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Wild Camping in Israel / Sleeping in car Israel

Prague, Czech...
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Wild Camping in Israel / Sleeping in car Israel

Hi,

I have noticed that quite a number of people travelling to Israel on budget are considering wild camping / sleeping in car as a way of spending overnights while traveling around.

At the same time I have noticed that many "destination experts" here do not suggest to do so and rather recommend hostels or paid campsites. I understand that it is not allowed to wild camp in Nature Reserves (which is fair enough - no one wants to have the most beautiful places destroyed)

BUT, what does the Israel law says? What are the real threats?

Can someone please give me an informed and confirmed answer on the following:

"Is it allowed to wild-camp in Israel?" and "Is it allowed to sleep in the car in Israel?"

What may happen if I just pull off the road and sleep in my car for couple of hours or just pitch a tent somewhere?

What are the risks - will someone kill me, hijack me, will police arrest me, will someone fine me for that?

I would appreciate answers not containing "I think", "I believe", "I have heard", "Someone said".

As there surely are real "destination experts" around I would like to hear a solid piece of confirmed information rather than assumption.

Thanks in advance.

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1. Re: Wild Camping in Israel / Sleeping in car Israel

Camping is not allowed, by law, anywhere that is not an authorized camping ground. This does not mean that if you pitch a tent in the Carmel forest the police will arrest you. However, pulling off the road in a secluded area is never a good idea -- anywhere --. While Israel is not known for random physical crimes, it is not a good idea to put yourself in potential danger. You cannot, by law just pull off any road and sleep in your car. If you are on the shoulder of a road there is a good possibility of being hit from behind (this is a big problem in Israel). What is the issue with using authorized camping sites? Some cost a small amount but most are free. Most have no facilities, so you will feel you are in the wilderness. The most important thing is to let someone know your exact itinerary, so that if there are any issues you will be missed and searched for.

One must use common sense. Most of the country is perfectly safe for camping -- but please do your best to stay only in authorized areas. This is in your best interests and safety. There are areas, such as near the Dead Sea that it is life threatening to just pull off the road and camp. There are signs forbidding this -- please adhere to them. Will you be doing this camping/sleeping in a car on your own? There is always safety in numbers.

Chana

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2. Re: Wild Camping in Israel / Sleeping in car Israel

Dear Chana,

Thank you very much for your fast reply.

It will be two of us travelling (2 guys, 30 years old). We are renting a car and bringing our own tent/sleeping bags.

Would there be a website/list/map of FREE campsites available in english anywhere on the internet? We are planning to spend one night in the Negev area and two nights by the Dead Sea.

The issue with paid campsites is not the cost, but the fact that there may be a lot of other people staying (families, crying kids etc.) and that is something we would like to avoid.

Thanks for the advice about the car-sleeping, however I did not mean pulling right off the road and staying there.

What would you eg. think about sleeping at this location:

maps.wikivoyage-ev.org/w/poimap2.php…

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3. Re: Wild Camping in Israel / Sleeping in car Israel

The location that you have marked is right next to an authorized campsite (marked by the tent on the map). You should stay in the campsite.

Regarding campsites: there are different kinds of campsite in Israel. There are the kind of campsite which have quite nice facilities, are paid, and are popular with families. Then there are the kind which are just a designated place for camping (often designed with hikers in mind) and might not have any facilities other than a field toilet (if you're lucky).

Practically speaking, during weeknights and outside public holidays (Passover, Sukkot, Independence day) you are very unlikely to find any campsites to be over-run with families, and you might find nobody at all at the more remote overnight campgrounds like the one you marked. Note that outside these busy times these campgrounds are also unsupervised.

Regarding where to stay at the Dead Sea - you can camp overnight for free at the Ein Gedi beach (there are small charges for parking, toilets, indoor showers), and at Ein Bokek beach. You can also camp for free at an overnight "wild" campground at the entrance to wadi Tze'elim, but there are many reasons to prefer the beaches: Tze'elim campground is a longish drive off the road, the only facility is a compost toilet (no water available), and the ground is very rocky therefore extremely uncomfortable. Compare that to Ein Gedi, where you can camp on grass, there is running fresh water available for free and toilets and showers, you can wake up to sunrise over the Dead Sea, and just wander down for a float.

As Chana said, don't even consider randomly pulling off the road in the Dead Sea area. There are serious problems with subsidence as the sea dries up and a lot of places are dangerous because of sink holes.

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4. Re: Wild Camping in Israel / Sleeping in car Israel

This isn't totally relevant to your question, but .....

Based on my experiences with "budget" traveling in my younger days, I realized that I enjoyed my touring much more after a good night's sleep, a hot shower and a good breakfast, i.e. after a certain point "saving money" has a detrimental effect on the enjoyment of the vacation.

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5. Re: Wild Camping in Israel / Sleeping in car Israel

Chana

"Camping is not allowed, by law, anywhere that is not an authorized camping ground." Really ?!

Chana that statement is totaly not acurate. True that camping in a nature resrve is limited to designated camping sites ONLY. Most of these camping sites have no utilities but are legal camping sites - you have to bring in and take out what ever you need.

Camping in the wild outside the natuire reserves IS legal as long as you are not on private land or in military exercise areas. There are literally milions of places where one might camp and loads of designated camp sites.

Just use you commone sense regarding where to sleep and look after your belongings. There is theft here like any where else.

If you would like to post the areas where you hope to camp we may be able to point you in the direction of good spots.

Adam

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6. Re: Wild Camping in Israel / Sleeping in car Israel

Since the Makhtesh Ramon (your link) is a nature reserve camping is only allowed where there is an authorized camping site. There are rangers in the area to relocate those who do not follow the rules. As stated there is little chance of families camping in remote areas, especially during the school year, excluding weekends (Friday/Saturday) and public holidays in Israel. I am assuming that you are experienced camper and it is redundant to state that if you camp in the desert, you MUST have at least 10 liters of fresh water for each of you for one 24 hour day. There is no fresh water in the desert and if you are hiking you will need at least 5 liters per person for a days' hike, plus water for washing/cooking etc. Some of the authorized grounds have running water, but most don't.

Chana

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7. Re: Wild Camping in Israel / Sleeping in car Israel

Please find attached a list of organized camping grounds in Israel. http://campingil.org.il/BuildaGate5/general2/data_card.php?Cat=~30~~273838395~Card12~&ru=&SiteName=parks&Clt=&Bur=692889114

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8. Re: Wild Camping in Israel / Sleeping in car Israel

NB Giora's list is very partial, only including the campsites with more upscale facilities, where you pay to stay. There is a much more full list here:

http://www.tiuli.com/map.asp

The site is only in Hebrew but it is easy for you to use if you use alongside Google maps in English. First, select only the green tent icon on the right. This will give you a map of camping sites. When you click on one, you will see a short list of information. Here is a translation:

איזור: ים המלח ומדבר יהודה WHAT AREA THE CAMPSITE IS IN

בתשלום: לא DO YOU HAVE TO PAY?

יש ברז מים: לא IS THERE A WATER TAP?

ישנם שירותים: לא ARE THERE TOILETS?

יש חיבור לחשמל: לא IS THERE AN ELECTRICITY CONNECTION?

טלפון: TELEPHONE

Now your first Hebrew lesson: לא – 'lo' - means 'no'. 'כן' – 'ken' means 'yes'. So for example, the campsite I pasted this information from is free to use, and there is no water/toilets/electricity.

Hope this is helpful. If you need further help you can paste the Hebrew names of the camp sites here and we can translate.

Regarding your question about general advice on this forum whether to camp wild, use paid sites or stay in hostels - nobody here is trying to persuade you not to camp, or to pay for the experience, or to go to a busy site full of families. However, advice also depends on the individual circumstances of travelers. For obvious reasons, for example, the question about whether camping in unstaffed campgrounds is sensible is very different for two guys with a car, to one girl traveling alone. It also depends on the location and time of year. Spring and autumn are great times to camp in the areas you mentioned, with very nice temperatures. Winter and the height of summer can be much more harsh. Similarly, if you are less familiar with the country, designated campgrounds are a service to you rather than a constraint on your travel, meaning that without being able to read Hebrew signs, you can be sure that you won't wake up in a sinkhole or an army training exercise.

By the way, parts of tiuli - the site I posted above - are translated into English and there is some really fantastic advice there about hiking.

http://www.tiuli.com/default.asp?lng=eng

Prague, Czech...
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9. Re: Wild Camping in Israel / Sleeping in car Israel

Hello,

Thank you very much for your replies. They are very handy! Especially the lists of campsites (Thanks! avigail9).

I will get back here if I need any other information later.

Thanks again and wish you all a perfect Sunday!

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10. Re: Wild Camping in Israel / Sleeping in car Israel

To the OP: this subject does arise every few months and unfortunately there is a lack of clarity between what is not allowed and what may not be recommended...

Assuming you don't create a hazard or nuisance, you are ALLOWED to camp in Israel on any public land that is not a nature reserve (where you need to stick to the designated camping areas), military training area and some local limitations (such as riverside camping along the Jordan River).

Since a tourist may not have a lot of local knowledge (nature reserve/training area boundaries, proximity to dangerous areas, etc.) , it may be RECOMMENDED that he/she stick to organized camping grounds.

Nature reserve camping grounds may be anything from a patch of flat ground in the middle of the desert where you can sleep for free to an organized paid site with showers, toilet, etc.

You can camp for free in any of the KKL forests and parks (some with no infrastructure, some have toilets and running water): kkl.org.il/eng/…

I suggest you plan you itinerary in Israel and then come back and ask about specific areas in which you'd like to camp. I'll gladly point you towards the best free and organized/paid places.

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