Getting back to nature: 8 best places to camp in Israel
Spend the night among Israel's most beautiful landscapes.
Israel has amazing natural diversity and a wide network of trails and national parks make it easy to see all of the small country's natural beauty.
Camping is truly one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Israeli nature. Campsites can be found all along the 600-mile Israel National Trail and in many of the best national parks and nature reserves. You could pitch a tent next to the waves of the Mediterranean or beside the fresh waters of the Sea of Galilee, or you could trek through the desert and spend the night in a traditional Bedouin camp. Here are eight camping destinations in Israel where you can really get back to nature.
1. Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee (Photo: Lara65/Shutterstock)
The Sea of Galilee, which is actually a freshwater lake, features some of the best scenery in all of Israel. If you want to camp in just one place in this country, the shores of this lake are your best option. There is certainly a lot here: beaches, forests, mountains, hot springs and even ancient ruins. The town of Hamat Gader, a couple miles from the lake, boasts a bird sanctuary, hot springs and ancient ruins. Boating and hiking are also popular activities. Most of the camping options are found on the eastern shores of Galilee. For example, the resort town of Ein Gev offers camping on Sussita Beach, a family-friendly place shaded by groves of eucalyptus trees.
2. Hula Valley
Cranes soar through the Hula Valley. (Photo: Yuval Shoshan/Flickr)
The Hula Valley sits in Northern Israel. Lake Hula once dominated the valley, but it was drained in the 1950s to stop the spread of malarial mosquitoes. In the 1990s, parts of the area were flooded again, creating a lake and wetland habitat that is now home to the Hula Valley Nature Reserve. Millions of migrating birds pass through Hula's wetlands each year, mostly in the spring and fall. Because of the abundance of water, including many natural springs, this region is important agriculturally. Tourists have discovered the Hula Valley, and its hotels, hostels and resorts now make it possible to visit without carrying a tent. Hurshat Tal National Park, in the northern section of the valley, has campgrounds and cabins for visitors who want to totally surround themselves with the unique landscapes and abundant bird life.
3. Mount Tabor
Mount Tabor. (Photo: Yosefer/Shutterstock)
Mount Tabor is one of the most popular attractions in Israel. Mentions of it in history date back more than 3,000 years. The peak, which sits at just under 2,000 feet above sea level, features several historic structures, some dating back to before the 13th century. The summit can be reached via a network of trails and the views from the top are tremendous. Now green, the slopes of Tabor were once barren. The pines that cover the mountain today were planted as part of a major reforestation effort. Alongside the history and nature of Tabor, modern excitement can also be found. Paragliders take off from the mountain, and there are 4x4 trails in addition to its hiking paths. Campgrounds can be found in the nearby farming community of Sdemot Dvorah. There are even rental tents here if you do not have your own.
Camping near Eilat on the Red Sea. (Photo: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock)
Eilat sits along the shores of the Red Sea and is known as a place for water sports, spas, resorts and shopping. But many people who camp here are trying to avoid the tourist scene and focus on the area's nature. For others, sleeping in a tent is a way to give their wallet a rest for a night or two. Eilat has several campgrounds. For visitors who want to be close to the water, the Eilat Field School sits right across from the Coral Reef Nature Reserve. The Yotveta Hi Bar Nature Reserve offers campers a chance to sleep under the stars and also come face to face with rare animals that populate the desert. Those who want a more secluded experience can head out to the Be'erot Overnight Campground, which sits in the desert outside of the city.
5. Britannia Park
Britannia Park in the Judean Lowlands. (Photo: amira_a/Shutterstock)
Britannia Park (often called British Park) is located in the Judean Lowlands. This area was reforested in the 1950s. It gets its name because much of the funding for the planting project came from donations from England. The foliage and gently sloping hills are crisscrossed with hiking and bicycle trails. The park's limestone rock formations are filled with caves and tunnels, some of which were dug out during the Roman and Byzantine eras, more than 1,000 years ago. Other attractions in Britannia include archaeological sites and an observation tower. The park has basic campgrounds, while accommodations can also be found in nearby towns.
6. Ein Gedi
The oasis at Ein Gedi. (Photo: VanderWolf Images/Shutterstock)
Ein Gedi is located on the shores of the Dead Sea. It is a starkly beautiful destination, surrounded by palm trees and framed by the water on one side and barren mountain peaks on the other. This is a popular place for desert tours. Many people who pitch their tent at the Ein Gedi Beach Overnight Campground head out to explore the desert during the morning, then take the time for a dip in the famous Dead Sea later in the day. Its salt content makes swimmers completely buoyant, and the minerals in the water and the mud are used for body masks. The Ein Gedi Nature Reserve and National Park covers a large portion of the Western Judean Desert. Despite its arid appearance, this region is actually teeming with wildlife. Nubian ibex can be seen during the day and wolves, foxes and hyenas prowl the sands and mountains at night.
7. Yarkon National ParkYarkon National Park near Tel Aviv. (Photo: Protasov AN/Shutterstock)
Yarkon National Park is not located in a far-flung nature reserve or on the shore of a remote lake. In fact, this sits very near Tel Aviv. The park's namesake, the Yarkon River, is popular with boaters and kayakers. The park has gardens, hiking and biking trails, and also one of Israel's largest water parks. In addition to these attractions, orienteering and other outdoor experiences are offered to campers. There is a large campground with restrooms and shower facilities to spend the night.
8. Timna National Park
Trekking in the Negev Desert. (Photo: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock)
Much of southernmost Israel is dominated by the Negev Desert. This region offers a much different experience from the mountains, valleys and forests to the north. Timna National Park provides overnight camping options. Known for its unique rock formations, this park is arguably the most popular destination in the Negev. Campers can enjoy a few creature comforts at Timna. There are hot showers, lights at night and even a restaurant. Trekkers who come in search of the feeling of utter remoteness that can be found in the desert will appreciate the Sha’ar Tsnifim Campground, a primitive campground located near the Israel National Trail. Some of the Negev's Bedouin tribes are involved in the tourism industry. They offer people the chance to stay in a traditional encampment.
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