Hello again, my fellow readers and riders.
During the last months we have been talking here in a series of articles that spread the details of riding the different regions of Israel. The regions covered were:
- The Western Galilee
- The Upper Galilee
- The Golan Heights
- The Lower Galilee
- Jerusalem Heights and Jerusalem
- The Dead Sea
- Eilat, and getting there
- The return from Eilat to Tel Aviv
With this post we are going to conclude the series "Riding Israel", with some logistics details that would be required when planning a trip to Israel.
Israel is a small country in an incredibly unique position: although in the first ring around it there are already countries which have diplomatic relations with it, in the second ring life is a little more complicated. Luckily, it has a vast seashore, and two big ports in Ashdod and in Haifa. So, if you are coming from Europe, the best way to come is via the Mediterranean Sea, using a ferry.
There are two options for a ferry:
Salamis Lines: this is the most consistent travel line from Europe to Israel. The Salamis Lines "Alexo" ship leaves Greece from the Lavrio port once a week and arrives at the Haifa port in Israel three days later, after stopping in Cyprus. The downside is that this ship has only a few cabins, so they do their best to convince you not to travel with the bike in the ship. The price of the cabin is absurd, and if you want to be on the ship you have to pay for it. The best option is to send the bike in the ship, fly to Israel, and wait for the bike here three days later. I have done it twice when I bought my bikes in Europe, a substantial number of friends have done it too, and from what I can see, there is no danger.
Best in this case is to contact Grimaldi lines and verify the information yourself near the time of the trip
I am not sure if you can find flights for your bike to land directly in Israel, and you should contact the available airlines. Most possibly they will offer you to fly your bike to Europe, and then you can choose one of the ferry lines to arrive in Israel.
If you are coming from Africa...
Well, that's an easy one. Just take your bike to Egypt, there you will be able to cross the Taba border to Israel. You can then do our itinerary (the articles mentioned in our introduction here) in the opposite order, or just travel through the last article to Tel Aviv and begin the itinerary as I propose until it takes you back to Eilat to return.
Just be advised that the security process at the Taba border can take a very long time.
Last but not least - the "João Luis itinerary"
Why make a trip short when you can make it long? A Portuguese guy called João Luis (you can find him and his story on Facebook) decided to travel to Israel with his bike about 6-7 years ago and did it through Europe, Ukraine (well, this makes it more difficult now), Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and from there somehow, he got to Jordan and crossed the Naharaim border to Israel. That's the itinerary for whoever likes suspense and adventure. I met him here in Jaffa a number of times, and some years later at Penafiel, in Portugal.
This is not overly complicated but can take a lot of time.
The most important thing to keep in mind: when you prepare your export papers (from wherever you are coming) for the bike to Israel, don't forget to specify there any kind of luggage you may have in the boxes of the bike. If you forget to list one of the items and customs decide that item is important, it might delay by days your release of the bike.
The process itself is going to the customs office, entering the export papers, and releasing the bike for tourism usage and further return to your original country. They will probably explain all the procedures and set a maximum number of days on which the bike can be in the country.
At customs they will probably require from you to sign for the Israeli compulsory insurance, for the number of days that you will stay in the country. Differently from other countries, the compulsory insurance in Israel is for human body damage of the rider and the pillion in the case of an accident. Please take this into account and decide if you want to buy in your country an insurance policy to cover damage to your motorcycle and to third parties. Make sure these policies cover accidents in Israel.
Well, maybe after all the above you decide to rent a bike in Israel?
I could find three companies that rent bikes here. Yes, there aren't so many. There are some more that rent scooters only, but they are not relevant to our itinerary.
These are the three companies I found or known (links to their websites at the name of the companies):
BikeLife Israel - This is my preferred one, especially because I know the owner and have followed the feedbacks to this company from his customers from almost their beginning. Dubi Nevo, the owner, can rent the bikes and prepare with you the itineraries based on your interests. He has 5-6 bikes, so it is very fit for small groups.
GetMoto - I don't personally know this company, but I have the information they are big. I don't know the size of their fleet for renting.
RentalMotorbike - I don't even know if this is an Israeli company. It seems to me that it is not. So, I would be a little careful in renting from them and make sure that from the beginning I have the contact data of the people in Israel.
Prices of rentals in Israel are higher than in Europe because the prices of insurance are extremely high. You shouldn't be surprised if you find prices of USD 170-250 per day. So make sure that renting fits your pockets. Get an initial price quotation from the rental company for the bike you want and the number of days, and if it fits you, order before they stay without bikes.
Riding tour guide
If for some reason you don't feel secure enough to follow my itinerary by yourself, there are a number of tour guides in Israel that also ride motorcycles.
One of them that I can surely recommend is my good friend and companion in trips abroad Shmil Afias. Shmil is a registered and accredited tour guide in Israel and rides a BMW R1200RT. He will surely be a great option, since we have already been together practically at all places that I mention in this itinerary and many more, riding our motorcycles.
Parking your bike in Israeli cities
As an introduction to this subject, please pay attention to a distinction: I am talking mainly about big cities. In small towns or villages, you will be able to park your bikes in any place you want.
In large cities, the story is completely different - and it is different from city to city. Since parking is part of the municipal laws, and the country is not uniformly ready for bike parking, each city creates its own rules for it.
Some variations that you might see:
Parking on the sidewalks at the sides of the streets - this will be allowed in many cities that don't have proper arrangements for parking motorcycles. If you do it, please pay attention to leave a space of at least 130cm (or 52 inches - better more) at one of the sides of the bike to allow people to pass by. Do not block passage in any way.
Motorcycle parking areas at the roadside - if you see something like this:
Riding in the Israeli Summer
Israel has the perfect weather for riding - from the months of May to October you can ride free without having to care about rain. You may get some drops of rain sometimes, but nothing that will wet your clothes.
However, you must be aware of the heat. From June to August, you may get days that go over the 45 Celsius. So, you need to take care about two things:
- Always carry with you enough water to drink during the ride - it is a clever idea to have one of those turtle backpacks with water and a straw that goes into the helmet.
- Stop for resting and drinking at least every 1.5 hours. The heat inside the helmet can make riders sleepy and be dangerous on the road, especially for people that are not used to it.
HOTELS, LODGING AND CAMPING
Reserving hotels in Israel is easy as in every place in the world. Just open booking.com or similar, and the options are there.
But hotels can be very expensive, specially in places like the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Eilat.
Another excellent lodging option is what is called "Zimmers" in Israel. Those are usually houses in small towns or villages that have separate rooms with separate entrances for lodging tourists. There you can get many times a very good experience for a better price.
Another option is the "country lodging" in a Kibbutz that has this option.
And if you like camping, the website of the Israel National Parks Authority has a list of parks where sleeping is allowed. Near the Kinneret Lake (Sea of Galilee), there are some beaches where sleeping is allowed. Just be careful regarding the Dead Sea, most of the isolated beaches are military zones and sleeping there is not allowed.
Israel is a beautiful place for riding. But as in any other place, it takes some planning to be able to really enjoy your riding days here, and there are some things to be careful with.
I believe that in this series of articles, I have covered most of the important subjects to make a ride in Israel a happy one. I hope you agree. In case you do, come, and enjoy!
Ah, and one last thing: if you come here to ride, don't forget to contact me using one of the contact options at the top of the page. Maybe we will have some coffee or beer together, or in the best case even ride together for one day or two.