Showing posts with label Israel National Trail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Israel National Trail. Show all posts

The Dan Region

The Dan Region, or Gush Dan as it is called in Hebrew, is the pulsing hub of the country, the metropolis at the heart of Israeli business and culture.

The region is comprised of adjacent cities that surround Tel Aviv. The region’s boundaries are commonly said to start with Herzliya at the north around Petakh Tikva to the east and Rishon Letsion to the south, a region that includes about 1.6 million inhabitants. But many people claim that the region should also include Rosh Ha’ayin to the East and Rehovot in the south making it a region with two million people and the most densely populated part of the country.

There is never a dull moment in this part of the country. This is Israel’s entertainment capital and the center of gravity for business and shopping, with numerous theaters cafes, bars, museums and parks as well as amazing beaches, vibrant festivals and many historic and archeological sites of interest.

The Galilee

Ranges of hills with high peaks, one river, many streams, dozens of brooks, primal landscapes, evergreen forests, dense natural groves, valleys, lakes, few residents and many hikers and tourists are what make the Galilee so special.

The Galilee is a mountainous region in Israel’s north, and is divided into two main parts - the Upper Galilee to the north and the Lower Galilee to the south. The highest peak in the Upper Galilee is Mt. Meron, which rises 1,208 meters above sea level, while the highest point in the Lower Galilee is the summit of Mt. Kamon, at 602 meters above sea level.

Thanks to the abundant water and the fertile soil in the Galilee’s valleys, this region has been relatively densely populated since ancient times and today has the largest variety of ethnic communities in Israel. 

There are Druze villages (Beit Jan, Peki’in) and Circassian (Reikhaniya, Kfar Kama) who preserve their ancient traditions; there are Arab villages with Muslim majorities (Kafr Yasif) or Christian majorities (Fasuta), or some with an equal balance (Ma’alot Tarkhisha). 

The Galilee is one of Israel’s main tourism centers, with dozens of different types of sites. For example, there are national antiquities parks (including Bar’am, Tsipori, Beit She’arim, Monfort and Kohav Hayarden); moshava farming communities from the early days of the modern settlement of Israel, which tell the story of Zionism (Metula, Yesud Ha-Ma’ala, Rosh Pina); beautiful nature reserves (Hula Lake, Mt. Meron, Bar’am Forest, Nahal Kziv and many more); Jewish holy sites, such as the graves of the sages and ancient synagogues (in Safed (Tsfat) and Tiberias); and Christian holy sites that are visited by many pilgrims during their tour of the Holy Land (Nazareth, Kfar Nahum (Capernaum), the Jordan River and Lake Kineret).

The large concentration of sites, the natural beauty and the breathtaking landscapes are what make the Galilee so unique. It has even been nicknamed the Israeli Tuscany or Provence. Either way, the Galilee is a fascinating area that offers dozens of touring and entertainment options.

Israel National Trail

The Israel National Trail runs 950 kilometers from Kibbutz Dan, near the border with Lebanon in the Upper Galilee in the far north of Israel, to Eilat in the far south of the country. Split into manageable daily stages, there are places to stop and stay along the way. The National Trail is designed primarilly for walkers and hikers although parts are suitable for off-road vehicles, as well as bikes- the Israel National Bike Trail is currently under construction.

How you approach the trail is totally up to you. You could do just one stage or a part of a stage, or the whole thing which will take at least three weeks to complete.

For a keen hiker, there really is no better way to combine your hobby and seeing Israel. You could take days off and see other sites. But the panoramas that you will get solely from the hikes are perhaps just as spectacular, in their own ways.

In the north of Israel the trail traverses the hills of the Galilee that Biblical characters crossed thousands of years ago. Peace will be broken with the noise of water as you reach a small stream and the sounds of humanity as you reach rural agricultural communities.

As you reach the center of the country, the greater density of population becomes clear, but the contrast between that and some of the beauty spots you walk through will seem so stark. So close to the hustle and bustle you will often be walking through trails that not even many locals know. You will be experiencing Israel’s stunning nature and beauty.

Soon, moving southwards, population will peter out again, and another contrast will become clear. The green hills of the north, which made way for the flat fertile coastal plain of the center, will contrast with the barren desert landscape of the south. A fairly harsh environment, water and supplies need to be carefully planned. Beauty, however, doesn’t contrast, and the Negev landscape is just as stunning. It really is, beyond words.

You can do the trail in either direction, although North to South means you finish in Eilat, ready for a rest in luxury. There are loads of practicalities to be taken into account before hiking the trail, and a great website which talks about these, as well as giving more information on the Trail, is