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.
Many thanks to the Ministry of Tourism, Stand With Us and the Once In A Lifetime 2.0 students for inviting myself and the other bloggers to see Israel with them.
Good post Chris and thanks for your brief explanation on the landscapes of Israel. Scientific study done in the ISRAEL JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION, Vol. 55, 2009, pp. 263–279 clearly briefs the extraordinary high species richness and geographically located at intercontinental crossroads. Israel comes under the Mediterranean Biodiversity Hotspots and a very important region for species richness and endemic planet / mammal population. Keep the posts coming 🙂
Damn Wild Navigator now my explanation of the changing landscape in israel looks terrible with your scientific info down here in the comments 🙂
🙂 Chris – trust me the experience that you have had in Israel is nothing matched to my scientific explanation. Keep your posts coming through and I would personally love to visit this place one day 🙂
Ahhh, Israel – how much I love that country! Beautiful all throughout, I can’t wait to go back. I did visit Rosh Hanikra btw and let me tell you, it is well worth the detour!
So jealous Maria Rosh Hanikra looks beautiful
Makes me want to go back! With a water proof camera of course 😛
I loved Rosh HaNikra and Mitzpe Ramon! Two places I might not have seen if not for the decision to rent a car. I also loved the Golan, which is out of the way for most travelers as well.
Erik I take it renting a car is the easiest way to get to Rosh HaNikra and Mitzpe Ramon?
Israel’s landscape is very interesting. It is very fascinating to see a part of their territory full of life and a part that are just sands and rocks. What you have shown in your pictures are beautiful especially the Jordan River. Just like you, I can only dream that someday I can visit the place.
well said , there is lot of change occurred. When many of us consider the middle East we probably imagine moving sand dunes or hot, dry desert. People types of landscapes can be found in Israel, but Israel’s geography shows stunning diversity for this kind of small country. The essential topography of Israel features a seaside plan with sand dunes that blend into lowlands while moving inland moving slopes and hills in the middle of the country, together with an in-depth valley within the eastern border. This pattern virtually is relevant to Israel at any longitude. There is however clearly variation relocating the greater fertile and wet north up up to the more arid and dry south.
Hi! I’m also guilty of thinking Israel is made up mostly of desert, rocks and sand dunes. It’s mostly because I haven’t come across that many travel photos of that country and I haven’t actively searched for photos online. And it’s quite surprising to see your photo of that river and that beach.
And now clicking on Maria Alexandra’s link, I just found out 5 beaches in Israel and even one with dolphins.
What a pleasant surprise!
Hello Chris, I was only a silent reader of you blog but I loved this post about Israel. I was backpacking there for a month back in 2007 and I remember staying in these wonderful places – from lush Golan heights to the dry Negev. Fantastic indeed!
Priyank cheers for the comment. Such an awesome country and would love to head back there and backpack around on my own accord.
I envy you so much for all these cool trips you are doing!!
Wow… looked like you’ve had an awesome trip. It’s definitely on my short list of the places I want to visit before I die. 🙂
There is another view in israel which can be seen in the north part of israel in the winter.
It is the hermon, all snow mountain, very recommanded on winter.
I recommend this video
that’s the first part (Golan) and you can go on watching the rest of the clips 🙂