Vered Hagalil – Galilee, Israel

Horseback Tours amid the Blooming Tapestry of the Galilee

The Galilee is Israel’s most fertile region, a historically rich parcel of rolling land blanketed by an ocean of wildflowers and blossoming trees in February and March.

The terrain is rough and wild and best explored by horseback along ancient trails. But human endeavors have left patchworks of orange groves, rich vegetation, fruit orchards, and vineyards. On a scenic ridge enjoying wide vistas across the blue, freshwater Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights beyond, is Vered Hagalil, the privately owned farm and ranch of Yehuda and Yonah Avni.

Their twenty Arabian and quarter horses can be rented for guided trail rides by the hour and day; or take a weeklong guided pack trip around the harp­shaped lake or off into the hills to biblical sites such as Nazareth and the Mount of the Beatitudes, staying in a kibbutz, in an Arab village, or with some of the Avnis’ friends. Although this is the best-organized riding operation in Israel, not everyone comes for the riding. (There are also jeep tours and, for the truly stationary, pool lounging.)

Most guests try to be back in time for the home-cooked meals, an eclectic mix of Middle Eastern and American cuisine. Three generations of the affable Avni family and a young, personable staff imbue their working ranch with an informal hospitality and heartfelt love of the Galilee. It’s a side of Israel that the package tourist rarely sees.

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