The nature oriented holidays trend has seen more and more people exchanging their motor vehicles for bicycles as a form of transport and for recreation.

In addition, more people are hiking and taking walking holidays in the varied topography of Israel.

The government of Israel and the Israel Nature and Park Authority are promoting nature holidays including camping.

It all started at the end of 2007 when the INPA initiated a national program to encourage holidays in nature by building a network of camping sites throughout Israel. The program was approved by the government on March 30, 2008, and an inter-ministerial committee was set up to promote this issue with representatives from the ministries of Tourism, Environmental Protection and Agriculture, in addition to representatives of the KKL, the INPA, University of Haifa and other bodies involved in natural issues. This committee meets twice a year to develop means to implement the program.

Today there are 102 camping sites in Israel belonging to the Keren Kayemet, the INPA, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and private operators. They are located throughout Israel in a variety of places of exceptional natural beauty near the sea, in green forests, in cool dry hilly areas as well as in the deserts of the arid regions of the south.

From these camping sites one can explore the surrounding area by foot, bicycle or four-wheel drive, enjoy unforgettable magical moments, beautiful sunsets, and spectacular landscapes.

Accommodations and facilities are varied. Some camp sites offer accommodation in tents of various sizes or bungalow type huts. In other sites, the visitors bring their own tents, sleep under the stars or park a caravan.

Most sites have electricity, running water, showers and other washing facilities as well as toilets, and some offer cooking facilities and meals.

The following are a few of the options available: Mamshit Located near the city of Dimona in the Mamshit National Park.

Mamshit is the site of a Nabatean city of that name and the campground tries to recreate the Nabatean experience of a desert people who developed ingenious agricultural techniques which made the desert flower 2,000 years ago. .

Accommodation offered: a large tent which can sleep up to 150 people, tents with accommodation for up to eight sleepers and a number of huts subdivided into rooms of up to four beds each.

Facilities: communal latrines, wash rooms and communal kitchens with cooking facilities, refrigerators and freezers. Meals are only served if ordered in advance.

The Silk Route Camp Located in the Eastern Negev on the ancient silk road which stretched from China in the East to the old Philistine ports of Gaza, Ashdod and Ashkelon in the west. On these roads caravans carried silks and spices from China and central Asia to the Mediterranean ports to be transported to Europe. The last western lap, today’s Jordan, to the Mediterranean was administered by the Nabateans. The campsite serves Bedouin type meals.

Ashkelon Campsite Located in the Ashkelon National Park along the Mediterranean Sea, this is a truly rustic campground offering only the basics, namely picnic tables and benches, barbecue facilities and running water taps. One may sleep under the stars or bring a tent.

Gan Hashlosha Gan Hashlosha, popularly known as the Scahne, is one of Israel’s beauty spots for swimming with a natural flowing stream that forms into a number of pools and a water fall. This campground offers only the basic facilities namely picnic tables and benches, barbecue facilities and running water taps. Here also, one sleeps under the stars or brings a tent.

Yehiam Campground Located in the vicinity of Kibbutz Yehiam in the north, near the remains of an old Crusader fortified manor house, this campground does not offer sleeping facilities so one may sleep in the open or bring a tent. Nevertheless there are good infrastructural facilities including electricity, running water and latrines

For more information go to: www.campingil.org.il

This article was made possible with the help of Israel Ministry of Tourism, www.go-israel.gov.il

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