Oh yes. You might not associate the colder aspects of a North American or North European winter with the Middle East, but during the winter months in Israel you can usually see some snow.
And if you make it up to the northern tip of Israel, to Mount Hermon, you can even brush up on your skiing and snowboarding skills, or, like the many thousands of Israelis who converge on the Hermon, just throw a snowball or two and take a few pictures.
Mount Hermon is definitely your destination if you’re after some of the white stuff (though it has also been known to snow in Jerusalem fairly often). Mount Hermon is actually an attraction all year round, snow or no snow, but with its 28 miles of ski runs, including two runs that have officially been declared as Olympic-standard, January and February are usually the months in which to get your winter fix.
The facilities might not compare with some of the best in Europe or North America, but there are chairlifts and T-bars to carry those interested further up the mountain, a ski school where skiers of any level can get themselves schooled in the art of avoiding broken legs, and a pretty well-equipped ski accessory shop. Skiing in Israel might leave you disappointed if you’re looking for apres-ski action, though I guess that would depend on the company you keep…just don’t expect too much in the way of bars and clubs, not in this neck of the woods anyway.
The skiing in Israel scene isn’t huge but is growing, so if you’re like many of the Israelis (some 300,000 visit every winter) that end up at the Hermon and not for the skiing, how about a toboggan ride for you/the kids? Or a quick bit of snow-sledding? Or you could just play it safe and bring along your camera, preferably on a sunny day, and catch some of the amazing scenery.
If you are into skiing in Israel, you can get a ski pass for Mount Hermon, or take a package deal that includes local accommodation (in some mighty fine local guest houses). Check out the Mount Hermon official site in English for further information.
A quick guide to some of the Mount Hermon prices, updated for winter 2012-13 (a full guide is here):
- Entrance Fee: 49 shekels (42 shekels for kids aged 3-12)
- Daily Ski Pass: 245 shekels (1/2 day ski pass is 200 shekels)
- Ski/Snowboard Equipment Rental: 150 shekels (135 shekels for kids)
- Private Lessons: 200 shekels per person (up to 3 people) for 1 hour; group lessons are 110 shekels.
The Mount Hermon ski resort is open daily from 08:00 to 16:00, but if you’re in a car note they won’t let you in after 15:00.
For more details, call 1599-550-560.
And if you want to make sure you’re trek up to Mount Hermon (some 3.5 hours from Tel Aviv) isn’t in vain, check out the live webcams before you set off (and also download Waze to your smartphone and check out the traffic jams). Just click on a picture to display the webcam.
Check out this awesome video of some Israeli snowboarders on Mount Hermon – even we were surprised at the amount of snow!