For those reading outside the Holy Land ,you might find it unimaginable that people who actually live in Israel like to travel elsewhere when they get the chance. While there are many Hebrew pilgrims heading to Greece, Thailand and Sinai for the Succoth holidays (that’s where I was!) more people than ever are touring the land. Consider that for many religious people, travelling on a plane isn’t an option because of the expense (a family may have 5 or more children plus a father studying in the Heder), and above that it is considered a mitzvah to travel the land of Israel. For this reason during Succoth, one of the pilgrimage festivals that just ended, you will find a wide variety of the Israeli population out and about enjoying cities, enjoying nature.
One of the surprising things you can do during Succoth and just after (right about now) is going on water walks. The weather is getting a tad bit cooler and the water makes trekking extra pleasurable. Here are some new ways to enjoy the post-Succoth days while getting a bit wet. There are my favourite 3 hikes that will get you out in a few new corners of the land.
A water walking trip. With the weather cooling down, but still yet hot enough to want to cool down, try a water walk. While Israel doesn’t seem like an overly abundant wet place, there are some magical streams and rivers that are still trickling before the winter rains replenish. One of my favourite walks was just before Yom Kippur in the north right through a river and while it’s not appropriate for children, you can find plenty of water walks that are safe and fun.
One that we love is near a village called Klil in the Galilee region. The small stream, barely more than a brook is full of water that is actually being artificially piped in to keep the stream alive in the summer. Go to Cafe Klil for breakfast and then ask them about the water walk river and how to get there. It’s great for kids.
Ein Gedi. The Ein Gedi river walk is a classic and it is a well-known walk among Israeli tour guides. Getting there is a destination in itself, all the way to the Dead Sea and even in the hottest times of the year, the Ein Gedi nature reserve is a magical place where your biblical imagination can come to life. There are ways into the park that are off the beaten trail — better to go in with a local, a tour guide (try America Israel Tours, one of my favorites that I recommend to family and friends) if you want a couple of days there) or just pay at the entrance to the park and ask them about the trip up to to the pools of water. You won’t regret it.
This year there have been some scares about what water is safe for tourists to swim in, especially water that originates in the Golan Heights. Due to drought this year some wild boars have been driven closer to the streams for sustenance and some of their urine has passed into the water of some streams causing some health scares. Before you jump into any stream be sure to ask either your guide, who will know where to check on the safety of the water, or consult the entrance of the national park maintaining or monitoring the water. Like in any city or country, you don’t jump in before you know.
If you want to stay closer to bigger bodies of water like the Sea of Galilee, the Mediterranean Sea or the gorgeous Red Sea down in Eilat, look out for flags on the beach and other bathers. A black flag means no swimming, a blue fag means it’s an eco beach. Cluster where the others are swimming and be on the lookout for flags and lifeguards you can speak with first.