Israel National Trail – the whole country in one way
Israel National Trail (Shvil Israel) – a unique network of hiking trails that annually attracts admirers of natural beauties and attractions, pilgrims, adventurers, fans of tracking and those who want to check yourself for toughness. According to the editorial staff of National Geographic, the path of the trail is included in the world’s 20 most epic, along with the Appalachian trail, Mount Fuji routes and the Himalayan route.
The Trail of Israel passes through national parks with unusual flora and fauna, enters through desert with unearthly landscapes, wanders along ancient monasteries, traditional villages and lively cities. Here date groves are replaced by pastures, sand dunes by smoothness of lakes, narrow gorges by an immense sea space.
Even roads themselves in some areas deserve close attention: built in the Roman period, they felt traces of biblical prophets who walked along them. The same way, on foot, thousands of pilgrims are doing it today. However, this path attracts not only believers: lovers of tracking, hiking and extreme travels, an Israeli youth and other inhabitants of the country come here for a new experience, natural beauties and portions of attractions.
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History of creation
The idea to create in Israel an extraordinary way, comparable to the Appalachian trail, was brought back in 1985 from a trip across America by the Israeli journalist Abraham Tamir. This idea was also supported by his friend, Ori Dvir, who created the commission, which for 20 years developed this project. The official opening of the National Trail of Israel in Israel took place in 1995: it united the most scenic hiking trails, along which it is possible to go through the country from north to south.
Initially its length was 940 km, but over time it increased to 1040 km. The reason for this is the accession of new sites and the rout transfers due to the unstable political situation. Today the road starts in the Dan National Park in the northern part of the country, passes through Galilee, the extraordinary Gennesaret Lake and the beautiful Mount Carmel. Scenic and inspiring part of the route is the route along the Mediterranean coast, through raving Tel-Aviv and further to the ancient Jerusalem, through the Judean mountains and the Negev desert. It ends on the coast of another sea – Red, in the friendly resort of Eilat.
Features of the route
Shvil Israel crosses the entire country from north to south, its length is more than 1000 km. Not everyone will pass it all at once: even if you cover at least 20 km a day to conquer the route, it will take at least one and a half months. Those who plan to spend some time for sightseeing and hiking in national parks, it is necessary to add another 10-15 more days. Optimum travel time is 48 days.
Many people share the journey into several stages: for this purpose the Israeli route is divided into 48 segments, which can be traversed at different times. All of them are designed for pedestrian crossings, some can be overcome on bicycles and only some areas, for example, the road of Burma, on an off-road car.
For the travelers’ convenience, difficult sections of the National Trail of Israel are equipped with handrails and steps, observation platforms, camping sites, places for rest and garbage collection. Small villages, hotels and hostels, campsites and shops are built at a day’s distance. Even for beginners it will be difficult to get lost here: every 10-100 m there are blue-white-orange tags indicating the direction.
If the top part of the tag is white – the color of the snow of Mount Hemron – the path goes the north, if the top part of the tag is orange – the route tends to the south, to the dark sands of the Negev desert. The blue color symbolizes Gennesaret Lake and allows one to distinguish the designation of the Israeli Path from others crossing it. Adjacent trekking routes (for example, the Golan hiking trail or the Burma Road) run in parallel or in part replace the main trail. In this case, it is worth to focus on the two-color labels.
When to go and what to bring
The mild Mediterranean climate that prevails in most parts of Israel gives an opportunity to conquer the National Trail of Israel at any time. For the development of the southern part of the trail fits winter, for travelling through the northern part – summer season. Spring and autumn are better suited to overcome the route as in winter it often rains and even floods. In summer debilitating heat and stuffiness will add some difficulties: it will be more difficult to walk, and you will need to stock up more water reserves for long transitions.
Those who planned to follow the route at one time in the classical direction, from North to South, should start in October. If a path is planned from Eilat to the Northern part of the country, it is better to start moving in early March or April. The second option is preferable: the section from Eilat to Arad is one of the most challenging on the route. It’s worth to go through it at the beginning, while there are still many forces: in the end it will take more effort to overcome it.
Rules of conduct on the road
The National Trail of Israel goes through the most beautiful places of the country, national parks, near natural and historical monuments. To save the route in its original form, the rules of conduct for pilgrims and travelers have been devised. On the way you can not litter, to kindle fires (you can use a gas burner), cut down trees and bushes, pick flowers, and grass.
Special rules apply to overnight stays: it is forbidden to stay in the dark at Shivel Israel, so it’s time to get to campsites or hotels before dark. You can stay overnight with the Angels of the Trail – local residents who provide travelers with water, food and lodging for free or for a nominal fee – from 20 shekels.
Some of the angels are believers, so they should not be invited to visit during the religious holidays of Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Shavuot, Sukkot and Pesach, and also from Friday evening to Saturday evening. In the homes of volunteers it is necessary to observe the rules of conduct: to warn about the arrival at least for two days, not to disturb the hosts at night or early in the morning, to observe silence and clean up the room.
Attractions on the way
The Trail of Israel does not capture all the historical and man-made monuments of the country, more focusing on natural beauty. In the northern part of the trail one should see waterfalls of the Banias nature reserve and enjoy breathtaking views of the Hula valley with scattered here and there picturesque villages, moving away from the Hermon peak to the village Navey-Ativ.
An indelible impression Barack and the Vardit – canyons with unearthly landscapes. In the park of Timina – extraordinary cliffs of snow-white and red colors, where you can meet chamois and gazelles, stroll through the gardens of blooming acacias and fabulous Mines of King Solomon. More attention should be paid to walks in the conservation area of the Amud River: according to one legend, in this enchanting place in the Upper Galilee there was the heavenly garden of Eden.
Lovers of historic monuments will enjoy the number of ancient churches and monasteries, Roman ruins and the medieval Fortezza, encountered on the rout. In the Banias nature reserve preserved buildings of the Roman period: the dungeons of the castle of Agripa, the ruins of the temple of Pan, – deities from Greek mythology, operating until today, the water mill of Matruh. Here is a viewing platform overlooking the panorama of the Druze villages, the Nimrod fortress and mount Hermon. As for the main historical and cultural magnets of the Israeli Trail – Jerusalem and Eilat: ancient cities that deserve special attention.