“A Taste of Israel” Bike Tour from the Green Hills of the North to the Red Sea in the South

Introduction:

This bike tour offers the rider a most diverse array of landscapes and riding conditions from the rolling green hills in the North, through the golden desert, and down to the Red Sea. The tour begins at the tributaries of the Jordan River and during the first two days of biking, follows the river down to the Sea of Galilee. The third day presents a track along the Sea of Galilee and its historical sites, bringing the bikers to Kibbutz Sha’ar HaGolan.

After the first three days of biking, we will load the bicycles on a trailer and drive via the Jordan Valley and the Judean Hills to Jerusalem, the holiest of cities to the three monotheistic religions.

We will enjoy a half day of urban biking amidst the distinctive neighborhoods of Jerusalem, visiting both sections of the unique city, the western city and the Old City and the winding lanes and alleys leading to the Temple Mount.

Following our ride through Jerusalem, we will set out on a three day track through desert terrain. We will cycle down South to Mitzpeh Ramon, the largest crater in Israel.

On the following day, we will continue biking south through the Arava to Timna Park, where we will have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of singles tracks amidst some of the most unusual natural landscapes in Israel. Our final day of biking will take us from Park Timna to Eilat, the most southern city in Israel that lies on the coast of the Red Sea.

Our best cycling guides from Go Bike Israel will accompany the bikers throughout the journey, and will be able to adapt the tracks to the biking proficiency of each group.

Day One: The Tributaries of the Jordan

Main Attractions:

The Naftali Mountains, Tel Hai and Roaring Lion Statue, the Hatsbani River, the Dan River and the Banias, the Jordan River, Agamon Hula Park

Track length: 58 km (36 miles)

Cumulative ascent: 500 meters (1640 ft)

Cumulative descent: 970 meters (3182 ft)

Map and aerial photograph:  north to dead sea press to open.

We will start the day biking downhill through the breathtaking landscape that descends from the Naftali Mountains to Kiryat Shmonah, overlooking the beautiful Hula Valley with its many ponds and green fields. Upon our arrival to Kiryat Shmonah, we will continue north along “Shvil Yisrael” – the Israel Path – to the Roaring Lion Statue at Tel Hai. There, we will hear about the history of the first Jewish settlers who built their homes around Tel Hai in the beginning of the twentieth century. The trail will then lead us to the Hatsbani River, one of the three tributaries that feed into the Jordan River. We will ride along the river and enjoy the dense vegetation and natural shady alcoves that the area has to offer. We will meet up with another river, the Dan River that begins at Tel Dan, the historical home of the Tribe of Dan, one of the twelve tribes of Biblical Israel. After a visit to the Dan Nature Reserve, we will continue to the Banias River, the third tributary of the Jordan. We will ride along the Banias until we reach Kibbutz Huliot, where all three tributaries merge and become the Jordan River. We will continue along the Jordan River, biking south to Agamon Hula where we will be able to observe an abundance of birds and animals that have made the reserve their home. We will hear a brief explanation about the historic drainage of the Hula swamp lands in the 1950s. We’ll end our day at the Nofei Golan Hotel, a biker’s hotel that will host us for the night.

shvil1 press to open.

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Day Two: Along the Jordan from Kibbutz Gonen to the Sea of Galilee

Main Attractions

The Hula Reserve, Bnot Yaakov Bridge, Dodot Bridge, Jordan Natural Park, Kfar Nahum, Sea of Galilee

Track length: 45 km (28 miles)

Total ascent: 440 meters (1444 ft)

Total descent: 750 meters (2460 ft)

Map:  a taset map press to open.

We will set out at a comfortable pace along the Jordan River. We will bike calmly along the banks of the Jordan, crossing the Hula Valley towards Kibbutz Gadot. Here, the Jordan winds its route through the basalt rock, its waters turning more tempestuous. We will bike along the river’s western bank, cross the Bnot Yaakov Bridge and hear about the history of the site over the years. We will continue biking through beautiful scenery above the river bed, crossing it once more at the Dodot Bridge. We will visit the Jordan Nature Park and end the day on the banks of the Sea of Galilee at one of Christianity’s holy sites at Kfar Nahum.

http://www.iyha.org.il/Eng/karei-deshe-hostel

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Day Three: Along the Sea of Galilee, from Karei Deshe to Sha’ar HaGolan via Tiberias and the Yardenit

Main Attractions

Ein Nun Spring, the Arbel Cliffs, Tiberias, Mount Breniki, the Swiss Forest, Poriah Spring, the Yardenit Baptismal Site, the Southern Jordan River

Track length: 45 km (28 miles)

Total ascent: 600 meters (1968 ft)

Total descent: 600meters (1968 ft)

Map and aerial photograph: a taset map2 press to open.

We will devote the third day to the western banks of the Sea of Galilee. In the morning, we will set out from the banana plantations near the Karei Deshe Lodge, meeting up with Shvil Yisrael – the Israel Path that began up North. We will follow the trail to the Nun Spring for our first break of the day. Here we can enjoy a quick swim in the Nun’s refreshing waters. We will continue along the Sea of Galilee until our arrival in Tiberias, the capital city of the region, and we’ll bike on the promenade to the southern tip of the city. We will pass by the burial sites of righteous rabbis and the famous hot springs of Tiberias and will ascend Mount Breniki to a height of 191 meters (623 feet) above sea level. Here we will be able to see the remains of a Byzantine church and mosque that most likely stood next to one another during various periods in history.

We will continue biking on a beautiful natural trail via the Poriah Lodge to the Poriah Spring, a small spring, bubbling with fresh water all year long.

We will then begin our descent via Kibbutz Kinneret to the Yardenit, a baptismal site frequented by Christians who wish to be baptized in the waters of the Jordan. We will end our day biking along the Southern Jordan River till Kibbutz Beit Zera. We will cross the Jordan to its eastern side and end the track at Kibbutz Sha’ar HaGolan. http://www.elmulgolan.co.il/en/

(This track has an option for expert bikers who wish to ascend the Arbel Cliffs. This would lengthen the track to 60 km (37 miles), with a total ascent of 1040 meters (3412 feet), and total descent of 1040 meters (3412 feet).

Map of the extended track: a taset map3 press to open.

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Day Four: The Many Faces of Jerusalem

Main Attractions

Mount of Olives, Mount Scopus, Augustus Victoria, Mea’ah Shearim neighborhood, the Old City, the Shuk, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Montifiore’s Windmill, the old Jerusalem Railway Station, the Armon Hanatziv Promenade

Total distance: 4-5 hours of urban biking, including tours of the sites

We will wake up in the morning at Kibbutz Sha’ar HaGolan. After breakfast, we will load our bicycles onto our vehicles and drive to Jerusalem via the Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert. We will park near the hotel and set out on a 4-5 hour bike ride to all of the sites unique to our amazing and holy city of Jerusalem. We will begin at the Armon Hanatziv Promenade and cycle down to Gei Ben Hinom and the neighborhood of Wadi Amoud. We will visit the gravesite of the prophet Zachariah and then ascend to a beautiful observation point overlooking the Temple Mount and the Old City from the Mount of Olives. We will reach the Augustus Victoria Complex and then climb up to an observation point that offers a 3600 view of the Dead Sea, the Judean Desert, Western Jerusalem, and of course, the Temple Mount and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We will continue our ride to Mount Scopus and after one last view of the desert landscape, we will bike to the Sheikh Jarakh area that borders on the edge of both the western and eastern parts of the city. We will visit the Garden Tomb and continue on towards Jaffa Gate where we will enter the Old City through the Armenian Quarter. We will pass through the Jewish quarter towards the Kotel (the Western Wall) and exit via the Golden Gate out beyond the city walls. We will continue riding alongside the walls of the city to the Lions’ Gate and will enter the Via Dolorosa. We will visit the Austrian Hospice and climb atop the roof for another special view of the Old City. We will exit via the Damascus Gate after walking our bikes through the bustling shuk. We will end the day with a pleasant ride to Mishkenot Sha’ananim and the Old Jerusalem Railway Station that has recently been restored and reopened as a cultural and entertainment center.

lhib press to open.

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Day Five: Mitzpeh Ramon

Main Attractions

Sdeh Boker, Zin River, Ramon Crater, Khan Be’erot

Track length: 25 km (15 miles)

Cumulative ascent: 150 meters (492 ft)

Cumulative descent: 580 meters (1902 ft)

Map + aerial photograph of the track: a taset map4   press to open.

After enjoying breakfast in Jerusalem, we will head south and see quite quickly how the green landscapes of the center of Israel give way to the desert terrain of the Negev. Our track will take past Bedouin settlements and we will hear of the challenges faced by the Bedouin nomads upon their move to permanent residences. We will bike through Beersheba, the capital of the Negev, and will take a break at Sdeh Boker, by the grave of David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel.

We will reach Mitzpeh Ramon in the early afternoon and will spend the rest of the day riding along the cliff amidst the breathtaking landscape of the Ramon Crater. We will watch the sun set from a breathtaking observation point right atop the ridge of the crater.

bike hotel web press to open.

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Day Six: Timna Park

Main Attractions

The “Minsarah” Stone Saw-Mill, Timna Park, Timna Lake, Solomon’s Pillars

Track length: Flexible, depending on the hour and the sunset

Map of Timna Park:  TimnamapNEW4signs press to open.

We will get an early start so as to enjoy the sunrise over the Ramon Crater, one of the most wondrous sights of all. After breakfast, we will continue riding down south. We will stop at the bottom of the Ramon Crater to see the ancient saw-mill stones and will reach Timna Park in the early afternoon. The park offers a wide variety of cycling options. Everywhere we ride, we’ll be able to experience the magnificent sights and colors, rock formations and sands, and landscapes that might make us feel like we’re up on the moon! We will enjoy the cool waters of the Timna Lake and will ride through Solomon’s Pillars on our way back to our hotel on Kibbutz Elifaz. http://www.elifaz.co.il/elifaz.aspx

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Day Seven: From Timna Park to Eilat

Main Attractions

The Hidden Lake in Timna Park, Be’er Ora, Shaharot Canyon, Eilat, the Red Sea

Track length: 45 km (28 miles)

Cumulative ascent: 600 meters (1968 ft)

Cumulative descent: 700 meters (2296 ft)

Map of the track and aerial photograph: a taset map5 press to open.

We will set out in the morning for a view of the Hidden Lake, a picturesque desert gem created from an underground water source. We will also ride past an abandoned copper mine. We will continue on the desert paths, enjoying magical scenes of colorful sands and rocks that are the most beautiful specimens of nature in all of Israel.

In the early afternoon, we will reach Eilat, Israel’s southern most city, and will take a swim in the Red Sea.

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