An all-terrain-vehicle adventure doesn't have to be scary, but it does have to be fun.
By OFER ZEMACH
With growing levels of stress and an increased need for challenge, adventure travel is becoming wildly popular among Israelis. In fact, a whole industry of adventure travel companies has popped up, catering to urban thrill seekers.
If you're the type who likes to spice up your vacation and add a little excitement to your normal family outings, then try something a little different this time: an adventure getaway on all-terrain vehicles that should be fun for everyone.
The word "adventure" conjures different ideas and images for everyone. But fear not - what some may consider adventurous may not be as thrilling for others. Bear in mind that you don't have to be an adrenaline junkie or thrill seeker to enjoy an adventure getaway - you can cater your trip to your liking.
All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are considered by many to provide an outdoor experience like no other. These roaring little machines allow for trail riding and exploring in many secluded areas that are a bit out of the way. So if you don't mind getting a little muddy, an ATV ride will reward you with some great memories.
Our family is not new to ATV-ing, and on our latest excursion we headed north to Moshav Netua in the Western Galilee for an hour ride organized by Attraction ATV Tours.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by our guide, Hezi, a young guy with a big smile who lives in Netua and owns Attraction with his cousin Roy, who also lives in the area.
Hezi and Roy had recently begun their ATV business, which caters mostly to people vacationing at the many guest houses in the region.
Hezi gave us our required helmets and a brief lesson on the operation of the ATVs. Even if you're not familiar with these vehicles, you figure out pretty quickly that an ATV is relatively easy to drive - as long as you have a strong right thumb!
Really, to make them go, you press a lever with your right thumb, and to brake, there is a lever on the left handlebar (like a bicycle brake).
The bikes are user friendly, and everybody gets detailed instructions and practice on the spot before starting the tour.
The varied landscape of the Galilee is crisscrossed with hundreds of trails for every taste and temperament, each path revealing different treasures of the area.
We started off on an asphalt road, passing by the chicken coops and houses of Moshav Netua. "Here, you can get used to the throttle button and work on your driving skills," said Hezi.
And after a little practice, we started going pretty fast. Hezi was always in the lead, but he nearly stood as he drove, keeping an eye behind him to make sure we were okay.
Once off the main road, we started to zigzag along the dusty trail of Nahal Betzet, one of the main watercourses of the Galilee. Crossing through mud puddles and wet areas with water that reached higher than the ATV's footrests, we got our shoes and clothes stained as the water splashed up and around the wheels. Along the trail we stopped a few times at scenic spots to take pictures and enjoy some refreshments provided by our guide.
The tour combined a great experience of off-road driving (or off-road riding for those sitting comfortably on the back of the bike) with the opportunity to learn about the area.
What made the tour particularly special was being able to reach the most hidden spots on the trails, surrounded solely by the beauty of nature.
Attraction offers a variety of tours in the area, and one can choose between short, medium-length or long trails; the company even runs a night tour - perfect for a romantic adventure. For the true thrill seekers among you, a challenging adrenaline-filled tour is also on offer.
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