The trip of the Sunrises. Israel, Timna Park, Negev Desert

 Timna Park, a trip to a place where lost trails of history were covered by the sand of time and winds are bearers of  forgotten ancient tales

It was another sunrise which opened my day. I did not know how my day was going to be and did not care much. Today I was going south crossing the Negev Desert on my way to Eilat.

I was still astonished by Ramon Crater when I took the road 40 which started winding through the desert. An amazing landscape appeared before my eyes and I wanted to stop at every curve just to be able to catch the best image on my camera. I was thinking that probably by now I have seen all the best places worth seeing. I also knew that close to Eilat is Timna Park where Solomon`s mines were, but somehow the word park did not sound too appealing to me. It sounded more like an amusement park and amusement parks are definitely not my thing. But..I could not be more wrong.

I didn`t know much about the place, hence my total out of the line judgmental opinion, because along with Ramon Crater, Timna Park is one of the hidden gems and lesser known places in Israel. The trip of the Sunrises. Israel, Timna Park, Negev Desert

Israel, the Trip of the Sunrises. Makhtesh Ramon

Makhtesh Ramon, one of the most amazing geological phenomenon in Israel not many travellers know about.

The big question now, what Makehtesh Ramon is? Maybe I should answer this question with a story…

One morning, more exactly hundreds of millions of years ago, when Negev Desert was covered by the waters of a big ocean, the sun was rising. Maybe it was a sunrise that marked the beginning of the period when the ocean started to retire his waters towards the North, leaving behind a hill shaped formation. Without the protection of the ocean`s waters, the hill found himself at the mercy of nature. Little by little, it was flattened by the repeated slaps of the rain and wind. Soon though, it wasn’t only the rain and wind which were starting to carve the crater. After a while, the Great Rift Valley, which starts from South Lebanon and goes to East Africa, was formed and because of that, rivers changed their courses. Two rivers started to flow in the Negev washing out the softer layers of the crater. The crater started to deepen being surrounded by vertical walls made out of harder rocks. By the time that those rivers dried out a 40km long and 8km width crater in shape of a heart was left behind.

Israel, the Trip of the Sunrises. Makhtesh Ramon

The Trip of the Sunrises. Israel, Wadi Arugot

Wadi Arugot, or what to do in Israel when you have less than 24 hours till your flight back

Who would have ever imagined that in less that 24 hours I was able to do so many things in Israel? Definitely not me. Especially because when I woke up that morning around 6 AM I was still in Eilat and by 9 PM I was supposed to be back to Tel Aviv to catch my flight.

The initial plan was that on the way back to Tel Aviv to visit the ruins of Avdat Fortress which caught my eye when I was heading to Mitzpe Ramon. On the other side, somehow I was not that keen on going there. The wadies around the Dead Sea were still lighting up my imagination. I knew that there were more wadies/ nahals worth exploring than Wadi Dragot and Wadi David and especially Wadi Arugot was lingering in my mind. So, I had to return to the Dead Sea, I just had to explore Wadi Arugot also.

The Trip of the Sunrises. Israel, Wadi Arugot

The Trip of the Sunrises. Israel, En Gedi, Wadi David

The fascinating world of En Gedi Nature Reserve, Wadi David

My beloved is unto me a cluster of henna blossoms From the vineyards of En Gedi“ Song of Songs

6 AM and I was staying in front of my hut at Metzoke Dragot Hostel watching how the haze above the Dead Sea was starting to glow when the sun was rising from behind the Moab Mountains in Jordan.

It was the beginning of a new day and while the sun was becoming more bright I was thinking how interesting the path of my life was until that moment. Probably it was one of those moments in which I was trying to find an answer to “the meaning of life “ question. Considering where I was there was nothing strange about it, for millennia people were coming here in search of themselves and to find answers.

The Trip of the Sunrises. Israel, En Gedi, Wadi David

The Trip of the Sunrises. Israel, Wadi Dragot

Wadi Dragot, probably the most challenging and spectacular canyon in the Judean Desert

Away from a bustling and never sleeping Tel Aviv and from the prayers rising to the sky from the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, deep in the Judean Desert, winding its way towards The Dead Sea, lies the most scenic and challenging canyon in Israel, Wadi Dragot or Wadi Darga. Nature was particularly generous with the deserts of Israel because for millennia was continuously carving deep hidden valleys, where rapid waterfalls were creating natural pools and high dry falls. Life was thriving in those places and even now a very rich flora and fauna can be found despite the dryness around.  Amazingly, this magnificent place is lesser known to travellers since most of Israel tourism is a religious one and not too many dare to search thoroughly the desert. Although lesser known to the foreign tourist seems to be popular among Israelis in search for some adrenaline rush because this particular trail is difficult and spectacular at the same time. I can’t say I knew about it either, but somehow, the choices I made during this trip took me right in the vicinity of this astonishing place.

The Trip of the Sunrises. Israel, Wadi Dragot

Roque Nublo, The Clouded Rock of Gran Canaria

Roque Nublo, the pillar of heaven and the most iconic landmark of Gran Canaria

 

The tallest standing rock, 80m, Roque Nublo defies gravity, seeming that it needs just a push to fall in one of the steep valleys around it. Probably one day it will. But till then, it will continue to guard over the island. Same as its brother Roque Bentayga, it is a volcanic plug made of basalt, a reminiscence of Caldera de Tejeda. It is the world biggest natural crags of volcanic origin and it stands at 1813m altitude.  After its conception, the forces of nature were constantly shaping and chiselling it for millions of years. The volcanic activity that gave birth to Roque Nublo happened 4,5 million years ago. Durig this period it was carved out from the bulk of the Island by the skilled hands of forces of nature while it was looking at this brother in pain Pico del Teide on the neighbouring Tenerife Island.

Roque Nublo, The Clouded Rock of Gran Canaria

Roque Bentayga,Pillars of the Sky. Gran Canaria

Roque Bentayga, one of the most fascinating and mysterious Gran Canarian landmarks

There is no place in Gran Canaria more mysterious than Roque Bentayga. Its story begins million years back when Gran Canaria was rising from the oceans waters due to volcanic activity. Roque Bentayga is the result of millennia of constant erosion that started the moment this island was formed. It is a former volcanic plug, part of Caldera de Tejeda,  made out of basalt. Due to its solidity is still standing despite the fact that the surrounding softer materials were washed away by the rainfalls and rockslides. A stand alone rock which is indubitably the focal point of a huge erosion crater. This majestic rock that dominates the valley having its past shrouded in mystery did not reveal yet its secrets.

Roque Bentayga,Pillars of the Sky. Gran Canaria

Playa de Guigui, Gran Canaria`s Epic Trail

Hiking into the wild to reach the remote Playa de Guigui

Guigui is one of the secluded and hard-to-reach beaches of Gran Canaria and with this two attributes it became imperative to see it. At the beginning of my vacation, I thought that I will spend a certain amount of time on the beach but ironically, most of the time I was in the mountains, either hiking or driving from one place to another. I was not expecting the island to be so sensational, neither the beach in Maspalomas to be the wind`s playground. Since the Ocean was not playing nice I turned my eyes to the roughness and wilderness of the island and one day, Andra and I we decided to hike to Guigui, a remote beach on the hard-to-reach west coast of the island.

Playa de Guigui, Gran Canaria`s Epic Trail

Gran Canaria Island, probably one of the most spectacular Canary Islands

Another day, anther epic road on this stunning island

My second day on Gran Canaria Island begins early in the morning while sipping my coffee on the terrace. Our small casita rural was placed in Barranco Saint Bartolome the Tirajana 7 km from Maspalomas. It was rented with Airbnb and by far the best choice. I liked it more than a 4 stars hotel. Cosy and surrounded by silence gave me the perfect environment to enjoy my morning coffee. The air was crisp and I was drinking my coffee while Carlos Mendes the cat was still trying to jump on my lap. Since I did not want to accept downloading fleas from him I tried to ignore his cute glance that was following my moves. Somewhere, in the distance, a parrot was annoyingly trying to show that he can sing. I bet none told him that he should stick to his day job. Every sip of coffee was sending waves of heat through my body. I was waking up little by little. There was no wifi, therefore, I was disconnected from the rest of the world. The cup of coffee and I were sharing a moment…It was divine!

It was the second day and after doing the exploring in the first day we were thinking to hit the beach. The pleasures of the ocean were one of the reasons I came here in the middle of Winter after all.

The search for the less windy beach that day took us to the North of Gran Canaria Island, to Puerto de las Nieves.

Gran Canaria Island, probably one of the most spectacular Canary Islands

Gran Canaria, a marvel of the Atlantic Ocean

First Day. Driving on GC210 one of the most scenic and dangerous roads of Gran Canaria

It was few months since my last escape and I was beginning to become impatient. Being January and really not fond of Winter my eyes turned towards the Canary Islands once more. This time, Gran Canaria.

Gran Canaria.…this name was haunting my adulthood since I was reading the book ``Gran Canaria“ by A. J. Cronin when I was a teenager. Life works in a mysterious way, because after so many years, here I was. Flight ticket with my buddy Ryanair. Checked! One casita rural in Barranco Saint Bartolome de Tirajana booked with Airbnb. Checked! One Opel Astra rented with CICAR. Checked! What else..? I have the feeling I forgot something…Oh yes. One credit card. Checked!

I had the money, I had the tools, so it was time for fiestaaaa!!! I mean, it was time to explore the Island. Gran Canaria, a marvel of the Atlantic Ocean