Negev Desert

Deserts can be surprising places, with scorching days under a hot sun and freezing nights on the cold sand. The, a world-renowned geologic site with gorgeous multihued rocks and sand, and , an oasis formed by a freshwater spring that meanders between vertical walls of soft chalk. Check out the imposing flat-topped mountain fortress of , a monolith rising out of a seemingly endless stretch of desert (it’s the site of both King Herod’s fortress and the ill-fated last stand of Jewish rebels fighting the Romans two-plus millennia ago). There are other unesco World Heritage Sites in nearby Avdat, Mamshit, and Shivta, and , another oasis (complete with a waterfall), is popular with visitors and makes an ideal midday retreat from the desert’s sun and heat. For those seeking a respite from the elements, the five-star , overlooking the (Israel’s Grand Canyon), and the Dead Sea resort town of are the perfect places to wash off the dust and sand of the desert and enjoy some pampering at the area’s most luxurious spas.

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