Pining for summer vacation but hobbled by the virus? Camping could be the answer
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Pining for summer vacation but hobbled by the virus? Camping could be the answer

With AstroTurf campgrounds, glamping, tents and yurts, the outdoors offers options

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Glamping Israel's pop-up glamping experience at the Nana vineyard in Mizpe Ramon in Israel's Negev region, during the coronavirus (Courtesy Glamping Israel)
Glamping Israel's pop-up glamping experience at the Nana vineyard in Mizpe Ramon in Israel's Negev region, during the coronavirus (Courtesy Glamping Israel)

It’s official. It’s July, the kids are home for the next two months and while this is certainly not a summer like all others, it still needs to be a vacation somehow, doesn’t it?

This is the summer for camping.

The great Israeli outdoors, hot and sweaty as they may be, may be the best place to wear masks and keep a social distance, while enjoying nature and all it has to offer.

Since not everyone has the equipment or the temperament needed for sleeping under the stars, we are here to offer solutions that can include A/C, tents, sleeping bags and idyllic locations. All you have to do is get there.

The Peace Forest Camp, a campgrounds in an urban setting, set up by the City of David for the 2020 summer (Courtesy City of David)

1) If you’re a Jerusalemite, you don’t have to travel very far to do some easy camping this summer. The City of David opened the Peace Forest Camp, a quiet urban forest setting located past the Yes Planet movie complex in Abu Tor, stretching toward the Sherover Promenade.

The indoor sleeping option at the Peace Forest Camp, an urban campground near the Yes Planet movie theater (Courtesy City of David)

This is the camping site for those who want the experience without all the work, said Reut Vilf, a spokesperson for the City of David.

Guests can stay in their own tents (NIS 55 per adult, NIS 40 per child, per night), rental tents that include mattresses (NIS 80 per adult, NIS 65 per child, per night) or trailers furnished with beds for three (NIS 360) or  eight (NIS 900).

2) Let’s say you do want to try your hand at camping but don’t own any of the paraphernalia and aren’t interested in borrowing from friends.

Some of the rental camping equipment offered by Camping-U, which has seen an upsurge in camping during the 2020 coronavirus (Courtesy Camping-U)

Try Camping-U, a camping rental company that rents absolutely everything, from tents, sleeping bags and packs for strapping it all to the car to folding kayaks and kitchen gear. The website (in Hebrew) recommends where to camp throughout Israel, from beaches and the Negev to the Galilee and Golan, as well as hiking trails. it points customers toward campgrounds where utilities are minimal — there may not be bathrooms or kitchens, but there will be plenty of peace and quiet.

“We’ve been having a lot of interest since the moment that people were allowed to travel,” said Anat Ben Dror, who co-runs Camping-U.

The full array of Camping-U tents, folding picnic tables, chairs, mats, sleeping bags and mattresses, all available for rental (Courtesy Camping-U)

According to Ben Dror, customers this summer are going camping earlier in the season than usual, and heading to Israel’s cooler Golan region in the north, over the arid south.

“What everyone’s thinking about is looking for a place that’s not sought by the masses,” she said.

Camping-U prices range from NIS 550 to NIS 750 for a full camping equipment package for three to five people.

Family-sized tents are set and ready for camping use at Eliran’s Khan in Yavne’el (Courtesy Eliran’s Khan)

3) You can also choose campgrounds that offer family-sized tents on site, as well as bathrooms, simple kitchen areas and everything needed to camp comfortably without the schlep.

These campsites are a little more manicured — think AstroTurf and plastic Keter chairs outside the tents — but the wild lurks right beyond the circle of fake grass, and it’s an easy option for those new to or wishing to avoid the full experience of camping. All of them offer the option of pitching your own tent, if that’s more your style.

Here are a few options:

Eliran’s Kahn in Yavne’el has those chairs on AstroTurf outside its tents, priced at NIS 100 per person.

At Kfar Indiani, there are 18 yurts that can sleep a family of six or larger ones for several families, priced at NIS 130 per person, with private bathrooms for every two yurts.

The family-sized yurts for camping comfort at the Kfar Indiani campgrounds in Avnei Eitan (Courtesy Kfar Indiani)

Camping Elrom in the Golan Heights has yurts for rent, which are highly recommended for wintertime camping as well.

Maayan Hagoshrim Kayaks has camping grounds with tents that sleep four, priced at NIS 125 per person.

4) August is the time to go camping in the Negev because of the Perseid meteor showers, an annual astronomical event that occurs when many meteoroids, also known as space rocks, enter Earth’s atmosphere and offer a show of shooting stars. (NASA offers a good explanation of the phenomenon.)

The Negev offers a great location for viewing, thanks to the deep, velvety night darkness that stretches for kilometers.

Watching the meteor shower at Kfar Hanokdim in the Negev, in August 2019 (Courtesy Yoni Gritzner)

Various campsites are offering meteor shower specials, including Kfar Hanokdim near Masada, which will celebrate the Perseid meteor shower over three weekends, August 7, 14 and 21.

The westernized Bedouin camp will celebrate the meteor showers with a musical Kabbalat Shabbat service on Friday night, followed by hiking by starlight, a night safari and a telescopes set up for viewing the stars up close. Visitors can stay at Kfar Hanokdim or buy tickets for the meteor events and at a guesthouse or other accommodations in Arad.

Call 09-995-0097 for more information and reservations.

5) For the ultimate in camping without lifting a finger, with campsites that include high thread-count sheets, fine wines and Laurence of Arabia-style furnishings, hitch your car up to glamping expert Itay Kadish Katz.

This summer has been a boon for Kadish Katz, since Israelis are hobbled from travel abroad this summer and some are seeking one-of-a-kind experiences closer to home that are decidedly pricey, but still cheaper than a couple of weeks in France or Italy.

The fully-fitted glamping tents of Glamping Israel, set up at a Mizpe Ramon winery, will be available to watch the August 2020 meteor shower (Courtesy Itay Kadish Katz)

“Israelis have finally cottoned on to what glamping can be,” said Kadish Katz, who hosted one lucky winning family at the Tower of David Jerusalem Day glamping experience, back in May.

He’ll mark the meteor shower on August 13-15 in Mizpe Ramon with two pop-ups.

The first is a one-night option on August 13 at the Nana vineyard in Mizpe, with NIS 3,200 suites for couples only, complete with L’Occitane en Provence bath products, a gourmet dinner, wine tastings, breakfast and other desert pleasures.

Glamping Israel will have two glamping pop-ups in August 2020, on August 13 and August 14-15, for watching the meteor showers (Courtesy Glamping Israel)

There is another glamping pop-up available on August 14-15, but only for an entire group of 30 that reserves the six-tent setup.

Clients can also order a customized glamping experience, said Kadish Katz, who has been working with various Israeli clients for the last couple of months.

“They loved that they were doing it in Israel and getting what they would get abroad in just two hours from Tel Aviv,” said Kadish Katz.

See? There are some advantages to staying home this summer.

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