As Spring approaches, my thoughts start turning to biking adventures. One of the joys of living here in Israel is the opportunity to cycle so many different types of terrain all just a few hours bus ride from the center of the country. With the rare combination of clement weather, a full weekend off and a free ride to the Kinneret, my girlfriend and I took the opportunity to give our bikes a good ol’ spring clean by cycling the 65 kilometers around the Kinneret, also known as Lake Tiberias or the Sea of Galilee. It’s a ride we’ve done before, always choosing to do it over two days, pitching up tent on any of the many free beaches dotted along the shore.
With good weather expected (and regularly checked), we set off on Friday from Tiberias heading along the northern route of the lake where the hills of Golan meet the lush, green Galilee. We left around mid-morning, having stocked up on food and water supplies and kept the luggage down to a minimum. There’s a few decent gradients to navigate so we always keep it down to basics; lightweight 2 person tent, double sleeping bag, two full 3-liter water bladders, and an inflatable air mattress, not the luxury you might think when you spend a night on the stony shores of the Kinneret.
The first part of the journey is made up of cycle paths and having to use the busy road. Progress is being made in developing a nonstop cycle route around the Kinneret which can only be a good thing as it really is a beautiful route with stunning views. The temperature was a pleasant mid 70’s Fahrenheit and we set off into a gentle headwind aiming to get to a beach about 30k away just before the Kibbutz Ein Gev, in time to watch the sun setting slowly across the lake.
As you head northwest, the main place of interest is the ancient fishing village of Capernaum, with fascinating and well preserved ruins dating back to the 2nd century BCE. Having seen them before and wary of time, we cycled past the antiquities, making the beach in good time to get the disposable bbq going and the tent up close to the cold waters of the lake. The beach itself was quite empty, bar a fair bit of litter, and we had good pick of where to pitch up, choosing a nice, reasonably secluded spot far, far away from the public restrooms.
Getting up early is never a problem sleeping in a tent and as much as I love the outdoors, I could count the number of sleep-filled nights in a tent in Israel on one hand. Mosquitoes, strong sun, loud music, you name it, it has kept me awake. Bleary eyed and not brave enough to go for a swim in the water that has had the snowy mountain rivers to fill it all winter, we set off on our bikes on the genteel southern slopes of the Kinneret in the comfortable morning sun.
The final leg of the journey with endless banana fields to your left is mainly special cycling paths, nice easy gradients with great views. Having passed the spot where Jesus was baptized, we made good time along the mainly flat path to get to Tiberias in time for a hearty lunch of St Peter’s fish, a tasty fish unique to the Kinneret.
Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip done at a nice leisurely pace and I would recommend it to cyclists of all levels; great views, not too taxing and very rewarding.
About the Author: Ben is an outdoors enthusiast with a passion for all things hiking, cycling, and rafting. Join him as he takes us along on his trips to the various hiking paths and bike trails of Israel.