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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Israel

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office. 

ENTERING ISRAEL: United States citizens need a passport valid for at least six months from the date they are scheduled to depart the country. Visas are issued on arrival. 

Citizens of other countries may need a visa and should check their nearest Israel embassy. If required by the embassy or visa-granting entity, WINGS can provide a letter for you regarding your participation in the tour. 

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/israel.html , and the The CIA World Factbook background notes for Israel are at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/is.html

PACE OF TOUR:  In most places we’ll drive to the birding sites and walk only a short distance from the vehicle. While in Eilat we’ll use the hotel as a base, exploring the towns various parks and gardens on foot and go on short excursions into the Arava valley in the minibus. The ground underfoot varies from hard paths to compact deserts, and there are occasions when we might be walking on gravel or in dry river beds (wadis). The area around Mt Hermon might involve walking short distances uphill, but we will aim to use the ski-lift to access the high slopes. Elsewhere, we’ll be walking on level ground for the most part, with perhaps one or two locations involving short uphill sections. 

There may be some early starts on this tour because we need to be on site at dawn when we expect high temperatures later in the day. On some days we may have optional early morning walks, returning for breakfast at the hotel. Days before an early start should end early. There may be one or two late finishes to the day if we stay out to look for nightjars, and the excursion to look for Nubian Nightjars and Desert Tawny Owl may necessitate a long drive and very late finish.

Lunches are either taken in hotels or cafes, or we may take picnic or packed lunches on some days.  

Israel is not a large country, and our longest drives should be no more than 3 hours, with frequent stops for birding and refreshments.

HEALTH:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A. Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s  Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/israel?s_cid=ncezid-dgmq-travel-single-001

Elevation:  We reach 6500 feet on Mt Hermon where we spend one morning. 

Miscellaneous:  Biting insects are not numerous although mosquitoes can occur locally. A spray repellent should provide adequate protection.The sun will be strong.  

Tap water is generally safe to drink and stomach upsets are rare, although possible. Bottled water is readily available.

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

CLIMATE: In the Negev desert, Eilat and in the Arava Valley early mornings and the night excursion may be cool, but it should be hot and dry during the day with temperatures possibly up to about 95°F or higher. A cooling wind may be blowing in Eilat, but come prepared for hot and sunny days. The northern areas around the Hula valley, Mt Hermon and the Golan should be pleasantly warm during the day but possibly cool at night.  Suitable clothing for the cold evenings and early mornings will be necessary.  Rain is unlikely during our stay but can never be ruled out, especially in the north. We’ll be spending one morning in the Hermon Nature Reserve and ski resort area where there may still be snow, low clouds or mist. 

ACCOMMODATION:  The kibbutz guest houses and hotels we stay at in the Negev, the Dead Sea and the Galilee areas are all of an excellent quality, with good food and an accommodation standard approximating to British 3 star. In Eilat, we shall be in the Agamim Hotel, a two star hotel well placed on the edge of Eilat.  

Internet Access:  Most of the places we stay should have wifi, even if only available in the reception area. The mobile network is good, and you should be able to find a signal in most places. Obviously, using your mobile phone abroad may incur large charges, so please check with your provider or buy a local SIM card on arrival into Ben Gurion airport. 

FOOD:  The food is of a good European standard. Kosher food will be widely available and may be the only choice at times. Vegetarians are easily catered for. We’ll be eating in the hotel restaurants for breakfast and the evening meal, and a packed lunch, picnic or café lunch for lunch. 

Drinks:  Bottled water and/or a soft drink or a beer is provided at meal times where available, as is coffee or tea.  All other drinks or ‘personal’ drinking water for use in your room and during the day is the responsibility of the individual.  We will keep bottled water on the coach for use during the day.  

Food Allergies / Requirements:  We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORTATION: Transportation is in a minibus driven by the leader. We will be driving mainly on tarmac roads on this trip, with some very short journeys on dirt access tracks. Participants should be able and willing to ride in any seat in tour vehicles. Single travellers may be seated next to one-another.

Updated: 11 September 2017