Camping in Israel

Sleeping on the ground during Passover has become a rite of passage.

Israelis camping in the Carmel forest. Photo by Alana Perino/Flash90.

Israelis camping in the Carmel forest. Photo by Alana Perino/Flash90.

The holiday of Passover marks the unofficial beginning of camping season in Israel. In truth, with great weather year-round and umpteen nature options at your beck and call, sleeping outdoors is a favorite pastime throughout the year.

But during the Passover holiday – when schools are closed – families head out en masse to be at one with nature. There are rustic options and VIP campgrounds (with cooking facilities, hot water and electricity); organized camping areas at nature reserves and off-the-beaten path sites; car camping options and survivalist alternatives.  

This year, the beautiful weather lured Israelis outdoors to record highs, with more than 300,000 people packing the country’s forests, national parks and nature reserves on the first of the intermediate days of Passover. Parks officials even had to close access to the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) when some 50,000 vacationers crowded onto the beaches. Campgrounds at Sachne 

Sleeping on the ground is not the most comfortable of experiences. Having to share a pristine nature spot with others (often louder) seeking the same spot is irritating.

Yet, camping around Israel can be magical, thanks to the country’s amazing topography and geography. And it’s why the decision to leave one’s comfortable bed for an under-the-stars night out is only getting more popular.

Camping in the desert offers magnificent views and hiking options. Pitching a tent in the Upper Galilee is usually combined with swimming or rafting down the Jordan River. Set up camp in the Golan Heights and set off for early-morning hikes or visits to national parks in the area. Beach camping along the coast or around the Sea of Galilee is also a favored option. Snuggling into a sleeping bag in Eilat gives easy access to the marine life of the Red Sea.

Basic safety guidelines are all that is needed when going to sleep outdoors in Israel. There are no lions or bears wandering about, but there are snakes and scorpions.

“We are not surprised by the demand for camping which has become a hot trend not only in Israel but also around the world. Today’s tourist sleeps in luxury hotels and enjoys a few nights camping in nature. Israel is a classic camping location, with excellent weather,” says Tourism Minister Director-General Amir Halevy.

So, while Passover reminds us of the Exodus from Egypt, there’s no better way to really feel part of the story than to pack up half your home and set out on a camping adventure somewhere around the country. Of course, the Israelites had to schlep everything on their backs, but in modern-day Israel it’s all about joining the traffic of other cars so loaded with gear that nobody can see out the back window.

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About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.