Israel Grand Tour September 2021

Day 1 Northern Galilee

Ok, everything was packed and stowed on the bike, so we could start. About 1200km lay ahead of me, first to the north of Israel, from there over the Golan Heights to the south, over the Dead Sea to the north of the Negev desert and from there all the way south to Eilat.

So let’s go, first out of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area via the autobahn, in the direction of Carmel Forest near Haifa and from there further north to the Lebanese border. On the way a short break for a little refreshment and then the first stop: Montfort Lookout in Goren

From here you have a magnificent view of Montfort.
Montfort (Hebrew מבצר מוֹנפוֹר Mivtzar Monfor, German ‘Montfort Fortress’) is a former crusader castle located on the banks of the Keziv creek in Galilee in northern Israel. The Arabic name of the castle is “Qal’at Qurein”, which means “Castle of the Little Horn” and is probably due to the pointed rocky peaks on the mountain side behind the complex.

Overall, the castle complex is quite well preserved. In the Middle Ages there was no larger settlement in the vicinity whose inhabitants could recycle the building material from the abandoned castle. The foundations of the farm buildings on the valley side can still be seen. Arches on the walls of some rooms have also been preserved.
The approximately 125 meter long core castle lies on the crest of a west-facing ledge at around 280 meters above sea level. To the east, two parallel neck moats protect the Veste. The narrower fore ditch is about 8 to 10 meters wide, the main ditch up to 20 meters wide. The depth of the inner trench is about 11 meters. Both trenches were cut into the existing limestone. The stone material obtained was used to expand the castle.

After Montfort we continue towards Beit Hillel, where my campsite is. A beautiful spot, right on the Hazbani Stream, a small wild stream that has year-round water from the Golan Heights, nice and cold and refreshing

Day 2 Golan Hights

I will cross the Golan Heights on a very special route, the so-called “Petroleum Road”, via Tel Facher to Tel Saki.
Tel Faher (or Golani Lookout) is a former Syrian outpost in the Golan Heights that has been used by Syrians since the 1967 Six Day War Israel is occupied. Tel Faher was the scene of an intense battle between Israeli forces and the Syrians, which ended with the Golani Brigade capturing the outpost. Tel Faher is now a park commemorating the fallen of the battle

The Petroleum Road or Tapline Road (Hebrew: הכיש הנפט, Kvish HaNeft) is a privately owned north-south asphalt road in the Golan Heights. It is 47 km long. It begins near Mount Peres on the eastern edge of the central Golan and ends in the north of the Golan near the Israeli-occupied Golan-Lebanon border, near Ghajar.

Most of the road is marked off-road on maps due to poor road quality.

The name Petroleum Road derives from the now defunct Trans-Arabian Pipeline Company oil pipeline that the road passes by. The Tapline, as it is abbreviated, originated in the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, then passed through Jordan and Syria to its oil export terminal at Sidon on the Lebanon coast. Although Israel controlled the section of the Tapline through the Golan after the 1967 Six-Day War, it allowed its operations to continue. Although it was the largest pipeline system in the world when it was completed in 1950, the tapline had ceased all operations by 1990. The Golan Heights section stopped transporting petroleum in 1976.

Since the Strait bisects the northern part of the Golan Heights diagonally, it was the scene of many battles along its axis during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Tel Saki (Tel a-saaki تل الساقي) is a small volcanic hill in the southern Golan Heights.

On the afternoon of Yom Kippur, October 6, 1973, an observation party of the 50th Parachute Battalion “Nahal”, 35th Brigade was dispatched to Tel Saki. The force’s role was to look east and try to locate Syrian artillery fire in the event a “battle day” begins. When the war started at 2:00 p.m., heavy Syrian artillery fire landed on the hill.

In the battles for Tel Saki and the surrounding area, 32 fighters from the 50th Battalion of the 35th Brigade, the 82nd Battalion of the 7th Brigade and the 74th Battalion of the 188th Brigade were killed.

After the Yom Kippur War, the original bunker was demolished and an outpost built on top of the hill to be captured in an emergency. Wire fences were erected around the hill and minefields laid. Tel Saki and the post on its peak have become commemorative of the Battle of Tel Saki. Inside the bunker, on the hill and its surroundings, a memorial corner was erected for the warriors who died in the war. The memorial has a memorial room for the fallen, as well as a film telling the history of the site.

After Tel Saki I continued south to “Harod’s Well” in the Yisrael plain, where I will pitch my tent for the second time.
Ma’ayan Harod (Hebrew: מעיין חרוד‎, lit.:  ’the fountain of Harod’) or Ayn Jalut (Arabic: عين جالوت‎ ‘ayn Jālūt, lit. “the fountain of Goliath”, formerly also عين جالود ‘ayn Jāl and גילות in Hebrew) is a spring on the southern border of the Yisrael Plain and the site of the famous 13th-century Battle of Ain Yalut, considered a major turning point in world history.

Day 3 The Dead Sea and northern Negev Desert

Was that a night!
The campsite was packed with families and lots of children who were having a blast, barbecuing was popular until late at night, it was loud, I hardly slept and just wanted to get away from here…
So an early coffee and let’s go. Packed everything back onto the bike and headed south.
First stop, breakfast at “Agalula

Next stop: Ein Gedi Camp Lodge. That’s about 250km and a complete change of climate. From the green north to the desert.
First relax there for a while. A perfect place for it! With a cool 38 degrees in September, a cold lemonade is always good.

After that we continue to Mamshit near Dimona in the Negev desert.
In contrast to the full campsite of yesterday, here is the complete opposite. I was the only guest here and apart from me there was only one worker from the campsite.
Really spooky.
Then in the middle of the night noises… when I looked out of the tent there is a huge Hystrix indica porcupine standing and looking at me. When I turned on my flashlight, it immediately ran away.
I was so tired, I fell asleep right away, hoping the pig wouldn’t come back 😉

Day 4-8 Eilat

The same ritual in the morning again: coffee and then pack everything up again and load it onto the bike and off we go to Eilat

From Mamshit I drive down the Scorpion’s Ascent to the Arava Plains and then on to Eilat on the Red Sea.
Here you can read more about the Scorpions ascent

Arriving in Eilat, we went straight to the beach. The sea here is just wonderful, crystal clear, full of fish of all kinds and the view of the mountains on the Jordanian side is always breathtaking.

After two days, my buddies Erez, Boaz, Ran and Tomer also came and we enjoyed 2 more relaxed days in Eilat.

The drive home was unspectacular, back via Mizpe Ramon.
I’m already looking forward to the next time!

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