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Bike (or drive) Trip of the Galilee 

 

     (1996 September) This is a 300 miles, 16000 ft elevation gain circular route through scenic Galilee, including the most scenic road in Israel: Route 899.   We did it on mountain bikes in 1996, in early Spring when the flowers blossom.  It would be equally well suited for a drive.   A liesurly pace is 9 days by bike, 5 days by car.   Here is the day by day itinerary for biking. 

 

     Day 1. Haifa - The odometer is set to 0.  Take Highway 4 north through the industrial section.  Lunch stop at the walled city of Akko, preferably in the open air restaurant at the harbor.  Continue north. Stay the first night at the Liman B&B in Liman, a Moshav just short of the Lebanon border.  Dine at the restaurant on Highway 4, 2 km south of Liman.

 

     Day 2.  Continue to Highway 4 to Rosh Hanikra, a border crossing point.  Double back to Highway 899 and turn East to Shlomi.  Turn off at Shlomi for a steep and difficult uphill climb to the Kibbutz Hanita and check out the old guard towers looking over the border into Lebanon.  Lunch at Hanita cafeteria.  Return to Highway 899 and continue East.  2nd night at B&B in Moshav Meron.

 

     Day 3.  Return to Highway 899,  continue East.  you are now on the most scenic stretch of 899.  First  stop is the Bar'am ruins, a well preserved synagogue from the 3rd century.  Highway 899 now runs very close to the Lebanon border so there is very little traffic here other than farmers and military.  Turn off 899 at Kibbutz Malkiya, onto a small back road connecting to Moshav Ramot Naftali.  (Bikers:  this is your downhill thrill for the day.)  From here you can continue either on Highway 886 or the major Highway 90 towards Metulla.  Highway 90 has lots of traffic but is faster.   3rd night at a Metulla B&B.  The main attraction here is the "Good Fence Border Crossing."

 

     Day 4.  Take Highway 99 to Tel Dan, which is the ground springs source of the Jordan River.  At this point if you have a car you may consider a drive up to the top of Mt Hermon and other parts of the Golan Heights.  On bike continue on the flat Hula valley road Highway 918.  918 was very scenic when we visited but parts of the stretch have since been widened to four lanes.  (We hope some of beauty is still preserved when you get there.)  Turn your head back every once in a while to get glimpses of Mt. Hermon from several angles.  Take 918 to its end at the intersection with Highway 91where you turn west onto Highway 90, and 90 to Kibbutz Amiad.  The odometer now reads 207.4 miles, 10110 ft.  Check into Amiad's B&B inn for 2-3 nights.  This lovely kibbutz can be your base for exploring over the next couple of days. 

 

     Day 5.  Rise up for breakfast served in the kibbutz mess hall.  Your options today are: (1) explore/hike/picnic at Hula Reserve - a successful experiment at recreating a former swamp and wildlife habitat; (2) visit Zefat (up a very very steep mountain - don't bike it - take a local bus); (3) Mt of Beatitudes, Lake Kinneret, and Tiberias.

 

     Day 6.  Start with another Israeli breakfast then take a short after breakfast hike to Joseph's Well.  Someone may tell you this is THE well where Joseph was thrown and then rescued and sent off to Egypt.   For the rest of the day do one of the Day 5 options that is still left.  You can also use Amiad as a base for day drives through the Golan Heights.

 

     Day 7.  Depart Amiad, take Highway 85 west to Halafta Junction; south on Highway 806 through the Arab towns of Maghar and Eilabun, and passing several stunning olive tree

grove.  Connect with Highway 65, turn east on Highway 77, at the edge of the Beit Netofa Valley, to Hamovil Junction.  Overnight stay at Kibbutz Hasolelim  (245.4 miles, 12420 ft).

 

     Day 8.  Visit Tzipori (see the fantastic and ultra modern Archeological Museum), Nazareth.  Return for another night at Kibbutz Hasolelim.

 

     Day 9.  Return to Haifa by way of Highway 70, stopping at Beit Shearim (famous necropolis).  Turn up on Highway 672 for the back road home stretch back to Haifa.  Scenic forests and villages along this final stretch.  In Haifa the odometer reading is 294.5 miles,  with a total of 15370 ft climb.   This is a moderately strenuous biking trip.

 

Day 3.  Returning to Highway 899 towards Bar'am.  This point is about 1 km from the Lebanon border.  The only traffic here was the Israeli military and our bikes.

 

Where to stay    

       

 

Hotels in the Carmel, Haifa. In 1996 we discovered the Davir, on Mt. Carmel.  Small and very friendly establishment, part of the Israel wide Davir chain.  the best rooms face Haifa Harbor.  The breathtaking view includes downtown Haifa, Akko, and the mountains on the Israel-Lebanon border.  We set the alarm to see sunrise over those mountains (**), then snoozed until breakfast.  Breakfast on the sunny balcony is included in the room charge - and what a breakfast!  We returned for another pleasant stay in 2000. 2007 update: Our little Mt. Carmel hotel is still operating but now under management of the Dan Hotels chain.

(Feb 2009). A new boutique hotel, Villa Carmel [***,$$], just opened in a quite naeighborhood, 5 minute walk from Carmel center, 10 minute walk to the Carmel promenade. We got in at a bargain introduction rate of $100/night for two, including breakfast. We understand that the regular price will be more than twice as much. Even at that higher price it is highly recommended.

 

The kibbutzim B&B

(1996, updated 2005) More and more kibbutzim have gone into a B&B or inn business.  The ones we have tried were marvelous.  We can give you several reasons for staying at a kibbutz B&B as opposed to the traditional hotels and motels.  (1)  You see a bit of the kibbutz life, culture, and industry;   (2) Be a kibbutznic-for-a-day.  (3) Eat a kibbutznic breakfast (***) - the traditional Israeli breakfast of toast, jams, cheese, yogurt, tomatoes, cucumbers, hard boiled eggs, etc. etc., usually served in the kibbutz mess hall; and not least (4) have a peaceful and relaxing stay in the countryside.  Two kibbutzim we especially recommend for the Galilee tour are Amiad and Hasolelim.  For pictures, maps, and booking go to The Israel Kibbutz Hotel Chain web site.