When I received the itinerary for my tour of Israel, I admit I had to do a search in Google to find out what the word “rappelling” means. If, like me, you’ve never heard this term, in the UK we would call it abseiling!
I had only ever been rappelling once before, and that was on a little indoor climbing wall on an outward-bound trip with school. The Makhtesh Ramon crater in Israel is in a completely different league!
Firstly, look at this for a view:
When you have a view like this, it makes the rappelling experience that bit more incredible!
After a Jeep Tour of the crater we were taken to this popular spot for rappelling (or abseiling), which is right next to the brand new Mitzpe Ramon Visitor’s Center.
While traveling I try to get out of my comfort zone- I have skydived twice and flown upside down in a tiger moth- so even though I was a bit scared I just HAD to do it. I can sometimes be a little afraid of heights when I stand near the edge of things, but I really wanted to give this a try.
Our guide from the Adam Sela Company knew what he was doing, so I felt very safe in his hands. He showed us how all the ropes work, so I felt comforted to know that I had no chance of falling to the bottom of the crater!
Here’s a picture of me having my harness fitted and adjusted:
Once the harness was fitted correctly and all the ropes were in place, it was time for the scary bit…climbing down a steep cliff face!
With my back to the crater, I had to walk slowly towards the edge of the crater holding onto a blue rope with my strongest hand, which is my left since I am left-handed. The first moments are the most difficult, and my first instinct as I stepped back over the edge was “I can’t do it!!!”
But Adam was brilliant and talked me through it one step at a time. He is really good at making you feel like you CAN do it. As you walk down the cliff you have to keep your legs straight at a 90 degree angle to the rock. Your weight should pull down on the rope, but because I am quite light I had to feed the blue rope through to lengthen it.
The actual height of this particular cliff face isn’t very high because there is a ledge at the bottom that you can’t see in these photos. I slowly became more confident and soon I was descending down the cliff quite quickly, until I got to an overhang and just let my feet dangle away from the wall. Then it was just a case of feeding the rope through my hand and eventually standing upright on the ledge. I would say all in all it probably took me less than 5 minutes, but I felt a great sense of achievement and could have happily had another go! When you get to the bottom there are arrows that point you towards the road and back up the cliff.
Rappelling turned out to be one of the many highlights of my trip to Israel. I really felt the adrenaline rush from doing this, and I just wanted to go again and again! The scenery is spectacular and I love dramatic, barren desert landscapes like the Negev. This area of Israel is a great place for all sorts of adventure activities like jeep tours, camping, hiking and mountain biking.
To book the rappelling in Ramon Crater, Israel, visit the Challenging Experience website. The company was founded in 1991 and is owned and run by it’s founder, Adam Sela. He knows his stuff and can organise custom desert adventure tours catered to your interests. He was fantastic at coaxing me down that cliff face!
My tour was organised by the Israel Ministry of Tourism, but these opinions are my own.