Touring Israel? Take a day trip to the Western Galilee

This week we will focus specifically on the Western Galilee, where no matter how many times you visit, you will always find something to do.

 A mountain challenge (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
A mountain challenge
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)

Hard to believe but the holidays are already behind us, the children are back in school (tfu tfu tfu), and you can again enjoy the wonders of nature without encountering crowds at every corner.

This is also the time to try to escape for a day or for the weekend – just before it gets cold – and indulge in the views of the Galilee. Our country is blessed with beautiful places, but there is something in the Galilee that always attracts travelers who are looking for the total package – beautiful views, central tourist sites, local food, a bit of art and, of course, a bit of a challenge.

This week we will focus specifically on the Western Galilee, where no matter how many times you visit, you will always find something to do. If you’ve been to the Namer and Keshet Caves, Nahal Kziv and Yehiam Fort, here are some more options that you can enjoy.

1. Yehiam: Mosaic and sculpture studio

In recent years, we have seen more and more day or weekend travelers fit in a short visit to a gallery. There is almost no need to expand on the connection between the world of nature and the world of art, and I am happy to see that an increasing number of travelers are making this connection and including a little of the local art as part of their trip.

 Yehiam: Mosaic and sculpture studio (credit: MEITAL SHARABI) Yehiam: Mosaic and sculpture studio (credit: MEITAL SHARABI)

Throughout the North, and of course in the Galilee, there are many artists who create artwork inspired by the local landscape. Dalit Ben Shalom, a mosaic artist from Kfar Vradim and owner of a studio in Kibbutz Yehiam, is one of those people.

Many know the connection between Yehiam and fine deli, but not many know that in the past, members of the kibbutz grew tobacco. Today, the studio where Ben Shalom has been creating for 21 years is located in a space that was previously used as a room for drying tobacco. In her space – rich in colors and materials such as mirror pieces, ceramics and sculptures – she presents some of her works and leads creative workshops.

Her main works are displayed mainly in public areas. If you walk around Yehiam or the area of the deli factory, you can see some of them because these days she is working on a special project that reviews the life of the kibbutz from the days of its establishment until the present.

Price: If you go to the studio, you can take part in a two- to three-hour workshop, where you can create a personal piece of mosaic, which you can take home. The workshop costs (by prior arrangement) NIS 150 per person, including materials for and light refreshments. In addition, Ben Shalom does a “tour and story” at a cost of NIS 15, which includes a tour of the studio and a recounting of her personal story.Reservations: 052-322-4431

2. A mountain challenge

Traveling with children or still feel like a child yourself? At the edge of the Western Galilee is the Mountain Challenge Park. The park, located in Kibbutz Sasa, is situated on a beautiful grove and has a natural terrain route that makes it perfect for adventure sports.

The park is suitable for almost everyone, provided you don’t have a problem disconnecting from the ground for a few hours. There are activities here for everyone – from age three and up. It all depends on the level of challenge you like.

There is a variety of age-adjusted rope courses (at different heights), a climbing wall, zip lines and more. 

Broadly speaking, the park is divided into three areas. The first one has a low ropes course suitable for three- to six-year olds, and they can spend an hour or more on it. But this is not a place to leave  the kids and sit happily with a coffee on the sidelines. Throughout the route, the children require supervision and sometimes help.

There is a medium route that is suitable for ages six to nine. It is already more exciting from a challenging point of view and even higher. The third one is for nine-year-olds and older, where you feel really far from the ground.

In addition, the park has the super fun Top Track. It includes five zip lines between the trees and rope courses. You can take one of the routes and combine a climbing wall and zip line. 

If you leave all this activity hungry, you can hop over to the Burger Mountain food truck and enjoy a tasty snack.

Price: NIS 90-110 for one route and a zip line. Top Track – NIS 50. Zip line – NIS 20Registration advised: 050-306-9922 or at etgarbahar.com

3. Tupelo

Even those addicted to gluten are guaranteed to fall in love.

I went to the Tupleo cafe and bakery a little skeptical. It is very difficult to convince a carbohydrate lover to go all the way to Tarshiha for a coffee shop when every square meter in the center of the country has a coffee shop popping up, especially when it comes to one that prides itself on gluten-free cuisine. But to my great joy, Tupelo was worth every kilometer.

Tupelo was founded by Vered Baer and her husband, Murad Bishara, at the height of the pandemic. Both have an interesting story. Vered was born on Kibbutz Gesher Haziv and immigrated with her parents to the US as a toddler. She returned to the North and met Murad, originally from Tarshiha, who worked with her at the Adelina restaurant on Kibbutz Kabri.

Vered, whose sister has dealt with celiac for more than 20 years, always dreamed of opening a bakery where she could serve delicacies even to those who avoided gluten. Although she did not imagine how things would unfold, she says she always loved to cook and bake and always tried to find solutions for her sister in the kitchen.

Over the years, Vered was exposed to more ingredients suitable for gluten-free baking. When she worked as a sous-chef at Adelina, she perfected her knowledge of gluten-free cuisine. Together with Murad, they decided to follow their dream, and the result is a bakery with a café in the center of the ancient village of Tarshiha.

In November, the bakery will celebrate its second anniversary, and the couple is not holding back. They are currently expanding their operating area and enlarging the café so that visitors can sit comfortably over coffee and pastries. 

On the menu is a variety of vegan sourdough breads, muffins, great quiches, lemon cakes, vegan pizzas, salads, sandwiches and more.

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.Details: 072-397-0966

4. Hadarale

Stability in the world of restaurants is not a common thing and certainly not when talking about the periphery, so we were happy to discover that the old Hadarale restaurant in Ma’alot-Tarshiha still proudly holds the title of a successful chef’s restaurant.

If you are a seasoned traveler, you probably remember the old restaurant that overlooks Montfort Lake. This is a kosher chef’s restaurant established in 2005 by Sivan and Hadar Amsalem, a couple who dreamed of bringing quality cuisine to the Western Galilee. 

In their early years, they followed a strict French-style cuisine, but today they flow more in the direction of Israeli fusion. Which means there is a strictness to quality ingredients while trying to work with local farmers and suppliers. There are excellent cuts of meat, fresh fish, and vegetarian dishes, as well as dishes adapted for those with celiac disease (the establishment is registered with the Celiac Association). The person in charge of the menu is Sivan, a chef who studied at Cordon Bleu, among other places, and worked in successful kitchens in the greater Tel Aviv area.

The menu is very varied. You can even go for the option of a shared meal for two, which includes freshly baked bread, a garden salad, roasted eggplant with Asian flavors, a main course, dessert and lemonade. 

Location: Ma’alot-Tarshiha, Montfort Lake. Hours: Sunday-Thursday 12-10 p.m., Friday 12-3 p.m.Details: (04) 957-1831

Translated by Tzvi Joffre.