Things that you see and feel at night under the sky, such as the stars above and crickets around, you cannot experience in a hotel room (not to mention the price).
The Nature and Parks Authority have recognized the need for tourists to sleep outdoors in a tent, booth, or even a sleeping bag, and have prepared more than twenty campgrounds next to the national parks and nature reserves. The price for a night is NIS 40 a person, and it entitles you to a discount to the sites and reserves next to the campgrounds. Organized groups and schools receive an additional discount.
Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve
The reserve in the heart of the Golan Heights is shaped like an outstretched hand, with the palm being the Beit Zaida Valley. Each “finger” crosses a river with rushing water and waterfalls. The ground gently slopes from a height of 400 meters above sea level to 100 meters below sea level.
A forest sprawls across 20,000 dunams of the reserve, with the Mount Tabor Oak the most common tree in the forest. A wealth of plants and a savanna of jujubes and pistachios grow between the trees. There are many wild animals in the reserve: wild boar, jackals, red fox, Syrian hyrax, porcupines and wolves. Birds of prey, such as kestrels, falcons, eagles, Egyptian vultures, vultures and a variety of songbirds, fly above them.
The five rivers that stream through the reserve - Meshoshim, Zavitan, Yehudiya, Gamla, and Daliyot - create impressive canyons and waterfalls in the basalt rocks. Many of the rivers have color-coded walking trails and there are different levels of difficulty - some of them are for serious walkers. There are some areas for rock climbing that requires an experienced guide.
The reserve campground includes a night stay, parking during the day, restrooms, water, snack bar, and picnic tables. There is also an information center and the opportunity to arrange a rock climbing session. Tel: 04-6963043.
Hurshat Tal National Park
240 Mount Tabor Oaks and dozens of other ancient Atlantic Terebinths create the Hurshat Tal. A national park was established around the trees with shaded grounds, a swimming pool that receives its water from the Tal River, and water slides. You can relax in the shade of the trees, catch a fish in the pond, and have a picnic.
A 250-dunam parking lot for the night. Photo: Laam
Alongside the well-tended garden there is a campground, which sprawls over 250 dunams and has camping equipment and supplies. There are tents spread across the grassy areas and bungalows that can fit four people (NIS 50 a person). The site also has a snack bar, showers, and first aid equipment. Sites of interest nearby include: Birya Forest, Hula pond, Hatzor and Ein Tina. Tel: 04-6942440.
Ahziv National Park
The campgrounds of Ahziv beach are set up five kilometers north of Nahariya, along a rocky coast embayed with lagoons and natural pools. In addition to the natural pools, there is a deep pool and a shallow pool suitable for children, surrounded by grassy lawns.
From the beach you can spot small islands poking through the water - they are the remains of a sandstone ridge which in the past were part of the land. In the summer, seagulls nest on the islands, and turtles lay their eggs on the beach. The remains of the ancient city of Ahziv are preserved in the park.
Tents with mattresses are set up around the campground, next to the restrooms, showers with hot water, a snack bar, restaurant, picnic tables and first aid station. Sites of interest nearby include: Montfort Fortress, Yehiam Fortress, and the caves of Rosh Hanikra. Tel: 04-9823263.
Harod Spring National Park
The Harod Spring bursts out of a cave on the side of the Gilboa and streams through the grassy national park. The cave, from which the spring derives, is called Gideon’s cave, based on a story from the book of Judges where Gideon tested his soldiers with the water.
Hankin’s Museum stands on the slope above the spring; it portrays Joshua Hankin’s life’s work of purchasing land in Israel. There is an exhibit with photographs and a documentary film. Hankin carved a small cave next to his house, where he is buried alongside his wife, Olga. The two pillars near the grave are similar to burial caves from the Mishnaic and Talmudic periods. From the courtyard of the house, you can look out over the valley and the hills of the lower Galilee.
The campground has a large swimming pool, lifeguards, picnic tables, a playground, sports fields, and an overnight camping site with hot showers. The site also has an amphitheater where various shows are performed on warm summer nights. Sites of interest nearby: An observation post over the valley near Hankin’s grave, Sachne-Gan Hashlosha, Beit She'an antiquities, the ancient synagogue at Beit Alfa. Tel: 04-6532211.
Mishmar Hacarmel Ranch
The ranch was reopened this year after a long process of restoring the ancient khan on the grounds. The site, which was originally called Chirbat Sha’allah, has undergone many metamorphoses and is known as the Carmel forests and the old pine house.
The building was established at the end of the 19th century as a house and farm for the local effendi, and in 1934 the engineer Yosef Levi who intended to build a large city there purchased the land. In the end a worker’s camp called Mishmar HaCarmel was built there.
Surrounded by foot paths. Photo:Danni Yitzhaki
With the outbreak of the riots of 1936, the place became a fortified camp with a watchtower in the center. During the restoration process, the original building, which served the first settlers, was restored, and a campground was erected nearby for the area’s tourists.
The ranch has sleeping space for 500 and guest rooms for 40. There are showers, restrooms, a fitted kitchen and picnic tables. The khan is surrounded by forest and there are short, pleasant walking trails with lookouts over the Carmel, Nahal Alon, Nahal Oren, and the Mediterranean Sea. Additional attractions nearby: A wildlife preserve that has vultures brought in from the Gamla cliffs, prehistoric caves, a hiking trail in nahal Oren. Tel: 04-8220005.
A wide-open national park with hiding places and brooks of water. Nahal Kesalon flows through the park next to a large Crusader building. During the Crusader period, the main spring was dubbed Aqua Bella, Latin for “beautiful water”, a name that was given to the entire area.
A spacious national park with quaint hideaways. Ein Hemed
The Crusader building is a two-story fortified farmhouse. An archway in the northern wall leads to the central courtyard. Parts of an olive press, which served the inhabitant’s, remain. There are steps in the yard to the second floor.
A path has recently been put in leading to the nearby burial caves from the Second Temple period. There is a campground with picnic tables, walking trails, a playground, water, restrooms and showers. Sites of interest nearby: Tel Gezer, Hamasrek reserve, Tzova, and the Castel fortress. Tel: 02-53442741.
Many tourists visit Masada, which was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2001. Many ambitious tourists begin the climb up the snake path before dawn in order to see the sun rise over Masada.
There is a campground next to the multimedia presentation. The campground includes tents and accommodations, and there are also grounds for erecting private tents. The site also has restrooms, showers, cooking areas and barbecues. You may hold events and group activities there as well. Sites of interest nearby: The Qumran caves, Nahal David, and the Ein Gedi waterfalls. Tel: 08-9959333.
Mamshit is identified as the Nabatean city of Memphis and sprawls over 40 dunams. The city has undergone an impressive restoration, and there are two churches there. The western church, called The Nile Church has a mosaic floor with colorful geometric patterns, birds, a fruit basket and five dedications in Greek.
The campground at the site has tents with mattresses, caravans for large groups, restrooms, water, hot showers, a snack bar, and restaurant and picnic tables. Sites of interest nearby: the Yerucham Iris nature reserve, Mamshit farm. Tel: 08-6556478.