I had always imagined Israel more undeveloped and full of desert landscapes all throughout the country.  I can blame that on my lack of knowledge on the country and the portrayal of it in the media.  But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Israel is actually full of diversity (both in landscape and in its people).  And despite what you hear in the media regarding wars and violence, I felt relatively safe.

Jerusalem, a city with a melting pot of religions, is fascinating and a stroll through the narrow alleyways will take you through Jewish, Muslim, and Christian quarters all within a few minutes walk from each other.  Getting lost is inevitable and some of the best views are from the top of the buildings, especially at sunset.  After a couple days in Jerusalem, I wanted to head out into the deserts and explore more of the natural landscape.  Israel’s natural landscape is indeed dry and arid for the most part but in the north of the country, there is an oasis of lush green vegetation.

I continued on to the Dead Sea and Mitzpe Ramon, a huge crater in the middle of the desert.  I had heard about the Nubian ibex, a mountain antelope found in this region, that climb the rocky cliffs and can be seen early in the morning.  So I got up the next morning before sunrise and headed to the cliffs.  I waited patiently for at least one to appear.  After about an hour in the bitter cold, I spotted a family of ibex descending the steep terrain.  All worth the wait.

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