Israel – arguably the world’s largest small country and certainly its most diverse – is a hiker’s paradise. Paths like the Bible Trail on Mount Gilboa, the Gospel Trail or Jesus Trail in the Galilee link sites sacred to Jews and Christians while passing through breathtaking mountain landscapes. The Kinneret Trail and the Jerusalem Trail, both currently under development, will respectively encircle Israel’s largest freshwater lake and the country’s historic capital. Even more ambitious, the Abraham’s Path links the route of patriarch of Jews and Muslims across, Turkey, Syria, the Palestinian Authority territory, Israel and Egypt.
But the mother of all hiking paths is the Israel National Trail, known in Hebrew as Shvil Yisra’el, a 940-kilometer long path that begins in Dan near the Lebanese border in the north and zigzags its way across the entire country before ending in Eilaton the Red Sea.
The trail, marked with its distinctive white, blue and orange stripes, takes between 30 to 70 days to finish if hiked continuously – depending on one‘s stamina and grit. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis are in the process of hiking the trail, one weekend at a time.
Tourists are equally welcome to start the process. For foreign visitors the Israel National Trail offers the chance to see the real Israel – without any coach buses, guided tours or crowds, and often no cell phone reception or running water. Instead, there is a chance to discover Israel’s people, history and culture on the country’s less-traveled paths.
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