Camping in Israel: The Basics

One of the most expensive aspects of a trip to Israel is the accommodation. So in this guide, I’m going to focus on camping in Israel, which is one of the affordable ways to stay in Israel. Where can you camp, how much should you expect to pay, and some basic guidelines- all in this ultimate guide to camping in Israel.

Most of the camping sites are located in the Israeli wild areas, so camping could be perfect for those of you who are interested in hiking through Israel. In the major cities, you might be able to find a few camping sites within or near the city, but most of those sites would require payment. Though, in Eilat, for example, there are areas where you can camp for free. More on camping in Eilat in my post – Camping Sites In and Around Eilat.

Post last updated: 24 August 2022.

Camping tips for Israel

In general

  • Always keep an eye on your valuables, because an animal or a human might want to take them while you’re not on watch.
  • Don’t camp under a eucalyptus tree. This is because their branches are huge and there were some tragic incidents of eucalyptus branches falling on people and killing them. If you’re not sure how a eucalyptus looks like, just don’t camp under any tree.
  • Bring a trash bag with you and clean after yourselves. There aren’t trash cans on all of the camping sites and it’s important not to leave anything after us.

In the desert area

  • Mark your tent with something shiny. If you’re camping in a wide-open space, try marking your tent with something that shines in the dark, so that jeeps won’t drive over you at night.
  • In case of flood hazards, do not camp near wadi openings. Before setting up your camp, you should check about floods by phoning *3639 through an Israeli phone or +972-2-5006261 through a non-Israeli phone.
  • In windy campgrounds, find some large stones and put them inside your tent. This way, it won’t blow away.
  • In winter – pack lots of layers so you won’t get cold. I recommend bringing thermal shirts and pants for the night.

In the Carmel area – Keep in mind that the Carmel is full of warthogs, which means you might stumble into some while camping, especially after dark. Keep calm and don’t attempt to approach them.

Free camping sites in Israel

There are dozens of free camping sites in Israel, most of them in the Negev region, the Israeli desert. The free camping sites are managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) and the Jewish National Fund (KKL). There are also camping sites that are not managed by these organizations. In general, if it’s not a nature reserve and there’s no sign prohibiting it, you can camp there.

Most of those camping sites are referred to as “sign sites”, because the only thing that separates them from any other empty piece of land is the sign that stands there and tells that it’s a camping site. If it’s not in English, then it will be written in Hebrew – “חניון לילה”.

In most of the free camping sites, there are no facilities at all – no water, no toilets, no lights at night. This means it’s just you and nature. Keep that in mind when getting ready for your trip. Bring enough water and a flashlight, so you won’t get stuck in the dark with no water.

Here is a map I made of most of the free camping sites in Israel, managed by INPA or KKL. If you see something missing, please let me know:

If you’re hiking on the Israel National Trail, there are also camping options and free accommodation options for you in several towns and villages along the way. Check out “Israel National Trail Angels“.

Basic guidelines for camping in free camping sites

  • It is important to camp only in the designated area. Many campsites are located right next to nature reserves. So, if you won’t camp within the boundaries of the campsite, you might negatively affect the wildlife in the area.
  • Bring a trash bag with you to keep the surroundings clean. Clean after yourselves. If you see that someone has left trash behind, it would be nice if you could clean their mess as well. We don’t want to harm the wildlife by leaving trash.
  • If you’re traveling with a dog, make sure that has a leash and a muzzle. It might seem that a dog cannot harm the ecosystem, but the truth is that it does.
  • Light a fire only if you see a designated place for a fireplace. Always make sure to extinguish the fire before going to sleep or leaving the camping site.
  • You are the only ones responsible for your safety on the campground, so make sure to not get off the marked trails, keep an eye on your valuables, and of course, be conscious. The camping sites are quite safe, but you should always be alert!
This is what a “sign” site looks like. I just didn’t take a pic of the sign…

Camping sites with a camping fee in Israel

Apart from the free camping sites, there are also dozens of paid campsites in Israel. Here are the main types of camping places that require a camping fee:

Paid INPA campsites

The INPA has free camping sites, but also has some that require a camping fee. Those sites are usually situated in the INPA reserves and offer much more facilities, including toilets, showers, water, a field kitchen and even electrical outlets.

It is not allowed to enter with a dog and you must reserve your camping space before coming. When reserving a place, you can either bring your own tent (which costs around 55 ILS per person) or use the site’s tent (which costs around 80 ILS per person). Those prices usually include the entry fee to the adjacent national park, so it’s quite worth the money.

The INPA campsites are NOT open all year round. Most of them are open for individuals and families only on weekends (Thursday to Saturday) and on holidays.

For the full list of those camping sites, check out INPA’s website. For some reason, I couldn’t find the Hai Bar Yotvata Camping Site there, but it exists as far as I know. To read about the Hai Bar Yotvata Camping Site – visit its official webpage.

To reserve a camping place, check the contact details for the specific campsite. For some reason, they didn’t translate the reservation system to English and it’s currently only available in Hebrew.

Here is a video made by the INPA, which shows a bit of their camping sites that require entrance fee:

Field schools

There are about 10 field schools throughout Israel, managed by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. Most of their field schools are located in the northern part of Israel. But, there are also some in the South, like Eilat and Mitzpe Ramon. Those field schools have regular rooms, but some also offer camping areas for people coming with their own tents. It costs around 50 ILS per night. Usually, they also open their camping area only on weekends and holidays, but it’s best to check.

To get more info about the field schools and contact information – check out this website.

Private camping sites

Aside from the major organizations, there are also private entities, that have opened camping sites in Israel. For example, Timna Park has a private camping site. Timna Park’s prices start from 162 ILS per person for a night with your own tent. It also includes entry fees to the park. So, it costs about 110 ILS per person. It’s quite expensive, but camping there should be special.

There are also many khans and private farms, which offer a place for camping with your own tents or their tents. For example, I stayed at the Hadkalim Farm during my visit to the Western Negev.

If you would like to find more private camping sites, chat with me on my Facebook page – Backpack Israel – or send me an email to lior@backpackisrael.com and I’ll try to help.

Wishing you a great camping trip!


Did I forget anything important? Do you have any camping tips to add? Feel free to contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com and update me.

Think this post is useful or helpful? I would really appreciate a like, a share or a comment 🙂

Also, check out my Facebook page, Backpack Israel.

Yours,

Lior

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4 comments

Wiebe Westra May 28, 2022 - 9:07 pm
Hello Lior, Thank you sooooooo much for tour info. I'm glad to find backpackisrael. End july I'll go low budget to Israël with only a tent so it is good to be well prepaired! Kind regards, Wiebe
backpackisrael May 29, 2022 - 6:17 am
Hello Wiebe, Happy to hear the information is helpful! I wish you a good trip with your tent in Israel!
Jorrit November 25, 2022 - 11:24 am
Hey! Amazing guide. Definitely adding to my favourites. I am crossing the border from Jordan, and I’ll try to backpack all the way through Israel. Thanks a lot for this amazing guide! Any special tips on winter in Israel? Since I’m going in January. Greetings Jorrit
backpackisrael November 26, 2022 - 11:30 am
Winter could be cold, so make sure you have what you need to get warm. Also, there might be times when it will rain and there will be flash flood hazards, so it's good to check the weather forecast if you're hiking, especially before hiking in desert wadis. Have a good trip!
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