Rafting on the Jordan

Rafting on the River Jordan is one of the classics of an Israeli summer, known in the local vernacular as “kayaking”. There are several places to rent equipment along the Jordan. You get all the gear needed including life vests.

So the first thing that you need to know is that the River Jordan is not the Colorado River. This generally isn’t white water rafting – otherwise, it is more of a gentle float apart from an optional slightly more challenging route. The second thing is that there really isn’t any point in complex paddling and steering – for the most part you can do next to nothing and let the river do the work. So this river is not exactly for the extreme sports enthusiasts. Now and again you need to watch out for the branches and the banks; but that is it.

The so-called “kayaks” on the River Jordan aren’t exactly the conventional kayaks, but they are more like big inflatable rafts that can carry two to five people.

All kayak centers are based in the Upper Galilee, which is the north of the Sea of Galilee, where the portion of the River Jordan was much wider compared to the south.

There are two ways to progress – just enjoy it. Or if you are teenagers (in body or in mind) and there is more than one raft in your party – well let’s just say it is hot and so lots of water has a cooling effect.

Boating or kayaking on the River Jordan doesn’t exactly capture the initial image that people have of Biblical stories. But once you have seen the River Jordan from a kayak on a sweltering summer’s day, you will have a completely take on the matter!

Generally, you get to go down the river for an hour or two – you can pull onto the bank and have time out and a picnic — and then you reach the stopping point. They haul you out and then take you back to the start, on an old bus.

As a variation on a theme, in some places it is possible to float down the river in individual inner tubes – just follow the crowds.

Many of the kayaking outfits also have overnight camping facilities and many outward-bound adventure activities.

River Jordan rafting tips

Here are some extra tips to help you have a better experience rafting on the River Jordan:

  • Wear water shoes (or sandals) when you get on the raft – you won’t be allowed to go barefoot.
  • Try body rafting – you’re wearing life vests, anyway, so why don’t you try body rafting, too? Body rafting is a popular activity where floating is more ideal in the stiller and quieter waters such as the River Jordan
  • Bring lots of water with you – while you’re surrounded by water, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to bring your own. Remember that like many other bodies of water, the River Jordan is an open space with limited shade. And during the summer months, temperatures there soar up to 35 degrees Celsius. Even if you’re not doing the rowing, you’ll become easily dehydrated. So bring lots of water with you! It’s ideal to bring a good water cooler, too.
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen – you’re getting more exposed to the sun, so you might as well lather yourself with sunscreen.
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses – again, you’re getting more exposed to the sun as you’re rafting along, so don’t forget to wear a hat and a pair of sunglasses.
  • Get a waterproof phone cover — sure, you’re not going on an extreme whitewater trip on the River Jordan, but chances are there will be some splashing along the way. And what if your phone gets accidentally dropped into the water while you’re taking pictures or videos? You don’t want that possible horror to happen, right? So you might as well protect your gadgets with a waterproof phone cover.
  • Follow the safety rules — just because the River Jordan makes for a relaxed float doesn’t mean there are no safety rules. Listen to the guide giving the talk at the beginning of your kayaking trip and follow his instructions along the way.

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