Israel’s Wild Side

Visitors will enjoy the country’s range of adventurous activities

By: Jonathan Siskin

This is the first Image
Bedouin for a day: Clients looking for
something different will enjoy a camel
trek in the Negev.
While best known for its religious and archeological sites, Israel also offers a wide range of activities for clients interested in something more active and adventurous. These options include jeep tours, cave explorations, hikes through desert canyons, overnight stays in Bedouin tents, parasailing and hot-air ballooning, just to name a few.

Land and Sea
Since 1953 the American Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel has been organizing tours and programs that combine adventure travel with appreciation of the natural world and preservation of the landscape. Among the highlights of its guided tours are hikes to Masada, the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, camel treks in the Negev and excursions to the Galilee and Golan Heights. All tours are led by experienced, English-speaking guides and vary in length and degree of difficulty and include transportation, meals and lodging.

Diving and snorkeling are exceptional in the crystal clear waters of Red Sea at the southern tip of Israel near the resort city of Eilat. Coral reefs teeming with exotic marine life make up an underwater universe that ranks among the finest in the world. Eilat is home to diving schools offering short- and long-term programs; as well as classes in underwater photography.

Natural Spa Products
Spa treatments, which have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, are in high demand at the spa resorts near the Dead Sea.

Spas are nothing new in Israel as bathing in hot springs has been a ritual since biblical times when the mineral-rich waters were revered for their healing properties; Israeli spas retain links with the past as they still rely on the curative powers bubbling up from underwater springs. As a matter of fact, scientific studies of springs feeding into the Dead Sea revealed the highest mineral content of any waters in the world.

It is said that Cleopatra visited these springs for her beauty needs, and nowadays the waters are recommended for improving skin texture and providing relief from ailments like psoriasis. Black mud taken from the Dead Sea is the main ingredient in mud baths that are among the most popular treatment on spa menus.

Traditional Dead Sea treatments are included in spa/hotel packages available at the Sonesta Dead Sea Resort and Spa and the Radisson Moriah Dead Sea Spa Hotel, among others.

Birding and Hiking
Many visitors may be unaware that Israel is one of the world’s prime destinations for bird-watching. The most spectacular sights occur during spring and fall when more than 500 million birds migrate over its flyways. Israel is situated on the main migration route for birds crossing from Europe and western Asia heading to Africa’s Great Rift Valley, and during migrations the skies are so filled with birds that they can be a hazard to commercial and military flights. There are various bird festivals throughout the year and agents can book hotel and car rental packages especially designed for bird-watchers.

Israel’s diversity of landscapes from the Negev desert to the Golan Heights can be explored by foot on various hikes and treks.

In the Negev Highlands there are overnight llama treks into the mysterious Ramon Crater, which is often referred to as Israel’s Grand Canyon. There are also longer treks that include overnight camping and Bedouin-style cookouts.

Another area for hiking is situated in the hills above the Ein Gedi oasis, not far the Dead Sea. This area of green is a refreshing relief from the desert heat and the starting point for a hike that wends its way upward through palm trees and between narrow rock formations to a spectacular 300-foot waterfall.

There are also night hikes from Ein Gedi during periods of the full moon.

On the Road
Israel is an ideal country for road- tripping since the sites are not too far apart and road conditions are good throughout the entire country, which is the size of New Jersey. Agents can obtain well-marked maps from the Israel Ministry of Tourism and customize itineraries and create packages according to their clients’ interests.

Hitting the road is a great way to experience the varied landscape and stop off at intriguing sites along the way. For example it is only 25 miles from Jerusalem to Jericho, the lowest and oldest city in the world that carbon dating has determined is around 11,000 years old.

From Jericho it’s another 10 miles to the Qumran caves where the famed Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in 1947. Israel’s National Parks Authority maintains the site and among the ruins are a ritual bath, potter’s workshop, an ancient water system and a cemetery containing 1,200 ancient grave sites.


Adventure Tour Operators

American Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel

Ministry of Tourism

Adventure Travel JDS Africa Middle East JDS Destinations