That’s an easy question to answer: Not dangerous at all.
But apparently the question gets asked a lot because the Wikitravel page on the Israel National Trail specifically states:
Carrying a weapon is completely unnecessary.
So, this hiker whom I saw in Jerusalem was a bit over-equipped with his stick and pistol.
I once hiked the Jesus Trail in the north of Israel, four days from Nazareth to Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee, and there was nothing dangerous at all. Actually, come to think of it, I should finally write and publish the complete account of this 4-day hike.
I assume that on the desert part of the Israel National Trail, lack of water and the sun can be dangerous, but oddly enough, that’s not what people have in mind when they ask “But isn’t Israel dangerous?” I would generally advise not to visit Israel in July and August because it’s too hot. And before setting off on a walk, get a few bottles of water and a cool hat.
Now, this got me dreaming of walking the Israel National Trail. It’s only 1,000 km, which isn’t really much by long-distance walking standards.
What you wrote is basically true.
and I’m glad you noted the need for water – that’s a must year-round, but especially in the summer. (In other words, no one should go for a hike with the equipment – or lack thereof – that you had while climbing Chacaltaya.
But one should note that there are areas – mostly in the disputed territories – where it would not be a great idea to go alone.
I did have a few bottles of water with me while going on Chacaltaya, though.
But yes, the heat in Israel is surprising to people who visit from other parts of the world. I used to go to Israel every second summer on a youth exchange program. Because it was for teenagers, it had to coincide with the school holidays (both in Bavaria and in Israel), so it was in August. Uff!!
When I was leading these groups, my main job was to remind and to force people to drink water regularly. Before the trips, the parents often worried: “What about terrorism and war?” and I replied “Honestly, the biggest danger in Israel is dehydration.”
I think the Israel National Trail does not go through the West Bank, which makes it longer, but probably safer.
My main advice for the West Bank is – different from my advice for anywhere else in the world – that there, it’s actually better to look like a tourist. People should avoid wearing either a keffieyh or a kippah. I am even wondering if my Gabor-Roma hat would be mistaken for an Orthodox Jewish hat (I didn’t yet have it for my last hike in Israel).
Absolutely true re dehydration. And the worst thing is that often one doesn’t realize it till it is too late.
Also good advice re looking like a tourist. But while it can help, it’s no guarantee. Sometimes terrorists aren’t picky. :-)
True, if there is a mad terrorist bent on killing as many people that day before killing himself or an indiscriminate explosion, then nothing helps. But that can happen everywhere now.
But I noticed that most people left me alone as soon as they heard that I was neither Jewish nor Muslim. Actually, I did sometimes get into heated debates because I am quite open about my atheism, but so far nobody wanted to kill me for it. (I believe that’s more dangerous in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.)
I’m actually flying over there shortly, and I doubt that dehydration is an issue at this time of year. :)
Just don’t get lost in the desert.
And a good trip!
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