11 days Israel – Nature and Culture Hiking Tour
It is a gaunt land of splintered peaks, torn valleys, and hot skies. And at every step there is the suggestion of the fierce, the defiant, the defensive. Everything within its borders seems fighting to maintain itself against destroying forces. There is a war of elements and a struggle for existence going on here that for ferocity is unparalleled elsewhere in nature….
The Desert / John C. Van Dyke- 1911
The sea of Galilee: Israel tours
This program is intended for people who want to explore Israel's main sights and best scenery on foot. Its combine Israel's extraordinary and unique cultural sites with its unusual variety of natural landscapes: From the dense oak-forests of the Galilee to the bare desert-landscapes of the Dead Sea, the deepest point in the world! We will stay in local-type accommodation, such as Kibbutz-guesthouses, Field-Schools and Families.
We start our tour with a hike around the Old City of Jerusalem:
From top of the Mt. of Olives we can enjoy a panoramic view of the Holy City and understand its complex history. Then we hike down through the Jewish Cemetery to the Garden of Gethsemane with its famous Olive Trees that are almost 2000 years old! We head on to the Kidron Valley where we watch some of its ancient burial-monuments, curved in the rock. From here a steep trail leads us through the “Dung Gate” and into the Wailing Wall, the last remnants of the Temple in Jerusalem. We continue in the footsteps of Jesus along the Stations of the Via Dolorosa, Jesus' "Way of Suffering", and unto the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Jesus was crucified and buried. The Via Dolorosa also passes through the Old City's oriental "Suq" (Bazaar). At the end of the day we visit King David's Tomb and the "Room of the Last Supper". In the afternoon we have time to stroll along the Arab Market, walk through water in the 1 mile long Siloam-Tunnel, built by the Jewish king Hezekiah in 701 BCE(!) or drive through the New City of Jerusalem, with a short visit of the “Menorah” (Candle labret) situated in front of the Parliament building (Knesset).
Over night (HB), in a Kibbutz Guesthouse near Jerusalem.
We start the day with a half-day hike through the Ayalon Valley. This valley situated on the main historical road to Jerusalem, has an historical significance to Jews, Christians and Moslems. It is here that Joshua fought miraculously against the Canaanites, forcing the sun and the moon to stand still. This easy hike combines typical natural landscapes of the area with its cultural heritage: A Roman Bathhouse, belonging to the city of Emmaus, the remnants of Crusaders Church built on top of a Byzantine church commemorating Jesus' appearance in Emmaus, a burial cave, a traditional spring. The tomb of the Holy Sheikh Ibn Jaban and more… After picnic lunch we drive to Tell Azeka, at the edge of “The Valley of the Therabynth”, where the famous fight between David and Goliath took place. After telling this story from a viewpoint on the hill, we will crawl for approx. 1 hour through the Azeka-cave-system. This sophisticated system of caves was curved out of the rock by the Jewish Bar-Kochba rebels, who rebelled against the Romans in the 2nd century.
Drive back to our Kibbutz guesthouse near Jerusalem for over night (FB)
Today we leave Jerusalem and drive through the Judean Desert to the Dead Sea, the deepest point on earth. Arriving at the oasis of Ein Gedi, we drive up to the Ein Gedi Field Study Center, where today's hike begins: We ascend on ancient desert-trail, passing by some old Roman Balsam-Orchard arriving at the “Window Waterfall” and on to the Chalcolithic Temple and the spring of Ein Gedi, which cool water we can enjoy. From there we descend steeply into the canyon of Nachal Arugot. The strong radiation of the sun and the amount of fresh water from the springs, turn this oasis to “a little paradise”, rich with unique tropical flora and fauna. We leave some time at the end of the day for swimming (actually floating) in the Dead Sea – an extraordinary experience by itself!
(Length of hike: 5 miles, with some steep sections)
Over night in a Kibbutz near the Dead Sea (FB)
Masada & Dead Sea tours
Today is dedicated to the famous desert-fortress Masada: we start hiking through the bizarre lisan-marl formation at the foot of Masada. We walk through a white, mysterious landscape that might remind the “Monument Valley” in the USA, until we reach the well-preserved Roman Siege Wall. We ascend Masada, Herod's desert palace, by the “Messengers Trail”, and then visit Masada thoroughly. Masada, where some Jewish-freedom-fighters decided to prefer their own death on slavery by the Romans, became an important national symbol for the modern state of Israel.
We descend Masada by the famous “Snake Path, or by the longer “Ben Yair Ascent”. Today we can also end the day with a float on the Dead Sea.
(Length of hike: 3 miles through the Snake Path, and 5.5 miles through Ben Yair Ascent)
Over night in a Kibbutz near the Dead Sea (HB)
After packing our luggage, our bus take us on the steep Shalem Ascent, and then on a dirt-road to the heights of the Judean Desert. Here we will hike down the canyon of Wadi Meshash, climbing down some of its water-holes, carved by nature in the marble-like, white limestone. Ascending up Wadi Muraba'at, we visit the Muraba'at Caves, where the first letters signed by Bar Kochba were found. Arriving back to our bus, we drive to the north, arriving in Acre (Akko), an ancient oriental port-city by the Mediterranean Sea. Here we take the opportunity to walk on its massive walls, and take a look at the port of Akko, which is still used by fishermen and travelers.
(Length of hike: 2 mile. The hike contains some steep ascends and climbing sections. No rope needed)
Over night in a Kibbutz near the Akko (HB)
Today we begin the traditional one-week “Sea to Sea” hike, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee: We drive to Rosh Hanikra on the Lebanese Border, where we visit some grottoes that were formed by the power of the sea-waves. From here we drive to Achziv, once a blooming port-city on the Mediterranean Sea. Here we fill a bottle of salt-water from the Mediterranean Sea. We will carry it with us across the hills of Galilee until we will reach the Sea of Galilee, where we will mix the salt-water with sweet water from the Sea of Galilee. Then we start hiking into the dense forest covering the canyon of Nachal (Wadi) Keziv. We ascend steeply to the ruins of the Montfort-Castle, once an important fortress of the Teutonic Nights. We descend from the mountain into the wadi and hike up the Goren forest, where our bus awaits us.
Over night in a Kibbutz nearby (FB)
From the Goren Forrest we descend to Nachal Keziv, we hike past “The Hidden Spring” (Ein Tamir) and to the little Crusader Fortress Mezad Abirim.
(Length of hike: 5.5 miles) Over night in a Kibbutz nearby (FB)
The Spring in the Negev desert
After hiking through a dense Oak-forest we reach the picturesque Druze village Hurfeish, where we also visit the tomb of Nabi Sabalan, one of the most holy sites of the Druze Religion. Here we will hear about the special way of life, history and religion of the Druze people. Then we hike down to the Hiram-Valley and up the valley of Nachal (Wadi) Neriyah.
(Length of hike: 6 miles)
Over night in the Meron Field School or by a genuine Druze family in the village Beit Jan (FB)
Ascend Mount Meron (4270 f. high). From here we can enjoy a wide view over Upper Galilee. We walk on “The Summit Path” around the top of mount Meron and and descend to Rashbi's tomb, a holy site for the Jews.
(Length of hike: 5.5 miles)
Over night in the Meron Field School or by a genuine Druze family in the village Beit Jan (FB)
We start with short hike to the ruins of the Synagogue at Hirbet Shema and then down Nachal Meron to the Ein Yakun-spring. We hike along the valley of Nachal Amud, through a landscape full with oriental planetrees and reach with water-plants. We ascend from Nachal Amud to Safed (Zefat), the city of the Jewish Kabbalah people that give this city its spiritual atmosphere.
We will spend the rest of the afternoon discovering the streets and Synagogues of Safed.
(Length of hike: 5 miles) Over night in or by Safed (HB)
Today we finish the last section of the Sea to Sea trek: We hike from Safed down to wadi Akbara, known as an important meeting-place for vultures. The Wadi Akbara trail leads us back to the valley of Nachal Amud. Nachal Amud shortly becomes a canyon that flows into the Sea of Galilee. Here we mix our salt water with sweet water and receive a certificate stating that we walked all the way from the Mediterranean sea to the Sea of Galilee.
(Length of hike: 12.5 miles, easy walk) Over night in a Kibbutz Guesthouse by the Sea of Galilee (FB)
The Negev desert
Accommodation on tours / trips: Camping outdoors, desert inns, or hotels.
The best time for touring the Negev Desert is from November through to April.
People booking tours with us can also take advantage of our very special rates on hotels and domestic flights in Israel.
Our best hotel deals are reserved for tour participants
Read what our clients had to say about their desert experience
For more options of tours in the Negev
Jeep tour options from Jerusalem to the Judean desert
Tour options from Jerusalem to Eilat via the Negev desert
3 days tour of the Ramon Crater area
Dead Sea, Masada and Ein Gedi tours