Night-time is the right time at the Kinneret

After sundown on Thursdays, go and take advantage of the romantic and historic spots open till dawn.

kinneret tiberias 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
kinneret tiberias 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The dog days of summer are here. Only the brave (or heat resistant) few are willing to venture outside while the sun is shining, unless they find themselves in some pool of water or another. But on the other hand, it's vacation time; when better to take advantage of the myriad recreational activities this country has to offer? The Jordan Valley Regional Council has come up with a way to help us take in the great outdoors - without subjecting us to harmful UV rays. The Kinneret White Nights Festival, happening Thursdays from July 24 to August 14, provides access to all kinds of tourist spots in the Kinneret area while the moon shines. Restaurants, jeep tours, historical sites, art galleries, spas and more will be open throughout the night during the festival, with options that will appeal to everyone from the kindergartner to his grandma. Romantic packages for two abound, as well. Come up for the night and go home with the sunrise, or stay over: guest houses and hotels are participating, or you can just camp out on the shore of the Kinneret. And don't forget to look up: the stars out here are magnificent. FOR ADVENTUROUS FOLK Three different companies are offering nighttime jeeping excursions. The drivers know the Golan's hills like the backs of their hands, and they'll take you rambling around to spot whatever animals are prowling around with the aid of a powerful spotlight or two: There are jackals, deer, wild boars, chameleons, foxes and spiders - and who knows what else? Look for the glint in their eyes. Jeep Trip will arrange for a midnight cookout along with the 4x4 adventure, including pita and za'atar or a full chicken meal. Call 050-400-0779 or 050-404-0535 to make reservations. The company is based in Had Nes in the Golan Heights. Meanwhile, Palgei Bazelet will include a bonfire and a kumzitz for those who need a little time to unwind amid all the bouncing around. Call 054-232-5206 or (04) 673-4855 to reach the Ramot-based tours in the Golan Heights. Another option comes from Jimmy Jeep, which will pick you up from the promenade at Kibbutz Ein Gev. Grab a cup of coffee and climb on board to discover the cliffs, slopes and wadis of the region like you've never seen them. Information is available at 052-254-3323 or (04) 665-8008. Like the idea of an outdoor tour, but not so pleased with the prospect of burning more gas? Merkavot Hayarden is offering starlit horse-drawn wagon rides, complete with lanterns to find your way to the wadi so you can set up a kumzitz with guitars, slap some pitot in the taboon and sing your heart out. The tours are two hours. Meet up at the entrance to Kibbutz Kinneret. Call 052-370-1662. And if you prefer to motor along at your own speed, there are options around the Kinneret and Jordan River for canoe trips, kayaking and treasure hunts by night. FOR HISTORY BUFFS Hatzar Kinneret, located at the entrance to Kibbutz Kinneret, was established in 1908 in order to train Jewish workers in the ways of agriculture and permanent settlement. While the surrounding lands changed hands, the courtyard remained a way station for various garinim that passed through. Many central figures in Israeli history lived at there, including A.D. Gordon, the poet Rahel, Berl Katznelson and Zalman Shazar. During the White Nights, you can visit the old buildings through the light of the books, journals and poems written there in the last 100 years - and enjoy the ever-popular kumzitz. The tour is three hours. (04) 670-9117. If you're getting into the pioneering spirit, you may want to stop by the Naharayim Experience to visit the old water plant; or Old Gesher, which is full of pioneers' stories and an old bunker, along with a historic bakery; Beit Gordon, named for the first Zionist ecologist who lived there, offers a look into the natural side of Israel; Bayit Shafriri offers Naomi Shemer-themed sing-alongs and tours; and there are plenty of stories to hear at the Kinneret cemetery. FOR ANIMAL LOVERS At Kibbutz Beit Zera, just south of the Tzemah junction, an unexpected zoo hides away. During the white nights festival, Jungle Kef is inviting visitors to witness nocturnal animals in their active hours. The other animals won't be able to sleep through the excitement either. Check out the porcupines, snakes, birds, monkeys and giant turtles, then relax by a campfire with songs and baked potatoes. Tours start at 9 p.m. Call 054-676-9404 or (04) 677-5063. You can also join a guided tour to see birds and mammals at night, learn about their night vision and highly sensitive hearing. Watermelon, corn, grapes and hot drinks are provided. The tour leaves from Beit Gordon at 9 p.m. Sign up at 052-374-9178. FOR THE ARTSY TYPE At Grandpa Yossi's Carpentry Shop, Yossi (a film teacher) and his wife Yochi (an artist) created a toy workshop where parents and children assemble wooden toys and take home the finished products. Storytellers will give you insights about the location at Kibbutz Ein Gev. 054-565-8821 or 054-565-8829. Speaking of storytellers, Me and my Grandma is a one-woman play, in Hebrew, about Nitzan's quest to become an actress and follow in the footsteps of her grandmother; it's held in a refurbished dining hall at Hatzar Kinneret. (04) 670-9117. If that's not creative enough for you, the art galleries at Kibbutz Ginossar and Ein Gev will be open through the night, too. FOR THE ROMANTICS On a hill overlooking the Kinneret, Vered Hagalil offers the perfect date with an indulgent meal at the restaurant and spa packages at Karov L'Teva across the road. Dip into a Jacuzzi under the stars and unwind with massage treatments, or go horseback riding through the Golan under the moonlit sky and grab that bite after. (04) 693-5785. Love is also in the air at Merkaz Noga, where you can go night swimming with the one you love while quiet music plays in the background. Nibble on wine, watermelon, cheese, coffee and cookies. There are also options for massages and other treatments at the Ma'aleh Gamla locale. 054-247-4124. FOR THE HUNGRY At Ugata, Dudi is offering baking workshops at night for couples, plus dinner for two. Or you can combine the cookery with the Tze'elon spa at Kibbutz Ha'on, indulging in an oil bath, couples' massages and sauna before learning to prepare the ultimate dessert at Ugata, followed by dinner for two. Or just come with the family and learn about how desserts are made, grab a bite in the café, or wait till the sun comes up and have breakfast. Kosher. 052-266-5835. If you prefer your midnight snack to include something heavier, eat at Ein Gev, where the Bistro Bar offers South American grilled flavors on the boardwalk at the edge of the Kinneret while salsa grooves out of the DJ's speakers. Not kosher. (04) 665-8037. But if you're more locally minded, walk along the edge of the water to reach the Fish Restaurant, where you can grab a cup of wine for free with your Kinneret-bred tilapia. Kosher. (04) 665-8008. Other edible ideas are available at Galita, where you can have yourself a chocolate experience; at Marinado, where meat meets alcohol and music; at Bengali Humous under the ficus trees; and at Tamar Bakfar, where dates, spices and Galilee delicacies reign. As if all that isn't enough, the festival offers night swimming, night movies under the sky, more spas, tours, ice cream and farming experiences. Many of the participating establishments are joining forces so you can combine a few experiences into one, like a jeep tour that takes you out to see wildlife, then makes a stop so you can check out the secret life of bees; or a chocolate-making workshop for the whole family at Galita followed by a trip to Jungle Kef at Beit Zera to see the live versions of the animals the kids just fashioned out of chocolate. All activities should be coordinated in advance. More information is available on-line: or