Friday, 16 November 2018

Family camping or glamping in Israel

Hebrew: טיפים ליציאה לקמפינג עם המשפחה

 campingisrael

Planning a family holiday in Israel but tired of hotels and resorts?  Want to get back to nature?  Israel has many natural attractions and camping is a way to truly appreciate them without breaking the bank. Camping or glamping the key to a success trip is to plan ahead.  A well planned camping trip can be fun for the family. Bad, little, or no planning is a recipe for disaster.  

Planning your camping trip

A mini-market, communal ablution blocks, hot water, a central kitchen, refrigerators, drinking water and electricity are some of the facilities the better campgrounds in Israel offer.  You can even hire mattresses and bedding at some of the sites - call to check before you go.

Some sites have built-in barbecues which are often dirty and greasy.  Take your own if possible.  You can buy a disposable BBQ at specialized camping or hardware stores and most supermarkets.  They are suitable for the preparation of one BBQ meal for 4 and come complete with coals and a rack.

A fair number of camp sites are located on river banks and natural pools.  Some of these sites have water slides - great for the kids!

Some camp sites allow you to book in advance. If possible, we strongly recommend that you do.  During peak holiday time - July and August as well as Pesach and Sukkot camp sites can be crowded.  Crying babies and neighbors partying through the night can be irritating especially if you were looking forward to a really quiet get- away.

Use your camp site as a base for your sight-seeing trip, make sure you have investigated nearby attractions thoroughly. If you are relying on public transport, note that some bus  routes stop outside the camp sites, however, the may not serve the attractions nearby.  Check this beforehand, you do not want to find yourself  stuck at a campsite because of limited public transport.

Some local camp sites are run by the Israel National Parks Authority.  They are well staffed and serviced.  Other camp sites are located on, and are run by kibbutzim.  You may be able to have a meal at the kibbutz dining room (at an extra charge) or take advantage of other kibbutz facilities.

If pre-appointed camp sites are not your thing you might find yourself short of accommodation.  Camping on Israel's beaches is restricted.  You may think you are in the middle of nowwhere, but make sure you have not pitched your tent and rolled your sleeping bag out in a security zone.  It's no fun to be forcibly removed by the military or hear the sounds of shooting practice around you.

General Preparation

The object of the game in camping is to pack wisely and have exactly what you need. The old saying "less is a case of more" truly applies here.

General items to pack for your family's camping trip

  • Clothing is probably the easiest item to over and under pack. It must be appropriate to the season, activities and conditions. Outdoor, daytime temperatures can be boiling while night-time temperatures can drop dramatically. Layering clothing is our recommended technique. Additionally, clothing should protect ones skin from potentially harmful foliage, snakes and other crawling things.
  • Israel's summers are hot and night-time temperatures are warm. You may not feel the need for a tent or a sleeping bag but we recommend you sleep in a cotton duvet (comforter) cover. It's cool and gives you some protection from the mozzies (Australian slang for mosquitoes).
  • Mosquito repellent and citronella candles
  • Barbecue equipment, coals, fire-lighters etc. Don't forget the matches!
  • Camping stove and spare gas cylinders
  • A well insulated cooler box
  • Good, strong, string to make a washing line and to secure your cooler box, watermelon, beers or other items so they can lay in the cold water and chill.
  • A length of strong rope important to have on standby.
  • A mesh, nylon bag that can hold small items and can be easily tied and laid in the water to keep food items cool.
  • Clothes pegs for your washing line and they are also great to seal opened packets of food.
  • A large grass mat (mich'tze'let in Hebrew) to put at the entrance to your tent. You can get these at supermarkets, large hardware stores or at some markets.
  • A broom or carpet brush to sweep out those pesky dry leaves that will get into your tent.
  • Water shoes or an old pair of sneakers for wading in rivers and definitely use at campsite ablutions.
  • Sun hats - Israeli summers are hot, hot, hot.
  • A day pack.
  • An ample supply of bottled drinking water - it is easy to dehydrate.
  • Sun block and lip balm.
  • A shovel, a hammer and a few long nails.
  • Fold-up chairs.
  • Lighting - a party-light extension cable (with 6 globes) is handy if there is electricity supply at the site
  • Multi-purpose knife (Swiss army knife)
  • Duct tape; invaluable if you need to repair your tent or patch your shoes.
  • Torch (head torches are great as they free up your hands)
  • Small amount of laundry detergent
  • Backgammon set (Shesh-besh), a pack of playing cards or Israel's other favorite card game - Taki
  • A camera and your Go-pro

Camping food, preparation and packing the picnic box

Preparing meals can be a fun activity for the whole family when you are camping, but without the necessary equipment it can be a nightmare. After years of camping this is our suggested list of 'must-have' items for easy meal preparations. At the same time, be aware of the environment and wherever possible use environmentally friendly items.

  • Crockery and cutlery: If you are using disposables, consider those made from recycled vegetable matter which are now available in better supermarkets.
  • Vegetable knives
  • Chopping board
  • Can opener, wine corker and bottle opener
  • Colander
  • Plastic food containers of various sizes for left-overs
  • Table cloth
  • Baby wipes; great for sticky hands and other clean ups.
  • Paper kitchen-towels, dishcloths, scourers and dish washing liquid.
  • Large and medium sized pot
  • Frying pan
  • Finjan (a small middle-eastern receptacle used to boil water and brew coffee)
  • Aluminum foil and cling wrap
  • Garbage bags

In addition to your preferred food items, make sure you have these items in your grocery box

  • Long life milk in 1/2 liter quantities
  • Instant rice, noodle or couscous meals served hot as a vegetable or cold as a salad.
  • Individual boxes, one portion size, of cereal. Great for small kids and stays fresh too.
  • Canned corn, beans, olives and pickles
  • Fresh vegetables and fruit
  • Turkish coffee - sit around your camp-fire or next to the river and enjoy the taste of freshly brewed coffee and aroma of the infused cardamon.
  • Lots of marshmallows.
  • Israelis love "garinim" - seeds of all kinds; sunflower, pumpkin, watermelon etc.- great after dinner snack. Please remember to collect the empty shells and throw them in a waste bin.

Camping first aid kit

Make sure your have these first aid items:

  • Aspirin or paracetamol
  • Antacid
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Eye drops
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Band-aids
  • Gauze
  • Surgical tape
  • Tweezers
  • Nail file & nail clippers
  • Cotton wool
  • Anti-allergy meds if necessary
  • Anti-chafing cream

Pack sufficient doses of meds for any chronic condition you may have.  A plastic pill-box with 21 compartments is a great tool for keep track of your weekly medicine requirements.

Camping Tips

  • Clean a dirty BBQ rack by rubbing 1/2 an onion over it and then again with 1/2 a lemon
  • Use large, plastic storage boxes with wheels to pack your camping equipment.   They make it easy to schlepp your stuff from the car and they can double as tables as well.
  • Get hold of 250ml containers (plastic if possible) - you can buy them at your local pharmacy or the neighborhood dollar-shop - and fill them with smaller quantities of shampoo, hair-conditioner, dish washing liquid, olive and cooking oil or any other liquid items your family may need.
  • See our recommended BBQ recipes

Recommended Camp Sites

Camping Terminology

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