Start your journey on Masar Ibrahim in the midst of nature. Palestine’s central position at the crossroads between Africa, Asia and Europe makes it a pathway for the biannual migration of over half a billion birds - a true birdwatcher's paradise.
On this hike, a demanding yet exciting path will take hikers through Al-’Auja Valley, home to an impressive array of plant and animal life - look carefully to spot a Mediterranean turtle.
In Al-’Auja we will meet the Bedouin communities and learn about their habits and traditions. Later, visit Jericho - the lowest and one of the most ancient cities in the world - and taste the delicious Medjoul dates grown in the area. Walk through serene desert landscapes stretching from the Sea Level Community towards Bethlehem.
Along the way we will have the unique chance to spend a night in a cave located in middle of a desert, a place where the stars seem to shine their brightest. Towards the end of the journey we will encounter a breathtaking view of the Mar Saba monastery, clinging to the edge of the Kidron Valley. Behind the valley is Bethlehem, where you will be greeted by local families with open arms and a warm meal.
Day One: Sunday 10/11/2019 Kafr Malik to Al Auja
Begin by following a small road from Kafr Malek to Ein Samia Valley. The path drops down into Wadi al-’Auja, a deep, rugged canyon that runs from Ein Samia (Samia Spring) down to Ein al-’Auja in the Jordan Valley. From Ein Al-’Auja, the trail follows the wadi and ancient Roman aqueducts, formerly used divert water from Ein al-’Auja to Jericho, past the ruins of a Byzantine church and into the Al-’Auja Bedouin community, where we will be greeted with Bedouin hospitality and a tradtional Palestinian meal.
The section begins in the broad plains of the Jordan Valley and passes by the tents of the Bedouin community of Wadi al-’Auja. The trail enters Jericho, one of the oldest cities in the world, whose calm atmosphere and rich heritage is a true oasis to all walkers. Visitors can enjoy a visit to the Mount of Temptation, Tell es-Sultan, and the winter palaces of Hisham and Herod the Great. Nearby Jericho, members of the Aqbat Jaber Refugee Camp Women’s Center invite hikers for warm home-cooked meals and overnight stays in a one-of-a-kind mudbrick guesthouse. Hikers can also have their passports stamped at the guesthouse.
Day Three: Tuesday 12/11/2019: Jericho Free Day
Include: Breakfast, Dinner and Overnight
Day Four: Wednesday 13/11/2019 Jericho to Sea Level
A long and beautiful hike winds through the picturesque Wadi Quelt, where walkers will encounter the ruins of King Herod’s winter palace and see the vines clinging to the sides of the rocky canyon Deir al-Quelt (St. George’s Monastery).
The road becomes easier as it leaves the monastery and heads towards the Roman aqueduct - another spectacular landmark located along in this section of the Masar. The trail continues on the historic road from Jericho to Jerusalem, through the wilderness of the Jordan Valley, leading to the Bedouin camp located at sea level.
Day Five: Thursday 14/11/2019 Sea Level Community to Khirbet al-Mird
This section of the trail begins at the desert sanctuary of Nabi Musa, dating to the 13th century. According to Islamic tradition the site is the final resting place of the prophet Moses, and the shrine was built during the reign of Saladin. The journey continues through vast, uninhabited areas that trace old pigrimage routes: from a nearby mountain hikers can look out over scenic views of Jericho and the Dead Sea. Along the route hikers will meet Bedouins herding their camels and sheep. At the end of this section lies Khirbet al-Mird (Hyrcania, in Greek), the mysterious fortress commonly attributed to the Hasmonean leader John Hyrcanus, who is said to have built it towards the end of the second century BC.
Walking distance: 15.10 km
Day Six: Friday 15/11/2019 Khirbet al-Mird to Tal El Qamar
The winding trail takes hikers into the Kidron Valley, where hikers can find an assortment of caves that were inhabited by monks in the Byzantine times. The spectacular Mar Saba Monastery and a few Byzantin-era monasteries are found here; the cluster was named after Saint Saba (439-532 CE), who settled in a cave opposite to the site to live in complete seclusion. Hikers can take a break here to enjoy the view and atmosphere before continuing through hills and valleys towards Tal al-Qamar.
Day Seven: Saturday 16/11/2019 Tal El Qamar to Bethlehem
Starting at Tal al-Qamar, the trek will cross the serene landscapes of the Jerusalem wilderness towards Bethlehem. The terrain is rocky and hilly in places, but there will be plenty of time to rest and soak in the serene atmosphere.
After leaving the desert, the Masar will take walkers through the rural Palestinian countryside, where you will discover meadows, valleys and villages. Finally, enter the urban environments of Beit Sahour and Bethlehem, where there are many historical and sacred sites to visit, such as the Church of the Nativity, the Milk Grotto, and the Shepherds Fields.
Day Eight: Sunday 17/11/2019: Bethlehem Free Day
Include: Breakfast, Dinner and Overnight
Day Nine: Monday 18/11/2019 Bethlehem to Tequ
Our walk will start in Bethlehem and lead from Manger Square towards Artas to visit the monastery and spring. We will continue walking on mainly flat terrain, with one ascent to stunning views from Khirbet Tuqua, before heading through a fertile valley to Tuqua.
Meeting Point: Kafr Malik Village Council
Meeting Time: 08:30
Highlights:Hike through two scenic valleys