Even if you don’t live in Tel Aviv, it must by now have become glaringly
obvious that cycling is fast becoming the most popular form of physical fitness and fun activity. While tens of thou- sands of Tel Avivians bike – to work,
to the store and to the beach – on a daily basis, and there has been an increase
in cycling volumes even in hilly Jerusalem, more and more of us are getting out
and about, outside the urban domain, on our two-wheelers – of both the mountain
and road varieties – in our leisure time as well.
This has naturally
generated infrastructure-related ventures, including enabling mountain bikers
to traverse the entire length of the country, along the Israel Bike Trail, in
complete safety and relative com- fort. Planning and research work on the trail
began several years ago. When com- plete, the route will stretch some 1,100 km.,
from the Golan Heights to Eilat. Thus far, five sections are in use, stretching
northward for almost 200 km. from Eilat to Paran in the Arava.
provides plenty of eye-catching scenery en route, and the 35 km. Moa- Paran
segment offers bikers a beautiful view of the Wadi Paran estuary – the largest
dry riverbed in the country – and winds its way through the towering Telem Eshet
Cliffs. Like all the existing and planned sections – the IBT will be divided
into 25 day-long segments – users will have all their needs met after a hard
day’s cycling, from food and accommodation to water and bike maintenance
The IBT project is being developed with a host of partner
organizations, such as the Israel Ministry of Tourism, Israel Government Tourist
Cooperation, The Nature and Parks Authority, the Israel Cycling Federation and
the Prime Minister’s Office. And the government appears to be putting its money
where its mouth is. Government Resolution 3368, from August 30, 2008, calls
for a budget of NIS 100 million to be allocated to developing cycling
infrastructures nationwide. A Tourism Ministry steering committee document, from
January of this year, indicates that the government-sanctioned budget will be
boosted by a further NIS 65m., which will go toward developing cycling
infrastructures, maintenance, cycling field centers in the Negev, education
and advocacy, as well as activities designed to boost cycling
The region around Mitzpe Ramon, with its spectacular scenery
through and near the Ramon Crater, has become a major draw for mountain cyclists
from all over the country, and accommodation facilities that specialize in
catering to cyclists have opened there. The iBike Hotel offers comfortable
accommodation, along with a range of activities, including cycling, work- shops
organized group bike trips for people of all ages and levels of fitness, and
plenty of information about trails, beauty spots and places of historical
For more information: 052-436-7878 and www.ibike.co.il.
Farther to the southeast, the Cycle Inn, at Moshav Neot Hakikar, not far from
the Dead Sea, offers B&B accommodation, with rooms for three, four and five
peo- ple, as well as mountain bike rentals and plenty of advice about worthwhile
routes in the environs.
For more information: (08) 655-2828; 052-
899-1146 and www.cycle-inn.co.il
As the Israel Bike Trail has started snaking
its way northwards from Eilat, the Arava has become a magnet for mountain
bikers, and accommodation facilities have begun to proliferate in the area. The
Ma’ayan Bamidbar rustic hosting facility at Kibbutz Yahel, 65 km. north of
Eilat, offers family rooms, as well as accommodation for couples and groups of
four, and there are bicycle and accessory rentals and transportation to and from
the cycle trails.
For more information: (08) 635-7967/8.
Samar, 30 km. north of Eilat, has become a popular hub of cycling activity in
recent years. The kibbutz’s Samar Bike Hotel offers facilities for groups of
eight and more, and the hotel staff tailors cycling routes to suit the size of
the groups, the members’ experience and level of fitness. Accommodation is
provided in five three-bed rooms, and meals are provided in the kibbutz dining
room or at outdoor barbecues.
For more information: 052-551-8904 and
But the South does not have a monopoly on cycling. The
HooHa Cyclists’ House is considered to be the country’s first cycling-specific
accommodation facility. HooHa, located at Kfar Tavor in the Galilee, provides an
excellent vantage point for following road routes and trails across the
Galilee and the nearby valleys. The hotel offers a range of mountain and road
bicycles for rent, for all levels of experience. Accommodation is available for
various degrees of privacy and budgets, from rooms for two or three people,
larger units that sleep eight to ten 10, and a luxury suite for a cou- ple. The
hotel courtyard has a swimming pool and a Jacuzzi, and there is bicycle storage
and facilities for bike cleaning and maintenance.
For more information:
077-708-0524 and 054-807-0524.
Elsewhere in the North, there is a
delightful trail from the Golan Heights, near the Ram Pool, that traverses the
Hula Valley and Nahal Sa’ar to the banks of the fast-flowing waters of Banyas.
Beit Keshet Forest, in the Lower Galilee, has plenty to offer mountain bikers,
while those looking for a leisurely day out on their two-wheelers can enjoy a
trundle around the Hula Lake, where at this time of year there are many
migrating birds to be observed.
For more information: www.gogalil.org
recent years, the region around Beit Shemesh has proven to be one of the
country’s most popular cycling areas, with numerous mountain bike trails on
offer with varying degrees of difficulty. On weekends, hundreds of
cyclists ride in from Jerusalem or bring their bikes by car from Tel Aviv and
farther afield to ride through the Eila Valley or Beit
Guvrin. Experienced road cyclists will, no doubt, appreciate the ascents
from the Beit Shemesh area up through the Jerusalem Hills. These include the
climb up the Eila Valley road, the tougher six-km. ascent from Beit Shemesh,
from Route 3855 up to the turnoff to the Stalactite Cave or the most challenging
and beautiful climb in the area, from Moshav Eshtaol past Ramat Raziel to
Kibbutz Tzora and the Sataf National Park. The Bar Bahar restau- rant and
information center, between Moshav Ness Harim and Moshav Bar- Giora, is a
popular stopping point for road and off-road cyclists alike.
This time of
the year in particular affords cyclists comfortable weather conditions and the
inestimable added value of mil- lions of flowers and blossoming trees around the
This article was made possible with the help of the Israel
Ministry of Tourism, www.go- israel.gov.il.