Israel's Negev Desert has been chosen by the Lonely Planet travel guide as one of the top 10 best regions in the world to visit in 2013.
In fact, the majestic southern desert ranked second on the popular guide's top ten list of travel destinations, under the title "Desert in throes of transformation." The guide warns that the region is undergoing rapid development and urges travelers to hurry as "time is running out to experience the desert as nature intended."
"For decades the Negev was regarded as nothing but a desolate desert," the guide's editors wrote. "But today, this region is a giant greenhouse of development. Think eco-villages, spa resorts and even wineries. In the next few years a new international airport at Timna is scheduled to open, followed by a high-speed railway to Eilat and more hotels."
According to the Lonely Planet guide, "this region, comprising 62% of Israel’s land mass, may seem sparse but it offers a world of adventure, including mountain hikes, camel treks, 4WD desert drives and Red Sea diving. Yet perhaps the biggest secret of the Negev is Makhtesh Ramon, a crater-like wilderness, which feels like another planet."
Coming in first on the list was France's Corsica region. The rest of the list was rounded out by Mustang (Nepal), The Yukon (Canada), Chachapoyas & Kuelap (Peru), The Gulf Coast (United States), Carinthia (Austria), Palawan (Philippines), Inland Sea (Japan) and Campania (Italy).