Hiking in Israel
Israel is a paradise for adventurers. Whether you like hiking, biking, horse riding, camel riding, or off-road driving, you will be able to find the right path for you amongst the 9000km (5500 miles) of marked trails that run through the entire country, including the West Bank.
The marking system is clear, complete, and easy to understand, allowing anyone to find their way around, even without a map at hand. In addition to the markings, trails are lined with topographical maps covering the entire country at a 1:50,000 scale. However, these maps are exclusively written in Hebrew, making them inaccessible to those who do not speak that language.
Hiking is a great way to really delve into the heart of Israel and discover its natural wonders.
Here are some tips to allow you to explore the country in a safe, easy, and enjoyable way.
Plan your hike
The first step toward your trip is to know what you’re looking for. The Israeli trail network can cater to all abilities. Whether you’re looking for an easy one-hour stroll or a challenging multi-weeks scramble, there is a trail for you.
First-timers should begin with a short hike to familiarise themselves both with the marking system and the environment. It doesn’t mean that you have to pick an easy, tame hike. But a short one is safer when you first apprehend a new terrain.
Many places can offer you a fair range of good newcomer hiking options, from an easy one-hour walk to more challenging full-day hikes. Some of the best starting points are Sde Boker, Mount Arbe, Banias, and Ein Gedi.
Choose a time
It’s possible to hike throughout Israel all year-round. However, it’s important to remember that summers can swelteringly hot and dry throughout the entire country. If you choose to hike on a summer day, aim for the coolest hours of the day (early morning and evening). Moreover, be sure to take plenty of water with you, as you will rarely be able to find water along the way. If you’re planning a full-day trip, make sure that you have a shaded place to rest during the hottest hours of the day (12:00-15:00).
Trails in Northern Israel are known to have plenty of shade available as well as water springs to help you keep cool, making this region the best choice for a summer hike. On the other hand, the Dead Sea and Eilat should be avoided during the summer months (May to September) as they are the hottest areas in the country.
Pack your bag
There are three essentials to any hike: water, sunscreen, and hats. There’s no need to pack a huge bag for a day hike, as long as you have these three items. You can be generous when packing water. The minimum is 2L, even for a short hike. You’ll need at least 3L per day per person for a regular day, and upward of 4L for a summer day hike. The most important thing to remember is to never ever head off on a hike without water.