Horseback riding in Israel

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Equestrian tours in Israel

ISRAEL Mini GUIDE

Israel is a land saturated with the importance of its position as the cradle of Judaism, Christianity and Islam alike. This complexity flows into the diversity of the natural landscape that varies from the salty serenity of the Dead Sea to the verdant national parks and the parched desert plateaus.
Most visits to the Holy Land are ushered in with a trip to the capital city of Jerusalem. The vibrant streets bustle with the activity of modern city dwellers and busy markets spill out onto ancient cobbled streets against a skyline of sacred sites. The modern commercial center of Tel Aviv is dedicated to the more hedonistic pursuits of life that come in the form of sun drenched beaches, good restaurants, designer clothing stores and sophisticated night clubs. Sunbathing and scuba diving is the allure of the Red Sea port of Elat while relaxation and spa resorts are a specialty of the Dead Sea experience. The Galilee area, north of Jerusalem, is the destination of pilgrims and nature lovers alike. Its concentration of holy sites provides a fascinating visit, particularly around the azure stretches of the Sea of Galilee. The cosmopolitan reaches of the Jewish-Arab city of Haifa provide a glorious base from which to explore the Galilee area as well as the magnificent sea grottoes of Rosh Hanikra.

Time: Local time is GMT +2 (GMT +3 from April to September).
Electricity: 220 volts, 50Hz; European-style two-pin and round three-pin plugs are used.
Money: The Israeli Shekel (ILS) is divided into 100 agorot (singular is agora). Money can be changed in the small exchange bureau found on most main streets, or at banks and hotels. ATMs are prevalent throughout the country and linked to American systems. Most banks are open Sunday through to Friday until noon, and are open again from 4pm till 6pm on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Major credit cards are widely accepted, as are travelers cheques, though commission on these is high.
Language: Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Israel. Most of the population also speak English.
Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens require a valid passport, but no visa is needed for stays of up to three months.
Passport/Visa Note: Passports must be valid for at least six months after period of intended stay and visitors must hold onward or return tickets and sufficient funds to cover their stay in Israel. Travelers intending to visit Arab countries (other than Egypt, Jordan or United Arab Emirates) after leaving Israel should ensure that their passport does not contain Israeli visas or stamps, otherwise entry into Arab countries with such passports will be denied; it is sometimes possible to have a separate sheet of paper stamped instead. However if traveling to the Occupied Territories proof of entry to Israel must be shown in passports.

Tipping: Tipping in Israel, according to level of service, is expected unless a service charge is added to the bill.

Climate
: Israel has a Mediterranean climate that is characterized by long, hot, dry summers and short, cool, wet winters.

Customs
: Israel is a largely religious society and religious customs should be respected. Indecent behavior is not tolerated and offenders will be arrested and fined heavily or imprisoned. Care should be taken not to photograph any military or police personnel or installations, and visitors should be discreet about taking photographs in Jewish Orthodox areas and of Jewish Orthodox people. It is advisable to carry official identification at all times.

Communications: The international access code for Israel is +972. The outgoing code is 00 (not from public phones) followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). There are other outgoing codes depending on which network is used to dial out on. City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)2 for Jerusalem. Public phones are card operated and are readily available, and instruction cards state whether to dial 012, 013 or 014 for overseas. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators; otherwise mobile phones can easily be rented. Internet cafes are available in the main towns and tourist areas all over Israel.
Duty Free: Travellers to Israel do not have to pay duty on 250 cigarettes or 250g of other tobacco products; 2 litres wine and 1 litre of other types of alcoholic beverages; 250ml of eau de cologne or perfume; and gifts to the value of US$150 for residents and US$125 for non-residents. Prohibited items include fresh meat and fresh fruit (especially from South Africa).

Airports
Ben-Gurion International Airport (TLV)
Location: The airport is situated nine miles (14km) southeast of Tel Aviv, 30 miles (50km) west of Jerusalem.
Time: GMT +2 (GMT +3 from April to September).
Contacts: Tel: +972 (0)3 975 5555.
Transfer between terminals: A free shuttle bus connects the three terminals.
Getting to the city: There are several convenient and reliable options for traveling from the airport. Bus services to Jerusalem and Haifa depart every half hour, as well as services to Tel Aviv city centre and the seafront. Bus #22 goes past most major hotels and central places within Tel Aviv. Bus stops are situated in the airport central plaza. Taxis can be hired from authorised dispatchers at the taxi stand near the exit from gate 8, close to the airport reception hall. Sheruts, shared taxis, are about half the price of private taxis and therefore a good option. In Terminal 3 buses and taxis are located on level 2. A train service operates from Terminal 3 to Tel-Aviv, Haifa, Akko or Nahariya between 3am and midnight and takes less than 20 minutes to Tel Aviv's central train station. For an automated information line regarding transport and parking at the airport dial (0)3 972 3388 (English).
Car rental: Car rental companies include Avis, Budget, Eldan, Hertz and National.
Airport Taxis: Taxis are freely available outside the airport terminal. Fares should not exceed NIS150.
Facilities: Airport facilities include banks and currency exchange, ATMs, a post office, public telephones, restaurants, duty-free shops, left-luggage services, a children's nursery, information counters, facilities for disabled passengers and conference and business services. As you'd expect, immigration at Tel Aviv can take a very long time, with lengthy security measures, including interrogation of all non-Israelis. Check in lines can be avoided with night-before check in.
Parking: Short- and long-term parking is available.
Departure Tax: None.
Website: www.iaa.gov.il/Rashat/en-US/Airports/BenGurion

Israeli Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 364 5500.
Israeli Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7957 9500.
Israeli Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 567 6450.
Israeli Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6215 4500.

United States Embassy, Tel Aviv: +972 (0)3 519 7617.
British Embassy, Tel Aviv: +972 (0)3 725 1222.
Canadian Embassy, Tel Aviv: +972 (0)3 636 3300.
Australian Embassy, Tel Aviv: +972 (0)3 693 5000.

Emergencies: 100 (Police); 101 (Ambulance)


JERUSALEM
Israel's capital city occupies an important place in the hearts and minds of Muslims, Christians and Jews alike. The walled section comprising the Old City of Jerusalem is an area rich in the historical traditions of these three religions. It is home to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. The Western Wall provides the focal point for Jewish worship and stands as an enduring symbol of the Jewish homeland. The Old City can be accessed through seven of the eight gates punctuating the ancient walls enveloping it. Within these walls are the separate quarters of the Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Armenian communities. A dazzling array of merchandise can be purchased from the lively Arab souk (open-air market) and meandering through the narrow corridors and cobbled pavements of the ancient centre inevitably provides a feast of sensations.
For an orientation of the Old City it is best to set off along the Ramparts Walk, originally designed for watchmen, or to climb the Citadel of David for a panoramic vista of the eternally fascinating city of Jerusalem.

Masada
Situated in the Judean Desert and overlooking the Dead Sea is one of Israel's most popular tourist attractions, the mountaintop fortress of Masada (sometimes spelled Massada). This enduring symbol of Jewish history is the site of the heroic defiance by 967 Jewish Zealots who rose against the Roman Empire in 66 AD and took their own lives when defeat seemed inevitable. A cable car ride or hike up the Snake Path takes one to the top where breathtaking views can be enjoyed over the Dead Sea and the surrounding desert. The Masada Sound and Light Show recounts this dramatic history with special pyrotechnic effects, and takes place in a natural amphitheatre on the west side of the mountain reachable only from Arad.
Telephone: (07) 658 4207/8; Website: www.parks.org.il; Transport: Bus 444 or 486 from west Jerusalem; Opening time: Daily 8am to 5pm (until 4pm from October to March), first cable car at 8am; Admission: Adults: NIS23 (NIS61 including cable car). Children: NIS12 (NIS 34 including cable car)

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the holiest Christian site in Jerusalem, the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection. First constructed in 335 by Emperor Constantine, persistent damage has been inflicted on the structure over the centuries and subsequent repair work has been undertaken by the religious communities that administer it. The Church contains the Chapel of Golgotha and three Stations of the Cross where Jesus was crucified, and the Sepulchre itself marks the place of his burial and resurrection.
Address: Via Dolorosa, Old City; Telephone: (02) 627 3314; Transport: Bus to Jaffa Gate; from there walk through the Old City; Opening time: Daily 5am to 9pm (April to September) and 4am to 7pm (October to March); Admission: Free

Temple Mount (Al-Haram al-Sharif)
Temple Mount, known by some as Mount Moriah, is a site of tremendous religious importance to Muslims, Jews and Christians alike. It is one of Jerusalem's most famous landmarks and can be found within the walled section of the Old City. The glinting golden dome of the Dome of the Rock rises impressively from Jerusalem's skyline and has become the city's most distinguishable feature. Temple Mount is of Jewish and Christian historical importance on two accounts: the large rock is believed to be the place where Abraham offered his son Isaac up for sacrifice, and the First Temple is the place where the Ark of the Covenant was housed. Even though off limits to Jews today, it is still the focal point of Jewish life and Jews worldwide face the Temple Mount during prayer. For Muslims the same rock is the place from which Muhammad, in a dream, ascended to heaven. In commemoration the Dome of the Rock was built over the site in the 7th century. It is known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary or Al-Haram al-Sharif, and is one of the three most important sites in Islam. Also located on the Temple Mount are the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Islamic Museum, which houses a collection of Korans and Islamic relics.
Address: Temple Mount, Old City; Telephone: (02) 628 3393; Transport: Bus to the Dung Gate; Opening time: The site is temporarily closed to non-Muslims due to religious tensions. Otherwise Saturday to Thursday 7.30 to 11am and 1.30pm to 3pm (summer; 8am to 10.30am and 12.20pm to 2pm (winter) ; closed Fridays and prayer times; Admission: IS36 (Dome of the Rock, Al Aqsa Mosque and Islamic Museum); Temple Mount free

Western Wall (HaKotel HaMaaravi)
The Western Wall, known to non-Jews as the Wailing Wall, is the most sacred Jewish site of prayer in the world. Thousands of worshippers gather year round to pray and place written prayers folded into the crevices of the wall.
The 1,916ft (584m) wall is all that remains of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, built in 30BC by King Herod. It is made up of enormous stone blocks and serves as a tribute to the scale of workmanship in past eras. Following Orthodox Jewish practice the praying sections have been separated for men and women. Men are required to wear a skullcap (kippah) and women must be modestly dressed. On Fridays, the Jewish Shabbat or Sabbath, the men's section particularly pulsates with the songs and prayers of the faithful, for in principle the whole area is an Orthodox synagogue. The wall is also sacred to Muslims who believe that it is where the prophet Mohammed tied up his winged horse, Al Burak, before ascending into heaven.
Address: Temple Mount, Old City; Transport: Bus to Dung Gate; Opening time: Daily 24 hours; Admission: Free

Via Dolorosa
The Via Dolorosa (Road of Sorrow), also known as the Way of the Cross, is the route Jesus is said to have followed as he carried the Cross to his crucifixion. There are 14 stations along the way commemorating different events, starting at Lion's Gate in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, where Jesus was convicted by Pontius Pilate, and ending at his tomb, inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre within the Christian Quarter. Every Friday at 3pm priests lead a procession and prayers are said at each station. A steady stream of pilgrims remember and honour Jesus' sacrifice by walking the Way of the Cross each year.
Address: Via Dolorosa, Old City; Transport: Bus to Lion’s Gate; Opening time: Daily 24 hours; Admission: Free

Yad VaShem
This vital memorial to the Holocaust provides a multifaceted tribute to the millions of Jews who died during World War II. The focus of the museum is to commemorate and document the events of the Holocaust and provide ongoing research and education. The Museum's archive collection is the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of material containing documents, photographs, films and videotaped testimonies of survivors. These can be read and viewed in the allocated rooms and is a sobering experience. An inspiring tribute to the victims is The Hall of Names, which details names of the holocaust victims. Symbolic gravestones are created from the 'Pages of Testimony' that record the biographical details of millions of deceased. Yad Vashem's library contains an impressive collection of material in many languages. The Historical Museum chronicles the history of the holocaust from the implementation of the Nazi's anti-Jewish policies to the mass murder of millions of people. The display includes photographs, artefacts, documents and audio-visual material. An important collection of Holocaust art is displayed in Yad Vashem's Art Museum. The International School for Holocaust Studies and Holocaust Research provide education and ongoing research on the Holocaust at both national and international levels. Other facets of the Yad Vashem experience include the Righteous Among the Nations, honouring the non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews; and the Encyclopaedia of Communities which records the historical-geographical communities of Jews destroyed or damaged during the Nazi regime.
Address: Har Hazikaron; Telephone: (02) 644 3749 or (02) 644 3686; Website: www.yadvashem.org; Transport: By bus to Mt. Herzl on Herzl Boulevard; Opening time: Sunday to Wednesday 9am to 5pm, Thursdays 9am to 8pm, Fridays and eve of holidays 9am to 2pm. Entrance is allowed until an hour before closing; Admission: Free, guided tours are subject to a fee

The Israel Museum
The Israel Museum has achieved world-class status with its remarkable collections spanning prehistoric archaeology to contemporary art. These include displays of archaeology from the Holy Land, a comprehensive compilation of Judaica and ethnology of Jewish people, and a fine art collection encompassing the Old Masters to renowned contemporary works.
Perhaps the most famous exhibit are the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date from the 3rd century BCE to the 1st century AD, and were discovered in a cave by a shepherd in 1947.
Numerous temporary exhibitions, publications and educational activities form part of the museum's cultural programme and over 950,000 visitors are drawn to this vast complex each year. Another great attraction of the Museum is its Art Garden that was designed by the Japanese-American sculptor, Isamu Noguchi. It is a fusion of Zen landscaping incorporating the natural vegetation of the area such as rosemary bushes, olive and fig trees. Displayed within this picturesque setting are the famous sculptures of Rodin, Bourdelle, Maillol, David Smith, Henry Moore, Richard Serra, Sol LeWitt and James Turrell.
Address: Ruppin Boulevard, near Parliament; Telephone: (02) 670 8811; Website: www.imj.org.il; Transport: Buses 9, 17, 24/24a, and 99; Opening time: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursdays, Saturday and holidays 10am to 5pm; Tuesday 4pm to 9pm (August 10am to 9pm); Friday, and Passover 10am to 2pm; Admission: Adults NIS48, Students NIS36, Children (age 5 to 17) NIS24 Concessions are available. Price of ticket includes audio guide. Volunteer guides conduct tours in English, Hebrew, French and Spanish (free with admission to museum)

Citadel or Tower of David
The Citadel was constructed in the 1st century BC as a fortress for King Herod and has since served as a strategic defence position to the Old City. The tallest tower of the Citadel, the Phasael, is the place to appreciate the magnificent view as well as the orientation of the Old City. The Citadel contains the excellent Museum of the History of Jerusalem, featuring fascinating displays of 4,000 years of the city's past.
Address: Jaffa Gate; Telephone: (02) 626 5333, or (02) 626 5310 (24-hr information line); Website: www.towerofdavid.org.il; Transport: Bus 20, 60; Opening time: July to August open Saturday to Thursday from 10am to 5pm, Friday and holidays 10am to 2pm. September to June open Sunday to Thursday from 10am to 4pm, Saturday from 10am to 2pm.; Admission: NIS30 (adults), NIS20 (students), NIS15 (children and pensioners). The Night Spectacular: NIS 50 (adults), NIS 45 (child/pensioner/student).

Bethlehem
Bethlehem is just six miles (10km) south of Jerusalem and a major tourist attraction for pilgrims and visitors alike. The birthplace of Jesus, this is a charming town despite its tourist-centred commercialism. The Church of the Nativity is the focal point for a visit to the town, erected over the site of Jesus' birthplace. Bethlehem is also a wonderful place to experience the variety of Christian monastics that represent every permutation of Christianity. Christmas is celebrated on three separate dates in accordance with the Catholic and Western Churches calendars, the Eastern calendar followed by the Armenians and the Julian calendar followed by the Greek Orthodox and Eastern churches. For further exploration of the town's cultural diversity, visit the Bethlehem Museum, established by the Arab Women's Union to celebrate the Palestinian cultural heritage. The exhibits include displays from traditional households to clothing, jewellery and old photographs. (Open Monday to Wednesday and Friday and Saturday between 8am and 5pm, Thursdays between 8am and 12pm).
Website: www.bethlehem-city.org

The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea and its immediate environment is a landscape abundant with natural wonders. Most notable of these is the high salt and mineral concentration found in the waters that enable visitors to float effortlessly on its salty surface. The therapeutic properties of the black mud found in the region are formed by a mixture of sea minerals and organic elements. For a completely rejuvenating experience several Dead Sea spa resorts offer a range of health and beauty treatments, and the opportunity to float in the saltiest body of water in the world, and the lowest place on earth. The Ein Gedi Spa is on the western shore. Equally fascinating are the archaeological sites of the Dead Sea region with traces remaining of Persian, Greek, Roman and other civilisations. Notable historical locations include the notorious biblical city of Sodom that was destroyed along with Gomorra. Salt pillars emerge from this eight-mile (12km) geological ridge in the southern part of the Dead Sea.
Telephone: (08) 659 4760 (Ein Gedi Spa); Website: www.ngedi.com; Transport: Bus 444 or 486 from west Jerusalem; Opening time: Ein Gedi Spa open daily 7am to 6pm (Fridays until 5pm)

GALILEE
The Galilee is Israel's most fertile region with an abundance of valleys, forests and farmlands. Tourists are drawn to the recreational pursuits and historical attractions associated with the area. Lake Tiberias (also known as the Sea of Galilee) is an area closely associated with the life and times of Jesus making it a religious centre for both Christians and Jews - it has many religious shrines and historical sites of interest. The city of Tiberias was built in honour of the Roman Emperor after which it was named and has played an integral role in the history of the Jews. It served as an important spiritual centre and was the site of the compilation of the Talmud. The early pioneers established some of Israel's first kibbutzim (collective farms) around Tiberias. Today it is a popular vacation spot offering year-round water activities, hot springs, health resorts and magnificent national parks. Attractions

Hamat Tiberias National Park
The 17 springs of Hamat Tiberias flow from a source that stretches 33ft (10m) below the ground. Its therapeutic powers have been used since ancient times to cure various ailments. The Hamat Tiberias synagogue, built between 337 and 286 BC, contains the oldest surviving mosaic floor in Israel. The central mosaic is a beautifully preserved design representing a large zodiac with Helios at its centre guiding his celestial chariot in the direction of the sun.
Telephone: (06) 672 5287; Website: www.parks.org.il; Transport: Hamat Tiberias National Park is at the southern entrance to Tiberias, near the hot springs; Opening time: 8am to 5pm (April to September), 8am to 4pm (October to March)

Beit She'an National Park
Beit She’an was established in the 5th century BC. Its strategic location brought with it many skirmishes in an effort to control this hilltop settlement. It was the seat of Egyptian rule before falling to the King of Assyria and was later resettled as a Hellenistic city during the time of Alexander the Great. A period of conquests then followed until the Romans returned the city to its former residents. It prospered during the time of Hadrian and experienced its golden age after the Bar Kochva revolt. Numerous buildings were constructed during this time and the residents enjoyed a time of peaceful coexistence. After Christianity was declared the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century AD the face of the city changed markedly. This was followed by further conquests until an earthquake left the city in ruins. Settlements later sprung up around the site of the ruins and the city received an influx of people post-1948 and the establishment of the State of Israel. It is now a thriving city built around the remains of an ancient center. Most notable amongst the ruins is the Roman theater, Byzantine bathhouse, Roman street and colonnade and the amphitheatre used for gladiatorial battles.
Address: The Beit She’an National Park is located in the city of Beit She’an; Telephone: (06) 658 7189; Website: www.parks.org.il; Opening time: Sunday to Thursday 8am to 8pm, Friday and Saturday 8am to 5pm (April to September), 8am to 4pm (October to March); Admission: NIS23 (adults), NIS12 (children)

Gan Hashlosha National Park (Sahne)
The warm waters of the Amal River flow through the length of the park and can be enjoyed year round with average temperatures of 82ºF (28ºC). Visitors to Gan Hashlosha can relax in the natural pools and rejuvenate in the natural jacuzzi that occurs underneath the flowing stream of an invigorating waterfall. Of cultural interest are the hydro-powered flour mill, the tower-and-stockade museum and the Museum of Regional and Mediterranean Archaeology. The latter museum contains a collection of Greek tools and a display of archaeological findings from Beit She'an Valley, Iran and Egypt.
Address: The park is on Route 669, approximately 15 minutes from Beit She’an; Telephone: (06) 658 6219; (06) 658 6352 (museum); Website: www.parks.org.il; Opening time: Daily 8am to 5pm (April to September), 8am to 4pm (October to March)

Caesarea
The ancient port city of Caesarea was established 2000 years ago by Herod the Great as a tribute to the Roman Emperor, Augustus Caesar. Its rich archaeological heritage includes the remains of Roman architecture notably an aqueduct, theater, houses and palaces. For diving enthusiasts, diving the ruins of Herod's city provides an extraordinary experience. Modern day Caesarea has become well known for its fine homes, 18-hole golf course, luxury hotels, galleries and boutiques. Miles of sandy beaches stretch along the Mediterranean coastline and visitors can enjoy the sun soaked atmosphere amidst this luxurious backdrop.

Nazareth
Nazareth is one of the most important Christian holy sites attracting pilgrims from all over the world to its parts. It was here that Jesus spent most of his life and it was here that the Miracle of the Annunciation took place. Nazareth is home to both Christians and Muslims (the largest Arab population left in Israel) and is a quaint amalgamation of red roofs and white churches dotted along the slopes of the Galilean hillside. Breathtaking views can be enjoyed from the summit, which looks out onto the Jezreel Valley. The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth is one of the most important sites in the Christian world, constructed over the location of the Annunciation. The walls of the upper sanctuary are decorated with panels depicting scenes from the life of Mary that have been donated by Catholic communities from around the world. The nearby Church of St Joseph houses the remains of Crusader bas-reliefs, capitals and inscriptions found during the Church's construction. The Synagogue Church in Nazareth is thought to have been built over the site where Jesus preached and read of the coming of the Messiah. The Mosque Quarter is an interesting area comprising an elegant mosque within the central market area. The Turkish-style edifice was constructed in 1812 and today belongs to the wealthy Fahoum family.

Passport required Return ticket required Visa required
Australian Yes Yes No
British Yes Yes No
Canadian Yes Yes No
Other EU Yes Yes No
USA Yes Yes No

Passports
To enter Israel, a passport valid for a minimum of six months from the date of entry is required by the nationals referred to in the chart above.

Passport note

Due to a lack of diplomatic relations between Israel and many Arabic or predominantly Muslim countries, those with Israel entry stamps in their passports will not be allowed entry. Since January 2013, visitors are given an entry card instead of a stamp on arrival which you must keep until you leave.

Visas
:
Visas are not required by nationals referred to in the chart above for stays of up to 90 days.
Types and cost

Visitor's visa: US$26.

ValidityVisitor's visa: up to three months from the date of issue.






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