The Middle East is living, breathing proof of an old maxim: you don’t know, until you go. Forget the headlines and the hyperbole; this is the cradle of civilizations, an ancient land emerging as a modern power, with the money, culture and panache to back it up. Ride camels with Bedouin tribespeople across the dunes of the Sahara, haggle for gold in the souqs of downtown Amman, cruise the Nile beneath the white sail of a felucca or float forever in the mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea. Wherever you go, three things will follow: the faint scent of cloves and camel, the echoing call to prayer and the smiles of people that call this place home.
Thought Middle Eastern landscapes are all sand and cities, right? Wrong. And Israel and the Palestinian Territories sport some of the most diverse. From the unique salt beds of the Dead Sea to the picturesque Mediterranean coastline of Tel Aviv and the pine-tree spotted mountain ranges of ancient Jerusalem. Yep, this place is full of surprises.