The Israel Trail links together for adventurous hikers the extraordinary variety of Israel’s landscapes, its human mosaic and its religious and cultural monuments; in short – everything that makes this country unique. Along the approximately 580-mile-long route from Dan in the north to Eilat in the south, marked out by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, you’ll discover a new and exciting way to see Israel.
For example, one of the Israel Trail’s more than 40 segments begins in the Amud Valley northwest of the Sea of Galilee and ends in the lakeside capital of Tiberias. As you ramble along, the lake becomes the centrepiece of a multi-sensory experience you can only really have on foot. You’ll pass banana plantations (who knew bananas grew from flowers?) and other orchards that thrive in this subtropical environment. You’ll see an old, water-powered flour mill, one of a number of heritage sites hidden from the highway. Then comes the most challenging part of this day: the Arbel Cliff. It’s a tough climb, but when you get to the top, your reward is not only a fabulous vista of the lake and the mountains embracing it, but the feeling that this view, which you now know intimately after about eight hours of hiking, is one you’ve earned.
Another, very different Israel Trail experience passes through Makhtesh Ramon (“the Ramon Crater”) in the Negev. The desert, framed by the floor-to-ceiling glass of the Ramon Visitor Centre where this segment begins, stretches off into yellow nothingness all the way to the horizon. Or does it? On the half-day you’ll need to accomplish this portion of the trail, you’ll realize that this globally unique geological phenomenon is no faceless moonscape. Up close and personal, you’ll discover the multi-coloured, multi-textured fascinations of Makhtesh Ramon, a window onto an eventful geological past. You’ll also be walking part of an ancient highway – the Incense Route, which once bore the riches of the East to market via the Mediterranean (and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site). And the beauty of any segment of the Israel Trail is that your half-day can become a whole day, two, or three, studded with intriguing landmarks. Here, they include the ruins of the caravansary of Ein Saharonim, an ancient way-station (and a present-day campground) on the Incense Route.
Visitors are now finding out what the locals have already discovered: whether accomplished in one go over a couple of months or in segments, the Israel Trail is very different than ordinary sightseeing. Because it’s not the destination that drives you, but the path itself: the varied scenery, quality time with your companions and with the people you meet will change and enrich you, and make Israel part of you in a very special way.
To help you map out and plan the Israel Trail experience that’s right for your hiking skills and abilities, and the time you have available, contact Moti Sheetrit at email@example.com or call the Israel Trail offices at the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel in Tel Aviv at 03-638-8719/20.
For more information, please check out the Israel Trail Forum