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ISRAEL


ESSENTIALS


MEDITERRANEAN SEA


NATIONAL PARK Nahariya


Acre ACHZIV LEBANON


UPPER GALILEE Hurfeish


MOUNT ZVUL


Yam Ie Yam walking trail


LOWER GALILEE ISRAEL ISRAEL 10 Miles


Sea of Galilee


Getting there & around


“Where the green ends, so too does Israel,” points Daniel, gesturing past the shadow of the disputed Golan Heights region. These are the valleys of Jesus’s intensive roaming. “When you’re travelling in Israel, you can pick up the Bible, read just about any story, and see the landscape it played out on,” says Daniel. Israel is the seat of stories — and as we walk, we tell each other our own. “I didn’t cut my hair for two years aſter I leſt the army, having done my national service,” Daniel shares, pacing a few metres in front of me. “I finished university and then rode my motorcycle around the world.” We walk on a little further and finally


summit the pylon-crowned Mount Meron, Israel’s highest peak. “Do you see what I see?” asks Daniel. In the distance, the Sea of Galilee, the lowest freshwater lake on the planet, shimmers like a sheet of metal. But chasing in from the north is a muslin veil of mist and rain that draws up the valley, obscuring the villages and views. Raincoats on, we start downwards, eventually tracing the Amud Stream. From the bushes comes a flash of jackal, dappled brown and gold. A few steps further and we disturb three wild boars, almost as big as brown bears; they canter past us with a snort and snuffle. The rain intensifies and, once again, we


have to spread the map out and re-route. Eventually, we admit defeat and jump into the car to drive towards the Sea of Galilee. “My uncle owned a farm on the shore over there, near the village of Migdal — it’s where Mary Magdalene came from,” Daniel tells


me. “For two years, I lived on the beach, picking his mangoes and riding my horse.” When we pull over, I reach for the bottle I’d


stowed in the back pocket of the driver’s seat. It’s not there. “Meir, have you seen my bottle with the Mediterranean seawater in it?” Panic fills his eyes. “I threw it away. I thought it was old drinking water,” he stutters. Daniel and I collapse into laughter.


We decide to go through the motions anyway. So, at North Beach, between stacked sun loungers waiting for summer bodies, I slowly pour some bottled drinking water symbolically into the sea, its surface already jumping with the patter of rain. “I once caught more than 30 fish from here,” Daniel mentions, quietly but proudly. Our walk, or halach, hadn’t quite gone to


plan. However, it had encompassed going forward and plenty of water, but as for walking hand in hand with God, I wasn’t sure. That night, Daniel and I sat on the edge of the pier at Nof Ginosar kibbutz hotel, beers in hand. Off to the leſt, lights glimmer along the Golan Heights, to the right spreads Jordan, and behind looms the shadowy masses of the Upper and Lower Galilee valleys we’d partly traversed. The inky waters of Galilee swayed the high reeds near us, releasing soſt whispers, and in that moment, I felt a soulful presence. I paused; the beer bottle halfway to my mouth. Suddenly, it all started adding up. Daniel was in his early 30s. Used to have long hair. Fished and lived on the shores of Galilee. Had I been walking with someone else all along?


British Airways, EasyJet, El Al, Virgin Atlantic and Wizz Air fly non-stop between the UK and Tel Aviv. ba.com easyjet.com elal.com virginatlantic.com wizzair.com Average flight time: 5h. Israel is compact: a 90-minute drive


east-west, nine hours north-south. All major rental companies operate here. Just be aware that certain Orthodox neighbourhoods close during Shabbat (Friday to Saturday evening). Taxis are plentiful, but overcharging


of tourists is common; sheruts (minivans) operating on fixed routes for a fixed price can be better option. Wild camping isn’t permitted on the


trail, but there are plenty of B&Bs. When to go


Yam le Yam is best walked in spring (March/April, average temperature is 20C) and especially in May when the wild lilies are in full bloom. Alternatively, hike in autumn (September/October average temperature is 25C), when the summer heat has lost its sting.


Places mentioned


Hefer Ranch. meshekhefer.com Israel Nature and Parks Authority. parks.org.il Treasures of the Galilee. ozrothagalil.org.il


Further information


touristisrael.com info.goisrael.com


How to do it


POMEGRANATE TRAVEL offers small-group, four-day Sea to Sea trek tours from £2,320 per person, including all accommodation, guide, transport and most meals. Excludes flights. pomegranate-travel.com


May/Jun 2020 91


ILLUSTRATION: JOHN PLUMER


GOLAN HEIGHTS


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