Wild Israel: Nature in Unexpected Places - Atlas Obscura
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Wild Israel: Nature in Unexpected Places

Atlas Obscura’s Israel Week is in partnership with Go Israel.com, your guide to Israel’s beautiful destinations and its many hidden wonders!

The terrain of Israel is much more diverse than you might think. From mountains to craters to flower fields, it is a country with plenty of nature and unexpected beauty. Here are a few of the highlights of wild Israel:

Shokeda Forest

article-imageAnemone coronaria flowers in the Shokeda Forest (photograph by Zachi Evenor)

Each winter, thousands of visitors bike and hike through the Shokeda Forest west of Netivot in the Western Negev region. They’re drawn by the red anemone coronaria blossoms, which bloom in a stunning red carpet through the eucalyptus trees. 

Hexagon Pool

article-imageHexagon Pool (photograph by lehava Or-Yehuda)

Another overlooked wonder is in the Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve in central Golan Heights, north of the Sea of Galilee. Tucked at the base of a canyon is the Meshushim pool, which in Hebrew means “hexagon.” The Hexagon Pool gets its names from the up to 16-foot towers of dried lava that surround the waterfall that pours into the pool. Alongside is a landscape of oaks and thorn trees roamed by gazelles, boars, porcupines, and numerous song birds. 

Makhteshim

article-imageIbex at Makhtesh Ramon (photograph by amira_a/Flickr user)

You can only find the Makhtesh geological phenomenon in Israel’s Negev Desert. The deep, sloping areas were long thought to be the impacts of craters, but are in fact caused by erosion. The biggest is the Makhtesh Ramon. The ground is usually hot and arid, but that doesn’t mean it’s a desolate place. Nubian Ibexes, gazelles, hyenas, recently reintroduced wild asses, and even some lurking Arabian leopards call these curious landforms home. 

Rosh HaNikra

article-imageRosh HaNikra Grottoes (photograph by AF1621/Wikimedia)

The grottoes of Rosh HaNikra were long only accessible to intrepid divers coming in through the Mediterranean Sea. Now with a cable car the system of caves and tunnels on the north coast in Western Galilee are open to all. That doesn’t make them any less entrancing, as the thousands of years of the ocean pounding into the white chalk cliffs has left an underground labyrinth of luminous water. 

Ein Gedi

article-imageSunset at Ein Gedi (photograph by Mboesch/Wikimedia)

Bordering the Judean Desert is the oasis of Ein Gedi. While much of it is wild with Nubian Ibex, over 200 species of birds, and plants from tropical to desert, it also has more maintained botanical gardens and spas. Nevertheless, its nature reserve is still one of the most beautiful wild areas of the country, with flowing streams and waterfalls adding to the enchantment. 


Atlas Obscura’s Israel Week is in partnership with Go Israel.com, your guide to Israel’s beautiful destinations and its many hidden wonders!