Travel Photography Academy Webinar: Photographing People with Darlene Hildebrandt

Every month over at the Travel Photography Academy, we do a travel photography webinar with a professional photographer, interviewing them with an eye on their type of photography, what they would share with beginning photographers no matter their focus, and talking about how they get some of their best shots.

Usually, the webinars are only available to the public when they are live. This time we decided to offer up the entire webinar to the public.

This month, I hosted Darlene Hildebrandt and she graciously agreed to join our webinar on photographing people. Darlene’s specialty is photographing people both in natural lighting in their native environments.

Listen to these tips and more in the webinar.
Continue reading “Travel Photography Academy Webinar: Photographing People with Darlene Hildebrandt”

11 Amazing North American National Parks That Hardly Anyone Visits

The national parks of the United States and Canada are some of the greatest in the world. However, most of the attention is taken up by the superstar parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Banff. Each of these parks gets millions of visitors per year, and visiting during the peak season it’s like visiting an amusement park.

These popular parks are not the only parks, however. There are some amazing parks in North America which get only a fraction of the visitors of the popular parks. Often times these parks are hard to reach and are expensive to get to. Sometimes, they just aren’t on anyone’s radar because they haven’t become popular.

I have visited all 11 of the parks listed here as part of my quest to visit every national park in North America.
Continue reading “11 Amazing North American National Parks That Hardly Anyone Visits”

Biblical Tels – Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba

Biblical Tels – Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba UNESCO World Heritage SIte Biblical Tels – Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba: My 322nd UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription:

Historic settlement mounds, known as tels, are characteristic of the flatter lands of the eastern Mediterranean, particularly in Lebanon, Syria, Israel and eastern Turkey. Of more than 200 such mounds in Israel, the three sites of Megiddo, Hazor and Beer Sheba are representative of those that contain substantial remains of cities with biblical connections and are strongly associated with events portrayed in the bible.

The three tels extend across the State of Israel; Tel Hazor in the north, near the Sea of Galilee; Tel Megiddo 50 kilometers to the south west; and Tel Beer Sheba near the Negev Desert in the south.

The three sites reflect the wealth and power of Bronze and Iron Age cities in the fertile biblical lands. This was based on, and achieved through, a centralized authority that had control of trade routes to the north east and south; connecting Egypt to Syria and Anatolia to Mesopotamia, and the creation and management of sophisticated and technologically advanced water collection systems. Together, these tels reflect the key stages of urban development in the region.

They are also representative of the large, multi-layered occupation of single sites that persisted for several millennia until the 6th century BCE, and particularly reflect in their final flowering the formative stages of biblical history from the 12th to 6th century BCE. With their impressive remains of palaces, fortifications and urban planning, they offer key material manifestations of the biblical epoch.

Overview of the Biblical Tels of Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba

Biblical Tells in Israel - Tel Hazor
Entrance to the Water System in Tel Hazor

Tels are hills or mounds created over centuries by communities building over the ruins and refuse of the previous structures. Archaeologists often liken tels to a layer cake with each layer being a different period of time. As the mounds grow, they usually become narrower, which eventually leads to a shrinking of the population, and eventual abandonment of the tel. This process, however, can take centuries.

This world heritage site consists of three different tels in different parts of Israel. While there are many archaeological tels in Israel, these three were chosen for World Heritage status because, 1) they all have at least a brief mention in the Old Testament, and 2) they all have extensive human built water systems. The water systems for all three tels are quite impressive and not obvious when you first arrive at the site as they are underground.

Overview of Tel Megiddo

Tel Megiddo is by far the most visited of the tels for two reasons. First, it is located on the road between the Sea of Galilee and Tel Aviv/Jerusalem. This makes it a convenient stop for tour buses traveling between the two. Second, Megiddo in English is Armageddon, which is where some people believe the last battle in history will take place.

The first humans settled this site approximately 9,000 years ago and the last use of the site was by the Roman army approximately 2,000 years ago. There was a large Roman army outpost just outside the tel, which was the largest in Roman province of Palestine, outside of Jerusalem. The tel was used by the Romans as a cemetery.

The tel is located along a highway which was once the location of an ancient trade route. Excavation began here in the early 20th century and effects of this excavation are still seen today. The techniques used back then were very crude and destructive. Their original intent was to completely remove everything. The only reason that didn’t happen is that they ran out of money.

As such, the appearance of Tel Megiddo is very different from the other two world heritage tels.

Overview of Tel Hazor

Tel Hazor is located in the north of Israel, close to the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee. It is the largest of the 3 sites by area, but it appears smaller than Tel Megiddo simply because less of it has been excavated. It gets the fewest visits of any of the 3 world heritage tels due to its location.

Hazor was a Canaanite settlement which was later resettled by Israelites approximately 1,300-900BC after this city of destroyed. Like Tel Megiddo, there is a rich farm land in the area surrounding the tel and it isn’t difficult to envision how a large community could have thrived there.

Overview of Tel Beer Sheba

Tel Beer Sheba is the ancient city from which the modern day city of Beersheba gets its name. The tel is located right outside the town and you can clearly see the skyline of the city from there. Beer Sheba is mentioned 33 times in the Bible, which is the most of any of the biblical tels which are world heritage listed.

Biblical Tells in Israel - Tel Beer Sheba
Tel Beer Sheba

How To Get There

All of the tels are best reached by car, or on guided tour. Their locations make them difficult to reach by public transportation, especially Tel Hazor. Directions to each of the site can easily be found on Google Maps.

Tel Megiddo – On highway 66 between Megiddo junction and Yokne’am junction. 30km/20mi from Haifa and 10 miles, 18km from Nazareth.

Tel Hazor – Off highway 90, approximately 25 miles/43 kilometers from Nazareth.

Tel Beer Sheba – Off the Beersheba/Shoket Junction road approximately 2 miles outside of Beersheba.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Israel.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2017 @ 3:28 pm

Global Travel Conspiracy, Episode 44 – Update!

After a year away, I’m bringing back the Global Travel Conspiracy!

I had some issues with the podcast network which was producing the show so I walked away from it. I didn’t get screwed over or anything, it just wasn’t a good fit.

Recently, I got access to the show and we decided to relaunch it. We’ll be uploading all the old episodes over the next few weeks and then start recording new episodes going forward. The Global Travel Conspiracy will be focused on travelers and my thoughts about traveling. About half the shows will be interviews and half will be monologue shows.

Even though I have 43 past episodes, I’m basically starting from scratch as far as iTunes is concerned, so reviews and comments are welcome. If you used to subscribe, you will have to subscribe again as the feed is totally different.

Subscribe on iTunes

Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot / Wadi el-Mughara Caves

Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot / Wadi el-Mughara Caves
Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot / Wadi el-Mughara Caves: My 321st UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription or the Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel:

The four Mount Carmel caves (Tabun, Jamal, el-Wad, and Skhul) and their terraces are clustered adjacent to each other along the south side of the Nahal Me’arot/Wadi el-Mughara valley. The steep-sided valley opening to the coastal plain on the west side of the Carmel range provides the visual setting of a prehistoric habitat.

Located in one of the best preserved fossilized reefs of the Mediterranean region, the site contains cultural deposits representing half a million years of human evolution from the Lower Palaeolithic to the present. It is recognized as providing a definitive chronological framework at a key period of human development.

Archaeological evidence covers the appearance of modern humans, deliberate burials, early manifestations of stone architecture and the transition from hunter-gathering to agriculture. The attributes carrying Outstanding Universal Value include the four caves, terraces, un-excavated deposits and excavated artifacts and skeletal material; the Nahal Me’arot/ Wadi el-Mughara landscape providing the prehistoric setting of the caves; el-Wad Terrace excavations, and remains of stone houses and pits comprising evidence of the Natufian hamlet.

Continue reading “Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot / Wadi el-Mughara Caves”

The Marquesas Islands: Paradise at the Edge of the World

With scenery reminiscent of a Jurassic Park sequel, ancient and mysterious stone temples, and the feeling of visiting a parallel universe – visitors to the remote Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia are in for the adventure of a lifetime.

Written and photographed by Avichai Ben Tzur

Of the five archipelagos that make up the Islands of Tahiti – officially known as French Polynesia – Mother Nature devoted her finest work to the Marquesas Islands. It is the final stop in a long and enchanting voyage across the remote islands of the South Pacific, an opportunity to visit some of the most isolated and stunning islands in the world where nature is free to sculpt the landscape at it pleases in the absence of a protective coral reef. Few are the visitors that make it out here, and even for residents of the dreamy French Overseas Territory, a visit to the Marquesas Islands is a wild fantasy.

Continue reading “The Marquesas Islands: Paradise at the Edge of the World”