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Beyond its historical places and sacred sites, the Holy Land is also blessed with a topography and culture so spectacular that extraordinary adventures abound. It may be a small country, but Israel is imbued with places that are magnets for thrill-seekers and intrepid travelers, from valleys for rappelling to salt-filled deserts for off-roading. Here are some of our favorites.
Birdwatch at Agamon HulaGolan Heights, Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee aren’t the sole attractions in northern Israel. A few minutes north of the Sea of Galilee is nature park and bird reserve Agamon Hula, which is also an important stop in the migration route of more than 500 million birds.
Take a safari wagon tour or go off on your own in a golf cart to see the many species of birds here. Or, join the Wise Night Owls tour to witness the nocturnal creatures.
Camp in Style at Kfar HanokdimWhether or not camping is your thing, there’s no doubt you’ll enjoy the experience at Kfar Hanokdim, a desert resort with tents, food and activities inspired by the culture and traditions of Bedouin tribes. A stay here means immersing in the Bedouin way of life, while still having access to modern conveniences.
It’s worth it to pay the premium for an overnight package: Guests spend the night in a beautiful sukkah (shelter with a roof made with leaves and branches), go on a camel trek, feast on delicious Bedouin, Arabic and Israeli fare, and experience Bedouin hospitality firsthand.
Explore Tel Aviv on a BikeIf you prefer to stay grounded, there are options for that, too. Tel Aviv is a pedestrian-friendly, small “big” city, so it’s easy to go from one neighborhood to the next on foot. But, it’s also bike-friendly — in fact, it’s a contender for one of the top cycling cities in the world. Join a guided bike tour or rent a bike to use for Tel Aviv exploration.
Float in the Dead SeaFloating in the Dead Sea might not sound like much of an active pursuit. Yet, in reality, the lake is so dense and has such a high salinity that just attempting to touch the bottom with your feet can be a workout. Floating in the water isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, too.
Other activities near the Dead Sea include checking out the lavish resorts along the coast and enjoying mineral-rich black mud treatments.
Go Off-Roading in the Judean DesertSome of Israel’s most incredible areas are only accessible by jeep or mini jeep all-terrain vehicles. In the Judean Desert, valleys paved with plateaus and monoliths made of dirt-covered salt make excellent venues for fun, off-roading adventures. Choose from a large selection of ATV tours and spend the entire afternoon making dusty tracks.
Hike the Ein GediEin Gedi isn’t merely known as the place where David took refuge to hide from King Saul. These days, the oasis-turned-nature-reserve is a venue for many adventures including birdwatching, wildlife viewing, rock climbing and simply going for a refreshing swim in the many pools, streams and cascades.
After slathering on sunscreen, try out the easy, albeit hot, hike from the Ein Gedi trailhead to David Falls. Be sure to bring a camera as photo opportunities abound.
Rappel Down a Desert CanyonValleys and canyons pepper the country’s Negev and Judean deserts. This means practically limitless opportunities for rock climbing and rappelling, whether it’s down the Ramon Crater, the world’s largest makhtesh (crater-like landforms due to erosion), or one of the many wadis (valleys) that dot the country.
For a beginner-level rappelling experience, hire a guide and rappel down Upper Rahaf, a wadi located not far from the famous archaeological site of Masada.
Ride a Camel in the DesertMuch like many destinations in the Middle East, many tour operators in Israel give visitors a chance to explore the country’s impressive deserts on a camel’s back. In the Negev, for example, there are several ranches with desert tours that last from 20 minutes to 24 hours, overnighting in the desert.
Khan Beerotayim offers overnight camel journeys that includes three meals, desert accommodations and a refreshing shower at the end of the trip.
See Jerusalem by SegwayWhile exploring the Holy Land on foot is certainly a must, seeing its hidden alleyways and less tourist-populated areas on a Segway can also be an adventure worth trying. Take a late afternoon tour with SmartTour Israel , which enables guests to see part of the city at twilight.
Stand-Up Paddleboard in Tel AvivThe coast of Tel Aviv isn’t just a haven for swimmers with its shallow shoreline and calm areas with warm, lapping waves; it’s also fantastic for stand-up paddleboarding. In fact, on a warm, sunny day, you’ll find paddleboarders — both experts and beginners — dotting the waters.
Shops lining the waterfront, such as Lev Hayam Club , offer stand-up paddleboarding lessons to beginners as well as rentals for those who prefer to go on their own.