Itinerary

The Israel Ride is a seven day experience. We begin with an orientation day for check-in, building your bike, and a practice ride. The adventure continues with 5 days of riding, with a day of rest (Shabbat) in the middle. Our 2017 Israel Ride will feature some of the best cycling in Israel: from Jerusalem to Eilat, through the Negev Desert.

Each day’s route is broken up by rest-stops every 12-15 miles, and a longer lunch stop midday.

Riders are able to choose whichever group they prefer for the first riding day, Wednesday, November 1st, and then must choose a group to ride with for the rest of the trip.

Below is a draft itinerary for the 2017 Israel Ride, subject to change. 

Select a Day

2017 DRAFT Route Map

For each riding day, we offer three routes options. As shown on the map here, the routes generally parallel each other, although on some days they stay in separate locations.

  • Shomrim ride an average of 30 miles/day, generally stopping at lunch and then touring in the afternoon (varies daily).
  • Tzofim ride from hotel to hotel, about 55 miles daily, and is typically our largest group.
  • Chalutzim average 75 miles, with additional mileage and climbs.
  • Our Chaverim touring group parallels our route throughout the week.

Choose from the drop down list above for each day's schedule and route details for the various group. Please note this is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.

Online interactive maps are available on RideWithGPS.com. These online route maps are updated often - we recommend waiting until just before the Israel Ride to download the files to your bike computer.

Pre-Ride day in Jerusalem

We have no official programming on Monday, but encourage riders to come early to Jerusalem. You can book Monday night at the Ride hotel in Jerusalem through Explority, the online forms portal.

Monday Pre-Ride Schedule

8:00 am  Classes open to riders begin at the Pardes Institute
9:00 am  Culinary Tour of Jerusalem leaves from Hotel
10:00 am Bus leaves for Sur Baher tour from hotel lobby
3:00 pm Hotel rooms available for check in
4 – 6 pm Israel Ride check-in open in the lobby
7 - 8 pm Dinner at the hotel for guests
9:30 – 10:30 pm Check-in open

Orientation in Jerusalem

Orientation to the Ride will be held on Tuesday, October 31st, at the Ramat Rachel Hotel in Jerusalem. You need to be at the hotel no later than noon, but your room may not be ready until 3 pm.

You are responsible for your own transportation to Ramat Rachel. There are private taxis (about $50) and shared “sherut” vans (about $18) from Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem.

Starting early Tuesday morning, our mechanics will be available to help you assemble your bike or be fitted with a rental bike. There are two bike assembly times: morning and afternoon. We will organize a test ride to make sure everything is in working order.

There are two optional tours (to the Old City) in the morning.

Chaverim are welcome to join any of the tours or spend the day exploring on their own.

Regardless of your morning plans, all participants are required to be at the orientation starting at 4:15 pm.

Tuesday Schedule

Morning Bike Assembly and Afternoon Tour

7:00 – 10:00 am Breakfast for Monday night guests
8:00 am – Noon Bike Assembly
9:00 am – Noon Israel Ride Check-In
Rental Bike Pick-Up
10:00 am Test Rides Available
Noon Lunch
1:00 – 2:00 pm Afternoon Tour of Ramat Rachel

Morning Tours and Afternoon Bike Assembly

7:00 – 10:00 am Breakast for Monday night guests
8:00 am – Noon Morning Tours Leave
Noon Lunch
1:00 – 4:00 pm Israel Ride Check In
Bike Assembly
Rental Bike Pick-Up
Test Rides Available

Afternoon Activities for Everyone

3:30 pm Women Rider Gathering
4:15 Israel Ride Welcome & Orientation
MANDATORY
7:00 Dinner
8:30pm – 10:00 Israel Ride Help Desk Open

Accommodation: Ramat Rachel

Jerusalem to Ashkelon

Jerusalem Morning Schedule

All riders will start with a bus ride to the outskirts of Jerusalem, where we will have a launch ceremony and begin riding.

6:00 am Optional morning prayers
6:30 Breakfast
7:15 Riders load buses to start locations

Shomrim & Tzofim launch together; Chalutzim separate

8:00 Chaverim tour van departs
8:15 Launch ceremony and roll out!

Ashkelon Evening Schedule

Each riding group will arrive at the hotel separately.

2-3 pm Arrive
5:00 Outdoor pool closes
6:00 Dinner
6:45 Optional evening prayers
7:00 Route briefing and crew presentations

Overview Route Map
(click to enlarge in new window)

day1map

Accommodation: All riders at the Ashkelon Holiday Inn

Distance: 28.5 miles, 1799 feet climbing (53 km / 500 m climbing)

Shomrim take a bus to leave the crowded Jerusalem streets. They start riding near Bet Shemesh, and stop for a tour at Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed Hei to explore the memorial of the war there. They then ride to Bet Guvrin for lunch, learning about the intricate cave systems there. After, they ride to Atachlit, the Ethiopian agricultural village in Kiryat Gat, for their final tour of the day. They are then bused to the hotel in Ashkelon.

Accommodation: All riders at the Ashkelon Holiday Inn

Distance: 57 miles, 2200 feet climbing (92 km / 650 m climbing)

Tzofim take a bus to leave the crowded Jerusalem streets. They ride through the Jerusalem forest, with opportunities to learn about the history of the land while passing modern farms, Roman ruins, and Biblical landscapes. The ride ends with a gradual downhill towards the Mediterranean coastal city of Ashkelon.

 

Accommodation: All riders at the Ashkelon Holiday Inn

Distance: 67.5 miles, 3400 feet climbing (105 km / 800 m climbing)

Chalutzim start their ride from Yad Kennedy, going west through the Jerusalem forest, with opportunities to learn about the history of the land while passing modern farms, Roman ruins, and Biblical landscapes. The ride ends with a gradual downhill towards the Mediterranean coastal city of Ashkelon.

Accommodation: All participants at the Ashkelon Holiday Inn

Chaverim will travel in a van or minibus to each location, driven by their tour guide. 

Start the day with a visit to the Model of the Jerusalem from the Second Temple Period at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Head west from Jerusalem into the lower hillsides to Beit Guvrin-Maresha. See the ruins of this town that had its heyday in the second century BCE through the 2nd century CE. A large part of the town has been carved into the soft limestone.

Lunch in location to be determined - possibly with the riders, depending on time.

End the day with a visit to Kiryat Gat to meet with the Pnima organization – farm that helps Ethiopian immigrants.

Chaverim expect to arrive at the hotel in Ashkelon around the same time as the riders.

Ashkelon to the Northern Negev

Ashkelon Morning Schedule

All groups start together as we leave Ashkelon, and begin to ride around the Gaza Strip.

5:30 am Optional morning prayers
5:45 Breakfast
6:30 Riders launch!
~8:00 Chaverim depart

Thursday Evening Schedule

Each riding group is in a separate location, but with similar schedules. Chaverim will stay with one of the riding groups.

~3 pm Arrive
6:00 Dinner
6:45 Optional evening prayers
7:00 Route briefing and crew presentations

Overview Route Map
(click to enlarge in new window)

Accommodation: Shomrim at the Kibbutz Tze’elim Guest House (in Hebrew)

Distance: 41 miles, 1620 feet climbing (60 km / 450 m climbing)

Shomrim will ride out of Ashkelon and start the day passing various agricultural kibbutzim near the Gaza Strip, stopping for a tour of the Yad Mordechai battle monument. They then ride to Sderot for lunch and a tour of the indoor JNF Playground. After, they ride into central Israel, where the terrain transitions to a semi-arid desert, for a short tour of Kibbutz Urim. They are then bused to their lodgings at Kibbutz Tzeelim.

Accommodation: Tzofim at Kibbutz Mashabei Sadeh Guest House

Distance: 69 miles, 2600 feet climbing (111 km / 800 m climbing)

The start of the day passes various agricultural kibbutzim near the Gaza Strip and then heads into central Israel, where the terrain transitions to a semi-arid desert.

Accommodation: Chalutzim in Nitzana

Distance: 82 miles, 3700 feet climbing (132 km / 1100 m climbing)

The start of the day passes various agricultural kibbutzim near the Gaza Strip. The afternoon heads west to the Egyptian Border, where the terrain transitions to a semi-arid desert, with a few final hills before arriving at the desert town of Nitzana.

Accommodation: Chaverim at the Kibbutz Tze’elim Guest House (in Hebrew)

The day will start with a drive to the settlements that surround the Gaza Strip, and discuss the geopolitical situation there. Among the stops will be a lookout to see the Gaza city of Khan Unis and other towns in the Strip.

Visit "Shvil HaSalat" in Moshav Talmei Yosef, where we will see up close and personal the kind of agriculture practiced on the desert's edge.

Lunch will be en route.

Visit Eshkol Park along the Besor river, drive along the scenic route and make a few stops.

Dinner, briefing and overnight at Kibbutz Tzeelim with the Shomrim.

Note: On this night, each riding group is staying at a separate location in the northern Negev. The Chaverim will stay as a group with either the Shomrim. Those whose spouses/partners are not staying at the same location as Chaverim will room with other participants.

Northern Negev to Mitzpe Ramon

Friday Morning Schedule

While each group is at a separate location, everyone has the same basic morning schedule:

6:30 am Breakfast Opens
7:30 Cyclists Roll Out
8:00 Chaverim Depart

All groups will stop at Sde Boker for lunch, with a chance to visit the grave of David Ben Gurion.

Friday Evening Schedule

In Mitzpe Ramon, everyone takes a rest over Shabbat. See the Saturday tab for more details on how the Israel Ride observes the Sabbath.

~2 pm Everyone arrives in Mitzpe Ramon
4:00 Walking group to local Orthodox Synagogue
4:27 Candlelighting (on your own)
5:30 Gather as a community to welcome Shabbat
6:00 Reform and Conservative service options
7:30 Friday night dinner

Overview Route Map
(click to enlarge in new window)

Accommodation: Mitzpe Ramon: Pundak Ramon and Ramon Suites 

Distance: 34 miles, 1800 feet climbing (55 km / 550 m climbing)

Shomrim ride through the northern Negev, stopping for lunch at  Sde Boker with a visit to Ben Gurion’s grave. Afterwards, the group will explore Ein Avdat, a spectacular narrow canyon in the Negev. At the opening of the canyon the water of numerous springs descends into two deep pools in a series of waterfalls. The area belongs to Ein Avdat National park. All groups end the day in Mitzpe Ramon, a town in the heart of the Negev perched atop Makhtesh Ramon, a giant erosion crater.

Accommodation: Mitzpe Ramon: Pundak Ramon and Ramon Suites 

Distance: 49 miles, 3800 feet climbing (81 km, 1150 m climbing)

As we enter the heart of the desert, shade becomes rare, and the distance between oases continues to grow. We will visit the site of Ben Gurion’s grave, with a magnificent desert vista. All groups end the day in Mitzpe Ramon, a town in the heart of the Negev perched atop Makhtesh Ramon, a giant erosion crater.

Accommodation: Mitzpe Ramon: Pundak Ramon and Ramon Suites 

Distance: 64 miles, 4000 feet climbing (105 km, 1200 m climbing)

Chalutzim ride along the Egyptian border for the morning and then head east to end up in Mitzpe Ramon, a town in the heart of the Negev perched atop Makhtesh Ramon, a giant erosion crater.

Accommodation: Mitzpe Ramon: Pundak Ramon and Ramon Suites 

Sde Boker. Visit David Ben Gurion's retirement home at this desert kibbutz, and his nearby grave site.

Visit Ein Avdat, a desert walk to a year-round spring of water. See the resident Griffon Vultures and the Bonelli's Eagles along with some other wildlife that benefit from this spring.

Lunch with the riders at the Ein Avdat overlook.

Continue to Lippa Gal lookout, to see some magnificent rock drawings from as long ago as 6,000 years.  This will afford us a good lookout onto the area of Avdat and the central Negev.

Visit the Avdat ruins: see the remains of this hilltop that started out as a Caravanserai for traders on the Incense Route and later became a Nabataean and Byzantine city. The Shomrim will also be visiting Advat after lunch, and the two tour groups may combine depending on timing.

Shabbat in Mitzpe Ramon

mitzpeRamon
After three days of riding, the biking is interrupted by a much needed day of rest for Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath. Shabbat is an integral part of the Israel Ride. During the day, all programming is optional, but we offer communal prayer options, discussions, hikes, and yoga, plus opportunities to learn about Hazon and the Arava Institute.

Many participants reunite with friends or family who are welcome to join as guests for the weekend. Guests can sign up through our online logistics form.

Shabbat begins at sundown on Friday, which occurs around 4:15 pm. We come together to mark the transition from the work week to the day of rest with candle lighting. The Israel Ride runs an egalitarian service (with mixed seating and participation for men and women), and other options may be available depending on the makeup of the ride community. Following services, we ask that all riders join us for a festive Shabbat dinner, which includes traditional songs and blessings over wine and bread.

On Saturday morning we host an intimate Shabbat service, led by many of the riders. There will also be options to explore the area, practice yoga, and more. After services, people connected to Hazon – through participation in events or fellowships – share the Hazon vision in a panel discussion. In the afternoon, the alumni of the Arava Institute discuss their experiences living and learning together.

Shabbat closes with Havdalah, a ceremony which we conduct as the sun sets over Makhtesh Ramon.

Friday Evening Schedule:

~2 Everyone arrives in Mitzpe Ramon
4:00 Walking group to local Orthodox Synagogue
4:18 Candlelighting (on your own)
5:30 Gather as a community to welcome Shabbat
6:00 Friday night services: Reform and Conservative options
7:30 Friday night dinner

Saturday Morning:

7:30 Breakfast opens (until 10)
8:00 Walk (stroll) to the Makhtesh
9:00 Yoga
9:00 Traditional Egalitarian morning service led by riders
10:00 Introduction to Mitzpe Ramon
11:45 Hazon Panel

Saturday Afternoon / Evening:

12:30 Lunch
3:00 Mincha afternoon services
3:30 Arava Alumni Panel
4:45 Walk to the Makhtesh for Havdallah
6:15 Route Briefing
7:30 Dinner

I really needed the day off this year to allow my body a day to rest and recover from the demands of the first 3 days of riding. Even though I do keep Shabbat, that sort of day of rest that is truly for both body and soul is never experienced on a regular basis.

— 2011 Rider

Mitzpe Ramon to Arava Valley

Mitzpe Ramon Morning Schedule

All groups will start the day with a 1/2 mile (1 km) ride to the edge of Makhtesh Ramon, where we have an optional morning prayer service and take the group photo before starting the day. Chaverim can get a ride to the location.

5:30 am Breakfast Opens
6:10 Morning prayer group rides out
7:00 Everyone else rides out
Chaverim van departs
7:15 Group photo at Makhtesh edge
7:30 Roll out!

Kibbutz Ketura Afternoon Schedule

All participants will end the day at Kibbutz Ketura, home of the Arava Institute, where we have an afternoon of tours and activities. Half the group will be staying at nearby kibbutzim - we have options to shower at Ketura and enjoy the afternoon programming, or shuttles available to the other guest houses, returning in time for the evening briefing.

~1 pm Shomrim arrive for lunch and programming
~3:00 All other groups arrive at Ketura
3:45 Various tours of Ketura and Arava Institute
6:00 Meet and greet with current students
7:00 Evening briefing
8:00 Dinner

Overview Route Map
(click to enlarge in new window)

day4map

Accommodation: Shomrim at Kibbutz Guest Houses: Elifaz

Distance: 32 miles, 1700 feet climbing (51 km / 500 m climbing)

Shomrim will ride 30 miles south across the heart of the Negev desert, including two stunning descents, the largest of which is in Makhtesh Ramon at the start of the day. After lunch at the desert ashram in Shittim, they will be bussed to Kibbutz Ketura to explore the Arava Institute experimental orchards, Kibbutz Ketura, and meet with students.

Accommodation: Tzofim at Kibbutz Guest Houses: Yahel, Lotan, and Ketura

Distance: 62 miles, 3000 feet climbing (101 km / 900 m climbing)

Tzofim will ride over 60 miles through the heart of the Negev to the Arava Valley. The route includes 4 stunning descents – the largest being at the start of the day (into Makhtesh Ramon) and the end (into the Arava Valley). Lunch will be at a desert ashram, and time permitting a stop at an organic desert cafe. There will be time for exploring Kibbutz Ketura, the Arava Institute, and meeting current students.

5:30 am Breakfast Opens
6:10 Shacharit prayer group rides out
7:00 Everyone else rides out
7:15 Group photo at Makhtesh edge
7:30 Roll out!

Accommodation: Chalutzim at Kibbutz Guest Houses: Lotan and Ketura

Distance: 88 miles, 3700 feet climbing (142 km / 1100 m climbing)

Chalutzim cross the heart of the Negev Desert towards the Arava Valley. Lunch will be at a small community overlooking the Arava valley, and time permitting a stop at an organic dessert cafe. There will be time at Kibbutz Ketura to explore the kibbutz, the Arava Institute, and meet current students.

Accommodation: Chaverim will stay with their spouses / partners at various kibbutzim

In the morning the Chaverim can take their van to the overlook to join the riders for the group photo, and for the optional morning prayers before if requested.

The group will return to the hotel to be picked up by jeeps for an off-road jeep tour of Makhtesh Ramon, seeing the large erosion crater from a completely different perspective.

The tour includes Ein Saharonim: see the ruins of a caravanserai near a natural oasis. See some of the flora of the desert and their unique methods of adapting to the desert. Hopefully spot some wildlife, too.

Lunch with some of the riders at Shitttim, a desert ashram.

Visit a candidate for the oldest temple in the world, the Leopards' Temple, dating back some 7,500 years, and trace the move from hunter/gatherer to farmer.

Visit the Casui Dunes with their silky-smooth sands.

In the late afternoon Chaverim are welcome to join various tours at Kibbutz Ketura and the Arava Institute, and meet the current students before dinner.

Arava Valley to Eilat

Morning Schedule

Each riding group starts in a different location. Each of the Sunday night overnight locations has its own morning plan so that everyone can join their preferred group on Monday.

6:00 am Breakfast Opens
6:40 Tzofim bus leaves for start location
7:00 Chalutzim start riding
7:15 Shomrim bus leaves for Timna
7:30 Tzofim start riding
7:30 - 8 Chaverim van picks up at each location

Eilat Afternoon Schedule

All riders will end the day with a triumphant ride into Eilat, with a party on the shore of the Red Sea.

~2 pm Arrive at the beach
3 - 6 Rental bike return and bike dis-assembly
6:30 Dinner
8:00 Closing Ceremony
9:00 Evening party

Overview Route Map
(click to enlarge)

day5map

Accommodation: Sports Club Hotel

Distance: 17 miles into Eilat plus about 10 miles riding around Timna (26 + 16 km) and 800 feet (250 m) climbing

The Shomrim will start the day on a bus tour of Timna, a geological and archaeological park, site of the oldest copper mines in the world (from the time of King Solomon) and windswept sandstorm rock formations. They will join the rest of the group for lunch, at mile 30 of the Tzofim chart below, and then ride the final 17 miles into Eilat.

Accommodation: Sports Club Hotel

Distance: 49 miles, 2900 feet climbing (80 km / 880 m climbing)

On the final day of riding, we will ride to the southern tip of Israel, ending with a stunning descent into the city of Eilat, where we ride through the city to the beach. After a quick swim in the Red Sea we head to bike packing and a final dinner.

Tzofim start the day by being bussed up out of the Arava Valley, and begin riding where they turned off the cental desert road the day before. Most of the route follows the Egyptian border, which can be clearly seen from the road. After lunch, there is one final climb before descending to Eilat, where we will ride as a group to the beach and the hotel.

Accommodation: Sports Club Hotel

Distance: 60 miles, 4000 feet climbing (93 km / 1200 m climbing)

Chalutzim will start with a 4 mile climb out of the Arava valley, and then continue riding through the desert to lunch. After lunch, there is one final climb before descending into Eilat, where we will ride as a group to the beach and the hotel.

Accommodation: Sports Club Hotel

The final day begins with a drive down the Arava highway to the area of Yotvata. Visit a British police station overlooking one of the oases associated with the Exodus of the people of Israel.

Visit the Hai-Bar Nature Reserve, to see some of the wildlife that populates the desert, both nocturnal and diurnal.

Explore Park Timna, to visit the oldest copper mines in the world, and get a glimpse into the geological past of the earth.

Lunch at Park Timna

Head up into the mountains for a panoramic view of the Red Sea, and look into Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

End the day in Eilat, meeting the riders as they end their journey with a celebratory finish on the shores of the Red Sea.

Post-Ride Travel Day

Our final day of the Ride is a travel day for most participants. Ahead of the Ride the Israel Ride will help book your travel back north, either a bus to Jerusalem or a flight to Tel Aviv.

You can book your domestic travel for Tuesday-Thursday using our logistics form.

Tuesday Post-Ride Schedule

6 am Hotel pick up for Jordan trips (pack out breakfast available)
7 - 9 am Breakfast available
11 am Room Check out

For those leaving later that day, you can store your luggage at the hotel while you explore Eilat or relax at the hotel pool.

The Israel Ride staff is available through 10 am to assist with any post-Ride needs.