The Israel National Trail is a hiking trail that crosses Israel between the southern and northern borders, crossing a wide range of sceneries, a rich variety of flora and fauna, and a variety of cultures.
The trail stretches from Kibbutz Dan, near the Israel-Lebanon border, to Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba. It was named by National Geographic as one of the 20 best “epic hiking trails” in the world. The INT is approximately 1100 km (683 miles) long. The exact length changes annually as the Israel Trails Committee makes minor changes to the routing in numerous locations.
The best time for exploring the Israel National Trail is from September to May. Summer is too hot and you should try and avoid it. In fall time all hikers will walk from north to south, respecting the weather. In springtime, for similar reasons, most hikers will start in the south, walking north. Beginning in the south assures temperate weather in the desert before summer kicks in, and when you reach the north the spring bloom is still in peak, and rainfall is unlikely.
You must prepare for your journey. It is vital that you have good hiking shoes, and that you “break them in” to evade painful injuries. Wear new shoes.
Appropriate fitness is needed for this hike. It is a typical mistake to assume that the beginning in Kibutz Dan (north) is easy and you’ll build your fitness while hiking. Many hikers who assume this find themselves fatigued. Even starting in the south in Eilat requires top fitness. You will be facing very abrupt ascents on your very first day – so be prepared.
Passing the Negev desert requires caching water at some points where water supply is not available. You will need to cache at about 10 spots and you can do it on your own without a 4X4 car, or you can use a paid service. The price for water caching is high (~$500) but it can be reduced if you share a ride with several other hikers. You will mark the caching spot, and draw a small map of how to find it.
- Do not hike when it’s too hot especially in the desert
- Take a 10-minute break after every 50 minutes of hiking.
- Take a full-day break at least once a week.
- Take time for yourself.
- Stripping of valuables.
- Carry a cellphone and have emergency phone numbers handy.
The first few days are comfortable and allow you to build your stamina towards 2-3 more difficult days in the Judean mountains. When reaching Arad you will be in excellent shape. Continue to Eilat, and then take a plane/bus/car/taxi up north to Dan and walk south to Tel Aviv, where you first started. Celebrate your journey’s end in one of the many restaurants and wonderful beaches in Tel Aviv.
A good backpack is as important as your shoes. The size of your backpack should be 60-65 liters. A larger pack is not required, and you will most likely fill the extra space, causing a more cumbersome backpack. It is advised to try out your backpack in the store when loaded with 15 kg weights. Other equipment includes Sleeping bag, mattress, tent, walking sticks, hiking pants, cooking gear, flashlight, socks, underwear (prefer boxer shorts), first aid, a hat, and hygiene appliances. Other important objects are your cellphone and camera.
When measuring your gear make sure the backpack without water and food weighs not more than 11 kgs. Remember that in the Negev you will carry 5-6 L of water and food weighs about 2 kg when carrying food for 2 or more days.