Incredible night tours

When the sun sets and a cool breeze begins to blow, this is the time to lace up your shoes and get out into nature. Here is a list of top sunset and nighttime summer tours.

The sun sets over the sea of Galilee (photo credit: KINNERET AUTHORITY)
The sun sets over the sea of Galilee
(photo credit: KINNERET AUTHORITY)
It’s so hot outside these days that even the most seasoned travelers sometimes prefer sitting inside next to the air conditioning. It’s not even August yet and already it’s hard to spend the entire day outside unless part of it is spent in the vicinity of water or shady areas. But if natural pools of water are not your cup of tea, I have the perfect solution for you: night tours. When the sun sets and a cool breeze begins to blow, this is the time to lace up your shoes and get out into nature. Here is a list of my absolute favorite sunset and nighttime summer tours.
Moonlit romance
During the summer vacation, the many beaches around the Kinneret fill up with families and young people who flock to the area for fun water outings. As a result, many couples prefer to steer clear of the hustle and bustle on these hot days. But have no fear – there is an easy moonlit circular tour around the Kinneret that provides for a very romantic evening. The walk begins at the parking area at Tzemah Junction, and after just a few minutes, you’ll pass the Kinneret Cemetery where famous individuals are buried, such as Rahel the Poet. From there, the tour continues along the coast of the Kinneret, to Tel Beit Yerah, where artifacts of an ancient settlement from the Bronze Age were discovered. And as Naomi Shemer sings, the trail continues along eucalyptus trees, a bridge, a boat and of course the gorgeous Kinneret.
The walk is 3.5 kilometers long and takes about two hours.
Starting point: The parking area at Tzemah Junction.
Night tour at Menara Cliff
The Menara Cliff has some fantastic plans for this sizzling summer – including a few exclusive nights in August during which the site will be open for special night activities. So what's in store for visitors at Menara Cliff? A ride on the country's longest cable car, which has been upgraded with decorative air vents for special summer fun; mountain sledding that has been especially outfitted to keep you cool on hot summer nights; bungee trampolines and campfires at 900 meters above sea level overlooking the Hula Valley, the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon.
Nighttime activity dates: August 16, 18, 23 and 25.
Rides will operate until 9 p.m. on these days.
Directions: Route 90, between Rosh Pina and Kiryat Shmona.
Family tours in the forest
The Carmelim Tourism Association is holding evening tours in the pastoral Carmel area. The tours, which are fun for families with kids, take visitors through the forest, which is full of oak and terebinth trees. The guided tour will take you to a hidden spring where you can wade in the water, and along the way, actors will appear who will act out different characters. If you’re adventurous and would like to sleep out in nature, you can join a two-day trek in the Carmel Forest that includes a campfire and stories until late in the night.
Night tours will take place on the first three Thursdays of the month: August 4, 11, and 18 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The two-day trek will take place August 28 to 29.
Details: (04) 984-1114.
Movie night at Ramat Hanadiv
The beautiful landscapes at Ramat Hanadiv are a great place to visit during the day, but at night they are so much more fun. Every Wednesday during August, the public is invited to enjoy the spectacular sunset, the cool breeze and the entertaining activities. The central event will be a theatrical show called Carnival at the Zoo, which will include amazing pedaling on bicycles that will create alternative energy, games and arts and crafts on the lawn made from recycled materials, drawing workshops, circus games and giant puppets. In addition, a movie will be screened using solar energy.
Price: NIS 10 per person. All activities are included in entrance fee, except for the drawing workshop.
Wednesdays, from 6 to 9:30 p.m.
Details: (04) 629-8111.
Stars and wishes at Timna Park
For the seventh year in a row, Timna Park in the southern Negev is preparing an evening of meteor watching on August 11 from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. This year, visitors will be able to look at the sky through a 50-cm. diameter telescope. During guided tours, visitors will have a chance to look at planets, stars and galaxies through 20 different telescopes and hear mythological stories about stars. Children can touch models of the solar system and learn about the zodiac, constellations and the difference between astrology and astronomy. At midnight, all the lights will be turned off so that everyone can enjoy the beautiful night sky.
Price: NIS 69 per person (from age 3).
Hours: 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Buses to event (for a fee) will leave from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem at 3:30 p.m. For details and to sign up: Tourism in the Arava: 1-800-225-007.
Mitzpe Ramon and the stars
If you don’t have time to drive so far to the south, Mitzpe Ramon is another popular location for star gazers and astronomy lovers. On August 11, the night between Thursday and Friday, there will be a complete blackout in Mitzpe Ramon making shooting stars fully visible.
One huge mobile telescope, along with dozens of smaller ones will be set up in the Mitzpe Ramon soccer field for guests to use. Visitors are welcome to spread out their blankets and mats on the ground and enjoy the night sky, as desert music plays in the background.
Location: Mitzpe Ramon soccer stadium. Free entry.
Date: Thursday, August 11, from 8 p.m. until the wee hours of the night.
Details: (08) 868-1635.
Night of fairy tales
During July and August, the Jerusalem Botanical Garden is inviting the public to participate in a fascinating night outing in its Discovery Trail. As the sun sets, the Garden turns into a magical place full of sounds, stories, games and activities. There will be characters from famous fairy tales and special lighting will illuminate the trees with “fireflies.” Each guest will receive a riddle and map upon entry, and children can have their picture taken or play hide and seek with the fairy tale characters.
Price: NIS 45 per person; family ticket: NIS 190 (couple + 3 kids).
Appropriate for ages 3 to 12.
Open Sunday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Kif Tzuba at night
Now that the temperature outside is climbing, this is the perfect time to go at night to Kif Tzuba in the Jerusalem Hills. Kids and adults alike are invited to take part in a sunset hike with lanterns to the ancient wine press, where visitors will hear stories about how wine was made in ancient times. Then the tour will continue on to the Tzuba vineyards where you'll be able to pick ripe grapes right off the vine and eat them, breathe in the scents of the greenery, and enjoy scrumptious cookies and tea at the Palmah memorial statue. In addition, every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the month of August, Kif Tzuba will stay open late until 9 p.m. The tours are 75 minutes and will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:15 and 8:15, by reservation only.
Reservations can be made on the website or at 054-563-7952.
To participate in the tour, guests (from age 5) must pay an additional NIS 30. Guests who arrive after 6 p.m. will only need to pay NIS 60 total for entrance plus tour (from age 1½).
Crazy night at the zoo
Have you ever dreamed of accidentally (or on purpose) getting locked overnight in the zoo so you could see what all the amazing animals do at night? Well, if so, then your dream has come true. During July and August, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is offering a range of sunset and night tours, in which visitors will get to see animals in action at night and experience the zoo in a completely different way than they could during the day.
There’s a 12-hour Sleep at the Zoo Tour, which lasts until the morning.
Participants bring sleeping bags and sleep near the rhinos, elephants and lemurs. If that's a little too extreme for you, then you might prefer the Sunset Tour, which begins just as the air begins to cool.
To register for a tour: (02) 675-0116.
Price: NIS 58. Overnight tour: NIS 149.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.