Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Route 12 to Eilat - The Black and White Cranes

Most people going to Eilat take either Route 40 to Route 90, which runs down the Jordan River and Arava Valleys, or Route 90 all the way. Route 12, which branches off Route 40 about 80 kilometers from Eilat, is almost completely ignored. Route 12 runs down the Israeli/Egyptian border and covers some of the most beautiful mountains and flowered desert plains in Israel. In addition, the highway is the equal of Route 40 in quality and better in speed, since there is so little traffic on it.

Route 12 to Eilat.

Many of the mountains are huge, basalt monoliths, cooled magma from underground that was thrust up through fissures created by the motion of the African, Arabian and Indian tectonic plates which meet under the Red Sea.

A panoramic view of Mt. Shlomo as seen from Route 12. (Click for full-size images.)

Driving Route 12 on our way home from Eilat we happened upon a flock of Black and White Cranes. These large, beautiful birds can be seen near road sides in the spring when they migrate north from Africa to their breeding grounds in Europe. I had seen a flock before on Route 40 but wasn't able to stop. This time I did and got some wonderful photos of these birds.

A panoramic view of Black and White Cranes along Route 12.

The desert plains are beautiful in the early spring (April in this case), festooned with wild flowers as far as the eye can see. Going down to Eilat we crossed one valley that was filled with small yellow wild flowers all the way to the horizon. These were some of the wild flowers the Black and White Cranes were grazing among.

Desert wild flowers.

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