Category Archives: Nature Reserve

Archaeological 12 Day Tour

Tens of thousands of years of history comes alive: see for yourself the ancient civilizations and experience Israel through its rich archaeology. This tour is not clean! You get dirty!! You will visit the archaeological sights from the north to the south of the country. You will help digging in the dust and the mud, go trough water, rivers, pools, desert, stones, ruins … it’s amazing for those who are interested in the archaeology of Israel, see for yourself how people lived thousands, even tens of thousands of years ago.

Itinerary:
Day 1 – Arrival
Day 2 – Jerusalem: Views from Above and Below
Day 3 – Jerusalem: The Jewish Quarter and Museum Treasures
Day 4 – Jerusalem and environs: Monarchs, Matriarchs and Tombs
Day 5 – The Judean Wilderness and the Dead Sea
Day 6 – The Judean Lowlands: hands-on archaeology and the “tel” of Tel Aviv
Day 7 – From the Mediterranean Coast to Galilee
Day 8 – Around the Sea of Galilee
Day 9 – From Dan to the Golan
Day 10 – From the Negev to Eilat
Day 11 – Eilat, Timna Park and Northward
Day 12 – Departure

Places to see:

  • Day 2 – Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, Underground Jerusalem, Western Wall Tunnel, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, City of David, royal palace, Warren’s Shaft, the “water fortress” of the Gihon, Second Temple-era Pool of Siloam, 2,000-year-old street, Jerusalem Archaeological Park, Davidson Visitor Center, Roman destruction, Robinson’s Arch, the Southern Wall, steps to Hulda’s Gates, Davidson Center, Tower of David Museum
  • Day 3 – Jewish Quarter, Hezekiah’s Wall, The Cardo, Herodian Mansions, Burnt House, Israel Museum, Bible Lands Museum
  • Day 4 – Herodium, Rockefeller Museum, Gezer, Megiddo, Jericho, Jerusalem, Kidron Valley, tombs of Absalom, Zechariah, the Sons of Hezir, Hellenistic tomb architecture
  • Day 5 – Qumran National Park, Dead Sea Scrolls, Essenes, wealthy Sadducee manor farm, Massada National Park, Roman siege ramp, Ein Gedi National Park, Dead Sea
  • Day 6 – Beit Govrin National Park, Archaeological Seminars excavation of caves, Hellenistic dwellings, the Sidonian Cave, the Roman amphitheater; Tel Mareshah, Land of Israel Museum, Philistine Tel Kasila, White City
  • Day 7 – Caesarea National Park, Crusader city, Megiddo National Park, Beit She’arim National Park, Talmudic-era catacombs, Acre, Knights Halls, fishermen’s port, Turkish Bath Museum, bazaar and mosque
  • Day 8 – Beit She’an National Park, Decapolis, Bet Shean boasts, mosaics, temples, fountains, pools, a theater, an amphitheater, Tiberias, Hamat Tiberias National Park, Mount Berenice, Capernaum, Bethsaida, Korazim National Park, Moses Seat, a ritual bath
  • Day 9 – Dan Nature Reserve, Dan’s “Abraham Gate”, High Place of Jeroboam, Katzrin, Gamla Nature Reserve, Umm el-Qanatir
  • Day 10 – Be’er-Sheba National Park, Judean monarchy, Avdat National Park, Avdat’s Nabatean temple, The Uvda Valley, Nahal Asharun, Leopard Temple
  • Day 11 – Eilat, Shahmon Site Bronze Age tumuli and temple, Eilot eighth-century Early Islamic village and copper smelting site, Wadi Tawachin, Samar Neolithic desert kites, Dapit Nabatean, Roman caravansary, Evrona eighth-century chain well, Timna Park, Solomon’s Pillars, Late Roman Fortress at Yotvata, Makhtesh Ramon, Nabatean caravansary at Ein Saharonim, Scorpion Ascent, Great Makhtesh and Mamshit National Park

Day 1 Arrival

Airplane

Airplane

This is the day that you arrive in Israel. Well, it’s not the case for those who are already here or who are living in Israel.

For those who are arriving in Israel, will be picked up from the airport by the guide and driver from Shalom Israel.

Bus

Bus

For those, who ordered the hotels, they will be driven by bus to their hotel and for this tour it means Jerusalem.

During the drive to your hotel, the bus will stop multiple times if the group requires so. One stop is for stretching your legs and to be fed real food and drink. That is included in the tour! So, please don’t spend your money on that.


Day 2  – Jerusalem: Views from Above and Below

Places: Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, Underground Jerusalem, Western Wall Tunnel, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, City of David, royal palace, Warren’s Shaft, the “water fortress” of the Gihon, Second Temple-era Pool of Siloam, 2,000-year-old street, Jerusalem Archaeological Park, Davidson Visitor Center, Roman destruction, Robinson’s Arch, the Southern Wall, steps to Hulda’s Gates, Davidson Center, Tower of David Museum

This spiritually significant mountain is also the place for a bird’s-eye view of Jerusalem’s topography and for understanding how it grew through the ages.

Underground Jerusalem including:

The Western Wall Tunnel – the original Western Wall of Herod’s Temple Mount over which Jerusalem of later eras was constructed, walking along 1,445 feet of the original, enormous 2,000-year-old Herodian stones, seeing the lofty Warren’s Gate, a street and other finds, and a fascinating interactive model. You are still in the city and you don’t start digging or rolling in the mud … yet.Western Wall Tunnel

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre – most of the complex over the sacred ground marking the tomb of Jesus is a complicated combination of medieval and Byzantine architecture. The thing with this tour is that we browse somewhat through the church, but then we dive under the ground.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre Tomb

Church of the Holy Sepulchre Tomb

Deep below the surface are remains going back to a First Temple-era stone quarry and the world-famous and rarely viewed “ship inscription,”  probably carved by long-ago pilgrims. All kind of stories are about this and the guide will tell them all.

You will visit the City of David – King David’s “fortress of Zion” (2. Sam. 5:7), looking at the ongoing excavations include a royal palace, the Warren’s Shaft, the “water fortress” of the Gihon (1 Kings 1:33), the Second Temple-era Pool of Siloam (John 9:7) and a 2,000-year-old street that once led up to the Temple. The stories what we can tell about all of those excavations!

City of David

We visit the Jerusalem Archaeological Park and the Davidson Visitor Center – a “still-life” of the original Herodian street (FYI), the revealing Roman destruction, the Robinson’s Arch, the Southern Wall and steps to Hulda’s Gates; and in the Davidson Center – in the basement of an eighth-century-CE palace – its virtual-reconstruction, high-definition interactive model.

Tower of David

We will not forget the Tower of David Museum – located at the Jaffa Gate inside the rooms of Jerusalem’s Turkish citadel, abutting the huge tower which despite its name was constructed by Jerusalem’s master-builder, Herod.  Each of the many rooms features exhibits devoted to a different time-period, clarifying the capital’s complex history.

At the end of the day we go to our hotel in Jerusalem.


Day 3 – Jerusalem: The Jewish Quarter and Museum Treasures

Places: Jewish Quarter, Hezekiah’s Wall, The Cardo, Herodian Mansions, Burnt House, Israel Museum, Bible Lands Museum

Old City Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter is amazing to visit. This part of the city Jerusalem has it’s own beauty and it’s root in the thousands of years of history. There is not much changed over the more then two thousands of years.
We will see the Hezekiah’s Wall – part of the First Temple-era city wall built over Jerusalem’s homes (Isa. 22:10) to protect the city against Assyrian invaders, and which finally fell to the Babylonians. You will hear the exciting story about the the Assyrian invaders.

The Cardo

The Cardo

The Cardo – Jerusalem’s main street in the Byzantine and medieval eras, its colonnades and arched chambers now restored as a commercial center and archaeological display.

The Herodian Mansions – restored as a living museum beneath contemporary buildings, with remnants of the fine homes, mosaics, implements of daily life and architecture of the city’s wealthy class before the destruction of the Temple.

The Burnt House – the basement of a Jerusalem home revealing dramatic evidence of the Katros family who probably lived and worked here, and of Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 CE. An audiovisual presentation offers a powerful version of the family’s story.

Burnt House

Burnt House

The Israel Museum – the museum’s Archaeology Wing displays rare and world-famous finds from pre-historic times to the Byzantine/Talmudic era; the Shrine of the Book, houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest copies of the Old Testament ever found and the famed 1:50 Model of Second Temple Jerusalem.

Bible Lands Museum – a unique collection of ancient treasures mirroring the powerful cultures of Bible days including the Egyptians, the Hittites, the Philistines the Assyrians and others who left their mark on the region and in Scripture.

Bible Lands Museum

Bible Lands Museum

At the end of the day we go to our hotel in Jerusalem.


Day 4 – Jerusalem and environs: Monarchs, Matriarchs and Tombs

Places: Herodium, Rockefeller Museum, Gezer, Megiddo, Jericho, Jerusalem, Kidron Valley, tombs of Absalom, Zechariah, the Sons of Hezir, Hellenistic tomb architecture

Herodium

Herodium

We will visit the amazing Herodium. Herod the Great created this artificial mountain, which he topped with a palace-fortress. Archaeologists have also discovered, huge cisterns, a “playground” pool at the base of the mound, and hideouts for Bar Kokhba’s warriors and, recently the grand, long-sought tomb of the king himself. And we will visit them as well.

We can’t forget the Rockefeller Museum – an architectural monument in its own right, this grand 1930s-era complex houses finds from some of the great early excavations – Gezer, Megiddo, Jericho, Jerusalem and many others.

And then we have the Kidron Valley – Jerusalem’s famed Mount of Olives cemetery began here over 2,000 years ago, when the monumental tombs of Absalom, Zechariah and the Sons of Hezir were built, some of the finest examples of Hellenistic tomb architecture in the world.

Rockefeller

Rockefeller

At the end of the day we go to our hotel in Jerusalem.


Day 5 – The Judean Wilderness and the Dead Sea

Places: Qumran National Park, Dead Sea Scrolls, Essenes, wealthy Sadducee manor farm, Massada National Park, Roman siege ramp, Ein Gedi National Park, Dead Sea

Qumran National Park

Qumran National Park

Now it’s going to get warm for everyone, because we are going into the desert. The first on our list is the Qumran National Park- the ruins on the plateau in sight of the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered are an enigma wrapped in a mystery – were they the home of the Essenes who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, a wealthy Sadducee manor farm. We will visit the caves where they found several of the Dead Sea scrolls. Be aware, it will be warm and dusty and we need good shoes for climbing.

Masada National Park

Masada National Park

We can’t skip the Masada National Park – Herod’s magnificent fortress, with its palaces, bathhouses and ramparts was also the scene of the last stand of the Jews against the Romans in the Great Revolt, attested to by a huge Roman siege ramp and other finds. The combination of its dramatic story and its fabulous architecture and finds has won it recognition as a World Heritage Site.

Caves of Ein Gedi

Caves of Ein Gedi

The Ein Gedi National Park – a walk through an oasis, and the remains of a thriving Talmudic town. Its synagogue mosaic bears a mysterious warning not to reveal “the secret”- perhaps the manufacturing process of perfume from the now-extinct balsam plant that once grew here. We will here be able to cool of our feet and get some much needed relaxation.

Dead Sea

Dead Sea

The Dead Sea – a rejuvenating rinse-off of the dust of the generations in the lowest, most mineral-rich lake on earth. For those who want to have a mud-bath, here is your change.

At the end of the day we go to our hotel near the Dead Sea.


Day 6 – The Judean Lowlands: hands-on archaeology and the “tel” of Tel Aviv

Places: Beit Govrin National Park, Archaeological Seminars excavation of caves, Hellenistic dwellings, the Sidonian Cave, the Roman amphitheater; Tel Mareshah, Land of Israel Museum, Philistine Tel Kasila, White City

Beit Govrin National Park

Beit Govrin National Park

Beit Govrin National Park including an Archaeological Seminars excavation of caves that once lay beneath Hellenistic dwellings; the Sidonian Cave, the Roman amphitheater; Tel Mareshah – a city fortified by King Rehoboam of Judah (2 Chron. 11:8) and more.

Tel Aviv –
Land of Israel Museum, with its exhibit of antiquities and contemporary traditional cultures, is itself located next to an ancient mound that is part of the experience – the Philistine Tel Kasila.

Header Tel Aviv

Header Tel Aviv

The White City – an evening tour of Tel Aviv’s early-20th century Bauhaus monuments that have earned recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will make a small tour through this city, which claims never to sleep. We will see and witness if it is indeed true.

At the end of the day we go to our hotel in Tel Aviv.


Day 7 – From the Mediterranean Coast to Galilee

Places: Caesarea National Park, Crusader city, Megiddo National Park, Beit She’arim National Park, Talmudic-era catacombs, Acre, Knights Halls, fishermen’s port, Turkish Bath Museum, bazaar and mosque

Caesarea in Israel

Caesarea in Israel

The Queen of the Coast, Caesarea National Park. It was Herod’s showcase city, including the amphitheater; the theater; Byzantine walls; the “bird mosaic”; the Crusader city, the aqueduct and more.

Tel Megiddo

Megiddo was a site of great importance in the ancient world. It guarded the western branch of a narrow pass and trade route connecting Egypt and Assyria. Because of its strategic location, Megiddo was the site of several historical battles. The site was inhabited from approximately 7000 BC to 586 BCE

Megiddo National Park – King Solomon’s regional capital (1 Kings 9:15), Megiddo’s fortifications, water system, palaces, stables and dwellings spanning thousands of years and its great biblical significance have made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Beit She’arim National Park – Talmudic-era catacombs with huge, decorated stone sarcophagi, where sages and leaders from across the ancient world were laid to rest, are just part of the fascinating antiquities of this city, one of the places where the Sanhedrin had its headquarters.

Acre – this medieval gem on the Mediterranean retains a 900-year-old urban plan. The capital of the Crusaders after the fall of Jerusalem, Acre’s ramparts overlooking the sea, its Knights Halls, fishermen’s port, Turkish Bath Museum, bazaar and mosque over a gigantic medieval water cistern have all contributed to this city’s selection as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Akko (Acre)

At the end of the day we go to our hotel in Acre or Tiberias.


Day 8 – Around the Sea of Galilee

Places: Beit She’an National Park, Decapolis, Bet Shean boasts, mosaics, temples, fountains, pools, a theater, an amphitheater, Tiberias, Hamat Tiberias National Park, Mount Berenice, Capernaum, Bethsaida, Korazim National Park, Moses Seat, a ritual bath

Beit She'an National Park

Beit She’an National Park

Beit She’an National Park – the biblical mound containing remains of the city to which the Philistines brought the bodies of Saul and his three sons (1 Sam. 31:10), and capital of the Greco-Roman alliance of cities known as the Decapolis, Bet Shean boasts colonnaded streets, mosaics, temples, fountains, pools, a theater, an amphitheater and more.

Tiberias – The present-day capital of the Sea of Galilee, built by Herod Antipas and once the headquarters of the Sanhedrin, ancient Tiberias is now undergoing excavation that will one day reveal in all their glory its market streets, colonnades, theater and more treasures.

Hamat Tiberias National Park

Hamat Tiberias National Park

Visit the dig, as well as Hamat Tiberias National Park – the remains of a magnificent synagogue mosaic and Mount Berenice – the Anchor Church.

Capernaum – the first of the three cities of the “evangelical triangle” (including Bethsaida and Korazim) to return from historical oblivion, with Byzantine and Roman remains of a synagogue, a church and dwellings that raise many interesting questions and illustrate New Testament stories.

Bethsaida – excavations are underway of the Roman city that figured centrally in the ministry of Jesus, and of huge remains of the biblical city of Geshur, hometown of David’s wife Maacah (2 Sam. 3:3).

Korazim National Park – an early Talmudic-era synagogue that is interesting to compare to Capernaum’s, with the replica of its original Moses Seat, a ritual bath, dwellings and other elements that bring alive Talmudic descriptions of community life.

At the end of the day we go to our hotel in Tiberias.


Day 9 – From Dan to the Golan

Places: Dan Nature Reserve, Dan’s “Abraham Gate”, High Place of Jeroboam, Katzrin, Gamla Nature Reserve, Umm el-Qanatir

Dan Nature Reserve

Dan Nature Reserve

Dan Nature Reserve – one of the finest examples of a biblical city and the capital of the Northern Kingdom, Dan’s “Abraham Gate” (Gen. 14:14) is the second-oldest arch in the world. Also visit the Israelite gateway and the High Place of Jeroboam in their tranquil Dan River setting.

Katzrin – a Talmudic-era Golan Heights village, Katzrin’s reconstructed house and synagogue create a three-dimensional perspective on ancient life.

Gamla Nature Reserve – called “the Massada of the north” because of Josephus’ description of its famous last stand, a hike leads to Gamla, which boasts remains of the earliest synagogue ever found, ramparts that held back the Romans, and olive presses that were the town’s livelihood.

Gamla Nature Reserve

Umm el-Qanatir – a Talmudic-era town with unusual synagogue remains and unique finds, this site is now undergoing excavation using cutting-edge techniques and technology.

Gamla Nature Reserve

At the end of the day we go to our hotel in Tiberias or Haifa.


Day 10 – From the Negev to Eilat

Places: Be’er-Sheba National Park, Judean monarchy, Avdat National Park, Avdat’s Nabatean temple, The Uvda Valley, Nahal Asharun, Leopard Temple

Be'er-Sheba National Park

Be’er-Sheba National Park

Be’er-Sheba National Park – this city that Abraham founded (Gen. 21:31) marked the southern border of biblical Israel (1 Sam. 3:20). Beersheba also shows fascinating evidence of urban planning from the time of the Judean monarchy, a unique water system and other finds that, along with its biblical significance, have accorded Beersheba a place on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites?.

Avdat National Park – an important stop on the Incense Route, and a World Heritage Site, Avdat’s Nabatean temple, which was converted into a church, reveals a fabulous Negev panorama, while its wine-press reveals the inhabitants’ uncanny skill at cultivating the desert and ancient private dwellings and tombs complete the picture.

Ein Avdat

The Uvda Valley – containing over 150 prehistoric and early settlement sites, including the Nahal Asharun site and the Leopard Temple.

At the end of the day we go to our hotel in Eilat.


Day 11 – Eilat, Timna Park and Northward

Places: Eilat, Shahmon Site Bronze Age tumuli and temple, Eilot eighth-century Early Islamic village and copper smelting site, Wadi Tawachin, Samar Neolithic desert kites, Dapit Nabatean, Roman caravansary, Evrona eighth-century chain well, Timna Park, Solomon’s Pillars, Late Roman Fortress at Yotvata, Makhtesh Ramon, Nabatean caravansary at Ein Saharonim, Scorpion Ascent, Great Makhtesh and Mamshit National Park

Eilat

Eilat

Eilat – best known for its contemporary attractions as Israel’s Red Sea Riviera,  Eilat and its environs also boast a selection of off-the-beaten track archaeological sites, among them: the Shahmon Site Bronze Age tumuli and temple; the Eilot eighth-century Early Islamic village and copper smelting site; the Wadi Tawachin grinding site (possibly for gold); the Samar Neolithic desert kites (ancient gazelle-hunting traps); the Dapit Nabatean and Roman caravansary; the Evrona eighth-century chain well and farmhouse and more.

Timna National Park

Timna Park – a geological and archaeological wonderland including an ancient copper-mine shaft; Solomon’s Pillars – a natural formation featuring a carving of the goddess Hathor and Hathor’s shrine; the chariot carving and the multimedia presentation “The Mines of Time” and even an artificial lake.

Timna National Park

We head north on road 90 via the Late Roman Fortress at Yotvata, and then via road 13 to Makhtesh Ramon, seeing Roman milestones and the Nabatean caravansary at Ein Saharonim, or via the dramatic

Scorpion Ascent

Scorpion Ascent

Scorpion Ascent (on road 227) following an ancient Roman route across the Negev to the Great Makhtesh and Mamshit National Park, a well-preserved Nabatean city along the UNESCO World Heritage List Incense Route, including a market, a bathhouse, early churches, mosaics and more.

At the end of the day we go to our hotel in Eilat.


Day 12 – Departure

This is the day of the departure. We bring everyone back to the point where we picked them up.

National Parks and Reserves Tours

Hanahal (El-Wad) Cave

Welcome to the National Parks and Reserves Tours page, where you can select a tour, which allows you to visit series of the many National Parks and Reserves in Israel. The tours we are offering are divided into two main groups:

  1. The National Parks and Reserves in the north of Israel
  2. The National Parks and Reserves in the south and center of Israel

Each group contains tours, which might have different durations.

What are National Parks and Reserves?

Kangaroo Animal Park, Israel

Often a National Park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently, there is a common idea: the conservation of ‘wild nature’ for posterity and as a symbol of national pride. And Israel, such small country, has loads of National Parks and Reserves.

Ancient Katzrin Park

Each park represents a particular type of natural land (for example forests, deserts, mountains, valleys, lakes, swamps, flowers, etc.). We at Shalom Israel, can visit with our tours 26 different National Parks and Reserves in Israel, but there are more National Parks in Israel, which are not included in this type of tours.

What type of National Parks and Reserves can we visit?

  1. Agricultural regions with abundant fresh water and major stopover for birds migrating along the Syrian-African Rift Valley between Africa, Europe, and Asia
  2. Ancient, overgrown cities
  3. Archaeological sites and desert
  4. Biblical gardens and nature preserves
  5. Caves and sinkholes
  6. Deserts
  7. Diverse historical and architectural legacies includes Hellenistic, Jewish, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Crusader, Arabic and Ottoman influences
  8. Fortresses and castles, ancient fortifications, ruins
  9. Geologic formation in Israel with grottoes
  10. Mountains with high cliffs, monasteries and old Christian locations
  11. Oasis in the desert
  12. Prehistoric human beings
  13. Springs, streams, waterfalls
  14. Swamps with pelicans, cranes, pygmy cormorants, gray herons, moorhens, European coots, and black-winged stilts
  15. Unique variety of flora and fauna together with monasteries, old Christian locations and Synagogues
  16. Wilderness and grottoes inhabited by Nabateans and Catholic monks with springs and canyons

Who can join a group for the National Parks and Reserves?

Park Balagan

In principle the whole family, but we would not advice children under the six. It’s possible, but the parents will be additionally stressed because the child is too young to show patience.

National Parks and Reserves Tour, Central and South Israel, 12 days

Avshalom Cave, also known as Soreq Cave or Stalactites Cave, is a 5,000 sq m cave in Israel, unique for its dense concentration of stalactites
Avshalom Cave, also known as Soreq Cave or Stalactites Cave, is a 5,000 sq m cave in Israel, unique for its dense concentration of stalactites.

The National Parks and Reserves Tour for Central and South Israel, 12 days, is part of the ecotourism and Eco-tours. This tour is meant for the normal public from the ago of 15 and older. It also means climbing, dragging your feet through the mud, becoming wet, walk under the burning sun, becoming dirty, etc. You’re warned!


Day 1 – Arrival
Day 2 – Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve
Day 3 – Ein Avdat National Park
Day 4 – Shivta National Park
Day 5 – Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
Day 6 – Ein Prat Nature Reserve
Day 7 – Ein Tzukim Nature Reserve
Day 8 – Qumran National Park
Day 9 – Masada National Park
Day 10 – Avshalom (Stalactites) Cave
Day 11 – Beit Guvrin National Park
Day 12 – Departure

Hotels in:
Day 1 – Eilat
Day 2 – Eilat
Day 3 – Be’er Sheva/Sde Boker
Day 4 – Be’er Sheva/Sde Boker
Day 5 – Dead Sea
Day 6 – Dead Sea
Day 7 – Dead Sea
Day 8 – Dead Sea
Day 9 – Dead Sea
Day 10 – Jerusalem
Day 11 – Jerusalem/Kiryat Gat

What kind of accommodations do we offer?

  1. Hostel
  2. Guest House/Inn
  3. 3 Star hotel
  4. 4 star hotel
  5. 5 star hotel
  • Depending on your choice of accommodations, the price of the tour might be cheap or very expensive.
  • It’s possible to mix the accommodations; for example day 1-4 in 5 star hotel, day 5-10 in 3 star hotel, day 11 in hostel

Recommended photo gear:

  • DSLR with interchangeable lenses
  • Wide angle lens
  • Tripod
  • Flash
  • Remote control (optional)
  • Small camera bag and/or dust cover (if you enter the hide-out caves at Hurvat Midras you are going to need some gear protection, as this is going to be extremely dusty)

Note: This tour is also recommended to non-photographers.

What to wear: Hiking boots/shoes or good walking shoes, long comfortable trousers that can take a rub as well as dirt and dust. You are likely to get dirty.

Important items:

  • Sun hat or cap
  • Sunscreen or sunblock with sufficient UV protection
  • Water (2-3 liters) (the guide takes care for water in the bus in case that)


Day 1 – Arrival

Airplane

Airplane to Israel

This is the day that you arrive in Israel. Well, it’s not the case for those who are already here or who are living in Israel.

For those who are arriving in Israel, will be picked up from the airport by the guide and driver from Shalom Israel.

  • For those, who ordered the hotels, they will be driven by bus to their hotel and for this tour it means Eilat.

During the drive to your hotel, the bus will stop multiple times if the group requires so. One stop is for stretching your legs and to eat real food and drink. That is included in the tour! So, please don’t spend your money on that.

When you’ve arrived at your hotel, you check in and relax. The guide is with you and stays with you until you go back home at the end of the tour. He is available day and night (for example when you can’t sleep!).


Day 2 – Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve

Click here for the map – Hotel in Eilat

Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature ReserveEarly morning we all have breakfast at your hotel. We need to prepare for the day, which starts officially at 9:00 in the morning. That means that we must leave with the bus at 8:15 at most.

The Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve is a 3,000-acre (12 km2) breeding and re-acclimation center administered by the Israel Nature Reserves & National Parks Authority, situated in the Southern Arabah near Yotvata.
The Yotvata Hai-Bar is the desert counterpart of the Carmel Hai-Bar Nature Reserve which operates in the country’s Northern Mediterranean forest.
Endangered and locally extinct animals mentioned in the Bible are bred here for possible reintroduction to the Negev desert. Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature ReserveThe Asian wild ass has already been reintroduced in the Makhtesh Ramon into the wild. In addition the park has some rare desert animals, which are not native to Israel, like the scimitar oryx and the Red-necked ostrich from northern Africa.

At the end of the day, we drive to our new hotel in Be’er Sheva/Sde Boker.


Day 3 – Ein Avdat National Park

Early morning we all have breakfast at your hotel. We need to prepare for the day, which starts officially at 9:00 in the morning. That means that we must leave with the bus at 8:15 at most.

Ein Avdat or Ein Ovdat is a canyon in the Negev Desert of Israel, south of Kibbutz Sde Boker. Archaeological evidence shows that Ein Avdat was inhabited by Nabateans and Catholic monks. Numerous springs at the southern opening of the canyon empty into deep pools in series of waterfalls. The water emerges from the rock layers with salt-loving plants like Poplar trees and Atriplexes growing nearby.

Springs
Ein Avdat National ParkThe southernmost spring is Ein Ma’arif, featuring a series of waterfalls and pools. A Byzantine fortress overlooks the spring and adjacent agricultural land. Further north is Ein Avdat, a 15-meter high waterfall that flows into an 8-meter deep pool of water divided by a small artificial dam.
Located near the northern entrance of the park is a spring called Ein Mor, named for the spice myrrh.
Growing around the springs are Poplar trees and Atriplexes, commonly known as saltbush, which grows on riverbanks and can tolerate salinity.Ein Avdat National Park

At the end of the day, we return to our hotel in Be’er Sheva/Sde Boker


Day 4 – Shivta National Park

Early morning we all have breakfast at your hotel. We need to prepare for the day, which starts officially at 9:00 in the morning. That means that we must leave with the bus at 8:15 at most.

Shivta, is an ancient city in the Negev Desert of Israel located 43 kilometers southwest of Beersheba. Shivta was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2005.

History
Long considered a classic Nabataean town on the ancient spice route, archaeologists are now considering the possibility that Shivta was a Byzantine agricultural colony and a way station for pilgrims en route to the Saint Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula.
Roman ruins from the first century BCE have been unearthed in the southern part of the town, but most of the archaeological findings date to the Byzantine period. Shivta’s water supply was based on surface runoff collected in large reservoirs.

Three Byzantine churches (a main church and two smaller churches), 2 wine-presses, residential areas and administrative buildings have been excavated at Shivta. After the Arab conquest in the 7th century CE, the population dwindled. It was finally abandoned in the 8th or 9th Century CE.
In 1933-34, American archaeologist H. Colt (son of the gun manufacturer) conducted a dig at Shivta. The house he lived in bears an inscription in ancient Greek that reads: “With good luck. Colt built (this house) with his own money.”
The wine presses at Shivta give an insight into the scale of wine production at the time. According to the calculations of archaeologists, the Nabatean/Byzantine village of Shivta produced about two million liters of wine. Adjacent to the site is a large farm that uses Nabatean agricultural techniques of irrigation, sowing and reaping.

At the end of the day, we go to our new hotel near the Dead Sea.


Day 5 – Ein Gedi Nature Reserve

Early morning we all have breakfast at your hotel. We need to prepare for the day, which starts officially at 9:00 in the morning. That means that we must leave with the bus at 8:15 at most.

Ein Gedi nature reserve was declared in 1971 and is one of the most important reserves in Israel. The park is situated on the eastern border of the Judean Desert, on the Dead Sea coast, and covers an area of 14000 dunams (one modern dunam equals the area of one decare).
The elevation of the land ranges from the level of the Dead Sea at 423 meters (1,388 ft) below sea level to the plateau of the Judean Desert at 200 meters above sea level. Ein Gedi nature reserve includes two spring-fed streams with flowing water year-round: Nahal David and Nahal Arugot. Two other springs, the Shulamit and Ein Gedi springs, also flow in the reserve. Together, the springs generate approximately three million cubic meters of water per year. Much of the water is used for agriculture or is bottled for consumption.
Ascent from Tel Goren to the En Gedi Spring at Ein GediThe reserve is a sanctuary for many types of plant, bird and animal species. The vegetation includes plants and trees from the tropical, desert, Mediterranean, and steppian regions, such as Sodom apple, acacia, jujube, and poplar. The many species of resident birds are supplemented by over 200 additional species during the migration periods in the spring and fall. Mammal species include the Nubian ibex and the rock hyrax.
The Ein Gedi national park features several archaeological sites including the Chalcolithic Temple of Ein Gedi and a first-century CE village. The park was declared in 2002 and covers an area of 8 dunams.

We return to our hotel near the Dead Sea.


Day 6 – Ein Prat Nature Reserve

Early morning we all have breakfast at your hotel. We need to prepare for the day, which starts officially at 9:00 in the morning. That means that we must leave with the bus at 8:15 at most.

Wadi Qelt is home to a unique variety of flora and fauna. St. George’s Monastery and one of the oldest synagogue in the world, Shalom Al Yisrael Synagogue, are located in Wadi Qelt, which has been identified with the biblical “Perath” mentioned in Jeremiah 13:5.

Ancient history
Wadi Qelt contains monasteries and old Christian locations. Several aqueducts have been found along the stream, the oldest dating to the Hasmonean period (2nd century BC). The Wadi Qelt Synagogue, built as part of a Hasmonean royal winter palace, is believed to be one of the oldest synagogues in the world. The site was home to the winter palaces of Hasmonean kings and Herod the Great. The area was occupied by Israel in 1967, and hence parts of the wadi were declared a nature reserve, the Nahal Prat Nature Reserve.
Qubur Bani Isra’in are huge stone structures which rise from a rocky plateau overlooking Wadi Qelt

Modern times
On December 20, 1968, Israeli lieutenant-Colonel Zvi Ofer (Tzvika Ofer), commander of the elite Haruv unit, former Military Governor of Nablus and recipient of the Israeli medal of valour, was killed in action in Wadi Qelt while pursuing Arab militants who had crossed the Jordan.
Wadi Qelt was the site of several [Palestinian political attacks] on Israeli hikers following the 1993 Declaration of Principles peace agreement between Israel and the PLO. Dror Forer and Eran Bachar were shot to death on October 9, 1993, Ori Shahor and Ohad Bachrach were shot and killed on July 18, 1995, and Hagit Zavitzky and Liat Kastiel were stabbed and killed on April 25, 1997.

We return to our hotel near the Dead Sea.


Day 7 – Ein Tzukim Nature Reserve

Early morning we all have breakfast at your hotel. We need to prepare for the day, which starts officially at 9:00 in the morning. That means that we must leave with the bus at 8:15 at most.

Ein Feshkha is a nature reserve and archaeological site on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, about three kilometers south of Qumran in the West Bank, which is occupied by Israel. It is named for a spring of brackish water in the area. The Ein Feshkha nature reserve consists of an open reserve with pools of mineral water for bathing surrounded by high foliage and another section that is closed to visitors to protect the native flora and fauna.
The saline wetlands of Einot Tzukim are the only known place in the world where populations of Blue and Dead Sea killifish (Nevit Hula and Nevit Yam Hamelakh) live side by side. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture are constructing pools in the area to preserve these native fish. Two of the pools are complete and are now populated by tens of thousands of fish. Measures are also being taken to preserve the tilapia population.
Enot Tsukim is divided into three sections: the northern “closed reserve,” the central “visitors reserve,” and the southern “hidden reserve.” The closed reserve is only open to scientists by special invitation. This section covers approximately 2,700 dunams. The 500-dunam visitors reserve features wading pools filled with natural spring water.
Due to ecological concerns, the hidden reserve is closed to the public apart from tours on Fridays.

We return to our hotel near the Dead Sea.


Day 8 – Qumran National Park

Click here for the map – Hotel near the Dead Sea

Early morning we all have breakfast at your hotel. We need to prepare for the day, which starts officially at 9:00 in the morning. That means that we must leave with the bus at 8:15 at most.

Qumran is an archaeological site in the West Bank managed by Israel’s Qumran National Park. It is located on a dry plateau about a mile from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, near the Israeli settlement and kibbutz of Kalya. The Hellenistic period settlement was constructed during the reign of John Hyrcanus, 134-104 BCE or somewhat later, and was occupied most of the time until it was destroyed by the Romans in 68 CE or shortly after. It is best known as the settlement nearest to the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden), caves in the sheer desert cliffs and beneath, in the marl terrace. The principal excavations at Qumran were conducted by Roland de Vaux in the 1950s, though several later campaigns at the site have been carried out.

We return to our hotel near the Dead Sea


Day 9 – Masada National Park

Click here for the map – Hotel near the Dead Sea

Early morning we all have breakfast at your hotel. We need to prepare for the day, which starts officially at 9:00 in the morning. That means that we must leave with the bus at 8:15 at most.

Masada Mountain & Cable Car

Masada is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel situated on top of an isolated rock plateau, akin to a mesa, on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. According to Josephus, the Siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire towards the end of the First Jewish-Roman War ended in the mass suicide of the 960 Sicarii rebels and their families hiding there. Masada is located 20 kilometers (12 mi) east of Arad.
Masada is one of Israel’s most popular tourist attractions.

At the end of the day we go to our new hotel in Jerusalem


Day 10 – Avshalom (Stalactites) Cave

Click here for the map – Hotel Jerusalem

Early morning we all have breakfast at your hotel. We need to prepare for the day, which starts officially at 9:00 in the morning. That means that we must leave with the bus at 8:15 at most.

Avshalom Cave, also known as Soreq Cave or Stalactites Cave, is a 5,000 sq m cave in Israel, unique for its dense concentration of stalactites
Avshalom Cave, also known as Soreq Cave or Stalactites Cave, is a 5,000 sq m cave in Israel, unique for its dense concentration of stalactites.

The cave was discovered accidentally in May 1968, while quarrying with explosives, near Hartuv, 3 km east of Bet Shemesh, Israel. It is 83 m long, 60 m wide, and 15 m high.
The cave is named after Avshalom Shoham, an Israeli soldier killed in the War of Attrition. After its discovery, the location of the cave was kept a secret for several years for fear of damage to its natural treasures.
The temperature and the humidity in the cave are constant year round, and it is now open to visitors, in the heart of the 67-dunam Avshalom Nature Reserve, declared in 1975. In 2012, a new lighting system was installed to prevent the formation and growth of algae.
Some of the stalactites found in the cave are four meters long, and some have been dated as 300,000 years old. Some meet stalagmites to form stone pillars.

We return to our hotel in Jerusalem.


Day 11 – Beit Guvrin National Park

Click here for the map – Hotel in Jerusalem

Early morning we all have breakfast at your hotel. We need to prepare for the day, which starts officially at 9:00 in the morning. That means that we must leave with the bus at 8:15 at most.

Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park is a national park in central Israel, 13 kilometers from Kiryat Gat, encompassing the ruins of Maresha, one of the important towns of Judah during the time of the First Temple, and Beit Guvrin, an important town in the Roman era, when it was known as Eleutheropolis.
Archaeological artifacts unearthed at the site include a large Jewish cemetery, a Roman-Byzantine amphitheater, a Byzantine church, public baths, mosaics and burial caves.

Burial caves
The Sidonian burial caves were the family tomb of Apollophanes, the leader of the Sidonian community in Beit Guvrin. The Sidonian caves are the only ones that are painted inside. The caves were burial caves for the Greek, Sidonian and Edumite inhabitants of Beit Guvrin. The first and largest cave has paintings of animals, real and mythic, above the niches where the corpses were laid. A cock crows to scare away demons;the three-headed dog Cerberus guards the entrance to the underworld; a bright red phoenix symbolizes the life after death. The Tomb of the Musicians is decorated with a painting showing a man playing the flute and a woman playing the harp.

Bell caves
There are about 800 bell-shaped caves located in the area. Many of the caves are linked via an underground network of passageways that connect groups of 40-50 caves. The bell caves were dug during the Arabian Period for chalk to cover roads. The walls are beige colored limestone. There are numerous bell caves within the park grounds and events are held in one of them. It is large (over 60 feet (18 m) high), airy and easily accessible.

The Church of Saint Anne
Saint Anne’s church was first built in the Byzantine period and then rebuilt by the Crusaders in the 12th century. The ruin is known in Arabic as Khirbet (lit. “ruin”) Sandahanna, the mound of Maresha being called Tell Sandahanna. The freestanding remains of the apse are well preserved

Amphitheater
The remains of a Roman amphitheater were uncovered in the mid-1990s. The amphitheater was built in the 2nd century, on the northwestern outskirts of Beit Guvrin. This amphitheater, in which gladiatorial contests took place, could seat about 3,500 spectators. It had a walled arena of packed earth, with subterranean galleries. The arena was surrounded by a series of connected barrel vaults, which formed a long, circular corridor and supported the stone seats above it; staircases led from the outside and from the circular corridor to the tribunes It was built for the Roman troops stationed in the region after the suppression of the Bar Kochba rebellion. The amphitheater is an elliptical structure built of large rectangular limestone ashlars. It was in use until destroyed in the Galilee earthquake of 363.

At the end of the day we return to our hotel in Jerusalem.


Day 12 – Departure

We will bring you back to the airport after breakfast (this depends on your departing time).

National Parks Tour in Northern Israel, 14 days

Tel Dan Nature Reserve
Tel Dan Nature Reserve

This is the tour about the National Parks, but this time we focus on North of Israel. What’s also different in this itinerary is, that I added the link to the Google Maps for each of the parks, because I know that many people simply go by themselves (and why not?).

What is the program for this tour? We will meet one of the first Homo Sapiens at Nahal Me’arot, we see the wild nature at Ein Afek, the ancient city Tel Megiddo, water, waterfalls, streams at Nahal Betzet and Nahal Kziv with castles, Crusaders, grottoes, mountains, forests, cave-fortresses, and much more.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrival
Day 2 – Nahal Me’arot Nature Reserve, Mt. Carmel – Haifa
Day 3 – Ein Afek Nature Reserve, Western Galilee – Haifa
Day 4 – Tel Megiddo National Park, Jezreel Valley – Haifa/Afula
Day 5 – Nahal Betzet, Upper Galilee – Nahariyya
Day 6 – Nahal Kziv, Upper Galilee – Nahariyya
Day 7 – Rosh HaNikra, Western Galilee – Nahariyya
Day 8 – Mount Meron, Upper Galilee – Tiberias/Nahariyya
Day 9 – Nahal Ayun, Upper Galilee – Tiberias/Nahariyya
Day 10 – Arbel National Park and Nature Reserve, Upper Galilee – Tiberias
Day 11 – Tel Dan Nature Reserve, Upper Galilee – Tiberias
Day 12 – Mount Arbel, Lower Galilee – Tiberias
Day 13 – Mount Tabor, Lower Galilee – Tiberias
Day 14 – Departure

You stay at hotels at the following locations:
Day 1 – Arrival
Day 2 – Haifa
Day 3 – Haifa
Day 4 – Haifa/Afula
Day 5 – Nahariyya
Day 6 – Nahariyya
Day 7 – Nahariyya
Day 8 – Tiberias/Nahariyya
Day 9 – Tiberias/Nahariyya
Day 10 – Tiberias
Day 11 – Tiberias
Day 12 – Tiberias
Day 13 – Tiberias
Day 14 – Departure

What do you see?

  • Day 1Arrival
  • Day 2Nahal Me’arot Nature Reserve – Prehistoric human beings
  • Day 3Ein Afek Nature Reserve – Swamps
  • Day 4Tel Megiddo National Park – Ancient city-state
  • Day 5Nahal Betzet – Stream in the Upper Galilee
  • Day 6Nahal Kziv – Stream and Crusader castle, Montfort
  • Day 7Rosh HaNikra – Spectacular grottoes
  • Day 8Mount Meron – Mount Meron is the highest peak in Israel
  • Day 9Nahal Ayun – Streams, waterfalls
  • Day 10Arbel National Park and Nature Reserve – Mountain with beautiful high cliffs
  • Day 11Tel Dan Nature Reserve – Ancient northernmost city of the Kingdom of Israel
  • Day 12Mount Arbel – Mountain with deep cliffs, trails, grottoes and cave-fortress
  • Day 13Mount Tabor – Hiking around the mounting
  • Day 14Departure

Day 1 – Arrival

  • For those who are arriving in Israel, will be picked up from the airport by the guide and driver from Shalom Israel.
  • For those, who ordered the hotels, they will be driven by bus to their hotel and for this tour it means Haifa.

During the drive to your hotel, the bus will stop multiple times if the group requires so. One stop is for stretching your legs and to be fed real food and drink. That is included in the tour! So, please don’t spend your money on that.

Depending when you all arrive at your hotel, we will start this tour with a special dinner, and a special evening tour. This depends on when the group is complete on this day of arrival. But what’s for sure, you are going to meat the guides. If the group is small, you have two guides, otherwise you have four guides.


Active holidayOne word of warning. This is a tour, which focusing itself on visiting parks and reserves and that means hiking. Not extreme hiking, but you walk a lot!

Each day after the breakfast we leave (at about 9 AM) and we are back between late afternoon/ early evening (6-7 PM). Some days you might be earlier back to your hotel, in those cases special evening tours are organized for those who still have the energy.

Lunch is normally served in a restaurant. But many days this is impractical or even impossible. Instead at those days you will be offered a picnic or barbecue. Breakfast is served at the hotel and dinner is served at the hotel or restaurant.

icon day toursSnacks are available in the bus throughout the day (and one of the guides carries always something) (fruit, sweets, chocolates, etc.). Water is being delivered before and during the tour by us. We have many bottles of water for you to take. Hats we have too, because it’s likely that it’ll will be hot! And we have reserve shoes in case your will break during the tour.


Day 2 – Visit the first human a the Nahal Me’arot Nature Reserve

(Click here for the Google Map)

Outside the cave is a model of a skeleton illustrating the burial practices of members of Natufian culture, who lived some ten thousand years ago.

Members of five prehistoric cultures inhabited the caves at Nahal Me`arot: Acheulian culture (150-200 thousand years ago), Muarian culture (100-150 thousand years ago), Mousterian culture (40-100 thousand years ago), Uriniacian culture (12-40 thousand years ago), and Natufian culture (9-12 thousand years ago). Remnants from the Natufian period were found at the mouth of Stream Cave, where a small village served as a permanent settlement. During this period, people began to hunt and gather in an organized fashion, the precursor to planting crops and domesticating animals. Art objects, such as stone carvings and strings of shells, were produced during this time.

In the spring, the reserve is awash with flowers. Signposted trails from the parking lot lead to a number of exquisite spots on the Carmel Mountain Range. At the reserve`s guidance center, visitors can purchase guidebooks and maps and perhaps ask the wardens about the hikes they would most highly recommend.

We return to our hotel in Haifa.


Day 3 – Look at the amazing and fast disappearing swamps and it’s beautiful nature at the Ein Afek Nature Reserve

(Click here for the Google Map)
Crusaders, Water

When the water level rises in the winter, birds flock to the reserve: pelicans, cranes, pygmy cormorants, gray herons, moorhens, European coots, and black-winged stilts, to name just a few. In the winter and spring, the reserve is carpeted with flowers. A fine spot for admiring the blossoms is Tel Afek, situated on a low sandstone hill on the edge of the reserve. On the northern slope of Tel Afek is a two-story fortified building from the Crusader period, where a film about the flora and fauna in the reserve is now screened. A flour mill once operated on the lower floor of the building. The roof affords a magnificent view of the surrounding area.

In April 1991, seven buffalo were brought to the reserve from the Hula Nature Reserve and placed in a pen with electric sensors, to prevent them from wandering into the swamp. From time to time they can be seen grazing or stretching out in the specially dug pond.

The guidance center at the reserve provides information in Hebrew and Arabic to members of the general public, students, and educational institutions about the Land of Israel, ecology, wetlands, and biotopes.

We return to our hotel in Haifa.


Day 4 – Ancient city with thousands of years of history at Tel Megiddo National Park

(Click here for the Google Map)

The site is now protected as Megiddo National Park and is a World Heritage Site.

History

Megiddo was a site of great importance in the ancient world. It guarded the western branch of a narrow pass and trade route connecting Egypt and Assyria. Because of its strategic location, Megiddo was the site of several historical battles. The site was inhabited from approximately 7000 BC to 586 BCE (the same time as the destruction of the First Israelite Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians, and subsequent fall of Israelite rule and exile), though the first significant remains date to the Chalcolithic period (4500-3500 BCE). Megiddo’s Early Bronze Age I (3500-3100 BCE) temple has been described by its excavators as “the most monumental single edifice so far uncovered in the EB I Levant and ranks among the largest structures of its time in the Near East.” The first wall was constructed in the Early Bronze Age II or III period. However, the town experienced a decline in the Early Bronze-Age IV period (2300-2000 BCE), but the city was somewhat revived around 2000 BCE. Following massive construction, the town reached its largest size in the Middle Bronze-Age, at 10-12 hectares. Though the city was subjugated by Thutmose III, it still prospered, and a massive and incredibly elaborate palace was constructed in the Late Bronze Age. The city was destroyed around 1150 BCE, and the area was resettled by what some scholars have identified as early Israelites, before being replaced with an unwalled Philistine town. When the Israelites captured it, though, it became an important city, before being destroyed, possibly by Aramaean raiders, and rebuilt, this time as an administrative center for Tiglath-Pileser III’s occupation of Samaria. However, its importance soon dwindled, and it was finally abandoned around 586 BCE. Since that time it has remained uninhabited, preserving ruins pre-dating 586 BCE without settlements ever disturbing them. Instead, the town of Lajjun (not to be confused with the el-Lajjun archaeological site in Jordan) was built up near to the site, but without inhabiting or disturbing its remains.
Megiddo is mentioned in Ancient Egyptian writings because one of Egypt’s mighty kings, Thutmose III, waged war upon the city in 1478 BCE. The battle is described in detail in the hieroglyphics found on the walls of his temple in Upper Egypt.
Mentioned in the Bible as “Derekh HaYam” or “Way of the Sea,” it became an important military artery of the Roman Empire and was known as the Via Maris.

Famous battles include:

  1. Battle of Megiddo (15th century BCE): fought between the armies of the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III and a large Canaanite coalition led by the rulers of Megiddo and Kadesh.
  2. Battle of Megiddo (609 BCE): fought between Egyptian pharaoh Necho II and the Kingdom of Judah, in which King Josiah fell.
  3. Battle of Megiddo (1918): fought during World War I between Allied troops, led by General
  4. Edmund Allenby, and the defending Ottoman army.

Kibbutz Megiddo is nearby, less than 1 kilometer (0.62 mi) to the south. Today, Megiddo Junction is on the main road connecting the center of Israel with lower Galilee and the north. It lies at the northern entrance to Wadi Ara, an important mountain pass connecting the Jezreel Valley with Israel’s coastal plain.
In 1964, during Pope Paul VI’s visit to the Holy Land, Megiddo was the site where he met with Israeli dignitaries, including Israeli President Zalman Shazar and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol.

We return to our hotel in Haifa or Afula.


Day 5 – Beautiful nature and loads of water to hike through at Nahal Betzet

(Click here for the Google Map)
Caves, nature

The Betzet Stream runs through limestone, and is fed by the Karkara springs. The national water company pumps the water from the stream, and in 1999 the stream dried up. Water is being pumped back into the stream, but the ecosystem is being damaged by the poor quality water.
Many caves were formed in the limestone by the stream. These include the Keshet Cave and the Namir stalactite cave, both within the Betzet nature reserve. A few ancient sites can also be found within the nature reserve.
There are a number of hiking trails which run through the reserve. This trail takes you from Granot HaGalil to Moshav Ya’ara, and will take about half a day. The trail is of medium difficulty. The trail is the blue trail, marked 2206 on the trail maps.

The hike begins at the Sarakh stream, which is the main tributary to the Betzet Stream. The Sarach Stream, is named for the Sarach or ferns which adorn the creek walls. The trail passes the De’ne’ilah ruins.  The De’Ne’ilah ruins are the remains of a farm from the Roman and Byzantine periods, from the 1st-7th centuries CE.  A number of oil presses were excavated at the site.

The hike then passes the Sarakh stalactite cave; the cave is closed during the bat hibernation season in the  winter, but is otherwise open to tourists. The Sarach cave is a large karstic cave; the first 10 meters are relatively easy and a stalagmite stands in front of a wall.  If you wish to continue further into the cave, climb the carved stairs in the wall, using the handholds as you climb. At the top of the climb, the left side is closed and reserved for the bats. On the right side is a narrow and steep passage; handholds can be found on the left. This leads to a narrow tunnel where you will need to crawl. This leads to an exit at the top of the cave; head back down to the stream with care.

After the cave, the Sarakh stream leads into the Betzet Stream. A pool of water amongst oleanders signals the Karkara springs. The pumped-in water runs from here until a large pool, which used to overflow with water.
Continue on the trail, past the turn to the Keshet Cave and the turn to Kibbutz Eilon and the Mekorot water pumping station.
The trail leads past the Karkara ruins, a Byzantine period settlement with a restored oil press, and continues on leading to Moshav Ya’ara.

We return to our hotel in Nahariyya.


Day 6 – Between the amazing nature and water and forests you see the ruins and castle of the old Crusaders at Nahal Kziv

(Click here for the Google Map)

640px-Nahal_KzivMost of the stream is part of a nature reserve that bears its name, and includes the Montfort Castle and other Crusader-period ruins. A stone carving of a man, 1.78 m high can be found near where the Abirim stream empties into Nahal Kziv. The carving is thought to date from the Hellenistic period.
Flora in the area includes Lilium candidum, Rubus sanguineus, Nerium oleander, Platanus orientalis, Artemisia arborescens, and Ferns. Persian fallow deer were brought to the area in 1996, as part of an effort to prevent extinction of the species. Other wildlife belonging to the nature reserve include golden jackals, wolves, wild boar, and the rare striped hyena.

We return to our hotel in Nahariyya.


Day 7 – Unbelievable beautiful grottoes hidden between breathtaking nature at Rosh HaNikra

(Click here for the Google Map)

The Rosh HaNikra grottos are cavernous tunnels formed by sea action on the soft chalk rock. The total length is some 200 metres. They branch off in various directions with some interconnecting segments. In the past, the only access to them was from the sea and experienced divers were the only ones capable of visiting. Today a cable car takes visitors down to see the grottos. A kibbutz, also named Rosh HaNikra, is located nearby. The Israeli city Nahariya is located about 10 km (6 miles) south of Rosh HaNikra.

History
The former British Cairo-Istanbul railway tunnel photographed in 1964.
The Book of Joshua mentions “Misraphot Mayim” as a place south of Rosh HaNikra that was the border of the Israelite tribes of the time (13:6). Jewish sages referred to the cliff as “The Ladder of Tyre” (Hebrew: sullam Tzor?). The site was later renamed A-Nawakir (“the grottos”) after an Arab conquest. The present name, Rosh HaNikra, is Hebrew for the later Arabic name “Ras-an-Nakura”.
Throughout human history, Rosh HaNikra served as a passage point for trade caravans and armies between Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Egypt, and Africa. During World War II, British Commonwealth forces blasted railway tunnels through the nearby rocks for trains running along the Cairo-Istanbul line. A railway bridge was destroyed by Jewish underground fighters prior to 1948 during the Night of the bridges operation. The tunnel portal leading to Lebanon has since been sealed. Nowadays all the railways on the Lebanese side of the border have been dismantled while the Coastal Railway in Israel currently ends near Nahariya, several kilometers to the south.
Rosh Hanikra was the location where Israeli and Lebanese officials negotiated and concluded an armistice agreement in 1949 which ended the Lebanese-Israeli component of the 1948 War of Israeli Independence. A border passage across the Blue Line into Lebanon at the site is sometimes used by UNIFIL personnel.

Nature reserves and national park

The area around Rosh HaNikra includes a number of nature reserves:

  • The Rosh HaNikra islands – 311 dunams declared in 1965
    The Rosh HaNikra reserve – 500 dunams declared in 1969, and an additional 765 dunams in 1996.
    Rosh HaNikra beach – 230 dunams, declared in 2003
  • The Rosh HaNikra national park also has jurisdiction of 220 dunams in the area.

Cable car
The Rosh HaNikra cable car is a cable car serving tourists wishing to visit the grottoes The Cable car is situated very close to the Lebanese border. The site is popular with tourists, and is one of the facilities available for tourists in Kibbutz Rosh HaNikra. The cable car was manufactured by Austrian manufacturer Doppelmayr Garaventa Group, and claims to be the steepest cable car in the world, ascending at a gradient of 60 degrees. Due to its lower base station being located on the sea, the cable car is occasionally affected by stormy weather.

We return to our hotel in Nahariyya.


Day 8 – The highest peak in Israel at Mount Meron

(Click here for the Google Map)

Mount Meron is a mountain in Israel. It has special significance in Jewish religious tradition and parts of it have been declared a nature reserve.
At 1,208 metres (3,963 ft) above sea level, Mount Meron is the highest peak in Israel, though many peaks in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights are higher.
In 1965, an 84000-dunam nature reserve was declared. An additional 1199 dunams were declared part of the reserve in 2005. It is the highest reserve in Israel, at an altitude of 1208 meters above sea level, and the largest reserve in the north of the country.

Religious significance
The village of Meron and the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai are on Mount Meron. Leading up to the anniversary of his death on Lag B’Omer, thousands of people camp out along the slopes near the tomb, and on Lag B’Omer itself, hundreds of thousands make pilgrimages to celebrate the occasion.

Hiking paths
The mountain has a strong undergrowth and it cannot be walked up from every direction. The main path starts at the north west side of the Meron village. There is a gate next to the road, with a color-marked path of about 10 km. There is also a path on the west side of the mountain.

We return to our hotel in Tiberias or Nahariyya.


Day 9 – Waterfalls, streams and all of that between the forests, mountains at Nahal Ayun

(Click here for the Google Map)

Nature Reserve Eshed Fall

Differences in elevation form waterfalls in the streams course. During the rainy winter months, the water-flow is strongest. During the summer months, water is diverted, closer to the stream’s sources, for crop irrigation. These falls were declared a nature reserve, and include:

  1. Ayun waterfall, 9.2 m
  2. Tahana waterfall (=flourmill), 21 m
  3. Eshed waterfall, with two steps, 5 m and 9 m
  4. Tanur waterfall, 30 m

We return to our hotel in Tiberias or Nahariyya.


Day 10 – The most amazing cliffs to watch the whole northern Israel at the Arbel National Park and Nature Reserve

(Click here for the Google Map)

Mount-ArbelThere are four villages on the mountain: Kfar Zeitim, Arbel, Kfar Hittim, and Mitzpa. The peak, at 181 metres above sea level (380 metres above the surrounding area), dominates the surroundings (much of the area is below sea level) and from the lookout atop the mountain, almost all of the Galilee into the Golan Heights including Safed, Tiberias and most of the Sea of Galilee, is visible.

Nature reserve and national park
The area was declared a nature reserve in 1967, covering 1400 dunams. The national park (8509 dunams) includes most of Nahal Arbel, that begins near Eilabun and empties into the Sea of Galilee near Migdal. The reserve covers the immediate area around the cliff.
Mount Arbel from Nof Ginnosar.jpg
On the south side of the cliff, there is a gradual prolonged climb through agricultural and pasture land and from the peak there is a steep 400 meters drop. From here there are metal handholds driven into the rock to aid those who want to make the climb down to the valley below. Below that are a series of switchbacks that eventually lead to the Bedouin village of Hamaam.
Mt. Arbel, with its 110 metre vertical drop, is the only known mountain in Israel to serve as a base jumping site. A hike to the top of Mount Arbel from the south is included in the Israel National Trail, and an approach from the west is part of the Jesus Trail; the trails converge temporarily at the peak.

We return to our hotel in Tiberias.


Day 11 – Ancient city in the old Kingdom of Israel at Tel Dan Nature Reserve

(Click here for the Google Map)

Tel Dan Nature ReserveHistory and archaeology
According to the archaeological excavations at the site, the town was originally occupied in the late Neolithic era (c 4500 BCE), although at some time in the fourth millennium BC it was abandoned, for almost 1,000 years.

Tel Dan nature reserve
Tel Dan Nature Reserve3The Tel Dan reserve was first declared on 391 dunams surrounding the tel in 1974. 90 dunams were added to the reserve in 1989. The Dan River is one of the three water sources of the Jordan River that meet in the northern part of the Hula Valley.

We return to our hotel in Tiberias.


Day 12 – Find the mountain with deep cliffs, trails, grottoes and cave-fortress at Mount Arbel

(Click here for the Google Map)

Mount Arbel2There are four villages on the mountain: Kfar Zeitim, Arbel, Kfar Hittim, and Mitzpa. The peak, at 181 metres above sea level (380 metres above the surrounding area), dominates the surroundings (much of the area is below sea level) and from the lookout atop the mountain, almost all of the Galilee into the Golan Heights including Safed, Tiberias and most of the Sea of Galilee, is visible.

The area was declared a nature reserve in 1967, covering 1400 dunams. The national park (8509 dunams) includes most of Nahal Arbel, that begins near Eilabun and empties into the Sea of Galilee near Migdal. The reserve covers the immediate area around the cliff.
On the south side of the cliff, there is a gradual prolonged climb through agricultural and pasture land and from the peak there is a steep 400 meters drop. From here there are metal handholds driven into the rock to aid those who want to make the climb down to the valley below. Below that are a series of switchbacks that eventually lead to the Bedouin village of Hamaam.
Mt. Arbel, with its 110 metre vertical drop, is the only known mountain in Israel to serve as a base jumping site.  A hike to the top of Mount Arbel from the south is included in the Israel National Trail, and an approach from the west is part of the Jesus Trail; the trails converge temporarily at the peak.

We return to our hotel in Tiberias.


Day 13 – This is hiking around this mountain at Mount Tabor

(Click here for the Google Map)

There are two paths: the long track, which starts from the Bedouin village Shibli, which length is about five kilometers long and a short nature track of about 2.5 kilometers at the summit.
Mount TaborThe track which surrounds the mountain passes in well-developed Mediterranean woodlands. the color marking alternates to green at the eastern part of the track. Behind the monastery its possible to see remnants from the First Jewish-Roman War. In the path there is a view of the Jezreel Valley, Mount Gilboa, Samaria mountains, Mount Carmel, the Golan Heights, Gilead, the Lower Galilee and the Upper Galilee. On days with good visibility one could also see the Mount Hermon.
Israel National Trail goes up the mountain from mount Tabor the Gazit junction and the Shibli village, surrounding the summit and descends across the Arab village of Daburiyya towards the Nazareth mountains.

Activities on Mount Tabor
In April each year, the regional council of Lower Galilee holds a 12 kilometer race around Mount Tabor in memory of Yitzhak Sadeh, the first commander of the Palmach and one of the founders of the Israel Defense Forces at the time of the State of Israel’s independence.
By obtaining a game permit issued by the Ministry of the Interior, hunting of small animals is allowed in certain designated seasons.
The churches located on the mountain allow visits at specific hours. (Modest attire required).
Approximately three quarters of the way up the mountain, a path circles it entirely and is accessible for private vehicles as well (four-wheel drive advised).
The mountain serves as one of Israel’s preferred locales for hang gliding.

Church of the Transfiguration
Between 1919 until 1924 an impressive Roman Catholic church of the Franciscan order named “Church of the Transfiguration” was built on the peak of Mount Tabor. The architect who designed the church, as well as other churches in Israel, was Antonio Barluzzi. The church was built upon the ruins of a Byzantine church from the fifth or sixth century and a Crusader church from the 12th century, which was built in honor of Tancred, Prince of Galilee. The friars of the church live next to the church in a monastery established in 1873.

The Eastern Orthodox sanctuary
Bell tower of the Eastern Orthodox monastery.
On the northeast side of the Church of the Transfiguration there is the more modest Orthodox Church which was built in 1862 with funds from Romania. The church was dedicated to Elijah the prophet and was the first religious structure built by Romanian Christians in the Holy Land.
On the northwest side of the church there is a cave named after Melchizedek the King of Salem. According to the Christian tradition, this cave was the place where Abraham met the king of Salem. The cave was known to pilgrims and Christians during the Middle Ages. With an increase in pilgrimages, the church is now open to the public (though it closes for a few hours at noon).
An All-Night Vigil is held at the Eastern Orthodox church every year on the Orthodox Feast of the Transfiguration (August 19, which is August 6 according to the Julian Calendar).

We return to our hotel in Tiberias.


Day 14 – Departure

Airplane

Airplane

Before you leave, some breakfast first. And this is honestly not some breakfast, it’s a breakfast feast!

This is the day of the departure. We bring everyone back to the point where we picked them up.