Passionate about the environment? Tour Israel's nature reserves, learn about farming in harsh conditions and visit sustainable-agriculture communities.
Start your tour in the north, at the Hula Valley Nature Reserve. The reserve has lovely walking trails, including a "floating bridge" over the wetland, and special lookout points where visitors can observe the avian wildlife. In the spring of 1994 another stage in the campaign to restore natural balance in the Hula Valley was completed: the re-flooding of 250 acres now known as Lake Agmon, located approximately two kilometers north of the Hula Nature Reserve. Visitors can visit the re-flooded area to appreciate nature’s powers.
While at the Hula Valley Nature Reserve don’t forget to stop at Oforia, a fun multimedia display that tells the story of the migratory route across the region and the millions of birds that use it.
In the afternoon, continue to Mitzpe Harashim, a small community nestled in the thick forest of Upper Galilee north of the city of Karmiel. Environmental conservation is at the heart of life at Harashim and all development is done with minimal damage to nature. Mitzpe Harashim is part of the trend in Galilee and the Negev toward sustainable tourism to which Israel is committed.
Then, it’s on to Tzefat (Safed), one of the four holy cities in Israel and the home of Lurian mysticism (a branch of Jewish mysticism conceived by the 16th-century Rabbi Isaac Luria). Stroll along the lanes of the Old City and see its many synagogues, as well as its unique artist’s colony.
Continue to Kibbutz Harduf. The kibbutz was established in 1982 by a group of young people and families who wanted to create a community based on the anthroposophist ideology. The kibbutz has since developed an exemplary educational system, a large organic food industry and a very special relationship with its Israeli Arab neighbors.
Continue to the Mediterranean coast.
Overnight in the Acre area.
Begin your day with a tour of Acre, a historic walled port-city with continuous settlement beginning in the Phoenician period. The remains of the Crusader town, dating from 1104 to 1291, lie almost intact both above and below today's street level, providing an exceptional picture of the layout and structures of the capital of the medieval Crusader kingdom, along with touches of the Ottoman fortified market town Acre was during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Explore the Knights Halls, the Al-Jazaar Mosque, the bathhouse with its multi-media display, and the new ethnic museum, built right into the rooms of the old wall.
Travel across Mount Carmel and the beautiful Beit Oren Valley down to Caesarea, Herod’s port city and the Roman administrative capital in the region. Enjoy a walk through the impressive remains and a visit to the ancient aqueduct that on a beautiful stretch of Mediterranean beach.
Proceed to Yarkon National Park, a clean, green vista in the greater Tel Aviv area. Yarkon National Park has two main attractions: Tel Afek (the Roman Antipatris) and its Ottoman-period fortress, overlooking the springs of the Yarkon River; and the area around the sources of the Yarkon River, which boasts a wealth of flora and fauna. The municipal segment of the Yarkon Park in the heart of Tel Aviv is its main urban nature attraction, where you will meet Tel Avivians bike-riding, jogging, strolling and picnicking, especially in the late afternoon.
Overnight in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
Making an early start to tour Jerusalem, enter the Old City via Dung Gate to visit the Western Wall, sacred to the Jewish People as the last remnant of the Second Temple.
Cross the valley up to the Jewish Quarter and enter the Herodian Mansions, aristocratic dwellings, possibly of priestly families who served in the Temple. See evidence of First Temple times at the Broad Wall as well as the Late Roman Cardo and the medieval synagogues.
Continue to the Christian Quarter and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and end the day wandering through the Old City markets, steeping yourself in its sights, sounds and aromas, and try your hand at hunting and bargaining for treasures.
In the late afternoon, walk through downtown Jerusalem to Mahane Yehuda, the produce market of the Capital. Enjoy coffee and local dishes at one of the coffee bars or restaurants and take in the sights and aromas of Jerusalem.
Or visit the Biblical Zoo, which takes part in international programs for conservation of endangered species as well as showing off its remarkable collection of animals to the public in a lovely setting.
In the evening, drive through the New City, to enjoy a view of its monuments beautifully illuminated: The Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book (open Tuesdays until 9:00 P.M.), the Supreme Court and the Knesset.
Overnight in Jerusalem.
Leave Jerusalem and drive to the Dead Sea. Stop at Qumran and view the archaeological remains of the community that once lived here, The Essenes, according to ancient records, were excellent farmers, spending their free time studying the Bible and meditating.
Proceed to the Ein Gedi oasis where you can walk along the trails of Nahal David to a refreshing waterfall. Visit Kibbutz Ein Gedi’s botanical garden, with trees and plants from tropical and other regions around the world.
Ascend to Massada by cable-car to explore the fortress that was the scene of the epic stand by Jewish rebels at the end of the Great Revolt against Rome nearly 2,000 years ago. The new museum at the visitor’s center reveals the secrets of daily life of the rebels, the story of the excavations, and how the site became one of Israel’s most important symbols.
End the day with a health treatment and a dip in the saltiest, lowest body of water in the world. Spend the night at one of the fine hotels along the shores of the Dead Sea, or chose a simple close-to-nature overnight experience also offered in the Dead Sea area.
From the Dead Sea, it is about 1.5 hours by car to Jerusalem and 1.5 hours to Tel Aviv.