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Middle East

Jordan (May 2016)

Visa

Issued: At the border

Duration: One month, single entry

Cost: 86 Euros

 

Border crossings

Israel – Jordan (Aqaba): There are rumours that travellers with foreign motorcycles are not allowed to enter Jordan. Even the instructions document they will give you at the Israeli side of the border states that. Don’t worry, it’s not true! I had no problem at all entering Jordan on a motorbike and other travellers I met, had no problem either.
The new law at the moment stated that even at the special economic zone of Aqaba, you have to pay your visa. The advantage, if you enter through Aqaba, is that you can take your money for the visa back, if you spend more than two days in Jordan and you exit through the same border post. This worked for me. Much better deal, especially if you are planning to visit some ancient sites, is to buy the Jordan Pass. You have to do that online before entering Jordan. In that case, you pay almost the same amount of money, you can enter plenty of ancient sites for free and you do not have to pay an extra visa fee. Except that, I had to pay 39 Euros for a one-month motorbike insurance, which is compulsory. Even with a Carnet de Passages en Douane, I had to pay 29 Euros more for motorcycle custom fees.

Jordan – Israel (Aqaba): I got back the money for the visa fee, I paid 5 Euros for departure tax and I exited Jordan without troubles.

 

Digital maps

Open Street Maps have enough details even off-road.

Nice off-road routes, sights, wild camping spots and other useful waypoints: you can download the file in GPX format.

 

Wild camping

Jordan is a very easy country for wild camping. There is lots of space in the desert, on the mountains and elsewhere and the locals are very friendly!

 

Israel (June 2016)

Visa

Issued: At the border

Duration: Three months, single entry

Cost: Free for most Westerners

 

Border crossings

Jordan – Israel (Aqaba): It is known that entering or leaving Israel is not an easy process. Expect to spend some time on questioning, if you will be considered suspicious, which is very possible for an overlander. If you have stamps on your passport from Arabic countries, you will be much more suspicious and you will have to answer why you visited those countries, what were you doing there and if you have any contacts there. It goes without saying that you should not mention any connection to anything Arabic and especially Palestinian. It would be wise to delete such contacts from e-mail accounts, Facebook, mobile phone etc. Of course, you cannot expect human rights and privacy to work in Israel. If you are considered too suspicious, you will be asked to log in to your e-mail account, Facebook or whatever. If your laptop or mobile phone is taken for longer than 20 minutes or something, it means they probably copy all your data for Mossad to analyze them later. Try to look as “normal” and politically neutral as possible. I know several overlanders who spent from five to twelve hours at the border! Happily, in my case it was only a couple of hours.
Usually Israeli authorities do not stamp passports. They issue an identity card instead, in order to hide proof of your visit to Israel and avoid troubles when you visit some Arabic countries. However, if you definitely want to avoid the passport stamps, make sure you let them know and expect some more questions about the reasons you ask that…
It would be nice to have a Green Card insurance for vehicles in Europe, which is valid in Israel too. Otherwise, you would have to buy at the border Israeli insurance for your vehicle, which is really expensive, as most things in Israel are.

Israel – Greece (Ben Gurion Airport): Usually the only feasible way to ship your vehicle from Israel to Europe is through A. Rosenfeld Shipping Ltd.. If you ship from Europe to Israel, then you have some cheaper options, like Grimaldi. The process with A. Rosenfeld Shipping Ltd. is easy. It’s just ridiculously expensive! Book your shipping online and then you will just need a couple of hours to complete the process in Haifa. The ship usually sails once a week. Shipping of a motorcycle from Haifa, Israel to Lavrio, Greece costs 400 Euros and you can have your luggage on the bike. If you want to travel onboard, you will not be assured that there will be a free cabin until the last moment, while you will have to pay the astonishing amount of 300 Euros per person, which is about three times more expensive than an average flight ticket! You will also have to pay 260 Shekels (60 Euros) at Haifa port for motorcycle taxes. The ship takes three days to reach Greece, while an airplane needs about two and a half hours. If you fly, make sure you are at the airport at least three hours before your flight to allow time for the extensive questioning.

 

Digital maps

Only Open Street Maps had information about Israel but they were not very accurate when it comes to off-roading.

Nice off-road routes, sights and wild camping spots: you can download the file in GPX format.

 

Wild camping

There are some places to wild camp in the desert or in forests. Wild camping is quite popular in Israel. Just make sure you are not in Israeli army’s training zone.

 

West Bank, Palestine (June 2016)

Visa

Not needed.

 

Border crossings

Israel – Palestine (Jerusalem): Usually, when you enter the West Bank, they do not even stop you.

Palestine – Israel (Jalame): Initially we were not even allowed to cross the checkpoint on a motorbike! We were considered dangerous and forced to leave! After making clear that we were just tourists, we were allowed again into Israel. You can read the full story at: Palestine: Does it exist?

 

Wild camping

It is possible to wild camp in the West Bank but make sure you are not in a sensitive area and you are not mistaken for an Israeli.

 

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