One of the highlights of my time in Israel was bouncing around the dusty Negev Desert on Adam Sela‘s four-wheel-drive tour.
This hallowed landscape is famously home to the Makhtesh Ramon, the world’s largest ‘erosion cirque’.
It looks like a giant meteor crater but was actually created some 220 million years ago when the oceans that covered it eroded the area.
It sounds like a cliché but, as we stood in the still silence, looking out across the endless peaks of burnt-terracotta rock, it felt like we were on a different planet entirely.
Later, a lonely complex vibrated into sight through the windscreen, which Adam explained was used to create and test research equipment for exploring Mars.
“And this area here is used to train tank drivers. Sometimes you’re driving along here and suddenly there are these huge tanks everywhere.”
As we neared Eilat on the Red Sea, our final destination, we stopped in the Eilat Mountains.
From here we could see Aqaba in Jordan and Israel’s Red Sea. Saudi Arabia sat on the horizon and, just behind us, the barbed wire border of Egypt.
I was fascinated by the whole experience, by the lay of the land and its geographical uniqueness. But I was also fascinated by Adam.
Born and raised in Kenya, to British parents, his mother tongue is English. But it’s an antiquated English that was both reassuringly familiar and somehow entirely alien to me. It was like talking to Prince Phillip, but fifty years ago. Proper. Polite. Polished.
Adam moved to Israel some 30 years ago and joined the army. He never returned to Kenya. “I used to visit now and again, but I have no family there anymore, so I have no plans to return. And I’ve seen it, I know it… There are so many other places to visit.”
Today he has two sons with his Israeli wife and speaks perfect Hebrew. For all intents and purposes, he is an Israeli.
“You know when you’re bilingual when you dream in the language,” he laughed when I asked him whether he ‘thinks in English or Hebrew’.
Make it Happen
Adam is the perfect gentleman and a fantastic guide. Whether showing you the geology, culture or wildlife, he talks with sincere passion and immense knowledge.
If you’re going to Israel, I urge you to get in touch with Adam to arrange a tour.
Experiences range from off-road jeep tours and hiking to mountain biking and rappelling.
Are you planning a trip to Israel? Would you like to go to the Negev Desert?