A gallery of red…anemones in Israel
Many people associate Israel with desert and war. Both desert and war do color the land. Some people express surprise when they also learn about the nature here—flora and fauna. I spoke with a travel editor once who said he had no idea there would be nature trails, flowers, or Ibex wandering the hills in Israel.
Ibex visit the field school
In the desert, the ibex (a species of goat and symbol of Israel’s nature preserves) often cross a hiker’s path. Especially in the nature preserves, they tend to be reasonably brave. One time, while staying in a field school in the Negev, a herd came to visit in the morning. Some of the small kids climbed acacia trees to get at the leaves. I encountered the kid standing on the rocks on a nature trail above the Dead Sea.
And there are trees, too
And we do have trees in Israel, too. As these pictures show, I am fascinated by the textures and colors of bark on the trees. Some of these trees grow near the Mediterranean. The red-barked katlav I usually see growing along valleys and gulches in the Jerusalem hills. We don’t actually have squirrels. I haven’t seen any, at least. The gray squirrel in the tree lives in Minneapolis. Or, at least, that’s where I took that picture.
Israel does have water. The t-shirt tells you so: Med Sea, Red Sea, Dead Sea. And there is the “sea” of Galilee (really a large lake). The pictures here come from a fish farm, freshwater springs that flow over the salty Dead Sea aquifers, a river, and the Mediterranean. There aren’t many lakes—there are some rivers. The Jordan River, most famous and religious of them, unfortunately has greatly diminished due to human use and misuse of water. It is no longer “mighty and cold,” although sometimes parts of it are cold.
Of course, we have desert and beautifully barren-looking landscapes. We have rocky ruins (some of them along the nature trails). And not all of the anemones are red, although the other colored ones seem to grow mostly in the north (where there are incredible wild irises, rare wild peonies, and amazing narcissus that blooms with other wildflowers on some of the beaches. There are tiny narcissus flowers that bloom in the forests of the Jerusalem hills, too.
The best time to see the flowers is late-winter to mid-spring. After that, it does turn hot, and most of the flowers die down. The trees remain. And the ibex roam the rocks, still. The nature trails are open all year. Although in winter, which is the rainy season, be sure to check for flash flood warnings—rain far enough away that the clouds are out of site could fill that dry gulch you’re hiking through with raging waters.
All photographs were taken by Michael Dickel, who retains the copyright for them. Used with permission. The photos were taken with a Nikon D-70 digital SLR camera, which Michael unfortunately lost in recent travels. All light effects in the photos were done “in camera,” using manual settings, except the black and white tree, which was changed from color in Apple’s iPhoto app.