Africa & the Middle East

Journey's Beyond the Ordinary

written by | Posted on July 1st, 2011

The cost is $7,155 pp dbl. International airfare is not included.

the middle east Those with a penchant for a different type of scenery might consider the Middle East where Israel and Jordan offer unprecedented thrills. Israel Extreme, a tour company based in Israel, customizes trips that will sate the thirst for active vacations.

According to Moshe Meyers, who runs Israel Extreme, active and extreme travel in the region is on an upsurge. “All of a sudden,” he says, “people who have been coming to Israel for many years are realizing that there’s more to Israel than Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.”

Israel Extreme specializes in tailoring challenging adventures in Israel and Jordan.

“Israel and Jordan, but particularly Israel, is a small territory. But within it, you’ll find a vast variety of scenery, geography, geological zones, microclimates and flora and fauna,” adds Meyers. “There is everything from mountains, to the lowest spot on earth; volcanic rock and magic painted deserts and green vistas in the Galilee. Even though small, every type of extreme adventure can be found here.”

Israel Extreme was founded in 2004 by a small group of guides who are experts in extreme sports and adventure. Many served in the IDF and are special unit graduates with an intimate knowledge of the harsh terrain.

Israel Extreme will customize tours (cost varies, but generally runs from about $500 for a group of seven) that take visitors on extensive, and often exhausting adventures such as spelunking, hiking, rappelling down waterfalls, mountain biking and even skydiving.

Participants agree that there’s no better way to learn about the beauty of the country than by exploring it.

One of Israel Extreme’s most popular outings winds through Black Canyon (Nakik ha Shachor), an unmarked hike in a closed national park reserved for licensed tour guides only. This exhilarating and captivating tour crosses the wild jungle of the Golan Heights and requires some swimming and will expose participants to currents of rushing water as they rappel through three waterfalls, all the while enjoying the beautiful greenery and breathtaking views. It’s one of the most wonderful experiences of outdoors Israel.

In Jordan, adventurers will be exhilarated by explorations like a trip to a Bedouin encampment, the set-off point to the grave of Aharon HaCohen, the biblical high priest and the brother of Moses, buried at a mountaintop near the Dead Sea. This involves a long hike through a deep canyon with walls of eerie natural colors.

Other tours wind through Wadi Ibn Hamad through a canyon so deep that sunshine doesn’t enter. There is Wadi Mujib running down through rugged landscape all the way to the Dead Sea and through Wadi Karak, a canyon that begins in Jordan near the city of Karak and where tourists are a rarity as they rappel down three waterfalls to a small Arab village on the beach of the Dead Sea.

Prices depend on the size of the group, season, number of days and itinerary. However, according to Meyers, the cost is generally about $500 per day for a group of seven for tours in the Jerusalem and Judean Desert area; about $600 for activities in Eilat and about $520 in Jordan.

An outre vacation exclusively for those seeking to connect with their inner Rambo is offered by Lionops, a self-proclaimed “military tourism” company offering packages designed by former officers and instructors from the country’s elite Israeli Defense Forces, who imbue participants in an extensive crash course on modern warfare techniques.

This is the equivalent of participating for a few grueling days in the Israeli version of U.S. Marine Corps boot camp. Lionops teaches the basics of automatic weapons firing, hand-to-hand combat, navigation, hand grenade techniques, the finer elements of rocket-propelled grenades, house-to-house fighting, parachuting, camouflage and basic wilderness survival skills.

According to Natan Levi, Lionops’ operations manager, “We organize, operate and instruct short extreme military trips to Israel that range from seven to 10 days. During this time, our clients train, experience, live, breath and especially enjoy the fascinating world of the Israeli special operation units, considered among the most experienced and well trained special operation units in the world.

“This is no honeymoon. We take groups of civilians from around the world and provide them with extensive training in modern warfare. The training is a shortened version of the top-secret techniques of the Israeli Special Forces.”