Palestine: Walk the Masar Ibrahim al Khalil

Code: PAL/WTM/THRU/19
14 Days
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Fixed Departure Dates: March or November 2019. See Itinerary below for details.

We invite you to join us for twelve of the most eye-opening, heart-warming days of walking you may ever experience.

This is a rare opportunity to truly experience people’s lives in this part of the world: to stay in their homes, eat their delicious food and hear their often remarkable stories.

Aside from the astounding hospitality, expect rocky mountains, desert gorges, dead seas, surprising oases, the oldest inhabited cities on earth, vibrant local culture and the deep connection to place and people that comes when you walk through a land on your own two feet.

You won’t find this destination in many tour brochures, and that’s just how we like our expeditions to be.

This is one of our partner-led trips, meaning you’ll be in the very capable hands of our tried and trusted Palestinian partner. We also offer an exclusive, bespoke walk on the Masar Al Ibrahim with writer, adventurer and film-maker Leon McCarron, who led a very successful trip for us here in 2017. To find out more about this trip, see here.

As Leon  says “of all the expeditions I’ve done, the Masar has been the most instantly inspiring“.

DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport, Israel
DEPARTURE TIME Please ensure you arrive in good time for our scheduled departure from Tel Aviv
INCLUDED
  • Airport transfers in Israel.
  • All food and accommodation. Accommodation will range from good hotels in Bethlehem and Jerusalem to homestays and nights in Bedouin encampments.
  • Drinking water.
  • Luggage transfers each day – leaving you with only a day pack to carry.
  • A superb local guide who intimately knows the route and the people who live along it.
  • Fresh filtered water + a Water 2 Go water filtration bottle, in order to reduce plastic waste
  • Professional route planning and logistics, backed by risk assessments, emergency procedures, satellite communications (where necessary) and medical support. We don’t take risks lightly and we plan for all eventualities, believing it is better to have prepared and not require a procedure than not to plan at all.
NOT INCLUDED
  • International Flights to/from Tel Aviv – we can organise these for you as part of the package: please advise us if you need this.
  • Your Israeli visa if required (UK/EU citizens do not require a tourist visa. Other nationalities may.)
  • Extras such as souvenirs and alcohol.
  • Your personal travel insurance

This is a two week expedition from the north to south of the West Bank, starting in the village of Rummaneh near Jenin and ending in Jerusalem, one of the oldest cities in the world.

We will spend our two weeks following the ancient Masar Ibrahim al Khalil  – sometimes known as Abraham’s Path – through the beautiful and varied landscapes of this most historic of regions. We’ll stay with local families in their homes, experience generous hospitality and gain a deep understanding of the local culture. You can expect a good walk every day with some stupendous views, potential to see local wildlife and plenty of opportunity to see the layers of ancient – and more recent – history that will surround us.

The wonderful images shown are gratefully credited to Merryn Conaway, Daniel Gerber, Carla Ribeiro and to Frits Meyst of Meystphoto.com

Walk the Masar Thru-Hike
March 2nd – 16th 2019
November 2nd – 16th 2019
Guaranteed Departure. Minimum booking = 1 person.

1

Day 1

Arrive Ben Gurion Airport, Israel
Flights from the UK (Easyjet or British Airways direct, many others indirectly) or from your home destination will be met today and you will be transferred to your hotel in Jenin for the night.

2

Day 2

Rummaneh – Burqin 17.8kms, 5-7 hours
We are driven to the start point in Rummaneh for our day’s walk to Burqin. This stage extends from the village of Rummaneh, which literally means pomegranates, to the village of Burqin – located in the north of the West Bank, 5 km west of Jenin.
On this path, you’ll see ancient cisterns, shelters and Canaanite ruins, and pass through steep hills shrouded in olive trees and studded with cacti. We stay overnight with a local family.
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3

Day 3

Burqin – Arraba 15.1kms, 3-4 hours
After a hearty breakfast at the guesthouse, we start our day’s walk to Arraba.
Expect to see Ottoman antiquities, the buzz of agricultural production – including tobacco and various vegetables – and wide ranging views of mountains, plains and valleys.
We stay the night in Arraba with a local family.

4

Day 4

Arraba – Sanur 9.5kms, 3-4 hours
Our day starts at a meandering pace – we have only a small distance to cover, but much to see along our route, including Arraba’s ancient stately palaces, ancient caravanserai, serene olive groves and orchards, Joseph’s (of technicolour dreamcoat fame!) Well and plenty of hilly terrain before arriving at a local family home in lower Sanur; our accommodation for the evening.

5

Day 5

Sanur to Sebastieh 15.6kms, 5-7 hours
The route begins by climbing Mount Hraish which has an elevation of 650 meters and is located near Maythaloon between Sanur and Sebastia.
This landscape shows evidence of it’s 10,000 years of continuous civilisation and there is much to enjoy along our path today. The afternoon includes another climb over Mount Bayzeed before following the terrain around to our evening destination at Sebastieh, where we’ll stay in a delightful guesthouse. Sebastia is a beautiful village filled with surprises and we love it here. You’ll be tired after one of our most strenuous days.

6

Day 6

Sebastieh to Nablus, 10kms, 2-3 hours
In the village of Sebastia, we have the opportunity to see the remains of the church of St. John the Baptist, built by Crusaders in 1165 on the site of earlier shrines. History sits here like the layers of an onion, and you’ll walk among the pillars of a Roman basillica, see Greek, Roman and Byzantine archaelogy stepped higgeldy-piggeldy on top of each other. Incredible…
A short day of walking along this classical route brings us to the city of Nablus and our hotel for the night.
In Nablus, you’ll have the chance to try the famous Nabulsi Kenafeh, as well as to buy its olive oil soap. The city stands at an elevation of around 550 meters above sea level, in a narrow valley running roughly east-west between two mountains: Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. It’s a spectacular and evocative location to spend the night. The old bazaar is huge and a fascinating place to explore. You are going to love it.

7

Day 7

Nablus to Duma 18.6kms, 5-6 hours
We’ll take a short (8km) transfer ride to the start of today’s stage at Awarta, which has been inhabited since Biblical times. From there at an altitude of 560 metres, we trek through the picturesque interlocking hills and cultivated areas of the Nablus region.
We finish our walk today in Duma, whose residents still mostly rely on irrigated crops, fruit orchards, olive groves and livestock for food. There are four water springs in Duma that provide water for the residents. We stay this evening with a local family.

8

Day 8

Duma to Kafr Malek 17kms, 5-6 hours
A lovely start to our day, the route takes us through a landscape of olive groves, wheat fields, and limestone villages among beautiful hills. Besides a few small sections on paved road, this segment takes us alongside a rocky valley.
A steep ascent leads up to the welcoming hospitality of Kafr Malek village. We are very close here to one of Palestine’s only wineries and breweries, in Taybeh.

9

Day 9

Kafr Malek – Al Auja 13.5km 5 hours
We transfer via a short vehicle ride to re-join the Masar Ibrahim route to walk along the deep Wadi Auja, part of an ancient spring system linked to Ain Samia, which extends along four kilometers from the remains of a Roman city known as “Aram”.
Our stroll through history is rewarded at the day’s end by a stay in the warm hospitality of a Bedouin settlement at Al Auja. We are now below sea level and in the desert. Given clear skies we will hope to be stargazing around the fire tonight.

10

Day 10

Al Auja – Jericho 15.6km, 5 hours
After our night in the historically Bedouin settlement of Auja, at 240 metres below sea level, we follow the wadi and a hilly pass for the rest of the walk into Jericho. The city’s successive settlement has been shown to date back some 11,000 years, making this yet another of the world’s oldest inhabited cities.
Plenty to see and do – you can take a cable car to the Mount of Temptation Monastery, visit the city or relax at the hotel.

11

Day 11

Jericho – Sea Level Encampment 22kms, 6 hours
After a short transfer to the Greek Orthodox St George’s Monastery in Wadi Qelt, we’ll walk up the gorge of Wadi Qelt this morning, and now that we are in the low lands near to the Dead Sea, temperatures will tend to rise. Our destination for the day is the ‘Sea Level’ bedouin settlement, where you’ll spend your final night out in the countryside.

12

Day 12

Transfer from Sea Level Community – Bethlehem
A taxi transfer will take you into Bethlehem today, and drop you at your hotel. Bethlehem obviously has a lot to see and do. You can explore the sights under yoru own steam or we can organise a local guide to show you around. Tonight you’ll be styaing in a hotel in the centre of Bethlehem.

13

Day 13

Transfer Bethlehem to Jerusalem
A 30 minute taxi ride will whisk you to the Old City in Jerusalem, where you’ll have the rest of today to explore this most fascinating and enigmatic of cities. There is a huge amount to see and whilst a full day will give a flavour, if you want to delve deeper you’d be best served to book a flight later tomorrow evening to give yourself more time. You’ll be staying in a hotel close to the Damascus Gate and have easy access to the hubbub of the mesmerising Old City.

14

Day 14

Jerusalem – Home
 Whatever time you decide to fly out, we will get you to the airport in good time for your flight home today. This trip will almost certainly have given you an entirely new and positive perspective on a part of the world that sadly receives little positive press.

Where will we be staying?

On this expedition, our accommodation will range from good hotels with a room each, to shared rooms in homestays and shared floor space in Bedouin settlements.

What size of group will it be?

On the thru-hike, you’ll be walking with a group that is larger than our normal size. This is because the thru-hike is organised each year by the creators of the Masar Ibrahim al Khalil and attracts walkers who may hike the entire 21-day route, or may just come for a day or 7 days. Our itinerary joins the thru-hike at the statt in Rummaneh and leaves it on the day that you transfer from the Sea Level Community. If you are interested in a smaller group, we can organise this either through our tailor-made tours section or you can join a small group walking the Masar Ibrahim with Leon McCarron.

What will the weather be like?

This should be a generally warm time of year to travel – around 20-25 degrees Centigrade during daytimes, but bear in mind that some sharp showers can be expected, that it will be colder as we gain altitude and that nights will likely be between 8 and 10 degrees in some places. More info can be found online – here is a link to statistics for Jenin.

I’m a solo traveller – is this for me?

Yes. More than 85% of our expedition clients travel alone as part of our group.

Do you charge single supplements – I can’t see them in your information?

Normally no. We don’t believe that solo travellers should be penalised with extra charges.  It goes against our ethos. However, we have taken feedback from previous guests on this expedition and although we offer 3 nights of single accomodation within the price, it is possible to add a further 4 nights of single accomodation for a premium of £300 per person. We have tried to incorporate this but feel that it is better to keep the overall cost as low as possible and offer the chance to extend solo sleeping arrangements where possible, at extra cost.  Some nights are spent all together – e.g. bedouin settlements, so bear this in mind if you are a light sleeper.

What kit do I need to bring?

We will provide you with an information pack after signing up to this trip, and this will detail any particular equipment we think either necessary or useful. For this walking expedition, comfortable clothes, good boots and a day pack are the key ingredients to a happy time!

Is there a back-up vehicle?

Sometimes our expeditions require a back-up vehicle. For our Masar trip, we don’t use a vehicle because daily distances are small, and proximity to medical care is relatively good. We do however employ the services of local drivers to take luggage from our morning departure point to our evening accommodation. This will mean all you need to carry with you in a day pack is your camera, any extra clothes, waterproofs, snacks and water bottle.

How much are flights?

This is a moving feast! It depends on where you are travelling from and how you want to get there. From London, the cheapest flights to Tel Aviv can be via EasyJet or similar carriers, but as always the lowest price tickets can be pot luck to obtain. Several major carriers fly direct to Tel Aviv from all over the world, or if you are feeling adventurous and have the time, the cheapest flights at the time of writing were via Ukraine on Kayak.com. Expect to pay around £200 from London on average.

What will the food be like?

The food in this part of the world can be spectacularly good, full of flavour, spice, fruit and seasonings. In the main, local people eat a lot of maqluba. This is a dish made of rice, vegetables and often chicken, inverted at the point of serving hence the name, which translates literally as ‘upside-down’. This is often served with yoghurt and salads. Breakfasts are often pitta or other flat breads, served with fruits, cheese and other accompaniments. You’ll eat a lot of tasty hummus, babaganoush and olive oil on this trip.

Will I have to share a room?

Yes, at times. There will be hotels and guest houses where we will have separate rooms, but there will also be times where we are staying at homestays or in Bedouin encampments when there is no option but to share rooms. This is all part of the adventure, and a reason we love to travel here. It makes sense for light sleepers to bring earplugs, in case of snorers or the host family waking early. See notes above for info on supplementary single rooming costs where possible.

How fit do I need to be?

You need to be fit enough to be able to walk on rough and hilly terrain for an average of 12/13 miles per day. If you have any doubts or worries over whether you might not be able, perhaps a trial walk somewhere local to you would be a good idea to gauge your fitness levels before signing up? We have kept daily distances relatively low so as to be able to enjoy the scenery and culture and not feel rushed along.

Do you perform proper risk management on your expeditions?

Yes. We are members of TRIP – the Travel Risk and Incident Prevention Group – and perform detailed country risk assessments prior to departure, in line with the ISO 31000 international standard for risk assessment. We also maintain close contact with the relevant Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice for countries we plan to visit, in addition to making use of the Australian Smart Traveller assessment tool, and the US State Department’s OSAC service. Beyond this, we have a full set of risk management and disaster contingency plans for each expedition and are expedition first aid trained by Crux Medical. For final back up we also use the services of Remote Medical Support that allows us to have a UK expedition doctor on the end of a telephone line wherever we may be. And we always carry a satellite phone if there is any danger of being out of signal in the places we travel through. We really don’t mess around when it comes to safety.

What’s a partner-led tour?

We run a range of different trips and expeditions. Our Director’s Cut tours are 100% designed by us, and are completely unique to Silk Road Adventures. You won’t find these trips anywhere else and a huge amount of research has gone into making these journeys one-offs. Examples of these are our ‘In the footsteps of Joanna Lumley’ and Amu Darya journeys. These trips are either led by one of the SRA directors, Marley or Antonia, or by a carefully picked expert on the region, such as Leon McCarron.

Partner-led tours are a little different to this, in that they are designed, organised and led by one of our tried and trusted local partners. These tours are not always unique to Silk Road Adventures, and won’t be led by one of our UK team. However, this by no means affects the quality of the trip, or the level of enjoyment you’ll experience: we’ve put a great deal of time, research and Air Miles into ferreting out the best people to work with, and collaborating closely with them on these trips. We try and make it very clear what sort of trip each one is – if anything is remotely unclear please drop us a line here.

 can’t do your dates but love the sound of your expedition – can you be flexible?

Yes. We offer set group dates for our expeditions, but we can organise and deliver bespoke expeditions to groups and individuals to suit your itinerary and budget. More information is available on our tailor made expeditions page.

Is this for me?

Although this is an extremely enlivening way to spend two weeks of your life, it’s also potentially dangerous.

Walking across rough terrain can be dangerous in your own back yard, so being fit enough to walk an average of twelve miles per day on boulder strewn mountain tracks is a prerequisite of this trip.

Don’t even consider signing up for this adventure if you aren’t fully aware of the risks you are taking.

This is a beautiful, enchanting and ancient place to travel but in many of the areas we will pass through, tourism is in its infancy. This of course, is what draws us – and hopefully you – to travel there in this experiential way.

There’ll be very little wi-fi or mobile reception for most of the hike. Shared rooms, local hospitality and simple amenities will be the norm, so if your idea of heaven is starting each day with a full English breakfast, swimming pool and a private suite, then we’d suggest you may already be lost and in need of a different sort of holiday.

Price:£1,840.00