Newsfeed April 2013

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Several special treks are offered for the next few months, you are most invited to join, and furthermore, you’re encouraged to spread the message between as many people you might think are interested! Of course it kis also possible to reserve a private guided hike.

 

April 15th-20th: The Israel National Trail, from Tzuba to Caesaria

After walking the INT from Dan to Caesaria and from Tzuba to Eilat, this is the last section as we complete the walking on the trail. Every day we will walk around 20-25 kilometers, and camp outdoors. A vehicle will carry our gear between the campsites as we walk with our day-pack. All meals are included.

We meet at Tzuba at 8:30 and walk for six days, ending by Caesaria.

It is possible to join for the whole trek or for specific days.

 

April 30th to May 4th: A Water Hike in Jordan

Five days in the amazing canyons of Jordan: Wadi Manshala, Wadi Ghuweir, Ibn Hammad and lower Hassa and Mujib.

 

Mt. Sinai Region, May 7th-11th 2013

A spiritual trek to the region of the red granite mountains, the blooming orchards and the springs and wells of St. Catharine region. Our gear will be carried by camels and will be met by the campsites: lovely orchards with drinking water. All meals are included.

Turkey Trek in Ala Daglar and Capadochia, June 28th-July 6th

This trek combines crossing the Ala Daglar ridge and the fairy-chimney magical region of Capadochia.

 

 

Do not hesitate to call for any additional information, 972-52-3551686.

 

Bye, Yoel orenyoel@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

A New Trekking Trail in Jordan: the story behind the scenes of how we created it.

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When you see publications about hiking or touring tours, you may think that this tour has always been there and people have walked it for centuries. The truth is that sometimes the the tour trail is a new one and there is a story behind its discovery and making the adaptations to enabling hikers to go on it.

Since hiking and trekking in Jordan was not so common before the peace agreement with Israel in 1994, it has been like a fresh table ready for discoveries. Three of the Israelis that dedicated a great amount of time to systematically survey the canyons and deserts of Jordan are Shuka Ravek and Avi Shmida that published a book in Hebrew, and Itay Haviv that published his book in English. These books became the bible for Israeli hikers that followed to discover the wonders of the kingdom.

The Canyon of Colors

On January 31st, I crossed into Jordan with a couple of girls (literally speaking) Keren and Naama, to explore one of the treks described in Itay’s book and to check if we can adapt it for groups. The name of the trek in the book is “Across Southern Edom” and it leads from Jabel Masuda to the ancient Humeima. We took a taxi from the border crossing to Jabel Masuda and prepared for the four-days trek that awaited us. As we arranged the gear in the backpacks, we saw a bedouin man in his 20s dressed as a city person walking down this asphalt road, coming from the Kings’ Highway. His name was Ahmed, and he was curious and asked what are we doing in the middle of nowhere. We said that we are trekking from here for the next four days. He said that he will join us! We told him that it’s not possible, since he doesn’t have any camping gear, warm clothes, let alone food and water, and it’s going to be freezing at night and we can’t offer him anything since when you backpack for four days you don’t have any extra luggage, but he said that he is a Bedouin and he will be ok. So he joined us. We left the road and hiked down into Wadi Mishaza. This wadi has a beautiful limestone gorge followed by a colorful sandstone gorge. We enjoyed the walk, and we shared our water and food with Ahmed. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to the planned campsite before dark, but when you backpack you always have your camping gear with you, so we found a nice spot for the night and started arranging the camp. The girls shared a tent, but I haven’t brought one since I didn’t expect rain. I knew this is going to be a cold night so I decided to make me a charcoal bed: You make a fire with Broombush branches, and after a while you cover them with thin flat stones from the riverbed. Upon that you spread your mat and you get a natural electric sheet, that keeps warm for 4-5 hours. What one needs to do, is gather enough firewood for another charcoal bed, so when you wake up cold at 4 AM you don’t have to gather the firewood for the rest of the night. I told Ahmed to do the same but he said he will just make himself a campfire and sleep next to it. I said that in that case he will need to wake up every time the fire is out, but he said it’s ok. I slept some 50 meters apart from the girls, so that my snores would not wake them up. Around 1:00 AM I woke up hearing some discussion between Ahmed and the girls. In the morning they told me that he woke them up frightened and said he heard someone. This made them worried, and asked him to check what is this stranger doing around here. He said that it’s not a someone, but a something: A hyena! The girls calmed him saying that even though in the Bedouin tradition a hyena is a kind of a monster, this hyena is only a hyena and it is ok. Of course, Ahmed did not sleep well that night, because of the fire and the hyena. In the morning, after we ascended the hill of Ras Atud for a beautiful panoramic view, Ahmed said goodbye to us and walked down towards his village Risha.

 

the Rock Pillar

 

After we descended from Ras Atud, we joined back into Wadi Mishaza and reached some water springs that created nice small pools between the magmatic rocks that form this part of the canyon. This place is the key to the feasibility of this trek made for groups. There is a long dirt road that crosses here, leading from the asphalt road to a Bedouin cemetery close by , and the big question is if this road is still negotiable. We filled our water cantenes and continued walking according to the description in the book towards Wadi Quseib an Wadi Siq. This night was not so cold, no need for a charcoal bed!

On the third day we reached the beautiful gorge of Wadi Raqiya. We had a hard time filling our water canteens from the very tiny stream but we managed. The highlight of this day was walking the colorful sand dunes south of the Wadi. When we were arranging our camp, a Toyota pickup truck appeared with Nawwaf, a Bedouin guide that takes tourists into the desert, and a Swiss lady. It was nice being with them and we had dinner together. On the last day, we realized that Naama has a sore knee and she will not be able to ascend to Humeima. So we decided to leave her with the heavy gear while Keren and me explore the magmatic gorge of Wadi Aheimir towards the Ficus sandstone gorge, and then we will retrace oursteps and walk towards the Arava valley. After we returned, we started walking, while I walked faster in order to try arranging transportation for keren so she doesn’t need to walk 14 km to the Arava road. The only transportation I found was some camels, and the Bedouin was happy to assist us. He took Naama on the camel and we went to his tent, where he called with his cellphone a friend that can take us with his pickup to the border. They offered us warm camel milk but we politely refused. Then they offered tea and we were happy to accept. While we were waiting, the young men in the tent asked me, pointing at Naama: “Is she your wife?” I said: “she is not my wife”. After another cup of tea they asked, this time pointing at Keren: “Is she your wife?” again, I said, “She is not my wife”. Then Keren said, pointing at Naama: “She is my wife” but I hushed her quickly because a Bedouin tent is not like Tel Aviv… Luckily the Bedouins did not catch the point, so until the car came they offered to marry both and we had great laughs together.

 

Three months passed, and I got a phone call from a guy named Gil, a keen nature photographer. He asked me to take him for five days in Jordan, and said he wants to include “The Canyon of Colors”, near the police base of Gharandal.

We both made some inquiries regarding this canyon, but none of the guides would agree to give us the location. One of the guides gave us a vague clue, so we called my friend Abu Ali who owns a pickup Isuzu to take us to the vicinity, so we can start looking for it. Unfortunately we couldn’t find it, but we discovered the beautiful lower part of Wadi Quseib and the spring of Ein Quseib, knowing a car can reach it easily.

 

In February 2012 Irena and Zvika went hiking in that area. They discovered the Canyon of Colors and were willing to share the information of the exact loction. Not only that, they discovered a magnificent huge rock pillar nearby.

Two months later, I hiked with Elliot, Amnon and Orly and visited those monuments of nature. They were really amazing! Only one thing was in between us and the initiating of this trail as an official tour: checking if a pickup truck can negotiate the road to Ein Mishaza. In November 2012, when I guided a trek in the Rajef Inselbergs, I asked Abu Ali to check with the local Bedouins of the Saadin tribe about the road, and they said it is possible to reach the cemetery with thetruck. Abu Ali took one of the Bedouins as a guide and succeeded to reach it! Right away I decided to initiate the trek as soon as possible.

So during December 13-16th, we had our pilot trek to that region. On day one we walked down Wadi Mishaza, day two we combined the original trail described by Itay Haviv until one point, where we headed to the rock pillar and Ein Quseib; On the 3rd we visited the Canyon of Colors, and returned to the original route towards Wadi siq. We camped at Wadi Raqia, from which we strolled on the colorful sand dunes towards the Arava Valley on the last day. The trek was a great success, we set another date for it in February 2013, and two of the participants were so enthusiastic so they intend joining this trek again!

A guided trek on this trail is going to take place on February 5-8th 2013. Details at this link: (It leads to the News section,after this date other relevant tours will appear there.)

http://yoeloren.com/news.htm

Private tours on this trail or different trails within Israel, Jordan, Sinai or Turkey can be reserved at www.yoeloren.com

 

The Dunes of Raqiya

 

The Jesus Trail, From Nazareth to Capernaum

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The Jesus Trail is a hiking trail that was initiated by Maoz Yinon and David Landis, providing an opportunity to walk in the Galilee combining nature, culture and spirituality.

The trail is 65 kilometers long and walking along it one can easily see the land as in the time of Jesus, together with meeting the inhabitants of the Galilee of the 21st century. On the trail you pass through Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Druze villages and sites.

The trail begins in Nazareth, at the Church of Annunciation. It passes by Fauzi Azar inn, which is run By Maoz Yinon, and is a natural home for hikers of the Jesus Trail. Here you can get information about the trail, purchase a copy of the guide book and find partners for walking the trail.

 

From Nazareth, a large town today but just a small village in the times of Jesus, the trail heads to Zippory, where the large city of the Galilee in Jesus’ days left impressive archaeological remains, including the most beautiful mosaic floor that was found in Israel. The trail continues through the Moslem village of Mash’hed to Cana of Galilee, where Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water into wine. You can find a place to stay here at the Cana Wedding Guesthouse.

 

The second day will bring you through the ancient oak trees of the Lower Galilee passing by Kibbutz Lavi, a community of religious Jews, through the Horns of Hattin, an extinct volcano that was the battlefield of the most famous battle where Salleh A-Din (Salladin) defeated the crusaders army in 1187. From there the trails descends through Nabi Shueib, the holiest site for the Druze, where their prophet and father Jethro (Shueib) is buried. Accommodations can be found in the neighboring village of Arbel.

 

The third and last day will begin with a breath-taking view from Mt. Arbel towards the Sea of Galilee, the Golan Heights, Mt. Hermon and the Upper Galilee. A steep descending from the cliff will bring us to Migdal, the village of Mary Magdalene. Walking next to the fruit orchards we will ascend to the Mt. of Beatitudes, and then visit the churches of Tabgha on the sores of the lake to reach Capernaum, the town of Jesus in the Galilee, where we complete the trek and can enjoy a meal, consists on St. Peter fish, just as the meal that Jesus had with his disciples after the resurrection…

 

The Northern Negev, Six Days on the Israel National Trail, January 28th – February 2nd

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The Israel National Trail is a hiking trail over 940km long that crosses the country from The Lebanese border on the north, to the Egyptian one in the south. In 2011-2012 we hiked the northern and the southern sections, leaving the central section to be completed this year. The plan is to walk the area between Caesaria to Sde Boker in three treks, 5-6 days long each. The first trek is going to take place from January 28th to February 2nd, in which we will cover the trail from Meitar to Sde Boker, walking south, between February 21-25th we will hike from Meitar northwards to Kibbutz Tzuba, and in April 15-20th we will hike the last part, from Tzuba to Caesaria

The Small Makhtesh

 

Meitar to Sde Boker, January 28th – February 2nd

We will meet at Meitar at 8:00. On the first day we will cross Yatir “Forest” to the Ancient town of Arad. This hike will lead us moderately between the pine trees to the special village Dureijat, to which we will walk a section of an ancient important Roman road. On the second day we will hike one of the canyons at the meeting between the Judean Desert and the Negev Desert. On the third day we will cross the Tsafit Canyon and descend into the Small Makhtesh. The Makhtesh is an erosive crater which is unique to Israel and Sinai, and the Small Makhtesh is the most complete one. On day four we will hike up from the Small Makhtesh and down into Yamin Canyon, we will join into Hatira Canyon to hike up the Palmach Ascent into the Big Makhtesh. On Friday, February 2nd, we will walk the toughest section on the Israel National Trail: Mt. Karbolet and Wadi Afran. On the last day of this journey we will walk to Aqev Peak, and on the way we will take a side hike to Zakuf and Talul canyons.

 

Our gear is going to be transported to the campsites with an escorting car. When we arrive at the camping spots dinner is going to be ready for us.

We will camp outdoors, but whoever wishes can stay in a room in a country lodge for an additional cost. We will make the reservation and provide transportation to the room after dinner, and back in the morning.

 

The price is 70$ per day, 55$ per day if you choose to participate in 3 days or more. If you do the complete section it will cost 270$ per section.

 

For more information and registration please contact me: orenyoel@yahoo.com

Bye, Yoel

 

 

What to bring:

I.D. card or passport, health insurance;

4.5 litres of water;

Hat, hiking shoes, sandals for the evening,

Kitbag for the evening gear, comfortable day pack;

Good sleeping bag, thin mattress, tent;

Warm clothes for the evening;

Towel, washing stuff,

Toilet paper and matches;

Flashlight + extra batteries;

Insect repellant;

Sunscreen;

Personal first aid and medications, spare glasses;

Snacks;

Plate, soup bowl, spoon, fork, knife.

 

A guided trek on this trail or different trails can be reserved at www.yoeloren.com

 

Crossing the Negev Desert: 14 Days on the Israel National Trail

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The Israel National Trail is a hiking trail over 940km long that crosses the country from The Lebanese border on the north, to the Egyptian one in the south. In May we hiked the northern section, and you scroll down to read about it in a different entry. During January 2012 we completed the southern section crossing the whole Negev Desert from Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat. This section is a little more complicated on the logistic aspects, so more participants were attracted to hike with our organization rather than doing it on their own. People were given the option to hike the complete 14 days with us, or join for parts of it. There were 3 participants hiking the whole length, 3 more did most of it, leaving behind sections that they have already hiked, and the rest joined for different time periods from 2 to 5 days. Al in all there were 50 participants joining the experience.

We began on Thursday, January 5th, hiking the most attractive section: From Sde Boker to Wadi Hava to Mitzpe Ramon. Wadi Hava is a remote canyon, which is very difficult reaching without logistic assistance. The fact that that section was taking place during the weekend, when many people can take vacations, enabled 30 people to participate. We hiked to the lower and upper Aqev Springs, to the northern and southern Hava Rock-Cracks and above the Northern cliff of the “Huge Makhtesh”, the largest erosive crater in the world. During the evenings we enjoyed nice Poyke meals (you can read about that stuff in a different post, dedicated to that, in the Field Cooking category) with wine and guitar playing.

Sunday in Israel is the first working day of the week, so about 20 people left us after their weekend hiking experience, but we welcomed 6 new participants that joined us for the next section. This section is dedicated to the East Ramon region. On the first day of that section we cross the Makhtesh from the town of Mitzpe Ramon to the Amonites Wall, a natural wall that consists of an ancient ocead layer rich with Amonite fossils. Chicken roasted in aluminum foil on the fire with onion soup as first course where our treat for the evening. It was a very cold and quite windy day, walking in elevation of 700-900 meters above sea level, under “deceiving sun” (that shines but doesn’t warm) while the rest of the country was rainy. After a good night sleep, waking into the freezing cold desert we headed for two days of hike, crossing all the way east to the Arava region, almost at the Jordanian border. Tuesday evening, when we arrived at our destination, was a nice treat awaiting us: The first hot shower after 6 days of hiking! During those 6 days we had Har-El with his equipped jeep escorting us and schlepping our gear, but from that evening we had to settle with My small pickup – 1994 Renault Express, that stood bravely up to the expectations!

Day 7 was one of our longest sections: 28 km. Since the days are short, we had to keep a quick pace and reduce the breaks. The cold wind added some difficulty, but towards the afternoon, as we arrived to the camp, it stopped to allow us a nice and comfortable night at sea level elevation.

Day 8, January 12th: That was our most adventurous day, climbing up the ladders of the Barak Gorge, and climbing down the ladders in the gorge of Vardit. Thus, together with 24 km of trail, was not an easy task, but as we arrived at the camp just with the last light we felt satisfied and happy… until we realized the strong and cold wind that the hills around campsite could barely weaken. This night we had company: At 5 a.m. a wolf arrived and sniffed around the remains of our meal. I barked at it but the wolf did not understand doggy language. The small stones I threw on it were understood better…

The next section of the trail is kind of boring. Since there are army practicing zones on both sides of the trail, it follows the asphalt road, on a flat and un-interesting landscape, for 40 km. To avoid it but still cross this section with our own muscle-power, we arranged bicycles for us to ride and cover that section. So we had some time in the morning for a nice breakfast before we started. There were only four of us riding this day, the rest of the group either left before, or decided to take a day off and cover this section by car. The strong and cold southern wind we were facing was not cooperating, but at km 31 there was the Neot Semadar café where we stopped for nice and rich hot chocolate. Once the 40 km were finally over, we walked 3 more to the camp at the Kassui Dunes. This evening Nirit joined us for driving the logistic car, escorted with her bright and active son Gev that right away explored the possibilities offered by the sand dunes.

The next day was a Saturday – Shabbat, the day of rest in the Jewish religion. We planned a short 11km section for that day, ending at Shacharut campsite (“The Camel Riders”), where we were provided with the second and last hot water shower of the trek.

The remaining 4 days were in the vicinity of the Eilat Mountains. We were now hiking with our last of five topographical maps, and the weather enabled us hike with our shorts for the first time… There were 11 participants on the trek and we knew we are approaching the end. Two long days of 22 and 26 km, followed with the last and more moderate sections: 16 and 14. On the 14th and last day we hiked through one of the most beautiful sections of the Israel National Trail: The Gishron Canyon. Its an orgy of rocks and colors: Black and purple Igneous rocks, Red, white and pink sandstone, yellowish limestone, greenish clay and much more. The last uphill of the 14 days brings us atop Mt. Tzefahot, from which you see the dark blue Gulf of Eilat at your feet, surrounded by beautiful mountains and four countries: Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The feeling was great, but a little sadness in the mixture: Soon the trek will be over, the life that we experienced was turning into a memory, our friends that walked with us are about to go back to their homes, and even the joy of wiping ones dirty hands on the 14-days-used pants is reaching its end… So we stayed on the summit for one last strong Arabic coffee, took a deep breath of the desert fresh air, and walked down towards the Gulf of Eilat…

You are welcome to watch Eli Shoshani’s photo album of the trek!

https://picasaweb.google.com/107622147846058937848/Shvil_Eli_01_12?authkey=Gv1sRgCLy2v9zV7_70tQE

The last section on the trail, from Caesaria to Sde Boker, is planned for February 2013, stay tuned!

A guided trek on this trail or different trails can be reserved at www.yoeloren.com

Christian Hiking Pilgrimage in the Holy Land

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The Land of Israel is known as “The Holy Land”. Million of pilgrims arrive here to follow the footsteps of Jesus and to see in their eyes the land that was the background of the events described in the Old and New Testaments. A much better understanding of the texts evolves from standing atop Mt. of Olives and looking at the Garden of Gethsemane, or Standing on Mt. Carmel and looking at the Valley of Jezreel than for just reading them back home. This way the stories come back to life in front of our eyes.

 

The vast majority of pilgrims settle with driving by bus or car to the churches that were established at the spots of the events, but there’s another way of doing it: Real walking on the footsteps of Jesus, the prophets, the kings and other figures whose stories are described in the texts. The experience this way can become deeper: Both with the time spent that enables us grasp better the event in its context, and of course by being in the open scenery that sometimes has not changed much since the time of the Bible. In the Galilee there is a marked hiking trail from Nazareth to Capernaum known as “Jesus Trail” (www.jesustrail.com) that can be fully or partly combined in the hiking pilgrimage.

 

The desert plays a major role in the scripts: Abraham was the first to settle and develop the desert by planting a Tamarisk tree in Beer Sheva, (environmentalists would appreciate it being a sustainable development since the Tamarisk is a native plant and not an invading species…), The Children of Israel wandered for 40 years in the Sinai and Jordanian deserts, David, before becoming king, dwelled in the Judean Desert, the prophet Amos was a shepard in Tekoa, at the edge of the desert, and John the Baptist was baptizing the people at the Jordan River in the furnace-hot area of the southern Jordan Valley . Half of the land of Israel is desert land, and hiking in the Negev or Judean Deserts can let us feel the special environment and atmosphere. Backpacking for two days and one night in the desert is not equal to wandering there for forty years, but can give a good idea on that!

Here is a suggested itinerary that can set as an alternative pilgrimage to the Holy land. The itinerary is based on hiking, and one can add the more standard Church Pilgrimage to get a complete experience:

Day 1: Landing at Ben Gurion Airport, driving to the Carmel Mountain. Walking from the Druze village of Daliat El Carmel through remains of an ancient Jewish village to the Carmelitic monastery commemorating the competition between Elijah and the prophets of the Ba’al. The breath-taking view from the roof of the monastery opens towards the Jezreel Valley, where stood the vineyard of Naboth (1 Kings, 21), and the capital of the kingdom of Israel; The river of Kishon, where the troops of Sisera fell into the hands of Barak son of Abinoam (Judges 4,5); The Gilboa Mountains, the hills of Nazareth and much more.

Day 2: Visiting the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth and hiking the Jesus Trail from Nazareth through Zippory to Cana of Galilee.

Day 3: Hiking the Jesus Trail from the Arbel Cliff to Capernaum, with an additional visit to Mt. of Beatitudes. Driving to The Jordan River baptismal site. Driving south through the Jordan Valley to Ein Gedi.

Day 4: A day hike in the Dry Canyon and Window Fall at Ein Gedi, then visiting the lush oasis where David found shelter from King Saul (1 Samuel 24). Afternoon bathing at the Dead Sea.

Day 5: Ascending Masada for sunrise, then hiking the Judean Desert to the awe-inspiring Rahaf Canyon. Driving to Jerusalem.

Day 6: Observation over the Old City from Mt. of olives, then a full day walking tour of the four quarters of the Old City, including a walk on the stations of the cross, followed by a visit to The Church of the Holy Sepulchure, The Western (“Wailing”) Wall and The Garden Tomb.

Day 7: A hike around the hills of Jerusalem and the ancient agriculture remains. Drive to the Negev.

Day 8-9: Two days hiking with outdoors camping in the desert, crossing from Makhtesh Ramon (“crater”) to the Arava Valley. Farewell dinner and overnight in Tel Aviv.

Day 10: Jaffa, Tel Aviv and fly home.

A guided trek on this trail can be reserved at www.yoeloren.com

The Ein Gedi Oasis from Above and Inside

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The Ein Gedi oasis is located at the foot of the Judean Desert fault cliff, between the ridge and the Dead Sea. It consists of four major fresh-water springs supplying 3 million cubic meters of water a year, forming the contrast between the lush oasis and the dry desert surrounding it. The combination of the hot temperatures and the abundance of water create perfect conditions for semi-tropical plants that grow here naturally. The water and the vegetation attract many species of vegetarian animals as the Nubian Ibex and the Rock Hyrax, that themselves attract the predators, as the Wolf and the Fox, and until 2006 there were even leopards around! Since ancient times man was aware of the advantages of Ein Gedi, and some archaeological remains date back to the Chalcolithic Period, some 6000 years ago. During the Roman-Byzantine era, 2000-1400 years ago, a Jewish community prospered here, making a living out of the special and very expensive perfume, the “Apharsemon” (balsam) that was produced from the extracts of a bush that was grown here, but disappeared into a mystery and now no one knows which plant was it…

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An Amazing Desert Trek in Wadi Rum, Jordan

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For desert lovers Jordan is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The large variety of rocks, the dramatic landscape created by the Dead Sea Rift fault and the numerous amount of hidden water springs combine to an orgy of shapes and colors. In previous posts I’ve described treks in the vicinity of Petra, Rajef and the Dead Sea canyons. On this one we’re heading south, close to the border with Saudi Arabia: The protected area of Wadi Rum.

This area consists of steep inselbergs surrounded with red and yellow sand dunes. It is reached by a road that branches east from the Desert Highway, about half an hour drive from Aqaba. On that road you drive around fifteen more minutes to reach the visitors’ center and the entrance, where there’s entrance fee required, five Jordanian Dinar per person in 2011.

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Trekking in the Judean Desert

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‏The Judean desert is relatively a small desert, located in Israel between Jerusalem and Hebron to the west and the Dead Sea to the east. It’s a rain-shadow desert: The Judean hills on its west block the humid air that arrives from the Mediterranean Sea, and the decrease in elevation as you go east makes it drier and drier. The significant drop in Elevation, from a 1000 meters above sea level, to 425 meters below sea level, makes the landscape very steep, especially on the eastern side, the Fault Cliff. Around 30 deep canyons cut through this cliff forming a dramatic scenery.

This trek crosses the Judean Desert from the town of Arad to the lush oasis of Ein Gedi, and it is one of the best treks in Israel. This description is not for navigation, just to give the general idea of the route, while the navigation should be done by the assistance of a topographic map or with a guide.

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Trekking on the Israel National Trail

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Day 1: walk along the Hatzbani stream

The Israel National Trail is a marked path, crossing the entire length of Israel, from the Border with Lebanon in the north, to the Egyptian border in the south.

I offer a guided trek on the trail, devided into 3 sections. We hiked the first one, from Dan to Caesaria, during 11 days, During May 15th to the 25th 2011.

On the evening before, we gathered from all around, and retired to sleep in order to gain energy and rest towards the trek.

On the 1st day, our logistic-man Moshe took us to the starting point near Kibbutz Dan, where the trail begins. There were four participants to begin with, every one joined for a different period of time, including one, named Arie, that aimed to walk the complete section all the way to Caesaria! Moshe drove to kiryat Shemona to bring some fresh bread for breakfast, and we met him after walking around 7 km at the Snir nature reserve. We continued along the trail, and around 6 pm we were at the camping site, where we met a British participant who was to join us for the next four days of trekking.

The second day was relatively warm, but towards early afternoon we had time to enjoy a watermelon and a siesta in the shade of a tree..

Arriving late that evening to the campsite, dinner was already ready for us. This dinner was based on stew cooked in a Poyke pot, but it competed hard with the other dinners we had during our trek: Sole-fish schnitzels, St. Peter fish wrapped with lettuce and foil cooked in the fire, Spaghetti Bolognaise, Asian Casserole of vegetables and chicken, quality entrecote grilled on charcoal, and many more. Of course all the meals were escorted with nice wine..

Poyke pot, photo by Nathan Dascal

During that night we had some rain, but we woke up the next morning cheerful as ever for another day of hiking. This day we welcomed another British participant, that has just arrived late the night before. This guy preferred not to camp outdoors, so we had booked him nice rooms close to the campsites and drove him there after having dinner with us.

So the trek went on, we walked up Mt. Meron and down to the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River, then up to Mt. Tabor and Nazareth, and down to Tzippory. This is where the last of the participants departed, and for the last two days and a half, there were only me, Yoel, the guide, and the persistant Arie left in the group. We decided to speed up, and covered the whole distance from Tzippory to Caesaria (87km) in two and a half days! When we arrived at the aqueduct, the trade-mark logo of Caesaria, we were very please and satisfied. Moshe met us with three cans of beer and drove us home..

Arie and Yoel at Caesaria aqueduct, after 11 days of trekking

The Next guided trek on the trail will take place during January 5th th to the 18th 2012. It will be on the southern section, crossing the Negev Desert from Sde Boker to Eilat.

  

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