The Sea of Galilee (Kinneret in Hebrew) is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth (the Dead Sea being the lowest salt-water lake) and is situated in the Northeast next to Tiberias in the Lower Galilee (Galil in Hebrew). The Jordan River actually runs through the lake from North to South, but it is also partially fed by underground springs.
The historical, as well as ecological significance, of this body of water is truly remarkable.
The area attracts millions of visitors globally each year from all walks of life.
Interesting Fact: According to the Bible, Jesus performed many miracles on the shores of the Galilee (most notably walking on water and calming the storm see Holy Land).
The beaches surrounding the Sea of Galilee feature an abundance of attractions for all ages:
- You can choose to stay in a hotel, hostel, Tzimmer (B&B) as well as wonderful camping beaches for nature lovers. I recommend Tzemach beach because it offers it all; guarded swimming area, water activities, camping, and dining facilities.
- A variety of exhilarating water sports including boating, rafting, canoeing, tubing, banana boats, and jet skis are offered at most beaches.
- Water parks with giant water slides such as Luna Gal, Tzemach or Guy Beach ( I have been to Luna Gal a few times and would highly recommend).
- A variety of excellent dining choices.
- Numerous nature sites such as Beit Tziada reserve, Naharayim, Jordan Park, and Hamat Gader.
Camping at the Sea of Galilee
Camping at the Sea of Galilee – my top recommendations.
Ein Gev camping beach on the south eastern end of the lake is a great place for family camping trips. This resort offers attractions for kids and adults alike such as water sports, slides, pools etc. Facilities include lifegard services, showers & restrooms, restaurant, shaded camping area with barbecue stands. Tel: 04-6658008
Amnon Beach near Kfar Nachum at the north end of the lake has great facilities for any camping enthusiast. Offering in the high season an array of activities from water sports, fishing and plenty of attractions for kids. Tel: 050-7103420
Hakuk beach on the northwestern side of the lake is a lovely, well-kept beach. There are plenty of shaded lawns for camping and barbecuing. Tel: 04-6715440
Sorry, but fishing has been banned since early 2011 because of overfishing and some fish in danger of extinction.
The significance of the Kinneret as Israel’s largest fresh water reservoir cannot be overstated. It literally supplies over 25% (50% domestic) of the entire country’s water supply (a portion goes to Jordan as well). In recent years, water levels have dropped dangerously low due to the combination of increased population demands and decreased winter rainfall. See the table below:
Current Water Level as of 27/7/2013 -210.44 meters below sea level
Lower Red Line -213.00
Upper Red Line -208.8
Black Line -214.87
If the water levels dip below the black line, the lake will run the risk of becoming irreversibly polluted by the salt water springs lying beneath the lake. The weight of the freshwater must remain significant enough to keep these springs from infiltrating the freshwater. Currently, the country is in the process of building de-desalinization plants to provide alternative sources of freshwater. Unfortunately, these are still years away from completion – so you might say it is a race against time.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Look at the picture above and the dramatic drop in the water level is quite obvious. Yes, that is a boat dock indicating the original water level.
Tips and Recommendations
Top Tip: You can actually bike around the Sea of Galilee in about 5-6 hours at a moderate pace. I am an avid biker and I highly recommend this ride. The total distance is about 55km (34 miles) all on paved roads. The terrain is relatively flat with a few relatively mild climbs.
A few words to the wise:
- Leave early as possible in the morning and bike clockwise from Tiberias towards Capernaum to avoid the high sun.
- Be very aware of cars on the road. The roads in Israel have very narrow shoulders and the drivers are quite aggressive. Saturday (Shabbat) would be my suggestion.
- Take a camera or a good camera phone as you will have many fantastic photo opportunities.
- Just opened: In April 2011, Israel unveiled a 64km (40-mile) hiking trail in the Galilee specifically targeted for Christian pilgrim visitors (see Holy Land) called the ‘Jesus Trail’. The trail features hiking, road and bicycle paths linking sites central to the lives of Jesus and his disciples.
Whether you come to Israel for a religious pilgrimage to the Holy Land, historical sites, recreation, or just plain relaxation, the Sea of Galilee offers it all.
See you later (Le’Hitra’ot in Hebrew)