ISRAEL – THE FOUR SEAS

A land of inviting weather, warm seas, natural splendour and deep historical and cultural interest, Israel is an ideal destination for two-wheeled exploration. From the sights and sounds of Jerusalem, though the Negev Desert and on to the Red Sea resort of Eilat, via the lowest point on the planet, our tour uses the most satisfying riding roads to seek out the best experiences the Holy Land has to offer. 

Although not a large country, Israel is geographically diverse. We will ride quiet roads in mountains, through deserts and beside four sparkling seas – the Red Sea, Dead Sea, Sea of Galilee and Mediterranean, which offer plenty of opportunities to swim and dive, float and relax. 

Israel’s historical and religious significance is never far from the mind and we will visit a selection of important sites. We will walk the ancient and deeply significant walls of Jerusalem and Acre and stroll the streets of Jaffa – three of the oldest cities on earth. For further Biblical interest there is the Sea of Galilee and the site of Jesus’ baptism; getting more explicitly Old Testament, we will also ride the road to Sodom.

This tour features great riding in impressive natural surroundings to historic destinations and inviting seas. With warm welcomes and riding weather year-round, this is an ideal riding holiday for the winter escapologist in a must-see destination with something for everyone.

As a participant in this tour you’ll fly to Tel Aviv, to be met by your crew and transferred to your accommodation. There will be some paperwork to complete and we will give you a briefing on the trip ahead before dinner and drinks. When riding, there will be a lead rider/guide and your kit will be carried on the bike in the luggage provided. 

There will be a maximum of 10 bikes on this tour:  Honda CB500X and Kawasaki Versys 650 (or similar).
Click on BIKES and the terms and conditions HERE.

ABOUT ISRAEL

Riding

Israel has a large variety of landscapes through which to travel and, being a relatively small country, they are all accessible. With high quality asphalt and plenty of twisties, this is a great place to enjoy a winter riding getaway. Our tour seeks out the best riding roads in the country, whether through verdant pastural areas, or slicing though the yellow desert. From mountains to the lowest place on Earth, via warm and sparkling seas, it’s all waiting to be enjoyed.

On the whole, riding in Israel is similar to riding in Europe, with roads being well-maintained and similar speed limits. Although rules are on-the-whole, being followed, there are exceptions. Driving habits are more of Mediterranean mood and aggression than Northern European and we are riding on the right, making it very difficult to draw a sword when facing an opponent. 

So, while some extra vigilance is called for, the challenges presented by other road-users are not on a par with the roads of South-East Asia.

We will be avoiding highways and sticking to less busy routes wherever possible. There is no ‘off-roading’ on these adventures and no requirement for any dirt-bike skills. 

Helmets are compulsory, both by law and during all riding on our tours. There is a zero-tolerance policy to drink-driving and road rules are enforced. As usual, there will be a tour leader at the front and participants will navigate using a ‘drop-off’ system. 

Money

The ‘New Shekel’ is the local currency. ATMs are widespread and will accept the usual cards, as will most retailers. Meals, fuel and booze are similar in price to the UK.

Fuel is (Mar 2021) around £1.30 per litre.

There are currently 4.57 New Shekels to the UK Pound.

Geography

Israel is a country in the Middle East, located on the south-eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to the west and Egypt to the southwest. Israel’s economic center is Tel Aviv, while its seat of government and proclaimed capital is Jerusalem.

With an area of about 21,000 km(the size of Wales) and a population of just over nine million, this is a small democratic country, with the mass of the population in the major cities of central Israel. It is also a very young country, having been proclaimed a state in 1948, following the horrors of the Second World War. Israel’s history and borders are complicated, riddled with conflict, angst and controversy, but it is also a beautiful and fascinating country.

Within relatively short distances, the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea and the Dead Sea (the lowest place on our planet at 435m below sea-level) can be reached in an ideal winter riding climate. These seascapes, mountains, desert and pasture land form an ever-changing backdrop to some glorious motorcycling on excellent roads. 

The northern part of the country contains the lush Galilee Mountains and Sea of Galilee; the west borders the Mediterranean Sea. To the south is the Negev desert, which is contiguous to the vast Arabian Desert and home to the Bedouin people.

We will get to see most of it…

Climate

As Israel extends in a north-south direction and contains a wide range of topographies, there are wide varieties of climatic conditions. 

Temperatures vary widely during the winter. Coastal areas, such as those of Tel Aviv and Haifa, have a typical Mediterranean climate with cool-ish winters and long, hot summers. The area of Beersheba and the Northern Negev have a semi-arid climate with hot summers, cool winters, and fewer rainy days than the Mediterranean climate. The Southern Negev has a desert climate with very hot, dry summers and mild winters with little rain. The highest temperature in Asia (54.0 °C) was recorded in 1942 at Tirat Zvi in the northern Jordan River Valley.

Over the whole country, there are around 40 days of rain per year, with the southern city of Eilat being sunny for 51 weeks of the year! 

When setting the timings for our tours, we are looking at all the factors across the various regions through which we travel to bring you the best overall riding conditions, subject to omnipotent beings. The seas around Israel are swimming-warm for most of the year. 

Cities, demographics and ethnicity

Israel has around nine million inhabitants, about three-quarters of whom are Jewish. Just over 20 per cent are Muslim or Christian Arabs and five per cent are either Christians from other areas, or follow no religion. These designations can in turn be broken down into many sub-categories. 

The Jewish people are divided into many traditions; some secular, some fundamentalist with most folks somewhere in the middle. There is likewise a large diversity within other religious populations, Muslim and Christian, orthodox and layman. While there are Sunni and Shia Muslims, there are myriad forms of Christianity: Greek Orthodox and other Catholics, Protestants, Maroons, Orthodox Syrians and Copts.

The official languages of Israel are Hebrew and Arabic. Due to the massive waves of mainly diasporic immigration over the years, the origins of Israelis are incredibly diverse, as is the range of languages spoken.

Almost 50% of Israelis lives in the centre of the country, in and around Tel Aviv.
Over 90% of Israelis live in an urban setting, the largest city being Jerusalem, with a population of 936,500. Next is Tel Aviv, with half that number. At the other end of the scale are tribal Bedouins, mainly in the south part of the country, few live in regulars houses, others are waiting for an agreement with the state regarding their lands, and few still follow their nomadic ancestors, moving around the deserts of south Israel to this day.

Economy

Israel has grown rapidly in the past 70 years, from a tiny state formed largely by post-war immigrants and refugees, to an advanced industrial economy. High quality further education has led to a highly-skilled workforce able to contribute the 21st Century technology boom and the country has seen massive investment from tech-giants over recent decades. The country has the highest per-head proportion of technicians, scientists and engineers in the world.

Leading exports include industrial machinery, software, agricultural products and cut diamonds. Leading imports include raw materials, rough diamonds, fuel, grain, everyday consumer goods and military equipment. Israel is also at the forefront of renewable technology development. The economy is largely balanced, with the value of imports and exports being well-matched. This has led to a low level of external debt and Israel has a lending surplus of some 70 billion U.S. dollars.

Despite a low level of easily available natural resources, Israel has achieved a high degree of self-sufficiency in the agricultural sector thanks to a pioneering spirit and the development of new agricultural technologies.

Tourism is a fast-growing and important revenue-earner, annually boosting the economy by some six billion dollars. Much of this is religious tourism, but warm beaches with water sports and endless historical interest are also major attractions.

There are 19,250km of paved roads in Israel, plied by just three million vehicles. This very low number of vehicles per head is in part due to crushing import duties. A motorcycle in Israel attracts an import tax of 80% of value!

Politics & History

The birthplace of Judaism and Christianity, the written history of this region and its peoples goes back to pre-Old Testament times and, some would say, the dawn of Creation. But if you want a Bible, Torah, or Qur’an class, please consult an appropriate religious scholar. The area comprising today’s Israel has been invaded by Greeks, Romans, Arabs of many empires, European Crusaders, Mongols, Ottomans and Napoleonic forces. 

While these ancient influences are profoundly interwoven with the country we see today, the story of the modern Israel is inextricably linked to the rise of fascism and anti-Semitism in Europe.

In the late-19th Century and first half of the 20th, huge waves of Jews fled to Palestine. Many escaped the pogroms of Imperial Russia and later the same state’s communist atrocities. Estimates of Jews killed under various Russian regimes run into the millions, but the defining catalyst for an independent Jewish state was, of course, the inhuman, industrialised state-sponsored murder of the Nazi regime. The Holocaust.

Post-war, intentions by the British to establish a Jewish state within Palestine were shelved due to concerns that such action would destabilise the area, on which Britain was dependent for oil. Despite British efforts to limit immigration and the further promotion of such a state, effectively stateless Jews from Europe and neighbouring Arab countries entered Palestine, boosting the Jewish population to a third of residents. In the face of these factors, the Zionist independence movement gained momentum and a low-level guerilla war ensued, culminating, in 1946, in the bombing of the King David hotel, used as a British military headquarters, leading to the deaths of 91. 

Prejudicial treatment of European Jews in the late 19th Century – and a history of Jewish persecution and expulsion going back to 1290 in Europe – reinforced the goals of a growing Jewish national movement (Zionism) and led many to return to their religious roots in the Middle East. During the course of World War One, the then influential British committed to the creation of a Jewish National Homeland and with this aim in mind, were given a mandate by the League of Nations (the precursor to the UN) to ‘rule’ Palestine. A rival Arab nationalist movement was formed in opposition to the creation of a Jewish homeland and so began the wheel of conflict that turns to this day.

All the while further waves of Jews fleeing Eastern-European oppression increased the number of returning diaspora by 250,00. The situation overall was poorly managed by the British, who used repressive tactics typical of colonial subjugation. With limited resources due to the costs of the war, and facing the cancelling of loans by a critical U.S. Congress, the British were increasingly finding the situation unmanageable. In 1947, the newly-formed U.N. was asked to find a solution. Although the U.N. made a recommendation for partition of Palestine along Arab/Jewish lines, no action to implement these plans was taken. 

Despite this, or perhaps due to this, tensions in the area skyrocketed, both Arabs and Jews rapidly mobilising armed forces and soon there was a state of war between the two factions. In 1948 the formation of the State of Israel was announced by the Jewish People’s Council, the state being rapidly recognised by the world’s major powers. However, bordering Arab states did not acknowledge Israel, or the plans to partition Palestine, and so the first of many regional wars ensued. 

Between 1948 and 1958 the population of Israel grew from 800,000 to two million, as people took advantage of the Law of Return (1950), which guaranteed all Jews and their families a home in Israel. As population grew, so did economic and military strength. 

Despite various ceasefires and political resolutions, conflict was never far from the surface in the Middle-Eastern arena. The Six-Day War of 1967, a reaction to Egypt’s President Nasser’s threat to ‘destroy Israel,’ saw Israel launch pre-emptive strikes, destroying the air forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The war was fierce and brief, Israel capturing the neighbouring territories of the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, the West Bank of the Jordan River and East Jerusalem. The ramifications of these manoeuvres have fuelled further controversy and conflict to this day.

The outcome of these territorial shifts bore significant fruit for the Israelis, gaining access to religious sites and the oil of the Sinai Desert. For the dispossessed Arabs things were less favourable. Subsequently, Israel and most of its neighbours have existed in, for the most part, an uneasy relationship and always international controversy. 

Today Israel’s unwillingness to relinquish most of the territory gained in the Six-Days War is a huge bone of political contention and repeated international attempts at peace agreements and reconciliation between neighbours have yielded little significant progress. While treaties now exist with Egypt, Jordan and some other Arab states, Israel remains the epicentre of the clash between Arab and Jewish nationalistic interests, with the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict erupting from time-to-time in contested areas.

More present to the visitor of today are links to the ancient past and Biblical times. There is a deep sense of this history in the Holy Land and it is never far from the mind. 

Crime & Annoyances

Crime is not of particular concern to tourists, with generally low levels of offences like theft and credit card fraud. The usual diligence (keeping essential documents and money/cards in a safe place) when on holiday will suffice. There can be political protests in some cities, but these rarely have a violent aspect outside the occupied territories. On our tours we will be avoiding areas with a potential for problems. Current travel advice can be found here.

QUICK OVERVIEW

In ten words

Munch super-twisty scenic roads through fascinating historic settings.

Riding Level

You need to get used to local traffic habits and ride on the right. We are avoiding major highways. No technical riding. Tarmac: 100%

The Adventure

Overall: approx' 1,700km. Shortest day: 160Km. Longest day: 405km. 2 days travelling. 7 days riding. 1 off-bike day.

Pillion Rating

The route is just fine for passengers

Accommodation & Meals

Three and four-star hotels, some with sea views. Always clean, always beer, great locations. The food is really good.

Highlights

The Sea of Galilee and the scenic curves around it; the Mediterranean beaches and coast; legendary Jerusalem; the Dead Sea and the great roads near it; the desert bends and landscapes; the Red Sea for swimming and diving; the vibrant city of Tel Aviv.

TOUR ITINERARY

Day 1: Fly To Tel Aviv/Jaffa

Arrive in Tel Aviv, where you will be collected by our team and shuttled (about 35min) to our start-point in vibrant Tel Aviv, where we will check-in to our seaside hotel. A briefing will be given on the joys ahead, before we head out to enjoy the atmosphere of this great Mediterranean city. The ancient port city of Jaffa is just a short walk away and the perfect setting for your first evening meal in Israel.

DAY 2: Tel Aviv to The Sea Of Galilee

Our riding commences outside the busy city, so we will take a drive to meet our motorcycles. There will be some paperwork, before heading out through villages to join one of the country’s best routes. Riding the smooth and curving roads of the stunning Jordan Valley will lead us to Biblical views over the Sea of Galilee, where we will pause for lunch. Circling the area, we will stop at the Yardenit (where Jesus was baptised) and on to Capernaum, a village where Jesus lived and taught. The day ends at our hotel near the beach, where food, drinks and swims await.

Day 3: Galilee to Haifa

Following breakfast – and perhaps an early swim – we will visit the Golan heights, the Jordan River Valley and the Galilee mountains on our way to Rosh Hanikra, where we can visit some spectacular marine caves and grottos. Next, we ride south along the shore to the ancient city Acre, surrounded by mighty walls that held Napoleon at bay. Lunch will be eaten inside the city walls and there will be some time to explore on foot. From Acre a short ride takes us to the historic port of Haifa, Isreal’s third city, surrounded by white sands and green mountains. Today Haifa has been industrialised and is home to a vibrant mix of Arab, Bahai and Jewish people. Downtown, near our hotel, are great restaurants and bars.

DAY 4: Jerusalem  

Today we head to legendary Jerusalem. We start with a ride over the curves of Carmel Mountain, with beautiful views over green forests to the sea, before descending to the coast to meet the highway that carries us through the Tuscan-style hills surrounding Jerusalem. The ‘Nes Harim’ road – a favourite ‘hill-climb’ among local riders –adds extra two-wheeled interest to the journey up to Jerusalem. We arrive in time to explore the old city, a location of unrivalled historical interest and religious importance.

DAY 5: Jerusalem to The Dead Sea

Our riding day starts with a Temple Mount view point, before we ride down – a scenic ride down as far as it is possible to ride – to the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea (400m below sea-level). On reaching the water, we will stop for a coffee break and continue along the Dead Sea coast, following an amazing road where the desert mountains reach down to the water. After checking in to our Spa hotel, we will go for a salty float in the Sea and can spend the remaining evening enjoying the nearby bars and attractions.

DAY 6: Dead Sea to Mitzpe Ramon

Into the Negev Desert. From the Dead Sea we continue the salty theme with a climb into the mountains on the ‘Arad Sodom Road.’ This route offers top riding joy, with perfect asphalt curves and desert views. Deeper into the desert we ride, through stark scenery, to our overnight stay in Mitzpe Ramon. Near this small town we see beautiful craters. In the evening we will enjoy the stars and small local bars.

day 7: Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

After breakfast, we ride south on the scenic desert road to Eilat on the Red Sea. Views of the sparkling blue sea appear between the conical red mountains on our approach. Our hotel, with sea views, is located only 100m from the beach. Take a swim, a stroll around the city, enjoy the bars and restaurants – the choice is yours…

day 8: In Eilat

Today is a day to enjoy some sun, sand and sea. Scuba diving and snorkelling can be booked in advance. For those less aqua-adventurous, just to relax on the beach or investigate any number of attractions, from the underwater observatory to a guided trek into the desert.

DAY 9: Eilat to Tel Aviv

We will have an early start for the full day’s ride back to Tel Aviv. Having crossed the red mountains around Eilat, most of our route is a desert cruise as we head north though a shifting landscape. We will return the bikes before transferring back to our hotel and heading out for our last night dinner in Tel Aviv.

 

DAY 10: Fly Home 

Having lapped the Holy Land, it’s time to head homeward. Goodbye.

WHAT THE TOUR PRICE INCLUDES

INCLUDED

  • International Flights (when booked as full package)
  • Eight Days of Bike Hire
  • Experienced Guide
  • All Internal Transfers
  • Nine Nights Accommodation on B&B basis

NOT INCLUDED

  • Other Meals
  • Tolls, Entry Fees, Visas and Excursions
  • Fuel
  • Damage Excess on Bikes
  • Any medical testing

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES

  • Rosh Hanikra reserve sight seeing – a beautiful reserve with stunning grottos.
  • Eilat: scuba diving; underwater observatory; sailing etc.

USEFUL INFORMATION

SECURITY

Israel is considered safe for tourists in all the areas through which we travel. For current UK Government travel advice, check: Foreign Office Website.

DOCUMENTATION

You will need a passport, appropriate travel insurance and your home-country driving licence. Visas are granted to those from the UK on arrival. If not travelling from the UK, please check the status of your driving licence in Israel and any visa requirements.

CURRENCY

The local currency of Israel is the New Shekel. Currency can be drawn from ATMs and credit/debit cards are accepted very widely.

There are currently 4.57 Shekel to the UK Pound.

CLIMATE

Israel has typical Middle Eastern/Mediterranean temperatures. The climate is most comfortable in winter – which is more like a Northern European summer. Summers in Israel are hot and can be very humid at the coast.  

BIKE KIT

On all tours we advise riders to consider their kit in terms of layers. Good quality gear can also prevent a minor spill causing a trip-ruining injury, so we require that you ride with no exposed skin (except your face).

LUGGAGE

Your luggage will be carried on your bike, which will be supplied with hard luggage.
Critical documents should be carried on your body, not strapped to the bike. It will be possible to leave excess luggage/travel bags in Tel Aviv, and to collect it at the end of the tour.

FITNESS

This tour is not physically demanding. If you have any existing medical condition, please consult both Blazing Trails and your doctor before booking.

RIDING SKILLS

While we insist those joining us have a full motorcycle licence, and recommend a minimum of two year’s riding experience, time in the saddle and miles ridden are of more relevance to any motorcycle adventure. We will be avoiding traffic where possible by avoiding major highways, but there may be some aggressive drivers encountered.

HEALTH & HYGIENE

The standards in Israel are on par with Europe and not of any concern.

DON’T FORGET!

To check out our suggested packing list.

How To Make A Booking

HBI
ROM

Holiday bookings can be made online, by email, or over the phone on: +44 (0) 7494 050404

Contact us by any of the means above.

Upon deciding to book, please pay a deposit of £700 into our bank account (or the full balance if within two months of the departure date). This can be done by credit/debit card through our website, by bank transfer, or by sending a cheque to our UK office.

BIKE DEPOSIT (ROMANIA/ISRAEL): A deposit of is required against bike damage in Romania and Israel, the amount according to the bike you book – please check-out Romanian Bikes, or Israeli Bikes for details. You will be asked to place this sum against your credit card with our supplier. The transaction will be cancelled at the tour’s end (subject to bike condition).

Having booked with Blazing Trails, you will be sent all the necessary information on timings and meeting points. You may also like to use our Facebook Page to liaise with others.


PLEASE NOTE: A maximum of one week (seven days) will be allowed for your deposit payment to reach and clear in our bonded account. Should this not happen, we can suspend your booking and may have to give your place on tour to somebody else.

FAQ

Are flights included? 

Flights can be included in the price of your tour, but you can also specify otherwise.

How do I book? 

The tours can be booked online, by email, or over the phone on: +44 (0) 7494 050404. To secure a place you will be asked to put down a deposit of £700 and payment can be made by card, cheque, or bank transfer.

Do I need a visa?

UK citizens entering Israel will be issued a three-month visa on arrival. For other countries. please check your entry requirements before booking. Israeli visas are not stamped into passports.

What other paperwork do I need?

You need a valid certificate of travel insurance. A UK (and most other countries) driving licence is accepted. However, please check the validity of your licence before travel.

Can I book from outside the UK? 

Yes. If you are booking from outside the UK, we can quote you for a flight-inclusive price, or you can book online at the non-flight price.

Where should I change money?

Foreign currency of all kinds may be exchanged at the airport, banks, post offices, most hotels or licensed exchange agencies in large cities. ATMs are widespread and cards widely accepted.

How much spending money will I need?

If you’re not a high-roller, you should be able to get by on about £50 per day, including fuel. Israel is not a ‘budget’ destination, with costs like food and fuel being very similar to what you’d spend in Europe and the UK.

Will I have to share a room?

No, you can pay a supplement to hold a single room during the booking process.

What standard is the accommodation?

We will be using good hotels chosen for their standard of accommodation, location and rated at around 4 stars. The are also few boutique-style hotels.

Will I get bitten by a vampire?

Not unless you book the Romania Tour. Israel was declared vampire-free in 1972

How much riding experience do I need?

While the riding on this tour is exciting, it is in no way technical. You need a licence appropriate to the bike you are riding and should have at least a year’s riding experience.

Is riding in Israel dangerous?

Riding anywhere carries with it a degree of risk, as does riding in Israel. For more information on the riding side of things see ‘Riding’ in the ‘About Israel’ section of this site. If any rider joining us rides in a manner we suspect will endanger themselves, or others, or indeed displays antisocial behaviour, they will receive one warning. If they continue to display a threat to the safety or enjoyment of others on the tour, they will be excluded from the remainder (with no refund given, see terms and conditions).

How fast will we be riding?

We be riding in a ‘progressive’ manner, enjoying the amazing roads where it is sensible to do so. There is, however, no compulsion to keep up with other riders and we will not leave you behind.

Can I use the bike in the evenings?

No, you can’t ride independently of the tour group, sorry.

How fit do I need to be?

This is not a strenuous tour – a person of average fitness can easily take part.

Can I take a pillion?

Yes, this is a very good tour for couples. This is an all-tarmac route on which most of the road surfaces are of typical European quality.

How much luggage can I bring?

You are limited to 20kg by most airlines. However, we suggest you pack as lightly and in as compact a form as possible, as you will have to transfer your kit to panniers and top-box.

How much luggage should I bring?

Keep it minimal. One set of riding kit for the tour and a few sets of clothes for the evening. Laundry facilities are available at our two-night stop in Eilat. 

Isn’t Israel dangerous?

UK Government travel advice for Israel can be found here. The levels of perceived threats from political troubles change over time and generally Israel is safe for tourists. We will avoid areas regarded as having a higher level of risk. Most years, 3-4 million tourists visit Israel and encounter no problems.

Is food included in the price?

No, not all food, just breakfasts.

What is Israeli food like?

Israeli food is a diverse fusion of Middle Eastern/Arabic food and European food, with other global influences. Shawarma kebabs and falafel are often available street-side and it is not uncommon to see people standing to eat. There is a vast variety to choose from and fresh produce is abundant. There are very many veggie options. If you have specific dietary requirements, contact us, which will allow us to check ahead for you.

Are laundry facilities available on-tour?

Laundry can be done at our two-night stop in Eilat. A warm, dry climate is ideal for drying hand-washed under-crackers overnight.

Will I get WiFi?

Yes, WiFi is available at all our hotels.

Is the fuel included in the tour cost ?

No, you are responsible for fuel.

Do I need waterproofs?

Yes. If your riding kit isn’t waterproof, then bring some light waterproofs.

What medication should I bring & what innoculations are required?

Bring enough of any prescribed medication you take regularly. If this medication is essential, try and bring a surplus that can be carried by the tour team. A basic first aid kit is useful (plasters, antiseptic cream, bite/sting relief, plus insect repellent). Sunscreen is vital.