Oh comfort, enough is enough

Those who only rejoice in sunshine, have never danced in the rain.  –E. Sprang

We are all in search of comfort. Simple physical comfort. Within a set temperature range and in a specific environment and while feeling satiated and not too tired and of course surrounded by familiarity and no unforeseeable changes in the horizon we feel comfortable, cozy, content. We are perpetually driven to seek this state of being and of course from the simple need to survive, we must constantly make at least some effort in this direction. But look around, we have narrowed and tweaked our comfort zone to the point where it is constrictive and restraining.

When it is just slightly too hot for our preference we waste not a moment to crank up the AC. Too chilly, we once again lunge for the thermostat and voila we are back at optimum temperature. Belly beginning to rumble? Quick! Let’s get some food in the s(Jul 16, 2014 05-47 AM)SAMSUNG GT-I9300(3264x2448).JPEGystem, there are no shortage of food choices around, anything to make that hunger go away. Too quiet in the room? No problem, hit the playlist that best suits your desired mood, and bye bye awful silence.  Too dark outside underneath the night sky? With a quick flick of the finger our world is illuminated with LED brilliance that makes it feel like the sun is at the top of its curve, pheww.

Got the idea? We are so blessed to have this ability, this gift of ubiquitous comfort which is almost always immediately accessible. What generations ago was not even imaginable for the royalty and certainly not for the common-folk, has become for us our default reality. So much to be thankful for, endless reasons to be grateful. So how come we are not all smiles? Well, maybe this reality comes with a heavy price tag. As the parameters for our comfort become increasingly more specific we inevitably become increasingly  limited and bounded by those same parameters.  Our status quo becomes fragile and our search for constant comfort actual make us vulnerable and prone to disappointment.

Adventuring helps us regain perspective and once again broaden the arena within which we can feel at ease. When the options are limited, we learn to find comfort with what we have, and not seek out in vain that which we do not have. In any circumstance, we will still be pre-programmed to establish the maximum comfort possible but by intentionally placing ourselves in an environment that is by definition less manipulable, we are unveiling opportunities to create comfort and not just seek it.

Imagine yourself heading off to the woods for a short stretch of time, taking along only what you can carry in your pack. Your new home is also your new teacher. In this home you will see that when the evening settles in and a chill breeze moves the air, you may be surprised that you can maintain a clear level of comfort despite actually feeling a bit cooler than usual. As the trees around you become shrouded in darkness, the flickering light being thrown upon the forest from the dancing flames of your campfire is amazingly comforting, even while you may be feeling nervous about what is lurking out there. Your stomach may be less full than it is after an all-you-can-eat dinner at the local steakhouse but the slight lingering appetite that follows you to bed may be a welcomed change from our decadence, that shift in appreciation is deeply comforting.

By venturing into nature and leaving behind some of our standard trappings, we will face discomforts. By learning how to react to these changes we gain the skills to create comfort in the areas of our life that are difficult, and we all have them. Just as in the woods, you cannot escape everything you do not love nor can you consistently find all those things you do love, so too in life. Nature becomes our training grounds for our day-to-day world, our backpacking journey called life. It is in nature that we can learn to accept what is, and then adapt. We learn to be comfortable in a world that is unpredictable and marked with times that can feel harsh. An adventurer learns to find pleasure in the quiet and cozy areas that are in between. An adventurer draws comfort from the thrill and beauty that he or she is immersed in, because of the physical comforts that are lacking.  When we strip away the distractions created by a perpetual search for feeling good, we come upon the breathtaking views of our potential and a fresh perspective of our lives.

 

 

Ariel Fishman runs Adventure Israel, an action-packed adventure travel provider specializing in rappelling, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, caving, and camping trips. ODT workshops and camping gear rental are also available. All trips are safe, fun, and empowering, and the intensity of the adventure is decided by you. From extreme expeditions to super-relaxed family trips, Adventure Israel’s staff are here so you can enjoy and challenge yourself like never before. Ariel can be reached at 058-536-4938. For pictures and more trip options visit www.adventure-israel.com.

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Rustic Camping in Israel

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Waking up covered in mosquito bites, sore from head to toe from enduring a night’s (lack of) sleep directly on the ground, only to then face the unthinkable, greeting a new day with the very noticeable lack of flush toilets.  This is what often flurries into our imagination when considering camping in the great outdoors. These images are shortly followed by the thoughts of a luxury zimmer or five-star hotel. Anyone who has planned a family vacation has had these conflicting thoughts and nine times out of ten, the indoor sleeping options reign supreme.  However, it does not need to be this way. You are not necessarily doomed to 15 hours of unbearable hardship, or as I have heard said “cruel and unusual punishment”, when deciding to pitch that tent.

 

With the right planning, sacrificing five-stars for five-million stars spread across the canvas of the night’s sky, will grant you an activity that is enriching, invigorating, and deeply connective. The fresh air, breathtaking views, heartwarming sunsets, and the tranquility of being in nature are the backdrop to an experience that is uniquely bonding and even transformative for your family. Combine a great overnight site with some nearby adventure options and your family vacation enters the realm of epic. Choosing the right location, bringing the proper gear, and enlisting a good attitude are the prerequisites for a successful campout.  

 

Let’s start with locations, in Israel you have forests, fields, mountains, and deserts all within a reasonable drive. Depending on the time of year, some regions are better than others.  In the summer, heading north is the optimal choice, for spring and fall our local sites are great, and in the winter, the Negev is the place to be. Here are three sites that although rustic (and free) they are accessible by car.  

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Park Adamit– This KKL forest is adjacent to Kibbutz Adamit, approximately twenty minutes from Rosh Hanikra. The park is perched on the mountain tops that line the northern border and affords gorgeous views of the entire Galil and the Mediterranean Sea. With many dirt roads branching off of the park access road, you are bound to find a quiet corner to set-up camp. The main parking area has running water and bathrooms that open at 8AM everyday, picnic tables, and gazebos.  The hard-to-beat highlight of this park is the  famous Keshet Cave which is only a five minute walk on a paved trail from the parking area. From here you can opt for an exciting 35 meter rappel off the natural stone arch or miles of hiking trails that hug the ridgeline.

 

Posh Camping Alternative: If you prefer an official campground, for a small fee you can spend the night at the Achziv National Park which is on the cove-filled coast just north of Nahariya. Gated camping area, grassy tent-sites, hot showers, and a kiosk are available for your comfort.

 

Mitspeh Masua– Only ten minutes from Bet Shemesh is a lovely camping area that is guaranteed to please. With views to the west of the coastal plane and to the east of the hills of Gush Etzion you will enjoy a sunset and a sunrise right from your tent.  Picnic tables, campfire pits, running water, and bathrooms (sorry, not flush toilets but better than an outhouse) are all situated within a short walk of the prominent stone fire tower and viewing platform. Mitspeh Masua is on the Israel trail and from here you can hike to the well known Midras Ruins and Bar Kochba tunnels. Bike rentals are available too in nearby Tzafririm at Nekudat Motsa. Looking for a nearby swimming hole, a short drive down to Route 35 and you can hop into the cool waters of Breichat Tzan. Bet you never knew we had so much so close to home!

 

Posh Camping Alternative: Yishi Country in Moshav Yishi now offers luxury campsites in a lovely gated area with grassy knolls, electrical outlets, water faucets, and a private pool.

 

Machtesh Ramon– When the rest of the world is ploughing through its daily grind, getting a night out in the desert for is an oasis for the mind. Route 40 descends from Mitspeh Ramon directly into the center of the giant machtesh. About ten kilometers after leaving the city you will see signs for Chan Beerot on your left. After turning here, you have a six kilometer bumpy (but drivable) dirt road to a campsite that looks about as unassuming as a stone, in fact, that is all there is,  just a circle of stones delineating the camping area from the vast and expansive desert beyond. Why camp here? This spot is secluded, serene, and absolutely quiet with the clearest skies you will see anywhere in Israel with the walls of the machtesh rising up around you like a giant cradle. Nearby is Har Ardon, a challenging hike with spectacular views the entire way. You can arrange a jeep pick-up from Har Ardon’s base for a 4×4 tour of the area, or head back to town for rappelling and mountain biking.

 

Posh Camping Alternative: Not that this option is actually posh, but compared to the stone circle mentioned above this location is Beverly Hills. Chan Beerot is a campground just a bit farther down the same dirt road and clearly signed. Here you will find shaded picnic areas, showers, bathrooms, and mattresses/sleeping bags for rent.

 

Now that you are armed with some good locations, what do you need to pack? There are the obvious things like a tent and sleeping bag but be sure to include the following to make your night pleasant.

 

– Camp mattress, even a thin styrofoam pad makes a big difference

– Good flashlights, walking into a cactus at 3AM is not an experience you

  want to discover

– Bug spray, a priceless commodity when sleeping outside

– Plenty of food and water, no need to be hungry, thirsty, or dirty for the

 duration of your trip

– Matches or lighter, enjoying family-time around a safe campfire is unforgettable

– Light sweater, the evenings are often cool, and even the posh options listed above

 do not have climate control units

– Deck of cards or other packable games, kids will love playing games in their

 tent before bedtime

– If you can, do not pack techie gadgets, leave some of the phones behind!

 

As far as attitude, the right expectations are pivotal to an enjoyable experience. Yes, being outdoors overnight has its challenges. Yes, you will be giving up many of the comforts and gadgets we are so dependant on. Yes, setting up a tent for the first time may have you wondering how you passed kindergarten and do not be surprised when the only thing that gets properly cooked in your BBQ is your fingertips. But here you have the opportunity to lead by example and teach your children that stepping out of our comfort zone is fun because it is challenging. Try to tap into the depth of the camping experience and look beyond the rocks and bugs to see how natural it is for humans to be in nature. Enjoy leaving the confines of our usual four-walls to be part of an open air wonderland of new sensations. Watch your kids’ curiosity and creativity blossom as they explore and discover the simple things around them. Shed the distractions of the fast-paced culture we are forced into, just for a day, and you will be changed. Sometimes getting outside is the best way to see what is inside. Get out there!
Ariel Fishman runs Adventure Israel, an action-packed adventure travel provider specializing in rappelling, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, caving, and camping trips. ODT workshops and camping gear rental are also available. All trips are safe, fun, and empowering, and the intensity of the adventure is decided by you. From extreme expeditions to super-relaxed family trips, Adventure Israel’s staff are here so you can enjoy and challenge yourself like never before. Ariel can be reached at 058-536-4938. For pictures and more trip options visit www.adventure-israel.com.

Breaking Fears, Adventure Israel Style

To Rappel or Not to Rappel that is the Question

Harnessing fear to propel you towards success

www.adventure-israel.com

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Leaning back in your harness above a gaping void and a 50 meter drop to terra firma leaves you with precisely three options.

Option one:  You look down fearfully to the cliff’s base, which inevitably creates that shaky-knee queasy feeling. You then look back at your rappelling guide with eyes that scream “What have you done to me?”. Your pulse becomes increasingly loud inside your head, and you begin to question your resolve. The image of sitting in your quiet air-conditioned living room comfortably on a couch with a good book surfaces in your mind and is quickly juxtaposed to the image of your present predicament. At this moment, you do what any life-valuing individual would do and lunge back towards your guide and call it quits.

        As you return to the safety and comfort of the solid ground far from the cliff’s edge, you immediately begin to wiggle out of your harness and unbuckle your helmet, those woeful reminders of what was just about to happen, and within seconds your heart and mind begin return to normal. Abandoning ship has never felt so good, at least for the time being. But have no fear, quitting always has a way of catching up. As you backtrack your way towards the end of the day, you will likely be joined by thoughts that say “You could have done that” or “You should have done that” or “Look how everyone else is having so much fun doing it”. Was it worth it? That’s a question only which only you can answer.

On a scale from one to ten, (ten being ideal, one being, well, a total fail) I would venture that Option One ranks in at about a Three.

Option two: This scenario makes Option one look like a walk in the park, and only happens with incompetent guides. You have waited till the end of the day to do the unthinkable, you have watched everyone else in your group take the plunge. Each time you wondered “How are they going down that cliff with this rope?”. You have conjured up a million reasons why you will absolutely not go down, but the instructor will not have it. The day is late, and your only way to the car is via a 55 meter stretch of twisted nylon. Now its your turn, your time to shine has come. Welcome our good friend Fear, or better yet, mind-gripping terror, as you visualize leaning back onto the rope and beginning the descent. As you peer over the edge your heart rate starts to soar. Your harness is on, helmet secure, and your guide smiles apathetically as he tells you that “This is nothing, you will love it!”. You slowly move backwards, clutching the rope till your knuckles turn white. As you continue, your composure diminishes in direct proportion to the distance remaining between your feet and the abyss. Tears begin to well up in your eyes (for all the men in the crowd, more males go through this stage than females). You feel as though some outside forces are possessing you to continue, those forces are the setting sun and an impatient guide. You refuse to move, the guide refuses your refusal. Your tears become sobs, then pleas for mercy, then all out wailing. But the drama has little effect,  your guide lowers you down the cliff face, kicking and screaming the entire way.

    At the bottom, your feet touch the floor, and you try to regain a sense of stability. Like waking up from a nightmare, you are not sure what just happened, all you know is that it was not pleasant. From this moment, your fear of anything steeper than a staircase can give you flashbacks of your experience with Option Two.

Overall ranking: I would give it a solid Zero.

Option Three: Relative to the previous two options, Option Three is in many ways much more difficult, but it is well worth it. Put yourself back in the harness hotseat. Same trepidation, same nervousness creeping in. However, this time something is different. You have decided to look at Fear straight in the eyes with a fierce determination to get down the cliff, on your terms, at your speed, and at will. With your feet planted firmly on the ground at the lip of the cliff, you look down, breath, focus, and move forward.

       You have turned Fear from an obstacle into a motivator, you have accepted the challenge to embrace your fear and have it work for you, instead letting the fear embrace you. As you rappel, you begin to realize how much hype and exaggeration all that worry was. Those ominous and scary thoughts are now minimized and put into a healthy perspective. Of course, this is easier said than done. Anyone who has been through this process knows exactly how much focus and commitment it takes to do what logically you know you can do, but emotionally you feel you cannot. It takes courage and strength to step well out of your comfort zone and into an area that, until now, has been an unknown. But it is possible, and that is what matters, everyday, people do this and reap the rewards. Like anything else worthwhile, the price you pay reflects the quality of what you gain. With this option, when your feet touch the ground, a euphoric rush of accomplishment and success take over. Not only have you reached your destination in the safest fashion you have saved yourself from many unpleasant feelings (see Option One and Two) and more importantly you have acquired a new tool for the future.

Overall rating: a perfect 10.

I have seen all of the three options listed above played out in real life, in real places, with real people. I have seen people quit just before success and regret thereafter, I have also seen people pushed to take the ropes down in tears and terror, never to try again. Thankfully, I have also seen countless moments of triumph.  

 

Not long ago, I was guiding a school rappelling trip which included some of the teachers. One of the teachers present was a middle-aged married women who came along with her class. She waited till about two thirds of the group had descended and, with a slight hesitation, asked if she could be next on the ropes. As she was clipped in, it was clear that she was not a big fan of heights and that she was already beyond her comfort zone just knowing she was on deck. She asked for instructions on how to rappel, took a quick glance down to the bottom, flashed a nervous smile to some of the students, and took a deep breath. As I explained the basics to her, I could see she was determined to do, what was in her mind, the impossible. She was focused on her goal, she trusted the gear, the guide, and most importantly herself, and nothing was going to stand in her way.  Off she went, each step took calculated effort, acute focus, and sincere determination. Within a few moments, she reach the bottom of the cliff and was greeted by an explosion of applause by her students. But more important than their recognition of her accomplishment was her own assessment of the transformation she had just undergone. She had culled from within herself the perseverance and fortitude to conquer a challenge through harnessing the fear. This was a mile-marker for her and she will carry it with her wherever she goes.

 

Now, this is not about the ropes, the cliff, the view, or your family tiyul. This is not about thrill-seeking adrenaline junkies taking unnecessary risks. This is about you and your ability to push beyond the limits that hold you back. This is about making discomfort, fear, uncertainty, or difficulty an implement instead of an impediment. This is about recognizing the priceless value of making a conscious decision and a concerted effort towards achieving whatever goal that has been eluding you until now.  The rock, the rope, the harness, and the helmet are merely an effective vehicle that make this process accessible to all. Are you ready for the challenge?

 

Ariel Fishman runs Adventure Israel, an action-packed adventure travel provider that fuses all of its trips with powerful and transformative coaching. Rappelling, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, caving, and survival trips are available, as well as, ODT workshops, corporate programs, and adventure therapy. All trips are safe, fun, and empowering, and the intensity of the adventure and the coaching is decided by you. From extreme expeditions to super-relaxed family trips, Adventure Israel’s staff are here so you can enjoy and challenge yourself like never before. Ariel can be reached at 058-536-4938. For pictures and more trip options visit www.adventure-israel.com.

 

Adventures in Israel, Rappelling in Israel, Abseiling in Israel, Hiking in Israel, Caving in Israel, Rock Climbing in Israel, Extreme Israel Trips, ODT Israel, IDF Training Events, Surivival in Israel, Outdoor Events, Ethnic Cooking, Team-building Games, Challenge Fundraisers in Israel, Extreme tours in Israel. Adventure Travel in Israel, Exploring Israel, Camping in Israel.

Super Adventures in Israel

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Discover Two of the Most Challenging Trips in Israel

Now that the winter is behind us, let the good times roll. While we are at it, lets push past our usual trips into the world of super-adventures. The trips described below are NOT YOUR AVERAGE TIYUL. These adventures are extremely challenging and require more time, energy, and focus than your standard ‘family trip’. They are suitable for those eager to join the special forces or those who are just gluttons for punishment, aka extreme hikers. They are well worth the reward and each step will be enjoyed if the trip is done safely and with the proper preparation. The following description is by no means a substitute for a guide or an experienced leader.  A guided trip will ensure a safe and worry-free trip for your group. Contact Ariel at Adventure Israel for specific information and advice. Remember to check the weather for rain or heat warnings before you head out.

Chatzatzon to Darga

Approx. Distance: 16 KM

Approx. Time: 9 hours

Region: Midbar Yehudah

Starting Point: Mitzpeh Shalem (14 KM north of Ein Gedi)

End Point: At crossing of Nachal Darga and Route 90

Things to bring: Hat, 5 liters of water, food for the day, sunblock, bathing suit, dry case (for keys and cell phone), 30 meter rope.

NOTE: Nachal Darga is a canyon hike that is regulated by the Park Service. Groups cannot enter the canyon after 10 AM, as such, Chatzatzon, the first leg of the hike must be started by 7:30 AM. Additionally, if there is even the slightest chance of rain in Jerusalem, Hebron, or the Dead Sea area this hike must be avoided due to flash-flood concerns. These are not mere suggestions, ignoring the rules is illegal and will compromise your safety. Still interested? Read below…

Darga is not for the faint of heart. This is an adventurer’s dream trip which includes hiking, sliding, swimming, climbing, and loads of magnificent views. Begin at entrance gate to Mitzpeh Shalem, look for the blue trail which runs parallel to the perimeter fence of the yishuv from west to east. Trail starts with a short gentle climb towards a water tower that quickly transitions into a steep and rocky hike along the ridge line. As you ascend, keep your eyes peeled for the painted trail markers to avoid losing the route. The views begin within the first 15 minutes of the climb and get progressively better as you ascend. The Moav Mountains of Jordan, the Dead Sea, and the Arava plain are all in sight. Continue on the blue trail until you summit at a flat expansive area with breathtaking views and a clear visual of everything you just finished climbing.

From here, look for a red trail heading off towards the northwest (towards Jerusalem) which will bring you to Nachal Darga. This trail is relatively flat for two kilometers and then drops precipitously into the valley below. Continue descending on the red trail for approximately one kilometer until it intersects the blue trail at the canyon floor.

This is the beginning of Nachal Darga. This would be a good place to don your bathing suits and pack away anything that needs to be kept dry. From here on in, you will be obligated to enter pools of water, some are shallow, others are deep and require swimming, all are fun and challenging!  The blue trail continues meandering for approximately six kilometers through the slot canyon, some parts require a rope to guide your descent into a pool of water or a dry basin. (Look for the steel bolts that are anchored into the rock in the areas that require a rope.) As you hike, climb, slide, and swim your way along this trail you will encounter multiple locations where metal rungs or hewn hand/foot holds are there to assist you. Always pay close attention your footing and grip to ensure your safety. Follow the trail to its terminus at Route 90. From here you can walk back the two kilometers to your car which is just south of you in Mitzpeh Shalem or hitch, chances are by now a hitch will be rather appealing. Once you are back at your car, look up towards the top of Chatzaton, which you climbed many hours earlier, and enjoy your enormous accomplishment.

Ein Akev/Hod Akev

Approx. Distance: 20 KM

Approx. Time: 9 hours

Region: Machtesh Hagadol

Starting Point: First Parking area on access road to Ein Ovdat (near Midreshet Ben Gurion)

End Point: Same as above

Things to bring: Hat, 5 liters of water, food for the day, sunblock, bathing suit, towel, flashlight (just in case).

NOTE: This trip is regulated by the Park Service. Entrance to the Ein Ovdat Reserve requires a payment at the gate. The Park Service restricts hikers in the region to daylight hours only. There is minimal shade so make sure to wear a hat and sunblock. Additionally, the rangers stop all foot traffic to the spring (Ein Akev) after 2 PM so be sure to plan accordingly so you can get your swim in.  This mega-hike will take you along the south-western rim of Machtesh HaGadol and down into an oasis with a fresh cold spring in which you can swim and relax. From there you can head back home or if you are feeling super-charged you can ascend Hod Akev, a distinctive peak jutting out of the crater basin.

Begin hike at green trail which heads steeply up the ridgeline immediately south of the parking area. (This steep climb will be your only serious uphill until after your swim in Ein Akev.) Once you reach the height of land, continue on the green trail is it heads to your left (east) skirting the rim of the crater. Enjoy the views of the massive crater beneath your feet and the open desert plateau to your right. About a kilometer and half after cresting the ridge, you will come across a small bedouin village (looks more like a sprinkling of random fabric across a moonscape) with a tent standing adjacent to the trail. This is a good spot to cool off and get out of the sun, and if she is around, you can meet Rebbetzin Bedouin who will quickly offer you (or force on you) hot tea and fresh pitas, for a charge. Once you hit the trail again, enjoy the gentle terrain, soon you will be amazed by the rim-walk you will encounter. Be extra careful to stay to the right side of the trail, do not approach the cliff edge, as a rule of thumb: always enjoy the view, do not become part of it. Shortly after the rim-walk, the trail descends abruptly to Ein Akev (not to be confused with Ein Akev Elyon which is a few kilometers to the south). Continue to junction with blue trail and follow sign to the spring which is about three minutes away. Enjoy your lunch alongside this rarity of lush green flora and a perennial stream running through the middle of a vast desert. Hop into Ein Akev to cool down and splash around but be aware the water is cold and the rocks are slippery. (This wonderful place reminds me of what I have learned through years of adventuring and now share regularly with those who join me: Never give up on a swimming hole, no matter how cold you fear it may be, you will never regret having gone in. Chilly maybe, perhaps even frigid, but you will always come out with a smile and a worthwhile experience.)

If you are able to leave the spring, believe me it ain’t easy, follow the blue trail which runs along the flowing water until a junction a few minutes downstream. You now need to decide your route for the return trip. If you have had enough and would like to take the short route home (approximately 6 kilometers of flat terrain), you need to stay left at this junction. If you are prepared physically and mentally for a grueling climb and then a long haul out, then follow the signs to the right, red trail, towards Hod Akev. Summit after two and a half kilometers. Check out the incredible sights and realize that you are standing on top of a very uniquely shaped peak with commanding views of a giant crater. From here continue across the very flat peak along the red trail then begin descent. After two kilometers you will hit a dirt road with green markers, turn left here. Hike for about one kilometer until blue trail and stay left to follow the blue trail for approximately two kilometers where you will hit the red trail which will bring you back to your car after a mere five kilometers. Whhheeeew, your done! Great job! Go get yourself an espresso for the ride home.

 

Ariel Fishman runs Adventure Israel, an action-packed adventure travel provider specializing in rappelling, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, caving, and survival trips. ODT workshops, corporate programs, and adventure therapy are also available. All trips are safe, fun, and empowering, and the intensity of the adventure is decided by you. From extreme expeditions to super-relaxed family trips, Adventure Israel’s staff are here so you can enjoy and challenge yourself like never before. Ariel can be reached at 058-536-4938. For pictures and more trip options visit http://www.adventure-israel.com.HERE1014858_10151655752359684_1536705526_o

Go North My Friends

 

As the summer heat swoops into Israel, the need for cooler adventure sites and activities becomes relevant. The north of Israel is loaded with flowing streams, crystal clear springs, shaded valleys, breezy mountain tops, and miles of coastline. So pack up your camping gear, swim wear, and your sense of adventure and hop onto Route 6 as you bee-line to family friendly fun and excitement in the Galil.

Here we will highlight some of the best spots.

Nachal Kziv is a family-friendly water hike that can be done from Park Goren, just south of Israel’s northern border.  Beginning near the observation point for Montfort’s Castle, this trail affords excellent views, challenging terrain, and best of all, plenty of water and swimming holes. The optimal place to swim is at Ein Tamir which is one of the main sources of water in Nachal Kziv. The area surrounding the spring has been eroded over the years in an unusual way which has created bathtub size pockets flowing with crystal clear water. Each person in your family can pick their own natural jacuzzi and enjoy the refreshing dip before the hike back up to your car. For those who do not wish to walk all the way to the spring, there are many other places along the way where you can take a dip. Bring along food and water and get ready to go amphibian in this perennial creek.

Keshet Cave is one of Israel’s most eye-catching natural features. This arch-shaped stone bridge, just to the east of Rosh Hanikra, was created through a carstic erosional process but more interesting than the geologic story of this place is the multitude of legends you can hear from the various tour guides who pass through this site each day. (No two guides here will ever say the same tale.) The stroller accessible path leading from the parking area of Park Idmit leads visitors on a short and scenic stroll to the caves opening which yawns over a panoramic view of the upper Galil. The park is situated right along the border road and is also nearby a friendly Druze village, Al-Aramsha, whose residents have their own legend about the caves formation.

For those looking for more hiking in the area, there is an adventurous trail (that is officially designated for those who have enjoyed a 35 meter rappel off the natural bridge) that is well worth checking out. This trail leads along the cliff edge and then down to the bottom of the cave from where you can continue on to the main road for a pick-up.

Alma Cave also known as the Babylonian Cave is considered to be the cave through which some of the Jews returning from Bavel traveled through to Jerusalem. This 105 meter deep cavern is an exciting way to spend the afternoon while beating the heat. The AC is always on inside the pitch black hole and sunglasses and sunblock will not be needed in here. What you will need is a reliable flashlight and clothing that you are happy to get dirty as you wiggle, climb, and slide your way to the bottom chamber. Parts of this marked underground trail are tight and require physical exertion and it is not a place that you should bring the elderly, pregnant, or faint of heart. The journey down and back up this cave is a journey into your own determination and ability to smile despite the discomforts of the dark and difficult terrain. For those who love a good challenge the Alma Cave is for you.

Yardenit is a baptismal site just at the southern end of the Kineret where the Jordan River begins its flow towards Bet Shean. Unless you happened across this article in your church, I am not suggesting the baptismal site, what I am suggesting is the nameless but awesome area just downstream from Yardenit. Along this two kilometer stretch of flowing fresh water you will find a dozen tarzan swings, tree jumps, and even a pipeline bridge from which you can take the plunge (not the holy one) into the water.  If there is such a thing as a natural waterpark, than this is it. You will also find turtles and aquatic birds, plenty of shaded picnic spots, and if you are feeling lucky, bring along a fishing pole and catch yourself some lunch (or one of your kids if you are not casting carefully). This site is for advanced swimmers only, of course, always check the water before jumping or swinging into it!

You are now ready for one super fun family adventure! Get out, be safe, and have a blast!

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Ariel Fishman runs Adventure Israel, an action-packed adventure travel provider specializing in rappelling, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, caving, and survival trips. ODT workshops, corporate programs, and adventure therapy are also available. All trips are safe, fun, and empowering, and the intensity of the adventure is decided by you. From extreme expeditions to super-relaxed family trips, Adventure Israel’s staff are here so you can enjoy and challenge yourself like never before. Ariel can be reached at 058-536-4938. For pictures and more trip options visit http://www.adventure-israel.com.HERE