If I asked you: “What would you like to do in 35-degree heat, in the Israeli desert?” You probably wouldn’t say “cycling with gear up a mountain”. That is, if your idea of a fun and memorable vacation involves reading books on a beach and an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Well, I’m not an all-you-can-eat kind of girl (unless we’re talking Twinkies) so I thought this kind of trip would be right up my proverbial alley. Still, travels are meant to be somewhat self-revealing, I suppose; and I will admit that several dark thoughts crossed my mind at least 200 times that day.
How ‘Bout it:
Cycling in the heat is one thing. It’s oftentimes unpleasant, but somehow always seems worth it when the Dairy Queen is in sight. Cycling in the Israeli desert is another thing. While my pride would suggest that perhaps I should keep the following information secret, I feel some kind of moral obligation to present it to you anyway. It was hot – like scalding hot at times. Additionally, it was hard. Really hard.
Since 1967 Israel has acted like the honey badger of the animal kingdom; engrossing itself in a civil war of sorts with Palestine and much of the surrounding region. So if you were wondering why you can’t seem to find many decent bike tours in the Holy Land of Israel you can stop scratching your head now.
But, that doesn’t mean you can’t awaken your sense of adventure and plan an Israeli cycling trip yourself.
How to: Cycling Israel
Step 1: Be Reasonable
Israel’s tourism sector has enjoyed a serious boost over the past few years, with a 25% increase from 2009-2010 alone. People go there and people also return. It’s extremely unlikely that you will find yourself in the midst of a military action. This being said, while you will remain outside of it, the conflict is evident wherever you go. Be prepared for a culture-shock, whenever you talk to the locals, ride the bus, or do some sightseeing.
Step 2: Check the Calendar
That’s it, now go!
Best Time To Go
Anytime’s a good time. If you don’t want to hear about protests, military actions and the like; then your best bet is to skip May. May in Israel is full of great holidays, festivals and parties, especially after May 16th – Israel’s Independence Day. But, it’s also the time when Israel faces protests and assaults from neighboring countries. Besides a culture shock, you are likely to experience a higher number of detentions by army and security personnel, than you would have during, say April or June.
On the other hand the parties in Tel Aviv are worth the trouble. Oh, and if you go in June, you’re braver than I – have I mentioned that Israel is HOT?
Wile E. Coyote – he steps on mines, falls off cliffs, gets shot at, and survives pretty much the same inconveniences you will face on your biking trip.
Extra bragging points if you:
- Hop off your bike to climb Masada (I did not climb Masada; and I understand that usually, deductive reasoning is fallacious)
- Ride next to firing zones 5km on either side of you – ummm…chicks dig it?
- Sleep in a yurt near the Mitzpe Ramon crater (Silent Arrow desert lodge)
Considering you’ll be hard-pressed to find any pre-organized group travel biking trips along these lines, you get the fun job of being your own accountant! Cool, eh? No…well look at it this way:
Cost of trip minus a guide/group: ½ watermelon; 4 oranges; 3 apples; 4 granola bars; 4L water;
Cost of trip with a guide/group: $ 99,999*
*Subject to accounting error and/or superfluous guesstimation.
- Informer, you no say Daddy me Snow me I’ll go blame, A licky Boom Boom Down.
- Otherwise: Talk to the locals (not about the conflict).
- Push your way onto busses (or you probably won’t get on).
- Carry ½ watermelon on your bike rack, eat all the food.
Read Alex’s hilarious account of her biking trip here on our Facebook pagePhoto Credits: