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June 23, 2015June 23, 2015  0 comments  Geography

True religious pilgrimage has historically been a spiritual journey brought people from near and far to visit what are considered by many to be authentic holy sites connected to the life and times of Jesus.


"Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?"  Matthew 3:13


For most, the religious pilgrimage has now become synonymous with motorized boats sailing across Israel's primary water sources, big hotels with puffy towels, restaurant chains preparing imported foods from all over the world to meet the needs of savvy travelers, fleets of gas guzzling jeeps to serve tourists seeking to explore the beautifully rugged Galilean landscape, Golan heights, desert and more.

But there are ways to travel and enjoy the landscape that need not be so negatively impactful on the environment. Friends of the Earth Middle East, also known as EcoPeace, is extremely focused on improving the environmental issues impacting the Jordan River and are urging tourists to be more environmentally sensitive in their travels. (The organization brings together Jordanians, Israelis and Palestinians over their shared interest to rehabilitate the Jordan River and preserve its water supply which has sustained residents in all three areas for thousands of years.)


Jordan River

Qasr El Yahud, the baptismal site on the Jordan. Photo courtesy Beata Andonia


A number of new low impact, yet fun, activities have become available to tourists seeking to explore the region more deeply while they also visit many important pilgrimage sites. For instance, rather than sailing on a motorized boat along the Sea of Galilee, there are now special electric boats that can take small groups of up to 12 people. True, more expensive, but cleaning up our environment is no bargain. On a recent tour of the lower Galilean hills, we paddled canoes down the Jordan River and watched as a family of turtles found their home on a shady tree branch that had fallen along the shore line. Later on, rather than take the extreme 4 by 4's up the hills, we opted for electric buggy's, part of a new fleet being offered by one supplier near Mul Hagolan.


turtles along the Jordan

Turtles restaurant along the Jordan River; photo courtesy Travelujah


In addition to physically experiencing the land in a more environmentally friendly manner, its also quite interesting to see the area in the context of the many ancient cultures that lived here and how they sustained themselves as much as 8000 years ago. The Museum of Yarmoukian culture located within kibbutz Mul Hagolan, near the Jordan River presents a fascinating display of archeological findings including stone tools, clay utensils and Fertility figurines. Our tour included a lecture by a culture expert who discussed the traditional techniques historically local cultures to sustain themselves in terms of food preparation, housing construction, cooking utensils, and more and how today's more modern but not always better techniques have replaced the ancient methods. However, because of the impact on the environment there has been a resurgence of interest in learning these techniques in order to protect the environment as well as the cultures.

learning to make matts

As you plan your visit, consider the environment and, if you wish, ask Travelujah how you can tour Israel in a more environmentally friendly manner.


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Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah-Holy Land tours, the leading Christian travel network focused on Holy Land tours. People can learn, share and plan their Holy Land tours with Travelujah.

Tags: ecotourism foeme 

November 22, 2011November 22, 2011  0 comments  Nature

You can now Bless Israel by helping it stay green  during your next visitl.


Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund is offering groups of 15 or more the opportunity to participate in a new "Forester for Day" program. The new ecological initiative engages visitors in a full day's activities focusing on Israel's forests, guaranteeing a greener tomorrow for Israel.


The program also educates people about protecting the forests including keeping the area safe from fires. In 2010, the Carmel Mountains suffered a devastating forest fire that cost tens of thousands of dunams of forests as well as communities.


The new program runs for 2-3 hours and is available Sunday-Thursday 8 am - 3pm and Friday 8 - noon. Program participants will have the opportunity to work side-by-side in groups with KKL-JNF foresters to clear underbrush, prune trees, prepare fire breaks and forest paths in the Carmel Region forests.


The forester for a day program is available for groups of 15 - 150 and is offered with advance planning in English, French, German and Spanish. The cost is $18 per person. Upon completion, each participant receives a KKL-JNF hat, pin and certificate of appreciation.


Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael - Jewish National Fund is leading the quest for a more environmental Israel: open spaces, forests, recreation areas and appreciation for Israel's natural and cultural heritage. KKL- JNF's work in Israel is concentrated in six action areas that include water, forestry and environment, education, community development and security, tourism and recreation, research and development.


To learn more please visit the website of the KKL - JNF


Tags: ecotourism jnf-kkl 

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