Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Hike Through Galilee

Most tourists see Israel through a bus window.  The advantages of modern transportation are obvious, but the drawbacks are more apparent after a day on the trail.  Some trips incorporate a small amount of walking, but time factors often preclude a half-day, a full day, or more seeing the land as Abraham and David did. In my experience, the land “looks different” when your legs are aching and your canteen is getting low.

Israel is crisscrossed with many well-marked trails, but various logistical challenges prevent most tourists from ever enjoying them.  The short-term visitor to Israel may have difficulty finding a hiking map (especially in English) and determining a safe and appropriate route.

A new opportunity now exists which eliminates a number of these hurdles.  The “Jesus Trail” provides a convenient path through a beautiful and historically significant area.  While I wish that the developers had chosen a different name (such as the “Nazareth to Capernaum Trail”), I am impressed with how much careful work has been done to make this a viable option for many future tourists.

I’ve noted the existence of the trail before (here and here and here and here), but I was unaware of a website that provides numerous resources for the future visitor.  There is too much to mention here, but I would suggest a few sections as of interest to all, whether potential hikers or not.

Start with the map showing the points of interest. From there you can visit individual sites.  I went immediately to the “Roman Road,” but you might prefer the Sea of Galilee or Arbel National Park.  From there I would head over to the blog, which has a number of interesting entries, including one with a free flyer with a map showing historical features and visitor facilities.  If you want to see more detail, check out the day hikes and stage maps.  As I said, this is a very well thought-out program and resource.  There is also a new guidebook (see sample chapters here).  If anything is missing, it must be the adventure that comes from not knowing where you are going.

If you’ve not been to Israel before, you may want to consider a trip that incorporates time on a trail such as this one.  If you have been to Israel, this may be the impetus to get you back for a return trip.  There’s no reason to do the same thing twice!

Plain of Gennesaret from Arbel, tb052000207

Sea of Galilee from Mount Arbel.  The view certainly was more enjoyable to me after hiking 70 miles from Dan to the Sea of Galilee on the Israel Trail.

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