Monday, 12 November 2012

Israel National Trail (INT)

Israel National Trail
In Spain my kind friends from England delivered a book I'd been waiting for - a guide, in English, with 1:50,000 (about 1 inch to 1 mile) scale Survey of Israel mapping depicting the route of Israel's National Trail. A 600 mile (960km) or so hike from Dan Kibbutz, near the Lebanese frontier in the north, to the resort of Eilat, just short of the Egyptian border in the south. It's reasonably well written but, as the maps are in a separate section to the body of the book and the various types of accommodation are listed alphabetical, by unfamiliar place name, it's very difficult to use. So much so that I spent much of my time, both in Cyprus and in Tel Aviv, annotating the maps with yellow and green stickys indicating places to stay and water access points. There are various types of accommodation along the route: hotels, guest houses and B&B's, Israel Youth Hostel Association (IYHA) guest houses, independent (ILH) hostels , SPNI (Society for the Preservation of Nature in Israel) field schools, caravansaries, campsites and 'trail angels' (individuals who offer accommodation, and often more, freely to INT hikers). Both where to stay and drinking water availability, particularly in the Negev Desert, are crucial factors in walking this route.
Unlike my previous hikes this one lends itself to exploring the whole country, so that's what I intend to do. I'll walk the trail and when I feel like it I'll take a few days off to explore places nearby that take my fancy. National Geographic lists this trail in the top ten of the world's greatest hikes. Over the next few weeks we'll find out if it is. From the SPNI offices in Tel Aviv I've picked-up a trail passport and I've downloaded a current list of trail angels, now I'm ready to go.
Slideshow of planning the Israel National Trail.

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