Touring is an exciting adventure. Traveling to a foreign country entails great new experiences of seeing new things, trying new food, and mixing with a foreign culture and language. However, it can be also quite exhausting, and especially if you are seniors or with certain physical disabilities. And Israel is no exception.
The Old City of Jerusalem, for instance, cannot be toured by car. Even presidents and Popes must walk there. That is also true for quite a few holy destinations, national parks, Nature reserves, etc.
Traveling in a wheelchair can be even more challenging. Not all sites are “wheelchair friendly”, and some do not have any alternatives to walking. True that much effort has been done in National parks in recent years. Many parts of Masada, for example, can now be reached in a wheelchair. However, for many other sites, experience is the key to overcome various obstacles if touring with disabilities.
Over the years we have gained such experience. Being so, we can modify all our tours, if needed, and solve any mobility issues, and/or just slow the pace.
Below are several examples of how we amend a day-tour to a successful experience, even when facing mobility challenges at certain destinations.
Finally, if you have a handicap sign for your car, please bring it with you! Or at least send us a photo of it ahead of the tour. Even a print of the sign will enable us to park at the most convenient location at most sites.
Tour of Jerusalem for Seniors
The old city of Jerusalem is set on hilly terrain and its layout hasn’t changed much since the Middle ages. Most of its streets are cobbled stone narrow streets and stepped alleys. Only one car lane passes through parts of the Armenian and Jewish Quarter. Being so, touring the old city in a wheelchair can be a challenge, but possible. It requires detailed knowledge of the specific alleys where you can avoid steps, and even so, it will be a bumpy experience.
However, a few years ago a new service of golf carts is proving to be of great help. At $30 per hour the cart can take up to 3 or 5 passengers through most of the Old City attractions. This service is not limited only to handicapped and is much appreciated by seniors as well.
Dead Sea Tour for Seniors
Most of the year a tour to the main attractions of the Dead Sea requires coping with challenging heat. At Masada, for instance, a cable car will get you to the site in comfort, but there is not much shade. However, for people in wheelchairs, the site is far more accessible now. In recent years stepless lanes were installed through most of the site.
A swim at the Dead Sea is NOT recommended at any of the public beaches, north of Masada. The reason is simple – the drop of the shoreline of the Dead Sea makes the walk to the water level a steep and long walk, on rough terrain, in extreme heat. On the other hand, all the hotels at the Dead Sea have the option of bathing in an indoor pool, filled with Dead Sea water. All of them also offer a nice rich buffet, for lunch.
The tour will also include a drive through Ein-Gedi Nature reserve. This oasis is known for its waterfall, but reaching it requires a long hike. Alternatively, it is a very short walk to visit the ancient synagogue of Ein-Gedi. It is also possible to drive through the beautiful botanical gardens in Kibbutz Ein-Gedi.
Finally, on the way back, don’t miss the viewpoint of the caves where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Here, about 2,000 years ago, members of a mysterious a Jewish sect hid their precious library in fear of the Romans. To think that these caves yielded a codex of approximately 900 manuscripts in mind boggling. We could also visit Qumran, believed to be the headquarters of this enigmatic sect. Like in Masada, stepless lanes were installed throughout this site as well.
Tour of Jaffa and Tel-Aviv for Seniors
Reputed as “the city that never sleeps”, Tel-Aviv is a vibrant metropolis that seems to be constantly in motion. It is the cultural and financial center of Israel, attracting locals and tourists alike. Its main touristic destinations are along Rothschild boulevard and in nearby Jaffa. A tour of both by car is a great and comfortable solution for seniors, and/or people with disabilities.
We start with a drive through Jaffa. Passing by some of its historical landmarks, we review its long and rich history, from Solomon’s times to current days. We could also go for a short stroll in its archaeological garden and main alley.
Next we drive through the busy and colorful flea market where vintage furniture is offered next to used jeans and vinyl records. At neve Tsedek’s main street we appreciate the 19th century architecture lively mixed with art galleries and cafes.
Finally, we get to Rothschild Boulevard. About 120 years ago, 60 Jewish families founded here a humble size town named – Tel-Aviv. Now days the boulevard combines restored historical buildings, restaurants and boutique hotels. We could stop here for a lunch break, and also join a tour of “Independence Hall”. On May 14th 194 the state of Israel was declared in this very building, fulfilling the long-sought Jewish dream of forming a Jewish state in their ancestral land.
At the end of Rothschild boulevard, we make our last stop at Rabin Assassination site, paying a tribute to the Israeli Prime-Minister who was assassinated at this spot. We review the events that led to this political assassination, and its aftermath.
Pending on time and will, it is also possible to join a tour of the Palmach Museum. This special exhibit presents the story of the special Jewish fighting forces and the pivotal role in the struggle of forming the state of Israel.
Tour of Caesarea and Haifa for Seniors
Take a tour along the northern coast of Israel that will reveal two very different sites. Caesarea was founded in the 1st century BCE by Herod the Great and became a major city for over 1,000 years. Its rich remains are spread over a big size national park, halfway between Tel-Aviv and Haifa.
With our specially licensed tour car, we are among the few permitted into the port area. This privilege is much appreciated by seniors and/or people with disabilities. Within a short walk, you can now appreciate the new visitor center and the visible parts of the sunken harbor. Another short car ride will get us right behind the Roman era theatre, as we well as the beautiful remains of the ancient aqueduct by the beach.
Next, a ride up the Carmel mountain will bring us to some stunning viewpoints of the coast and the Galilee. We could also stop for a special lunch experience in a Druze village.
Finally, we descend into Haifa to admire the iconic Bahai Gardens in Haifa from the upper balcony viewpoint. Comprised of 19 terraces around the tomb of the Bab, this landmark it one of the most sacred places in the world for the Bahai believers.
We end the day with drive through downtown Haifa, possibly stopping for a coffee at the German Colony, marking a great end to a great day.
Tour of Nazareth and Capernaum for Seniors
The Galilee is a mountainous ridge in northern Israel, associated strongly with Christian faith. The Galilee is where Jesus grew up, performed miracles, shaped and spread his faith. Today, sites relating to Jesus and his ministry are holy pilgrimage destinations, visited and worshipped by many.
Reaching and touring these sites can be a challenge for people with disabilities. Nazareth, for example, is a city of about 80,000 residents. With its main attractions in the heart of the city, parking is virtually impossible. But we will take care of that! We know how to get to closest point possible near the Church of Annunciation, as well as Marys’ well.
Cana is 6 miles north of Nazareth. The Gospel of John records Jesus turning water into wine during a wedding here. The Roman-Catholic church in Cana is over possible remains of the wedding venue, but its access is limited. However, we can get to the closest point possible and minimize the walking.
Finally, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee the tour will get you to Capernaum. All Gospels record, in details Jesus acts in and around this small fishing village. Unlike tour groups using buses, we will park right by the main entrance, and so reduce the walking substantially.
Tour of the Shefelah for Seniors
Called also “Biblical Tuscany”, the Shefelah is a beautiful and lush area between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. Its low hills countryside is clustered with Biblical sites and stories, set amidst pine tree forests and cultivated fields. Both Samson and David interacted with the Philistines in the Shefelah, the ark of the covenant changed hands in the Shefelah, and in 1948 a significant road carved in the Shefelah saved the Jews in Jerusalem from hunger.
Not all of its historical sites are fully developed, but with our 4×4 SUV we can reach many of the sites. This can make a big difference for senior travelers and / or people with disabilities.
Take Biblical Beth-Shemesh for example. The city that worshipped the sun in Canaanite times, was later an Israelite town. About 3,000 years ago the Ark was kept briefly in Beth-Shemesh, after its return from Philistine captivity. Recent discoveries made at the site relate to this fantastic story, but hare hard to reach. However, we can bring you right to the spot.
Same for Ziklag. The site where David lamented on hearing of the death Saul may have finally been found. It is hard to reach by car, but possible.
The local roads will also get you to discuss and pass by Biblical Lachish, Maresha, and the site of the battle between David and Goliath.
Take also the opportunity to taste some of the local wine varieties of the Shefelah. Already 3,200 years ago Samson was enticed by this wine (and Delilah). Will you fall for it as well? :-).
Finally, after a lunch break, connect to the 1948 “Burma Road“. Here, during the War of independence this hidden axis enabled dispatching critical supplies to the Jews of Jerusalem. The 10 km long “Burma road” captures best the beauties of the land, and the role of the Shefelah in history.
If you are an art lover, end the day with a visit to the art studio of David Gerstein. A colorful and great way to end a great day.