Planning your upcoming Israel vacation? One of the best ways to get to know a new country is on foot. When Hiking the Israel National Trail (INT), otherwise known as “Shvil Israel,” you’ll come face to face with the natural and human wonders the country has to offer.
Are you ready? Let’s go – everything you need to know about hiking Shvil Israel, in a nutshell.
The Israel National Trail (INT), otherwise known as “Shvil Israel,” spans over 950 kilometers and runs from just below Israel’s northern border to the country’s southernmost city of Eilat. Divided into 48 sections, based on length, terrain and manageability, the INT is clearly marked and has plenty of places to stop and rest along the way. While the entire trail can take a minimum of three weeks to complete, you can select certain sections to hike based on your location, interests and capabilities. There is no one way to approach hiking Shvil Israel – as long as you act safely, stay on the marked trails and have fun.
If you’re an avid hiker and have lots of time to spare, you can hike the entire INT, spending weeks in the great outdoors, with nothing but a knapsack, a wide-brimmed hat and loads of water. Or, you can focus on a single region, like from Migdal to Poriya, after which you can take a dip in the nearby Sea of Galilee. In the heat of the summer, you’re going to want to look for trails with more shade and sources of water to cool off in. In the winter, weather forecasts will be your best friend, helping you steer clear of areas vulnerable to flash flooding.
Trail angels are kind Samaritans who live near INT trails and open their homes to tired hikers in need of a warm bed, a cool shower and a bite to eat. Some common courtesies apply: please use online lists of angels to call at least 24 hours before you intend to pay them a visit and do not call late at night (after 9 PM). Also, if your angel keeps the Sabbath, be respectful of their customs. Arrive before the Sabbath begins, refrain from public Sabbath desecration and leave only after the Sabbath has concluded.
For a comprehensive list of trail angels, check out this PDF or visit this website.
It is extremely important to prioritize safety while hiking Shvil Israel. Always wear sunscreen, hats and closed shoes and be sure to carry at least 3-5 liters of water PER DAY. Never go out on a hike on your own and always let a loved one know your projected timeline and trajectory. It is recommended to bring a portable, cordless or sun-powered charging dock for your cell phone. It is also recommended to check weather and security updates regularly. And most importantly, know your limits. If you are feeling tired, ill or injured, take a pause. Rest a while or seek outside help. A good, safe outcome is top priority.
There is no better way to get to know the Land of Israel than by hiking its national trail. The wondrous landscapes and warm, nearby locals create an outdoor experience unlike anything you’ll likely experience anywhere else. So, next time you visit Israel, be sure to step outside and venture down a Shvil Israel trail. You’ll be grateful you did.