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Archive for israel

Israel’s Pillar of Salt

By Linda Tancs

In the bowels of Israel’s Mount Sodom you’ll find Malcham, recently determined to be the world’s longest salt cave. Stretching over 6 miles, it steals the title from Iran’s Cave of the Three Nudes. Due to its geological location to the west of the southern basin of the Dead Sea, the mountain is composed almost entirely of halite (rock salt), a true pillar of salt. Caverns like Malcham formed when rainfall and groundwater eroded parts of the mountain over time. A popular way to experience the salt stalactites and stalagmites is to rappel into it.

Israel’s Highest Waterfall

By Linda Tancs

Located in the center of Israel’s Golan Heights, Gamla Nature Reserve is a nature reserve and archaeological site. It’s where you’ll find the country’s highest waterfall (at around 167 feet) flowing year round. An easy path leads to a lookout terrace for the best views. Other features of the area are the eagle observatory and Bronze Age burial mounds. The reserve is about a 15-minute drive from the Sea of Galilee.

Israel’s National Trail

By Linda Tancs

From the northernmost border to the southernmost tip of the Red Sea, Israel’s National Trail was once named by National Geographic as one of the 20 best “epic hiking trails” in the world. It stretches around 683 miles, boasting a variety of landscapes from deserts in the south to forests, rolling hills and beaches in the north. A popular hike is the Big Fin, requiring a steep climb up the side of a makhtesh, a geological formation unique to the region that’s formed when soft sandstone is washed away by erosion, leaving behind steep walls of harder limestone. You may be lucky enough to find a “Trail Angel,” part of a network of volunteers assisting hikers through the mammoth trek as well as in the preparation.

Spectacular Ruins in Israel

By Linda Tancs

Occupying a strategic location at the junction of the Jezreel and Jordan River valleys, the ancient city of Bet She’an was a leading city of the Decapolis in Roman times and a prosperous Christian city during the Byzantine era. Historically, the city was destroyed following the Earthquake of 749, and its ruins—some of the most spectacular Roman and Byzantine artifacts in the country—are now part of Bet She’an National Park.


To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

An Archaeological Journey in Jerusalem

By Linda Tancs

Jerusalem’s Terra Sancta Museum houses artifacts culled from excavations carried out for more than 100 years by a Franciscan order. Located in the Old City along the Via Dolorosa, the museum’s new archaeological wing boasts collections from the age of Herod and from daily life in the Holy Land during the time of the New Testament writers as well as a striking stone room used by Crusaders in the 13th century. The facility is open daily.

A Desert Gateway

By Linda Tancs

The Negev is Israel’s gateway to the desert. Accounting for over half of the country’s land area, the arid mass has been occupied since the dawn of history by nomads, Canaanites, Philistines, Edomites, Byzantines, Nabateans, Ottomans and, of course, Israelis. After the establishment of Israel, the new country’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, promoted the settlement of the Negev and moved to live in Sde Boker. Paula and David Ben-Gurion’s living quarters there have been preserved the way they were upon Ben-Gurion’s death in 1973. A visit to the house includes an exhibit that displays the connection between the prime minister and the Negev. Winter is an especially nice time to visit; despite the small quantities of rain, the Negev is covered with amazing flowers, including luscious red anemones.

Holiday of Holidays

By Linda Tancs

The largest city in northern Israel, Haifa is one of the country’s prettiest cities. Well known to cruisers, it also sports the nation’s largest port. During December weekends, it’s perhaps best known as the host of Holiday of Holidays, a festival at the crossroads of Hanukkah, Id al-Adha and Christmas. Street parties, performances, guided tours and exhibitions celebrate tolerance and unity among the three religions. Admission is free.

Monkeying Around in Israel

By Linda Tancs

At the Ben-Shemen forest near Modi’in is a monkey park containing 250 species of monkeys from locales around the world like Africa, Asia and South America. You’ll find one of the smallest monkeys in the world–the marmoset–here.  Another citizen is the crab-eating macaque, a medium species of monkey found in the tropical and subtropical forests and jungles throughout southeast Asia. The white-ringed eyes of the dusky leaf langur, a native of Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia, give it the appearance of wearing eyeglasses. Located halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the park provides guided tours every half hour on weekends.

The Biblical Zoo

By Linda Tancs

There’s a veritable alphabet soup of animals mentioned in the Bible: from ants and bears to vultures and wolves. Those references come to life at the Biblical Zoo. Officially known as The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem, the facility has amassed a vast collection of God’s creatures in every category: mammals, birds, fish, invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians. Noah would be proud; there’s even an ark-like visitors’ centre.

The Jesus Trail

By Linda Tancs

From Nazareth to Capernaum, Israel’s Jesus Trail is a 40-mile hike in the Galilee that strives to trace Jesus’s movement through the region. The multi-day trek incorporates Nazareth, Sepphoris, Cana, the Arbel Cliffs, Tabgha, Capernaum and the Mount of Beatitudes, Tiberias and the Jordan River. Overnight accommodations along the route range from hotels to campsites. The breathtaking scenery and pleasing year round weather are sure to interest pilgrims and non-pilgrims alike.

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