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ISRAEL


“The Mediterranean is smaller now; today


the shoreline is a 100 metres further back,” he says, explaining why the fishing village seems further away from the water today. He starts scanning the ground and, a few metres later, swipes up a shell. “These hunting snails secrete the mucus that’s used in indigo dye. See the shelves in the rocks the Phoenicians carved to grow and harvest them?” And just like that he melds present and past. We hop across the rocks, which are


LEFT FROM TOP: The remains of the Crusader era Montfort Castle, Kziv Stream Nature Reserve; a view of the eponomous waterway seen from an observation point at Goren Park, Kziv Stream Nature Reserve ABOVE: Shai Koren, district manager of Upper Galilee Israel Nature and Parks Authority, standing on the Mediterranean shoreline of Achziv National Park


as pitted as loofahs, towards the water’s edge. Daniel magics a camping stove and percolator from his rucksack and starts brewing coffee. “You know, there’s a tradition of collecting water from the Med, carrying it with you and depositing it into the Sea of Galilee at the other end,” he says, without looking up. I gulp down the contents of my water bottle and hobble towards the sea that throws itself angrily against the shore. Gingerly, I lower the bottle towards the foaming mass, leaning just a little too far. Wham! A rogue wave dumps a cascade of freezing sea water over my feet and legs. I let out a shriek so shrill the fishermen look to the sky, scanning for seagulls. I squelch back towards Daniel, full bottle held triumphantly aloſt. We drink the dregs of our coffee and drive upriver; stowing my hard-won sea water behind the seat of our driver, Meir. By the banks of the swollen Kziv stream,


beneath a canopy of shivering golden maple leaves, we meet Shai Koren, district manager of the Upper Galilee region. His eyes and khaki shirt are both wrinkled, both due to


the birth of his new son. The majority of the trail passes are through reserves and parks, and he knows their outlines as keenly as the lines on his own hands. “People started hiking Yam le Yam in the


1950s, but it didn’t become an official route until a decade ago — and we’re finally on the cusp of promoting it abroad. We’ll have official signage and new zimmers (B&Bs) outside the reserves for hikers; owners will even pick you up and drop you off back on the trail. In a few months, I’m going to hike it in its entirety with my daughter and son. We’re pushing them to get away from computers and back to camping — to see the night stars, not five stars!” Managing areas of outstanding natural


beauty sounds like a cushy job, but as it turns out, it can be a bit ‘Wild West’. “A hunter once shot a foot above my head. I asked for his gun — it was a mistake,” he shrugs, philosophically. Hunters come for the wild boar and fallow


deer, which were reintroduced from Iran in the 1970s. “Israel is a bridge between three continents and we have the wildlife to prove it: gazelles from Africa, porcupines from Asia and salamanders from Europe. And when the birds migrate south, it’s the Great Riſt Valley they follow.” Throw in the striped hyena, jackal and wolves and you’re in for a really wild show. We hitch a ride in Shai’s four-wheel-drive


vehicle and rumble upward to one of the trail’s highlights: Montfort — a castle with a crumbling watchtower that clings to the


May/Jun 2020 87


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