Thursday, February 12, 2009

Adventure Sports in Israel

In Israel, all year long, all you have to do is drive and you'll find a climate conducive to some sport, whether skiing in the north or diving in the south. There's something for everyone, from true thrill seekers to soft adventure enthusiasts.

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 Spice Route. These trails course through river valleys, beside acacia, white broom and other flora, past oases where endangered ibex may be found, and across the Makhtesh Ramon, a unique erosion crater.

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.

6 comments: said...


J The Travel Authority said...

Yes, Israel is an amazing place for sports adventures and other activities. I'll be posting more over the coming weeks.

Anonymous said...

Israel is an incredible destination and we want more people to experience it. There are lots of very cool adventures here - olive oil tasting in the Golan, visiting a shofar factory, rappelling in the Ramon Crater or off-road biking. The womens 30-km bike race through the Bet Shemesh forest is on March 14th - I plan on doing that. My website has lots of good info on it - please check it out We are an Israel based Christian social network focused on travel to Israel.

J The Travel Authority said...

Hi Elisa, Thanks for your comments. Like you're web site a lot. Looks like you have some very cool trips.

elisa moed said...

Hi. We do - we really try to provide some extra ordinary activities that will appeal to a variety of spiritually oriented travelers. some people want to experience a shabbat dinner at a home here - we do that, jeep tours in the north along the syrian border or in the south. Others want to volunteer or perform some community service work - we do that, we can arrange army base tours as well. Our site also hosts many off the beaten path Christian guest houses that can booked through us. These little known properties are small and very well located, not fancy, but quite unique in their own right.

we are offering a special promotion right not for Catholic groups that want to come here - 10 days, land only includes 2 meals a day with a very extensive itinerary geared to the needs of Catholics (includes meetings with local Christian leaders, mass at Gethsemene, volunteer project in Nazareth as well as many amazing sites - for $895 per person double occu.

We also have a first taste special for Evangelical Christians for 7 nights that is priced at $795. Travelujah is really seeking to provide unique experiences and access that you just can't get from an operator based in the states.

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