Green tourism has become popular in recent years and the north of Israel is the perfect place for it because it has still retained its rural charm. There are so many unspoilt nature reserves and hundreds of kilometres of trails for hiking and biking enthusiasts.
You can find many places of historical and geographical interest that have not been spoiled by over-commercialisation, and there are many opportunites to get "off the beaten track" and enjoy the magnificent countryside in this area. Click here to read about a tour company who specialize in these type of tours.
Green tourism is an important source of income for many kibbutzim. They offer hotels and country lodgings in beautiful pastoral surroundings. Here are two of our personal favourites ...
Klil is an "off-the-grid" agricultural settlement near to Nahariya where you can find a choice of zimmers (B&Bs) in ecological surroundings. Ben Haruv Lezait (Hebrew for "Among Olives and Carobs") offers a choice of two log cabins or a "yurt" - basically a large round tent built on a wooden frame. The idea originates from Central Asia and is an example of low-impact housing because it doesn't leave a permanent effect on the site. The one at Klil is comfortably furnished and big enough to accommodate up to six people. There's also a wonderful swimming pool which is designed to look "natural" and fit in with the surroundings. Naomi and Uri, the owners, are happy to share their knowledge of green living with their visitors. On request, you can get an organic breakfast of fresh bread and vegetables and eggs from their free-range chickens, which you can prepare yourself according to your taste. For reservations, phone: 04-9564405.
There are various campsites dotted around the Galilee and the Golan Heights, including one at Klil. If you want to get close to nature but find camping a bit too basic for you, try the newest trend - glamping - "glamorous camping". All the fun of camping without giving up all the comforts of home! Click here to read a first-hand account about glamping in the Golan Heights.
If you're interested in organic farming and want to experience agricultural life first hand, take a course or a seminar at an ecological farm. You can learn about organic gardening, growing your own veggies, how to make compost or how to build grey water systems.
Yarok Az (Green Goat) Ecolodge, situated in Moshav Ilaniya in the Lower Galilee is an organic goat farm and boutique dairy where you can learn about permaculture and organic farming.
They cater for families, individuals or groups and you can either stay in one of their two geodesic domes which sleep 15 people or in a tent on their campsite. There's a fully-equipped kitchen where you can prepare your own meals. Guests are encouraged to participate in the farm activities such as milking the goats and cheese-making.
You can also buy home-made boutique goat cheeses from their shop, as well as a variety of locally-produced wines, olive oil, honey and jams.
WWOOF Israel offers a volunteer programme, open to anyone over the age of 18, where you stay on a kibbutz or moshav or with a local family and help out with the work several hours a day in return for free food and accommodation. You could find yourself working in a winery, making boutique cheeses or looking after the animals!
As in most other countries in the world, tourism is a massive multi-million shekel industry and is extremely important both economically and socially. But, mass tourism also causes many negative effects on the environment in the long term, like wasted energy and water, noise and pollution. Many large hotels and clubs are built in places that spoil the view or prevent access of local residents to beaches.
But you don't have to be an environmentalist or a Green Peace activist to enjoy green tourism! The idea is that the "caring tourist" can enjoy eco-friendly trips which contribute to the economy of the local population without destroying the social and natural environment.
For more cool ideas on where to go to "get back to nature", read this article.