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.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montfort_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!


Northern Trail

Along the Lebanon border, over the Tapline road to the Golan heights

A 2 day trip with Camping
Upcoming date: planning
Last tour: 17-18.6.2022

WhatsApp Group

Will be published for next tour

Itinerary

We will meet at 7:00 at Yakum Gas station and ride towards Carmel mountains heading Coffee Chachu at Misgav for a coffee/ breakfast as a first break

From there we will ride over Road No. 70 to Goren Park for our next stop at the lookout on Fort Montfort. We’ll enjoy the scenery before we hit the road again towards the Lebanon Border

Alongside the Lebanon Border we ride on the 8993 and 8967 towards Margaliot Lookout for our last stop before Camping

Final destination is Grenn Camp Camping place on the Hazbani Stream at Beit Hillel

After a small breakfast we will start towards Tel Faher Golani Lookout at the entrance to the Tapline Road (Petroleum Road). We will ride along the first part of the Petroleum Road and then towards Mount Bental for the next stop.

From there we will ride on Road 98 first north and visit the Valley of Tears Memorial site, from there south through the beautiful scenery of the Golan heights towards our next stop at Tel Saki.

From there we will continue to Road No. 90 and our next stop at the famous Humus 90 for a break and meal.

Through the Gilboa on Road 667 we will have a last stop at Mount Barkan before we head back to the Center free ride.

Fix costs:
85 ₪ per person for the camping
15 ₪ for a mattress if you like.

You pay both individually at the site, I only make the reservation.


We’ll discuss food in WhatsApp Group


Day 1

Starting Point is Yakum
Carmel Mountains
Coffee Chachu
Goren Park Lookout – Fort Monfort
Lebanon Border Road
Margaliot Lookout
Green Camp Camping

Day 2

Tapline Road
Mount Bental
Valley of Tears Memorial site
Tel Saki
Humus 90
Gilboa

https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=16jUOxiS4zXMDEwokkO_ve4sZrKLav8R8&usp=sharing

2 Day tour – Mount Hermon

Meeting point was at the Sonol gas station in Herzliya. From there we went north. Our first stop is

Ein Junes

The springs with a temperature of up to 50 °C, mostly 42 °C were built by the Romans around the year 200. The Greeks called the place Ἑμμαθά (Emmatha) or Αμαθα (Amatha); the Arabic name was الحمة السورية / al-Ḥamma as-Sūriyya / ‘the Syrian bath’.
They are located at the back of Hamat Gader and are freely accessible (if you know the way to get there) 😉



Then up to the Golan Heights via the wonderful Road No.98. Always a highlight to drive up the serpentines here
After a coffee stop traditionally cooked in a Finjan and a sunset view of Lake of Galilee, we arrive at Givat Yoav, where we will spend the night in large tented cabins.

Sinai BaGolan – Givat Yoav

Eran has already bought meat online for a barbecue and a few beers and had everything delivered directly there, a brilliant idea, so we didn’t have to transport anything on the bikes.
After a first beer, the grill was fired up and the evening could begin. With easygoing rock music in the background, it got cozy around the bonfire.

Lake Ram (Birket Ram)

The next morning, two more bikers joined us, both from the Golan Heights, so basically locals. One of the two was a soldier in the Yom Kippur War in 1973. We stopped at Volcanic Park – Golan. It is directly opposite Qunetra on the Syrian side. After the withdrawal of the Israeli troops in 1974 at the end of the Yom Kippur War, the city remained completely destroyed and has been controlled by the UNDOF ever since.
Also around was a mobile coffee seller! Nespresso and Cappuccino from the machine, powered by a small generator. Great idea!



Then on to Birket Ram. Birket Ram, or Berekhat Ram (Hebrew בריכת רם; Arabic بحيرة مسعدة, Buḥairat Masʿada, Eng. ‘Lake of Mas’ade’), is a crater lake in the northeastern part of the Golan Heights, at the foot of Mount Hermon.
The lake has an elliptical shape. It is about 900 m long and about 650 m wide. Birket Ram lies at an elevation of 940 m. Birket Ram contains 1.4 to 5.1 million m³ of fresh water, which varies seasonally. The lake was formed around 70,000 years ago as a result of a volcanic crater explosion. The lake has no outlet and is fed by rainwater and an underground spring. The water of the lake is used, among other things, to irrigate the surrounding orchards.
The next place is Mas’ade, about 200 m to the west, a Druze village.

Mount Hermon

From there we drive up through Majdal Shams to Mount Hermon. With the bikes you can get until to the lift station. If it snows enough in winter, that part of the mountain is a popular (and the only) ski area in Israel.
We leave the bikes at the station and take the cable car up to the Israeli top of Mount Hermon at about 2200 meters. The mountain massif has the highest point at 2814 meters on the Syrian side.

Mount Hermon stretches along the Syrian-Lebanese border for 25 kilometers in a southwest-northeast orientation. In the south, the mountains end on the Golan Heights. In the north-east, the Anti-Lebanon continues.

Due to its height, the Hermon collects considerable precipitation on its western flank, which feeds various sources. The three Jordan springs Hazbani, Dan and Banyas (also called the Hermon River) also rise on the south and west side. The mountain is mostly made up of limestone and volcanic rocks in between.

With its height of 2814 meters above sea level, Mount Hermon with its three peaks dominates the surrounding landscape. Over 1800 meters, the mountain is snow-covered for several months of the year, which is why it is also known as the Mountain of the venerable or the Mountain of snow.

After spending about 1 hour on the mountain we start our journey home. After a hearty lunch in Massade and a short stop at a viewpoint in Margaliot, we head back towards Tel Aviv.


What a great weekend!

Eilat November 2021

Tour with Jörg and Michael

Heading towards the Dead Sea, Breakfast at Ein Gedi

We hit the road at 7:00

After more than two years, Jörg was finally here to visit again, Corona has messed everything up quite a bit. Also there is Michael, who lives here in Tel Aviv and runs the ZDF studio in Israel (2nd German TV channel).

We drive up from Tel Aviv, towards Jerusalem, green mountains on both sides of the expressway, which is heavily used in the morning rush hour. But soon the traffic will calm down once we got through Jerusalem and then drive down on the other side towards the Dead Sea.

Leaving Jerusalem, the scenery changes abruptly. No more green mountains, everything is desert now, the first Bedouin settlements appear on the sides, camels stand on the sides with their keepers, still waiting in vain for tourists who are now – for the first time in 2 years – able to enter the country.

The ride on the 90 directly at the Dead Sea is breathtaking as always, the water is flat as a mirror and shows all colors from deep blue to bright turquoise.

Our first stop is Ein Gedi Camping Lodge, where we will have a coffee and some breakfast.


Scorpion Ascent

Freshly strengthened we continue on the 90 along the Dead Sea, then at the southern tip towards Dimona to the 227 and the Scorpion’s Ascent.
This old road is officially closed to public traffic, but because of that and because of the unique nature here in the northern Negev it is an absolute highlight!
We stop and enjoy the view.
If you want to know more about the Scorpion’s Ascent, you’ll find it here

Another very good article about the Scorpion ascent from Haaretz online


Eilat

Arrived in Eilat we make ourselves comfortable in our apartment, then we go to the supermarket, a few beers have to go in the fridge and a few snacks for later.

Michael brought 3 bottles of wine from the Bin Nun Vineyard, one white, one red, and one rose. As it will turn out, an excellent drop.

Now we’re hungry! We go to a Brazilian steak house and enjoy it. Later on to the terrace, where we end the evening with one of the Bin Nun wines.

The next morning we go to the beach to chill. Dolphin Beach is always a good spot. A very relaxed day.
In the evening we go to the Fish Market, a fish restaurant in Eilat. My Seabass wasn’t that great, but the heavy drumfish that Jörg and Michael shared was very good.
In addition a French Chablis, the evening was already a success.

Then later on the terrace, the Bin Nun bottles didn’t survive the evening 😂
And so with the excellent wine and good music we sit there until late at night and enjoy our conversations about the world, sometimes deeply philosophical, sometimes borderline superficial, just great!
What an evening!


Negev

The day of the return has come. Another coffee in the morning, then to the local bakery for breakfast.
Reinvigorated, it’s now on the 12 along the Egyptian border to the Shikma Junction, then away from the border across the Negev to Mitzpe Ramon.
The viewpoint at Mitzpe Ramon gives us one last glimpse of the Negev Desert, into the Makhtesch Ramon, or Ramon Crater, the largest erosion crater in the Negev. Nubian Ibex ibexes say farewell.
Then it goes towards Ze’elim, then Ashkelon, Ashdod and back to Tel Aviv.



Guys, it was unforgettable!

R NineT en route vers le nord

Tour mit Ludovic

The R Nine Ts are saddled, we’re ready to go, 2 days north of Israel, camping and sightseeing, the weather is fantastic, and so is our mood.
First stop, the “Atatürk” coffee truck on the way north.



Ok, we’re out of Tel Aviv Metropolin and over a coffee and a sandwich the permanent grin comes on your face, which always comes up when you’re out with the bike, the tour begins, nature, the fun, everything else is gone…

Freshly strengthened, we drive north through the Carmel Mountains. The forest of the Carmel Mountains was almost completely burned in a terrible forest fire eleven years ago and it is nice to see that it is slowly recovering, everything is very green even at the end of the long dry summer.
Via Route 70 we continue almost to the Lebanese border. We stop at Goren Park and look at Montfort on the opposite side.
Montfort is a former Crusader castle situated on the banks of the Keziv Creek in the Galilee of 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.

Continue on Route 8993, the northernmost road you can drive along the Lebanese border. It leads over the ridge between Israel and Lebanon. The track is beautiful and every time I drive it I wonder when maybe we could just drive over and Lebanese friends could drive with us to our place.
Parts of the route are actually only permitted for military vehicles, there are always protective walls and concrete boxes along the route to protect against shelling, we drive to Margaliot and then turn towards Kfar Giladi.
It is now afternoon and we will soon arrive at our campsite, the “Green Camp” in Beit Hillel, right on the Hatzbani stream. We’re both getting hungry too… 😉

Once the tents were pitched, we stocked up on some tomatoes, onions and eggs for the “Shakshuka” breakfast the following morning.
Then a little walk at Hatzbani and then eat a hamburger at Klumpus near Beit Hillel.
The night was good, I’m slowly getting my “sleeping setup” out in the tent (a bit more about my equipment soon).
After morning coffee and shakshuka, we dismantle the tents and set off towards the Golan Heights and the journey over the famous Tapline Road or Petroleum Road.

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.
Who wants to know more should read my Bericht von meiner großen Israel Tour .

At Bruchim Qela’ Alon we turn off the Petroleum Road and head towards Har Bental. Our next stop is El Poran, an IDF street fighting training ground. A surreal place, open to the public. Then it goes up to the Bental mountain for a coffee break at 1100 meters.

From Har Bental we continue driving over the Golan Heights towards Tel Saki. The landscape is fascinating as always. At Tel Saki we stop longer and I tell Ludo the history of the military post and its role in the Yom Kippur War. If you want to learn more about this, you should read my report from my big Israel tour again.

From Tel Saki we continue south, down to Lake Genezeret and then on towards Tel Aviv.
On the way we stop in Nein (that’s really the name of the place) and treat ourselves to specialties from the Middle East in the “Sahara palace” restaurant (that’s really the name of the place) 😂

Then our weekend is over. Was really great, thanks Ludo!

The Scorpions ascent

Impressions from today’s ride of the “Rise of the Scorpions”.

The Scorpions’ Pass (Hebrew: מעלה עקרבים, Ma’ale Akrabbim, lit. “Scorpions’ Ascent”) is a steep, winding section of Route 227 that starts from the Tzafir stone structure (an archaeological site) to the south .

The Roman Empire built the rise in the late 1st century AD from the Wadi Zin to the highlands of the northern Negev desert during their control of the Middle East.

During the Nabataean period, the route became part of the Spice Route.
Under British control, the climb north was slightly reestablished.


The pass is known for its extreme danger due to its poor condition. On the side of the pass there is a steep drop in places and the road has no fortification.
In addition, the road has extreme descents of hundreds of meters.
The Israeli Army Corps of Engineers paved the pass in 1950.