel are acceptable (such as walking boots).
• Half Chaps - these are great when worn with ankle boots and help prevent the stirrup leathers rubbing against your legs
• T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts
• Sunhat
• Sunglasses
• Fleece for evenings
• Warm layers
• Sleeping bag
• Casual Clothes for when out of the saddle
• Raincoat - although it rains very rarely it may be a good idea to pack a waterproof/ windproof jacket
• Personal Items - toiletries, any medicines you require and please be sure to take insect repellent and plenty of sun cream
• Camera and Spare Batteries/Charger - an absolute must! It is also a good idea to take a camera case you can strap around your waist or onto a belt for whilst you are riding
• A copy of your passport

Water bottles are provided at the farm.


This is a 7 day/6 night programme with 5 days riding available on set dates throughout the year. Other dates available on request between February and November excluding July and August when it is too hot to ride. Please note that in early February and late November it can get quite cold and camping may not always be possible.

Departure Dates

2020: dates available on request between February and November excluding July and August.

No single rooms available (on some or all nights). Riders must be prepared to share with someone of the same sex.
No of   
Riding days Product item description £
20207d/6n6double pp in double cabin (based on 2pax sharing)2,075
20207d/6n6double pp in family suite (based on 4pax sharing)1,809
20207d/6n6supplement 3 pax in family suite pp35
20207d/6n6extra person in room1,765
20207d/6n6Studio Khan pp (minimum 6)1,795
No of   
Riding days Product item description
20207d/6n6double pp in double cabin (based on 2pax sharing)2,439
20207d/6n6double pp in family suite (based on 4pax sharing)2,129
20207d/6n6supplement 3 pax in family suite pp41
20207d/6n6extra person in room2,075
20207d/6n6Studio Khan pp (minimum 6)2,109
No of   
Riding days Product item description $
20207d/6n6double pp in double cabin (based on 2pax sharing)2,665
20207d/6n6double pp in family suite (based on 4pax sharing)2,325
20207d/6n6supplement 3 pax in family suite pp45
20207d/6n6extra person in room2,269
20207d/6n6Studio Khan pp (minimum 6)2,305
No of   
Riding days Product item description SEK
20207d/6n6double pp in double cabin (based on 2pax sharing)25,729
20207d/6n6double pp in family suite (based on 4pax sharing)22,445
20207d/6n6supplement 3 pax in family suite pp429
20207d/6n6extra person in room21,899
20207d/6n6Studio Khan pp (minimum 6)22,265
Recommended Reading

Walking Israel (2011) by Martin Fletcher
The Lost Tribes of Israel: The History of a Myth (2002) by Tudor Parfitt
The Birds of Israel (1987) by U. Paz and Y. Eshbol
Red Sea Reef Guide: Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Arabian Peninsula (2007) by Helmut Debelius

Other Activities

The farm has many inhabitants that you are free to visit and help feed if you like. Alpaca and llama make up the bulk of the livestock along with the horses but there are also dogs, pigs, goats and a camel! There is a wool factory on site which is active during the spring when the alpaca and llama are shorn, and there are sometimes talks and tours held on the farm too. Young children can even have llama rides. There are many trails for hiking around the farm and yoga classes can take place with advanced notice. The area around the farm boasts boutique wineries, a natural cosmetics manufactory, spas, cycling, hiking, galleries etc. Eilat, a seaside tourist resort on the Red Sea, is two hours’ drive away where the diving, snorkelling and seafood is superb.


Most of the flora and fauna in this area has specifically adapted to the desert conditions. The Asian wild ass has been reintroduced to Makhtesh Ramon. Other larger mammals of the area include Nubian ibexes, Dorcas gazelles, striped hyenas and few Arabian leopards. A small population of Arabian leopards, an endangered animal in the Arabian peninsula, survives in the southern Negev. The Negev Tortoise and the Negev shrew are only found in Israel

Other Information

You should expect lengthy personal questioning and baggage searches by security officials on arrival and departure from Israel. Electrical items, including laptops, may be taken from departing passengers for security inspection and either stored in the aircraft baggage hold, or returned to you in the UK. Damage may occur.

If you arrive with valuable personal items (computers, camcorders etc.) you may be required to pay a deposit that is refundable on or after departure.

Israeli security officials have on occasion requested access to travellers’ personal e-mail accounts or other social media accounts as a condition of entry.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport, Ovda Airport or the farm
2020: From Tel Aviv 500 ILS or Ovda airport 350 ILS per vehicle (1-4pax) each way. Car hire is an alternative option.
Flight Guide:
London to Tel Aviv from £350
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