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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