Israel's Good Name

Rafting the River Jordan

In Galilee, Israel on August 8, 2012 at 6:11 PM

Today, we the family took a special little trip to the Upper Galil area, the Panhandle, for some rafting on the River Jordan. Having chosen Kfar Blum as our raft and route providers by buying tickets online in advance, we set out at an early hour (8AM) and got there in record time. We parked and took the shuttle bus up to the “long route” launching area on the Snir Stream (one of three streams that compose the Jordan River). Here, a guide shows us the route:

A guide shows us the route on a big map

As soon as we had gone over the few safety instructions, we donned life jackets and hopped into rafts – two rafts for six people, perfect seating.

Loading onto the rafts and kayaks

The launch went off with a splash and away we went, heading down the Snir. Spinning until we gained control, the water in the early stages was the most choppy, mellowing out as we got further south. At my earliest convenience, and when I felt it was safe to bring out my camera, I took this shot (which came out better than I intended, the branch whipping by overhead):

Quick part in the river

One thing we realised in our craft was that it was more fun and less work to simply let the current throw us around. We just laid our paddles across the raft and bounced around, the cold river water sloshing us every few seconds. I really enjoyed the mild rapids and the treacherous vegetation that attacked us from the shore but I think my favourite was crashing into boulders and springing back with a lurch, large quantities of icy water replenishing the cold sensation in our bodies via holes in the bottom of the rafts (yes, intentional holes).

Rafting with a smirk!

Another perk was the ever-present “threat” of over-friendly people sharing water with us. However, most times we passed by rafts engaged in water fights they paused their watery cavorting and resumed only once we were out of harm’s way. It was the people who were in the water with a special gumption for sharing water with strangers that we had to be wary of – in fact there was one fine young man with a large bucket who insisted that we pass him or else he’d be forced to pass us. When we did gather the courage to pass him, he wielded his bucket with an alarming rate of water delivery, leaving me doused in many, many gallons of icy water that made me feel quite… refreshed.

Rowdy children splashing passersby

At one point, still on the Snir, we disembarked and swam around in the shallows. There was an interesting calm in one part of the stream while just a few feet further the current swept boats and people away… With my life jacket still on, I entered the current and enjoyed the ride, hurrying to break free before the next little waterfall. I cannot stress enough how absolutely frigid the water was, and being that it is August, I don’t think one would be able to enter the water in any season other than summer – it’s just too cold. At last, after a good half hour spent splashing about and re-riding the current loop, we got back in our rafts and continued. Here is a shot of the other boat (containing my parents and my little brother) as they paddled through the deep, cold water:

Come hell or high water…

Soon enough we reached the junction where the Snir, Dan and Hermon streams morph into the Jordan River. The water a little ways back and then after the junction is relatively calm, we just drifted along – spinning slowly and occasionally crashing into the banks with little consequence. For a while we tied both rafts together and just drifted in the alternating sun and shade, chatting and snacking. Here it is, the gentle Jordan River:

The Yarden (Jordan River)

As we neared the end, approaching the “large” waterfall just after the bridge, we aligned our rafts to face forward and prepared for the fall/ride. On the banks, dozens of families picnicked and frolicked in the lazy (but still cold) waters. The lone man on the two inner tubes who whistled his way by us some hour before was nowhere to be seen, although I would have enjoyed seeing him go over the falls – would he have kept whistling?

After the falls, which weren’t as severe as I had suspected they might be, we regained the calm of the river and drifted towards the end of the route. With us was a migration of Kfar Blum rafters, the other rafting companies having ended long before us.

The migration to the finish

At the end our boat was dragged up onto the ramp, our bodies still inside. We climbed out, our legs slightly wobbly from the two to three hours “out at sea”. We removed our life jackets, returned our paddles and made our way up the the exit.

The end

On the way to the exit we found a little station where we could purchase prints of a photo that was taken of us at the waterfall – I had forgotten that they do that and thus my facial expression is not one to be lauded over. The other boat’s snapshot came out magnificent so we just bought the both of them. There is supposed to be a way to get a digital copy but when I tried that I ended up just signing into my Facebook account to have them “like” their page for me and award me a token air freshener that I am supposed to hang in our car. (When I got home, Facebook made me change my password and verify my identity because they sensed suspicious activity on my account, hmmm.)

Anyway, after a short little lunch where all those families were picnicking we headed home, the early stages of sunburn setting in… But we had gone rafting on the River Jordan so all the sunburn in the world won’t ruin the great experience!

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