Israel is a small country, but despite that fact, it has many types of landscapes and microclimates. The country is full of hiking and trekking trails, from day hikes to the 1000km Israel trail. Hiking in Israel will take you through forests, deserts, mountains, flat plains, and beautiful beaches.
Some photos to show the diversity on this small piece of land:
When is the best season to go hiking in Israel?
because of the variety of landscapes and microclimates, it depends on what do you want to do. each area and its perfect season.
Hiking the Desert
Best time to hike the desert is from November to March.
- Low chance of rain.
- Not too cold and even hot during the day. Can be very windy.
- you might also see the desert blooms with flowers.
Rest of the time:
- As it gets closer to July-August it becomes extremely hot. multi-day hiking is not recommended.
- Take more water than you think you will use, then take a bit more.
- start hiking very early and have a break during the heat hours 13:00-16:00.
Hiking Northern Israel:
Hiking in Northern Israel can be done all year around, each season with its own pros and cons.
- Medium chance to rain.
- can be cold, 8-15 Celsius degrees during the day and close to zero during the night.
- The scenery is much better, everything is green and blooming.
- Zero chance of rain. can get up to 30 and more Celius degrees.
- scenery is dry yellow landscape.
- Best time to explore streams and springs and have a swim to chill.
Trail marks, navigating, and maps in Israel:
Israel is divided into twenty 1:50,000 maps which are very detailed and contain all the marked trails around the country. The ultimate tool for hiking in Israel.
But that’s kinda old school today. There are apps which shows you some of the hiking trails.
In Israel, the hiking trails are well marked by a distinctive sign which is a 20cmX15cm rectangle. The trails are marked with 4 colors:
blue, red, black, and green. Those 4 colors are being used to mark trails all over the country, so if you see a blue trail in Jerusalem area, it doesn’t mean that there is no other blue trail in the country or even just a few kilometers from there. The rule is that if there is a junction of trails, 2 trails with the same color will never collide.
Type of trails as marked on the map:
- Single broken line– A hiking trail which you can pass through only by foot.
- Double broken line– A trail which a 4X4 vehicle drive on (it doesn’t mean it is only for vehicles, it is also for hiking).
- Double continues line-A paved road.
I’m an old school guy, I grew im hiking with maps and still do. My knowledge on navigating apps is quite limited. I was researchrching abit and that’s my finding of the best apps:
Amud Anan – The official maps of the Israel mapping institute. Some of the trails are marked and some are not. You can but the full detailed maps.There is a website and an app.
People also share info and tips on the maps which makes it very useful.
Sleeping outside and camping in Israel
While hiking in Israel, you can camp and sleep anywhere except nature reserves or some specific beaches. In some reserves, they will dedicate a small place for a camping grounds. Don’t expect a fancy camping ground and facilities, most of the time it will be just a marked spot in the middle of nowhere with no facilities at all. The idea behind it is that at nights animals go around the reserve, decrease the interruption the authority want to concentrate the hikers on specific locations.
Tips for sleeping outside in in Israel:
- Except for winter, me and my friends don’t use a tent. A good sleeping bag will be enough to keep you warm, just sleep on a yoga mat for making it a bit more comfortable and isolation from the ground. Not taking a tent can save you a few kilos which are crucial, especially if you are into multi-day hiking in the desert when sometimes you will have to carry water for 2 days.
- Be aware of the direction from wich the sun will rise. If you will sleep behind an object that will cast a shadow on you as the sun will rise, you might get an extra time of a good sleep before the sun will start boiling you.
- Use your socks to seal your shoes. During the night all kind of creatures might find your shoes as their new home. You don’t want to put your leg inside your shoe and discover that a scorpion just made it his new home. Soldiers learn it in boot camp.
Nature reserves in Israel
On the field most of the times there is no marking of a nature reserve. How do you know if you are in a nature reserve? well, it is marked on the maps with a transparent green line. sometimes it is just obvious you are going to a reserve like in Ein Gedi for example as they charge you at the entrance and the place is highly maintained. On a nature reserve, you are not allowed to walk outside of the marked trails and you are allowed to camp only on specific points (more about it later).
On nature reserves, there are rangers who walk/drive around taking care of the reserve and monitoring the wildlife. If they see you break one of the nature reserve rules they might give you a fine.