Nature and Outdoors


Some places to sing at ... and see!

  • Hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails in the Galilee, Golan Heights, Judean Hills, and Judean and Negev Deserts
  • Ein Gedi, Tel Dan, and the springs and waterfalls of the Banias
  • Cruise on the Sea of Galilee
  • Float on the Dead Sea
  • Kayak down the Jordan River!
  • See some of the 494 species of birds that call Israel home or that annually migrate through it
  • Ski (in winter) on Mt. Hermon
  • Sun and fun on the Med, Red & Dead Seas
  • Swim with the dolphins in the Red Sea
  • Take a jeep tour in the desert wilderness
  • Click here for sample itinerary

An Amazing Place

With thanks to Dani Barkai

Considering its tiny dimensions, it should come as no surprise that Israel is one of the most densely populated and highly urbanized countries in the world. This is especially true when the southern half of the country — which is almost entirely desert — is excluded. What is surprising is the fact that despite its overcrowded conditions, the country still has spectacular stretches of wilderness, a wide variety of ecosystems, and a level of environmental richness and biodiversity far beyond what one would expect to find in such a small space.

The same geographical factors that have placed the country at the historical epicenter of world events and made it the world’s most important geopolitical crossroads — its strategic location on the narrow land bridge linking Eurasia and Africa — have also made it a meeting place for flora and fauna from all over the globe.

Safeguarding these natural treasures is no simple task; among the country's many great challenges, the struggle to protect the environment in the face of rapid population growth and urban development is high on the list. Israel's environmental activists have won some impressive victories in their battles to preserve the country's remaining open spaces, prevent habitat destruction, environmental degradation and pollution, and save endangered and threatened species from the threat of extinction. But the struggle is never-ending.

Just how small is this country? Well, you can look at it this way: according to the International Herald Tribune, the acreage of Brazilian Amazon rain forest destroyed every year is equivalent in size to the entire State of Israel! Or this way: the State of Israel is roughly the size of the State of New Jersey.

Israel’s Natural Facts

  • Israel is a bird-watcher's paradise, with some of the best bird-watching sites in the world. Although it is one of the smallest countries in the world, Israel's Checklist of Birds includes 494 species. Just for comparison, the checklists of the world's two largest countries, Russia and Canada, have 697 and 625 species, respectively. The checklist for the Lower 48 States of the US numbers 908 species - just under twice the size of Israel's - but then we're talking about an area 386 times larger than Israel! The bottom line is this: in just a couple of hours, you can spot a wider variety of birds here than almost anywhere in the world. The bird-watching season in Israel begins in late August and ends in early June. There are birds that spend the winter here, birds that are only here for the summer, birds that pass through during the spring and fall migration seasons, and birds that can be found here all year round.
  • Israel has more extant species of reptiles than all of Europe. Of the roughly 40 species of snakes in Israel, only nine are venomous.
  • At least one representative species of every living genus of amphibian in the world can be found in one particular pond in northern Israel.
  • Israel is one of the few places in the world where northern, Eurasian mammals such as wolves, deer, and badgers can be seen alongside African mammals like leopards, gazelles, and rock hyraxes. Animals such as the Persian fallow deer and Arabian oryx, which had become locally extinct, have now been reintroduced to the wild. The Nubian ibex - once on the verge of local extinction - is abundant today.
  • Three of the world's major vegetational regions come together in Israel: the Mediterranean Forest, the Sahara-Arabian Desert, and the Irano-Turanian semi-desert. Alpine vegetation from the Euro-Siberian region and tropical African savannah vegetation from the Sudanese region can also be found here. All together, it's a fascinating mixture of diverse ecosystems!
  • In late fall, winter, and spring, much of the country is covered with a blanket of green grass bursting with wildflowers in the brightest of colors - yellow, red, white, purple, orange, and blue!

The Harmony of Nature

Very few people come to Israel expecting a tour which is entirely nature-oriented, and with SingIsrael, that's not what you're going to get. After all, music is always a major part of our agenda. But we do think music and nature can be wonderfully blended together. For some of us, there is no better inspiration for the making of great music than the beauty of the natural world in general, and Israel's natural wonders in particular, so showing off Israel's natural side is something SingIsrael just loves to do.

Years ago, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) made the regrettable decision to disband the department that offered off-the-beaten-track tours in languages other than Hebrew, choosing instead to outsource these tours to private contractors. Since then, virtually none of Israel's tour operators have been genuinely specializing in nature-oriented tours and so, in terms of our experience and professionalism in this field, we have very few competitors.

There are countless pristine corners in Israel's rugged countryside that can be visited only by seasoned hikers, and if you're up to it, we'll gladly show you some of them. But there are also plenty of natural beauty spots that are wheelchair-accessible. Just give us a rundown of your group's level of mobility — handicapped, moderate, athletic, you-name-it — and we'll come up with nature activities that are specifically geared to your abilities.

The Great Outdoors

The list of possibilities for nature-oriented activities in Israel — or just good, clean outdoor fun — is virtually endless. Please feel free to come up with ideas of your own. But for starters, here are just a few of the things you can choose to do:

  • Hike or walk along any of Israel's hundreds of well-marked trails that crisscross the country's forests, mountains, seacoasts, and deserts. View the wildlife and wildflowers. If you like, you can choose to do a segment of the Israel Trail, which traverses the entire country from north to south, from the Lebanese border to the Red Sea and Eilat, taking a long, convoluted route designed to expose hikers to Israel's many different ecosystems, as well as a few of its important historical sites.
  • Go swimming, boating, surfing, windsurfing, waterskiing, hang-gliding, parasailing, or just about any beach activity you can think of, off the shores of the Mediterranean or Red Sea. Many of these activities (especially swimming, boating, waterskiing …) can also be enjoyed on the Sea of Galilee. And for kids, there are lots of great water parks to choose from!
  • Drift or paddle peacefully on an inflatable raft or kayak down the Jordan River, or along one of the sources of the Jordan, in the northern Hula Valley. Or if you'd like something less relaxing and more challenging, try whitewater rafting further south, on the mountainous segment of the Jordan closer to the Sea of Galilee.
  • Rent a snorkel and mask, or full scuba gear at Coral Beach (or bring your own equipment) and go diving among magnificent coral reef fishes and dolphins in the Red Sea off the shores of Eilat. Or, if you'd like to visit the coral reef and see the fish without getting wet, you can take the elevator down to the bottom of the shaft of Eilat's Undersea Observatory, and see the critters all around you!
  • Go scuba diving in the Mediterranean and explore the ancient harbor of Caesarea by visiting the world's only genuine undersea archaeological museum!
  • Take a relaxing boat ride or cruise on the Sea of Galilee or the Red Sea.
  • Read a newspaper while you float surrealistically on the surface of the Dead Sea at the lowest point on earth, more than 400 meters (1,200 feet) below sea level! And when you're done, you can relax in one of the many wonderful spas in the area.
  • In winter, enjoy downhill skiing and snowboarding on the slopes of Mt. Hermon, the highest and northernmost point in the country.
  • Go horseback riding or bike riding in the Judean Hills, the Galilee, or Mt. Carmel, or ride a camel in the Judean Desert or in the Negev Desert in southern Israel.
  • Take a jeep tour in the desert wilderness, or ride a jeep that climbs up the western slopes of the Golan Heights from the Hula Valley, stopping to look at the carpets of wildflowers (in winter and spring) in a sensational array of color (see above), or take a refreshing splash in one of the natural springs or streams of the Golan (in late spring, summer, or fall).
  • Go rappelling down a cliff in the hills of Galilee or in the Judean or Negev Deserts.
  • Encounter animals of the Bible in a guided tour of the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo (day tours and night tours available), or Haifa Zoo (day tours only), or visit one of the two Hai-Bar Wildlife Preserves.
  • Take out your binoculars and go bird-watching almost anywhere in the country, and see some feathered creatures you've never seen before. Let's just take the south-central part of the Hula Valley in northern Galilee as an example: in this small area alone, you can bird-watch as you walk along the boardwalk of the Hula Nature Reserve, or you can look at the birds in the Lake Hula Sanctuary as you ride along the 10.5 kilometer (6.5 mile) ring trail on a rented bicycle or golf cart (the terrain is flat and easy!), or, from November to March, you can venture right into the middle of a flock of 30,000 cranes and dozens of pelicans by riding in a bird-blind wagon hitched to a bird-friendly tractor!

Naturally ... Israel!

In Israel, more than anywhere else in the world, exploring the natural landscape can also give you a sense of history and be a profound religious experience. It's something that you just can't get from visiting Israel's modern cities and towns. Tel Aviv is a twentieth-century city. Modern Jerusalem bears absolutely no resemblance to the Biblical capital of Israel, Judah, and Judea. Today's synagogues and churches and mosques can be inspirational, but they weren't in existence 2,000 years ago.

Archaeological sites can be fascinating, but the piles of rocks you see today don't look anything at all like the fabulous Biblical cities that once stood here.* But the preserved and unspoiled stretches of hills, forests, and deserts have remained essentially unchanged since the days when they were the hosts and witnesses to Jesus of Nazareth. And before him, the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Joseph and his brothers; the Prophet Samuel; King David the Conqueror; King Solomon the Wise...

SingIsrael

Join us and view the natural wonders of the Land of Israel, experience the country's physical and spiritual beauty and its earthly pleasures, relive its memories, and hear its music.

*Please note: We are not in any way implying here that a visit to Israel can be complete without including the modern cities, houses of worship, and archaeological sites.

Sample Itinerary

Clicking here will take you to a sample itinerary, showing just some of the sites and sounds you will experience in Israel. After reviewing it, we encourage you to visit our Contact page and begin the no-obligation process to discover just how accessible and affordable a visit to the Holy Land truly is. We look forward to helping you experience the most incredible journey of your life. Thank you for choosing SingIsrael.

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Contents Copyright © 2006-2013 by SingIsrael, Kfar Yona, Israel