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Southern sunrise sets Negev aglow

September 26, 2014 | Latest Photo Prev Next
Desert sunrise Desert sunrise Photo: Udi Goren / 500px
September 26, 2014 | Latest Photo

The rolling hills, sharp cliffs, deep canyons and layers of rock that comprise Israel's Negev desert glow with the warm light of the newly rising sun. You could spend all afternoon in the desert without noticing the subtle beauty of the textured landscape that is so apparent at dawn. 

Mountains drop off into makhteshim (erosion craters) and dry riverbeds run through the landscape. At first glance, the Negev seems lifeless — sparsely populated by plants, animals and human settlements. But a closer look reveals the vigorous life that fills the desert, not just hardy desert plants but thriving animals as well, from leopards to shrews and all manner of striking birds of prey. 

Big cats and owls aren't the only creatures that have adapted to the arid climate — dig a little deeper and you'll find that the Negev has a human history dating back several thousand years. Nomads of all sorts have set up camp on these sands, which have also been touched by the stretching fingers of the Roman empire. Now, the Negev still has much to offer, playing host to vineyards and wineries, its sunny expanses central to Israel's solar power research. 

Lonely Planet listed the Negev among the 10 best regions for travel in 2013, calling it a "desert in throes of transformation," quickly filling with eco-villages and spas. Still, there are opportunities like hiking across its many landmarks, practicing yoga outdoors and stargazing in the evening that celebrate the desert for what it is — vast, beautiful, and serene.

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