Trekking Across Israel as Staff for Israel Outdoors

Trekking Across Israel as Staff for Israel Outdoors

Israel Outdoors and BRI logoOver the past two weeks, I had the opportunity to work as a staff guide for Israel Outdoors during the Israel By Bike cultural trek, part of Taglit Birthright Israel. Years ago, I actually participated as a guest in this exact same trip, and it was an exciting honor to now have the opportunity to lead it. Israel Outdoors calls this itinerary “Israel By Bike“, but it’s a lot more than just that. Overall, staffing this trip was an incredible experience. I had two co-leaders, and a group of about 40 participants 18-22 years old. The group was great, and I sincerely enjoyed meeting everybody, and the opportunity to contribute my enthusiasm and views on the region as we traveled through the entire country. 

During the trip, I took about 1400 photos, and edited down to a small set. View the full set on Flickr, as well as on my Instagram feed. I shot on my iPhone 5, and Sony RX-100ii cameras, allowing me to both post photos throughout the day, and shoot in raw for later editing. The full set is displayed here, and I’ll also be publishing a series of theme-specific posts in coming weeks.

Photos, Full Screen

Daily Itinerary

Day 1

  • Arrival at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport
  • Meet Israeli guide and group intros at Haas Promanade
  • Transfer to Jerusalem
  • Checkin to Hotel Accommodations -Jerusalem Gold Hotel

Day 2

  • Visit to Davidson Center, Jerusalem
  • Tour of Old City Jerusalem Jewish Quarter
  • Visit to Kotel, reflection at Western Wall
  • Explore Mahane Yehuda market and lunch
  • Afternoon relaxation on Ben Yehuda Street
  • Overnight at Jerusalem Gold Hotel

Day 3

  • Travel North
  • Scenic stop at Steia Maris Lookout and education about the Bahai Faith and Bahai Gardens
  • Visit to Arbel and Lunch
  • Checkin to hotel Savyonei Hagalil
  • Preparation for Shabbat and festive Shabbat Dinner

Day 4

  • Shabbat learning opportunities
  • Hike to lookout point
  • Havdallah Ceremony and cultural activity
  • Overnight at Savyonei Hagalil

Day 5

  • Hike up Mt. Meiron
  • Cultural tour of Tzfat, including dip in Mikve
  • Return to Hotel

Day 6

  • Visit to Banias and lunch
  • Rafting the Jordan River and relaxing on the water
  • Camping in desert near Masada

Day 7

  • Early morning wakeup in desert
  • Sunrise ascent of Mt. Masada
  • Breakfast at Masada Visitors Center
  • Floating in the Dead Sea
  • Camel Trekking with Bedouin
  • Sleeping at Negev Bedouin Camp and Campfire

Day 8

  • Biking at Nahal ZIn
  • Visit to Sde Boker
  • Shvil Hasalat
  • Dinner at Blue Bay Hotel

Day 9

  • Drive to Tel Aviv
  • Visit Rabin Square
  • Visit Independence Hall
  • Swim at Tel Aviv beach
  • Wrap up session and departure

A selection of photos taken during the trip – many were posted on Instagram during the trip.

Initial assembly of the group at JFK Airport – this was our initial meetup, and the first time my co-staffer Allie and I made group introductions.
DSC03016-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Let’s jet!

We connected through Zurich, Switzerland
DSC03047-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Zurich Airport – great piece of architecture
DSC03058-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Ice Breakers at the Old City, Jerusalem
DSC03113-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Tour of the Old City’s Jewish Quarter
DSC03128-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03135-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03142-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03165-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Visit to the Kotel
DSC03179-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03190-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03239-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03278-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Meeting our Israeli Soldiers

Mt. Hertzel and Yad Vashem – very heavy
DSC03309-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03313-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03356-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03368-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03378-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Architecture of Yad Vashem
DSC03387-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03393-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Driving North

Bahai Gardens

Hiking Mr. Meron
DSC03444-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03455-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03473-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM


Hiking on Shabbat
DSC03519-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Exploring Tzfat
DSC03604-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03609-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03577-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Candles in Tzfat
DSC03625-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

More exploring
DSC03665-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

The trip’s first bike trip
DSC03731-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03761-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03804-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Sunrise hiking up Mt. Masda
DSC03825-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03855-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
IMG_4218-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Swimming in the Dead Sea
DSC03864-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03871-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Camel Riding and Desert Living with the Bedouin
DSC03873-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03918-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC03933-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Second Biking Trip
DSC04016-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC04023-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
DSC04048-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM
IMG_4321-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Exploring the Market in Tel Aviv
DSC04114-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Final Sunset
IMG_4334-2014-05-19 TL352-Donenfeld-Full-WM

Categorized: , ,


One response to “Trekking Across Israel as Staff for Israel Outdoors”

  1. […] great to work with – fantastic trips, fantastic staffers, and fantastic participants! Here’s my first time working with them. I worked as one of two field staff members, and managed day-to-day group logistics and planning as […]