Thursday, August 11, 2011

River Rafting Trip

Kayaking at Kfar Blum, Israel
Although Kfar Blum is actually a kibbutz in the Upper Galilee region of Israel (near its northern border), most people will recognize the fact that you're planning a kayaking trip if you mention that you are heading to Kfar Blum for the weekend. Kfar Blum is home to the Jordan River, (highlighted in the map below) made famous in Israel for tubing down its lazy path, camping on its shores and kayaking down its cold and refreshing waters.


The journey to Kfar Blum will take you about 3 hours directly from Jerusalem. The drive, by the way, is amazing. You'll want to stop along the way several times to snap away at the changing landscapes. Kfar Blum, with a population of about 700, is nestled in the Hula Valley in northern Israel. The Hula Valley is, to me, one of Israel's most scenic plains. The vast expanse always look sort of like a dream to me. Israelis love to head up north here for the weekend to stay at a cute zimmer or B & B and to take advantage of the nearby outdoor activities, like hiking or kayaking:

Hula Valley, Israel
Upon arriving to the area, you will have a few choices from which to start your rafting or kayaking journey. There are a few competing businesses in the area, so take your pick of them. You'll be floating down the same river and the prices are comparable at each location:



   

You'll be able to choose from either a 6-person raft or a 2-person kayak. Allegedly, the kayaks move a bit quicker down the flowing river. My overprotective husband opted for the raft (for just the two of us) to ensure that I would be safe from flying too quickly down the Jordan River. Clearly, he was not there with me in Queenstown, New Zealand when I couldn't get enough of the world's most rapid and exhilarating jet-boat ride, the Shotover Jet. Alas, away we went in our Kfar Blum raft:


   

You can choose either the "long" path (also called the speed path) or the "short" path (called the river path), which are roughly 2.75 hours and 1.5 hours respectively. Likewise, the longer path will be a bit more expensive than the short path. We figured 1.5 hours in the raft would be long enough (and plus, it's hot out there). Looking back, we would have chosen the more active, longer path, but the short path of course was still loads of fun:


   

Lucky for me, I was able to sit back and relax while my husband went to work on the rowing. A bit of a showoff, he actually used to work at this rafting business back during the army, where he paddled down the river up to 5 times a day. Needless to say, I was impressed with the rowing:


  

Although we went alone on this rafting trip, it's always fun to plan a trip to the Jordan River with friends, so that you can camp on the shores for the weekend. People actually use the river as a refrigerator (yes, it's that cold) by for example putting a watermelon in a plastic bag and securing the bag via rope to a tether on the riverbank. Rustic, I know. Better yet, being with friends, you can actually "bumper raft" each other instead of using strangers as bait and getting those annoyed looks in return. People just couldn't get enough of this "bumper rafting". Of course, it was too hard to snap a photo of the bump incidents in action since the camera went into hiding when others got near so as to avoid the water:

    

   

The further down the river you go, the busier it seems to get. It's impossible not to knock into others at times, pushing your raft to the side "of the road". Although, this gives you the perfect chance to tie up your raft and hop into the water for a dip. Be careful, even though it's 100 F outside, this water is freezing cold! Not like its Mediterranean cousin by the shore:


    
 
We saw tons of people just tubing down the river, reminding me of "floating the river" back in Austin, Texas. There's about no better summertime activity than floating lazily down a cool river on a hot summer day. Though it may not have been the most legal thing, we saw lots of people sneaking into the river from the riverbanks and just tubing right onto the Jordan River:


    

Definitely, the longer path on the Jordan River has many more falls and is a much more active experience of the river. I recall doing it on my Birthright trip years ago.  We regretted not paying the extra this time  around to take the longer route because it really seems to have more action. The 2.75 hour time estimation intimidated me, but it really would have been worth it. The short path, however, has falls such as the one seen in the photo below. Not too exciting, but nonetheless, still something fun and not too scary:


    

I'd recommend trying to stay for a night up north, because once you're up there, you'll realize how much more there is to do, from hiking to exploring little towns to visiting the scenic Sea of Galilee or attending local festivals. Additionally, at Kfar Blum itself, you have zip lining, wall climbing, rope bridges, archery and even jeeps. Visit Kfar Blum if you ever find yourself in northern Israel!

1 comment:

  1. For me, this is no other outdoor adventure that can match river rafting. When I get through the turbulent waters, I feel great inside me - the pure adrenaline rush. I'm relieved from my stress.

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