One of the small downsides to Israel is that for many it can feel oppressively hot for much of the year. However, it is a great shame to miss seeing what the country has to offer just because of the heat and an excellent way around this is to go on water hikes. Not only does this allow you to see some beautiful nature but they also allow you to stay cool at all times.
One of the most popular hiking spots in Israel is Wadi Kelt which attracts more than 60,000 visitors each year. It begins close to Kfar Adumim, which is just off the Jerusalem – Dead Sea road, and you can either walk west or east. Turning west takes you through a series of large pools clumped together while east takes you through a canyon with more evenly spaced pools. Many of the pools in each direction are suitable for swimming in and it is guaranteed to be an enjoyable day out. This is one of the unique places Aardvark will take you on Siyur (field trip), whilst living in Jerusalem.
More famous perhaps is the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve located close to Masada. There are two large waterfalls within the reserve and you can easily access them by walking along a small river. The lesser known waterfall is at the end of a stream called Nahal Arugot; while this is a slightly harder hike it is worth it as the pool surrounding the waterfall is open to the public.
If you are up for more of a challenge then it is well worth going to the Golan Heights to walk along Nahal Yehudia. However, this hike does require some preparation. There are places where the water is so deep that you will have to wrap your backpack in waterproof plastic and ideally bring a small inflatable boat in order to sail your belongings to the other side of the river. The hike also features two cliffs to climb down using rungs and ladders that have been inserted into the rock face. There are several large pools along the way and the highlight is the 29-foot high Yehudia Falls.
While in the Golan another fun hike is Jilabun. This hike will take you through the remains of an ancient village Kfar Devora and past the 39 foot Devora Waterfall. If you continue with the hike you will eventually come to the 134-foot Jilabun waterfall and you can climb down to a large pool and go for a relaxing swim.
If you are really after an immersive water hike then try Nahal HaKibbutzim which is just outside of Beit She’an at the northern end of the Jordan Valley. The hike only takes two hours but you are immersed in water at every stage. Furthermore, there are some water pipes which you can treat as water slides and they are great fun. At the end of the hike there is a large concrete walled swimming pool which was built for officers during the British Mandate which is a perfect place to relax before heading home.
These are just a few of the many water hikes that Israel has to offer and it is truly worthwhile exploring them while on your gap year. Aardvark will take you to many of these places and if you enjoy them we can recommend so many more. The many rivers mean that even during the height of summer it is possible to get outside and enjoy all that the country has to offer.