Categories
Free things to do Hiking in Israel Stays

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.

Camping Tips for Israel:

In general:

  • Always keep an eye on your valuables, because an animal or a human being 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 in all of the camping sites and it’s important not to leave anything after us.

In the desert area – If you are camping on 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. Also, if there are 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. And if you’re camping in the desert in the winter, pack a lot of layers so you won’t get cold!

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 attemp 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 which are not managed by these organizations and are just places known as camping areas.

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 in Israel is the sign that stands there and tells you that you’ve arrived at a camping site (if there’s no 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 to your trip. Bring enough water and a flashlight, so you won’t get stuck in the dark with not 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 settlements 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. If you will not camp in the boundaries of the camping site, you might frighten the animals that live in the area and disrupt their lifestyle.
  • Bring a trash bag with you, so that you can keep the surroundings clean. Clean after yourselves and 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 it is on 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, and 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 in the camping sites, 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 how a “sign” site looks like. I just didn’t take a pic of the sign…

Camping Sites with a Camping Fee in Israel:

Alongside the free camping sites, there are also dozens of campings sites in Israel, which require a camping fee. Here are the main types of camping places that require a camping fee:

INPA camping sites with entrance fees:

The INPA has free camping sites, but also has some sites which 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 choose the option of bringing your own tent (which should cost you around 55 ILS) or using a tent that is on the site (which should cost you around 80 ILS). Those prices include entrance to the national park or nature park that the camping site is located inside or adjacent to, which means it’s quite worth the money. Not all campsites are open all year round, so make sure to check the details before you get too excited.

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 it’s official webpage.

To reserve a camping place, you can contact the INPA through the email winter@npa.org.il or through their FB page.

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 still some in the southern part, like in 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, but it lets you camp in a protected area.

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

Private camping sites:

Aside from the main organizations, there are also private entities, who have opened a camping site in Israel. For example, Timna Park has a private camping site. They charge 104 ILS for a night with your own tent, including entrance to the park.

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

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Yours,

Lior

Categories
Eilat Free things to do Hiking in Israel Stays

Camping Sites in and Around Eilat

Where can I camp in Eilat? – That’s a question I hear a lot lately. Eilat is full of hotels and even has some great hostels in it, but what if you’re on a very tight budget and don’t have much money for accommodation? In this case, you might want to know about the camping options in Eilat and its surroundings. You might also want to know about them if you’re looking for a unique way to spend the night in Eilat. So… Here they are:

Free Camping on the Beach:

According to the Eilat Municipality’s policy, you cannot camp on all the beaches in Eilat. There are only some beaches which are open for camping. In reality, there are some people who do camp on “the forbidden” beaches and the Municipality’s inspectors aren’t doing much to prevent that from happening. Anyway, I suggest that if you choose to camp on the beaches, you do so on the legal beaches only. By the way, it is completely free to camp on the beaches! But keep in mind that there are no organized facilities there.

So here are the legal beaches for camping:

Camping on the Southern Beaches:

It is legal to camp on the beachline that stretches from Snuba Beach to Migdalor Beach (the “Lighthouse Beach”). Near Snuba Beach you can also find an organized parking lot, where you can park a caravan.

Camping Eilat – Where Can you Camp on the Southern Beaches

Camping on the Northern Beaches:

It is legal to camp in the parking lot of the Mifraz HaShemesh Beach. It is also possible to park a caravan there. Be aware – It is illegal to camp on the beach itself, only in the parking lot area.

It is also possible to camp on the Roksa Beach (also called “Ardag Beach” or “Thailandi Beach”), which is located a bit east of Mifraz HaShemesh Beach, near the border line with Jordan.

Camping Eilat – Where Can You Camp on the Northern Beaches

Camping in the Eilat Field School:

If you prefer to camp in a more organized place, that also feels safer (although camping on the beaches in Eilat is considered safe), you might want to check out the camping option in Eilat Field School. The field school is located across from the Coral Beach Reserve, at the end of the Israel National Trail, in the southern beaches area. It is a short bus drive from the city center. There are rooms for accommodation, but if you bring your own tent, you can stay on the Eilat Field School’s grounds for a reasonable amount of money (around 50 Shekels a night, but check with the field school itself for prices). The campground includes showers, toilets, BBQ corners and lighting.

For more info about prices and availability, call: +972 3 638 86 88 or send an email to talid@spni.org.il.

Free Camping in and Around Eilat:

There are several free camping grounds around Eilat, but all of them are very basic and do not have any facilities in them. There are no toilets, no showers, no flowing water or lighting in those campgrounds (January 2019 Update: Those campgrounds are supposed to be upgraded this year and will include field toilets and water jerrycans from which you will be able to drink). They are good for hikers who make their way in the Eilat Mountains Reserve or in the Timna Valley area, but if you plan to stay there, you should make sure you have enough water for the night.

Here are a few of the camping grounds around Eilat:

Nahal Shlomo (Solomon River) Camping Ground: This camping ground is located a bit west of the Camel Ranch in the southern part of Eilat. This is a perfect campground for those of you who plan to hike up Mount Zefahot in the early morning, as it is about an hour hike from the mountain. There are no facilities. To get there, you can take a bus from the Eilat city center towards the Taba Border (line 15), get off at Mitsrayim Road/Camel Ranch station (דרך מצרים/ חוות הגמלים) and then hike along the dirt road north-west to the campground. It is about a 30-minutes’ hike from road number 90.  

Mount Yehoram Camping Ground: Located near Yehoram Mountain, about 2.5 km north of Eilat, a bit off road number 12. The campground is on the other side of the road from Mount Yoash (there is a brown sign pointing to the mountain), a bit north-east to Mount Yoash. It is considered a safe camping ground, which currently only has a toilets facility. This camping ground is perfect for those of you planning to hike up Mount Yoash in the morning or hike down Gishron Wadi on the Israel National Trail. You can get there:

  • By Bus – Line 392 to the station called Mahavar Netafim (מעבר נטפים) and then a 30-minutes’ hike down along the road to the camping ground.
  • By Foot – About a 2.5-hours’ hike from the beginning of road number 12 in the south-western part of Eilat.
Mount Yehoram Camping Site. The colorful box is full of books!

Red Canyon Camping Ground: If you’re planning to hike around the Red Canyon, this camping ground can suit you. It is with no facilities. Check out my post – Hiking Around Eilat – Beautiful Red Canyon –  for more info about getting here.

There are a couple more camping grounds that are farther away from Eilat, on the Israel National Trail. Those include: Nahal Raham Camping Ground (חניון נחל רחם) and Shchoret Camping Ground (חניון שחורת).

Camping Outside Eilat:

Here are a few camping grounds outisde of Eilat that charge a fee:

Hai Bar Yotvata Camping Ground: Located near the Hai Bar Yotvata Reserve between Kibbutz Yotvata and Kibbutz Samar on road number 90, about 35 km north of Eilat. The camping ground includes hot showers, toilets, BBQ corners, electricity spots for phone charging, drinking water faucet and a field kitchen with a refrigerator and cooktop. It is possible to get sleeping mattresses for an additional fee. The camping is in private tents.

You can arrive at the camping ground until 5:00 PM (on Fridays until 4:00 PM) and you need to leave before 11:00 AM on the day you choose to leave. If you wish to leave the camping ground during the day for a hike in the area, you will need to leave an ID at the entrance of the site as a security deposit.

The prices (in the time of writing – March 2018) are: Adult – ₪ 53, Child – ₪ 42. Payment is made upon arrival to the camping ground at the ticket office. You can pay by credit or cash.

It is possible to reserve a camping place in the camping ground in advance by calling +972-8-6373057 or sending an email to haibar-yotvata@npa.org.il.

To get to the Hai Bar Yotvata Camping Ground by bus, you can take lines 390, 397, 444 or 991 and get off at Samar Station. Then, walk a short while to the camping ground.

Camping in Timna Park: There is an option of camping in private tents near the artificial lake in Timna Park. The camping ground includes toilets, hot water showers, electricity sockets, lighting, drinking water. It is possible to get sleeping mattresses for an additional fee. This is a perfect camping ground for those of you planning to hike around Timna Park.

Please contact Timna Park for more info about camping prices and availability.

And check out my post – Saturday Morning in Timna Park – to learn more about the park.

Wish you all a wonderful camping experience!

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Yours,

Lior