For his very first trip to Israel last year, Karl from Canada was not interested in seeing the sights through the window of a coach bus.
Fortunately for this longtime motorcyclist, a kindred soul in Israel named Raz Tsafrir had just started offering Desert Road motorcycle tours. Karl signed up for one of 12 inaugural trips organized by Desert Road in 2022.
“Raz showed me things from a bike that I’ve never experienced before in my life, from the Sea of Galilee down to the Egyptian border. I had the time of my life,” Karl reported afterward.
Motorcyclists admiring the view from Scorpion’s Ascent in the Negev Desert. Photo by Raz Tsafrir
Motorcycle tourism has been popular for many years in many countries. Biking, explains Tsafrir, “is a very social activity and we ride in herds.”
But even renting a motorcycle in Israel was impossible until about eight years ago due to insurance issues, says Duby Nevo, a part-time tour guide and proprietor of BikeLife Israel.
“When it became possible, I decided to do it,” says Nevo, who has 10 motorcycles available for rent and helps individual clients plan guided or self-guided itineraries.
Currently, Desert Road (guided group motorcycle touring) and BikeLife Israel (motorcycle rentals and optional guiding for individuals) are the only two businesses of their kind in Israel.
Tsafrir, now 57, is nothing if not adventurous. Previously employed in the secret service and then the high-tech sector, he pivoted to tourism and became a licensed guide just as the pandemic hit.
But the tourism lull gave him time to work out the myriad details involved in bringing motorcycle tourism to Israel in a big way.
The itinerary spans national parks, religious and historical sites, wineries and breweries from Tel Aviv to the Galilee, Jordan Valley and Negev Desert, and often includes encounters with soldiers and ordinary citizens. Some tours end with a Bedouin-style overnight at Khan Be’erotayim desert lodge.
“It may rain in the north, but it might be sunny enough to go bathing in the Dead Sea and Eilat,” Nevo points out.
“Compared to Europe or the USA, distances between attractions and sites are short, giving us the ability to face the weather.”
Best of all, Nevo says, “The Israeli people are absolutely amazing and welcome visitors into their country with open arms. I simply want to bring people together in the best way I know how, by riding and showing Israel in a unique way.”
Produced in association with ISRAEL21c