The car company forced us to rent the car for 3 days ("it's too many kilometers to Eliat to drive in less than 3 days" was the excuse - at only 320 km, this tiny country is clearly not of the same mindset as those of us who will make the trek to Tahoe and back in a snow storm in less than 12 hours...). But, it ended up being a blessing because we got to take more time to enjoy the beauty of the Negev desert on our way south.
We spent the night in Mitpze Ramon, a small desert town perched above the Maktesh Ramon crater - the largest crater in the world. (We also drove through the world's second largest crater, the Maktesh HaGadol, but were too scared to stop and take a picture when we heard the Israeli military doing bombing exercises.) The crater was breathtaking with it's many different colored sands and rock formations. We also got to pretend we were normal people again because we ended up having to rent a real apartment when we discovered the hostel was closed, and even got to have a home cooked meal and watch some movies (ok, so we cooked dinner in the microwave).
We hiked around the rim of the crater, which took us through a desert sculpture park. The sculptures were interactive with various gongs and bells, and once again, we could almost pretend we were back at Black Rock City. If the Israelis haven't yet discovered Burning Man they certainly are poised to.
After the hike we headed out for the final stretch to Eliat. Even though the distance wasn't that far, there are no gas stations the entire way, so we'd recommend filling up before you head out. Otherwise, you may find yourself driving in 100+ degree heat with the aircon off and your fingers crossed like we did....