Private Tour Guides in Israel – Tours in Israel in an “Eshkol” vehicle
“Eshkol” in Hebrew means a bunch/hand/cluster (like in grapes). This is the symbol of the tourism industry in Israel and derives from the story of Joshua and the other tribe representatives being sent out by Moses to spy out the land. Joshua 13:23 – 23 “And they came to the Valley of Eshcol and cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between two of them…”
Among all the available commodities for touring in Israel, there is one unique option that will allow tourists to travel all around the country with a private tour guide and in the comfort of a private car/van. This is the “Rechev Eshkol” private car/van, which is especially tailored (and licensed) for tours of couples, families and small groups. Air-conditioning is basic here.
Any tourist wishing to tour the country by car/van and not by bus has the possibility of reserving this service which includes a super comfortable motor car/van designed for touring, a licensed tourist guide and personal service. These tours are especially designed for the comfort of the individual tourists, as opposed to large group tours. The tourists travel according to their own time-table and itinerary. On a private tour you will also see 20-30% more than what a bus tour offers, and double of what you can manage on your own non-guided tour.
Each private car/van is driven by an experienced licensed tour guide, trained to give maximum service and impart maximum knowledge. The guides have an affinity to tourists and an extensive knowledge of the languages and countries they come from. As in all professions there are good tour guides and there are excellent guides. Ask them for references and check them out.
Most “Eshkol” guides work independently or in small cooperatives and will either do all your other ground arrangements by themselves or with the assistance of other tour-related companies. Often you will save the percentage that the agencies add for their third-party services. When you start to plan your tour you should ask for the guides assistance and advice.
The cars/vans come in 4 basic sizes: 1-4 seaters / 1-7 seaters / 1-10 seaters – 1-15 seaters. If you have a slightly larger party you private guide can rent a tourist bus. There are also specially licensed desert tour SUV s and jeeps with licensed desert-area tour guides that can be had for days or hours.
“Rehev Eshkol” private cars/vans have a logo on the side of each car/van depicting the two spies carrying grapes. Any car/van that does not have this logo on their doors is not licensed to offer guiding or tourist services. Unlicensed cars/vans do not give you full insurance coverage (in case of an accident) – only just the basic coverage.
Guides that are not licensed by the Ministry of Tourism are working illegally and may be forbidden to enter certain sights. The guide and the tourist agency that did your reservations will be fined.