Many visitors think, "Why hike in Israel?   We have hikes where we come from."  First of all, if children are in the group, no other activity or site will help them connect to Israel more than a really fun hike.   Secondly, for any visitor wanting to "connect to the Land of Israel", what better way is there than getting out and experiencing the pure land itself with all your senses?

It is striking how Israel has so many different ecosystems, each with its own distinct vibe.  Museums, excavations, battle sites, shopping, and falafel are all great, but let's touch base with the Land itself.

 1.  Desert Hikes:

Desert hiking in Israel is generally done from November through April.  Exceptions are if you are hiking along watery dunking possibilities (Ein Gedi; Nahal Perat), a full moon hike, or very early morning.  From February through mid-April, some canyons offer deep pools to swim through that have been created by winter flash-floods (....best done before these pools become smelly in the springtime).

Gov Canyon and Little Crater:   Gov Canyon is one of dozens of possible hikes in the Negev Desert.  Like many of these desert canyons, the vistas and terrains vary along the way, there are stories to tell, and there are several ropes installed to climb down adventurous-but-not-too-scary descents, into small pools.  

After the hike, we drive up the famous, steep "Scorpion Ascent", with 18 serpentine turns, sit on the edge of the enormous "Little Crater", and watch the sunset paint the mountains in glowing colors.

Like many other hikes, this one can include camping under the famously star-strewn Negev night.

2.  Golan Heights Hikes:

    Many visitors to Israel don't make it to the Golan Heights, and if they do, they don't realize that there are spectacular waterfall and stream-filled canyons throughout the region.  Two of the waterfalls even have small caves behind them.  You can swim under the falls, climb up into the caves, and dive out through the falls in the deep pools.  Hiking here in the heat of the summer, with the yellow savanna-like landscape, has the advantage of warming up after swimming in the cold waters.  Hiking here in the spring offers deep Irish-green expanses and swaths of red, purple, pink, white, and yellow wildflowers.


3.  Hikes in the Jerusalem Hills:

The hills to the west of Jerusalem offer many trails that are accessible by public buses.  Here are 3 examples of many:

Masrek Reserve --- Convoy Ridge --- Burma Road --- Machal Memorial:  This scenic trail offers the backdrop for battles of Joshua, the Maccabees, and Israel's War of Independence.  History is more palatable with a little role-playing of historical characters and recordings.  

Mt. Aminadav --- Sa'adim Ruin --- view from Rubinstein Memorial (springtime):  The group collects wild oregano, thyme, bay leaves, and fennel along the trail.  Arriving at the Rubinstein Memorial, 4 recipes requiring the herbs we picked are handed out, and we cook on a campfire:  Pita bread, pancakes, tomato spread, fennel tea.

Sataf Springs to Hindak Spring:  Sataf showcases how farmers in Israel's hilly regions have farmed for thousands of years, with terraces, caves, water tunnels, springs, and channels.  After exploring these, the trail continues through fragrant fields and a pine forest to a mysterious ancient wall.  









 

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