Continuing north via the central Negev, stop at the visitor’s center of Mitspe Ramon, located on the edge of a unique geological wonder. It is a phenomenon known as a Makhtesh: a huge crater developed by water erosion on top of a mountain ridge, creating a "window" onto the layers of rock from eons past. There are three makhteshim in Israel, which are the only formations of their kind in the world.
Continue north along Route 40 and stop at Avdat, a city built by the Nabateans as a stop along the Incense Route they created from Petra to Gaza. The Nabateans learned to live in harmony with the desert by harvesting its meager rainfall to cultivate a host of crops. In making Avdat a World Heritage Site, UNESCO has recognized the unique contribution of the Nabateans to world culture.
Stop to pay your respects at the tomb of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion with its magnificent view of the Wilderness of Tsin. Ben-Gurion believed in life in the desert, and when he retired became a member of nearby Kibbutz Sde Boker where the modest “hut” in which he lived is open to the public.
Continuing north via Be'er Sheva, you are only about two hours from both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.