If I was to say New Zealand, Ireland, France or even the Philippines there is a fair chance an image of what the countries landscape looks like forms in your mind. You can see the glaciers of New Zealand and the tropical islands of the Philippines easily, but what if I was to ask you about the Israel landscape? Do you imagine a barren wasteland, green farming land for as far as the eye can see or something completely different.
Personally I expected dry desert conditions to face me from all directions, even with the mediterranean running the entire length of one side of the country. Maybe that’s because every image I’ve ever seen on the news about the middle east has only shown barren landscapes full of holes terrorist can hide. Perhaps it’s just my lack of understanding that part of the world that really shines out I don’t know.
No matter the reason I was overwhelmingly surprised by what I saw while traveling from the far north to the very south of the country. Starting at the lofty Golan Heights (photo above) where Israel borders with Syria down to the Sea of Galilee I found fields of green (even with the drought hitting Israel). Even the stunning Jordan River was awash with a color I’d never seen in a river in my life.
Working my way towards central Israel and the landscape around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem couldn’t be any different if they tried. Tel Aviv borders the Mediterranean Sea and offers up gorgeous beach views that any sun worshiper would die to have.
While Jerusalem for the most part is held hostage by rocky hills covered in trees for as far as the eye can see. It’s amazing to see such a change occur within around 60 kilometers as that is the distance between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Once you get south of Jerusalem however things quickly become less scenic, unless rocks are your kind of thing. Something almost expected thought given the Dead Sea is down that way and as it’s some 8-9 times saltier than the ocean I know if I was a plant that’s not the place I’d be choosing to grow.
And then finally you reach Eilat, the southern most city of Israel and part of the southern Negev Desert. While the Red Sea provides the allure of a city by the sea, the fact is that the place has lots and lots of rocks no matter which direction you look.
If you’d have asked an Australian to describe the landscape of their country then they would probably have said it’s made up of most of what you see above, along with your token tropical rain forests to really gloat that we have everything. The thing is though, this is all spread out over hundreds of kilometers where Israel has all the above squished up between the sea and 4-5 other countries.
I find it fascinating to see so much diversity in landscape across a country so small. I know for a fact that I missed out on seeing so many other parts of Israel that would add to what you see above like the Makhtesh Ramon and the Rosh HaNikra Grottoes that one of my israeli friends has pointed out to me since I left. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to return and see more of the ever-changing landscape of Israel but for now I’ll just have to dream.
Is there a part of the world where you have been surprised by what you have seen in the landscape? If so I’d love you to leave a comment and let me know where so I can add it to my ever growing list of amazing places to visit.