1. The annual Tour of the Dead Sea bicycle rally, promoting awareness of this ever-shrinking body of water, is a single or multi-day event. The rides attracts more than 1,000 riders from around the world (including myself) who ride past Ein Gedi, an oasis with lush vegetation, and Mineral Beach where sore riders can slather their legs in the therapeutic Dead Sea black mud.
2. The Negev offers marked and unmarked trails along wadis (stream beds) and other paths that are perfect for walking or mountain biking. In this vast triangular-shaped enchanting swatch of arid land, enormous sandstone cliffs are streaked with a rainbow of colors and Nabatean ruins provide a window into the days of the ancient
For cycling aficionados like myself, the Isrotel Ramon Inn was the perfect accommodation for exploring the nearby Makhtesh Ramon. After all, they have bicycle guides, a bike repair shop, bike-friendly snacks and lunches (high in protein or carbs).
3. In the steep-sided Tamar Canyon, I had a short but interesting adventure as we negotiated down slick rock using metal hand and foot holds fastened into the rock. At other times, we used ropes that are permanently attached to the rock fact to assist us down a slick chute. Then the more courageous rappelled down several 60-foot cliff faces while I climbed down a series of via ferratas.
I had complete confidence in my guide, Adam Sela, who specializes in custom desert excursions and extreme activities, including canyoning, rappelling, zip lines, hiking safaris and mountain biking expeditions. Each trip is custom-made and could include everything from fully catered camping safaris to outings that start and finish at resorts. They even can arrange a helicopter to shuttle you from one activity and venue to the next.
4. Mount Carmel, Israel's largest national park, presents almost endless hiking and walking possibilities with paths coursing past Aleppo pines, the only remaining natural population of this old growth forest in the country, through forests of laurel, oak and carob with views of the Mediterranean and Haifa far below. Interestingly, within the park boundaries in this area that's often known as Little Switzerland are two Druze towns as well as a Carmelite monastery.
5. Ein Gedi, a nature reserve on the shores of the Dead Sea, is an oasis in the arid land with several springs, dense tropical flora and a variety of animals that are attracted to the waters, such as endangered ibex and hyrax. In one of two canyon trails, palms and pines rise above you with the sound of a waterfall accompanying you. On the second canyon hike, you'll find ruins of a sanctuary from 3,000 BC while another walk leads to a Byzantine-era synagogue with a decorative mosaic floor.
6. Water sport options abound in Israel, whether it's kayaking the Jordan River, diving in the Eilat area in the south or, maybe even more interesting from a historical perspective, in Caesarea National Park where you can dive in what was once King Herod's elaborate port. Along the four underwater routes are artifacts that include remains of a medieval tower and a Herodian pavement.