An Adventure High in Israel's Galilee

Israel's Galilee is a fitting backdrop for active travel activities, from biking to boating.

By: By Deanna Ting

The Details

Trek Yam
Commission: Varies, depending on the size of the group

Nahariya, Israel-based Trek Yam offers half-hour tornado boat tours for approximately $220 per boat (each boat holds up to 10 people). A three-hour jeep tour to the Ga’aton riverbed or the Kziv riverbed, which includes picking herbs and tea making, is $215 per jeep (each jeep holds up to eight people), with an additional $31 per jeep. For more information, e-mail Mike Gold at

Velo Israel
Commission: Up to 20 percent, depending on the number of clients booked

Rates for an eight-day program range from $1,800 to $1,950 per person, based on a six-person group minimum. Velo Israel will also offer tours on the new Round-the-Sea-of-Galilee trail next year.

Israel Ministry of Tourism

Web Exclusive

Click here to read Associate Editor Deanna Ting’s blog about her “Amazing Race” through the Galilee.

Whether or not your clients are religiously inclined, Israel is where travelers of all faiths and beliefs will find themselves confronted with a moment of transcendence. Such experiences, however, aren’t limited within the confines of a sacred church or the exquisite ruins of a bygone time and place. As I discovered on a recent trip to Israel’s Galilee region, such moments can take place where you least expect them.

Mountain biking is a preferred way to tour Galilee among active travelers.// (C) 2009 Michal Marmary

Mountain biking is a preferred way to
tour Galilee among active travelers.
// (c) 2009 Michal Marmary

The Galilee
While most travelers make their pilgrimages to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, they should also consider a trip to the Galilee region, which lies just north of those famed cities. Not only is Galilee imbued with religious and historic significance, but its varied landscapes are exactly as described in the sacred texts — plentiful and seemingly boundless.

To the west, clients will encounter the crystal-blue waters of the Mediterranean. To the north, they’ll find the mountainous Golan Heights. To the south, there’s Mount Carmel and, to the east, the Jordan River. And, of course, at the heart of the region, visitors will discover the Sea of Galilee, the largest freshwater lake in the country, and the purported site of Christ’s miraculous feats, including walking on water. Today, clients can Jet Ski across the lake with ease, as I observed during a boat ride across the lake.

Trail Blazing
With so many different natural environments, the region is home to numerous types of adventure tours and activities, from mountain biking around the lake to river rafting on the Jordan River. Mountain biking, in particular, is a preferred way of touring the Sea of Galilee among active travelers. An extensive network of biking paths surrounds the lake and many tour operators are available to lead guided bicycle tours.

Local tour operator Velo Israel, also known as GalGalil Bike Trips, specializes in commissionable, all-inclusive cycling tours that range in length from one to 14 days, including airport transfers to/from Ben Gurion International Airport.

Next year, bicycle tours are expected to become an even more popular form of sightseeing in Galilee with a brand-new Round-the-Sea-of-Galilee trail, to be unveiled in mid-2010. The 75-mile trek travels the length of the lake’s circumference, winding through religious and historical sites. Sacred sites include the Yardenit Jordan baptismal site, the Mount of the Beatitudes, Capernaum and Tabgha; historical landmarks include Beitzaida, Corasim National Park, the ancient fishing boat discovered in Genossarl and the Horns of Hittin. Along the way, cyclists will have a variety of accommodations and activities from which to choose. From luxurious kibbutz hotels and rustic camping sites to kayaking, horseback riding and jeep safaris, there are plenty of options for travelers of all budgets and interests.

The 75-mile endeavor, however, is best left to more active and sports-minded clients. Most of the trail is considered intermediate in activity level, while 25 miles of the path, concentrated in the East, is considered challenging. While any visitor can rent a bike and tour the trail on his/her own, it’s recommended to travel with an experienced guide such as Velo Israel.

Start Your Engines
I had an opportunity to tour 18 miles of the new path by bicycle but, given the searing summer heat and my inexperience with mountain biking, I opted for another adventure: a car rally akin to television’s “The Amazing Race.” While it didn’t burn as many calories as the bike ride would have, it gave me an adrenaline rush of sorts.

Our rally took us through Western Galilee, as far north as the border with Lebanon and as far south as Akko. My favorite and most memorable stop took place at Achsiv Beach when we met with guides from Trek Yam, a local adventure tour outfitter.

Trek Yam took us on an exhilarating tornado boat ride from the beach, headed due north. Cruising at speeds of up to 45 knots, we bounded northward, our boat almost hovering above the waves as we admired the views. It was simply stunning. And while the boat ride was fairly choppy, the additional bumps made for a more thrilling, heart-pounding adventure.

After the ride, my team and I hopped aboard for a condensed four-wheel-drive jeep tour through a nearby kibbutz and nature reserve where the stillness of it all was almost transcendent.

By the end of our short excursions, I didn’t want to leave. Nevertheless, the call of the “race” was just too great and so we left, headed for our next stop.

But if I ever make it back to Israel — and I certainly hope I do — I’ll know just where to go for my next adventure high.