Practical Information for BIKE PALESTINE Participants
Climate and weather
Palestine’s climate is essentially Mediterranean, with hot summers, cold winters and a mild spring and autumn. Temperatures can reach 40 degrees centigrade midday in midsummer, but the nights are cool in the mountains and desert. There is no rainfall in the summer (June – Sept), but winter brings rain as well as snow to the mountains.
The best times of the year for biking are March to May and September to November. Early spring brings plentiful wildflowers; in late autumn, families are out harvesting olives, and you may well be invited to sit and drink tea with them. If you do visit in the summer, the weather will be very hot, so you will start biking earlier in the day and take plenty of rest stops.
In Jerusalem and Bethlehem you will be staying in hotels or simple guest houses with private rooms and facilities. During the cycling tour, you will be staying in family homes in Palestinian villages, meeting the children, grandparents and extended families, and sharing their fresh, home-cooked traditional food.
The Palestinian homes you will stay in all have electricity and running water. However, Palestine is among the most water-challenged countries in the world, so you should use water with great care. You will be able to have a quick shower or wash after each day of biking. There will always be plenty of bottled drinking water.
Men and women usually sleep separately on mattresses on the floor of the family’s main living space. Don’t expect a private bedroom, although some families may be able to provide one for older married couples. If this is important to you, please make this known at the time of enquiry, so that you can get appropriate advice. It is advisable to bring your own cotton sleeping-bag liner.
Eating and drinking
You will be eating traditional Middle Eastern food. In the villages, this means home cooking, freshly prepared and local. Meals (breakfast, too) usually consist of flat bread, cheese, yoghurt, humus, olives and salads. Dinner will include a typical Palestinian cooked dish, often including rice with chicken or meat. The bike tours include one or two very simple picnics of bread, cheese, and salad.
Palestine is primarily a Muslim country, so alcohol is hard to find and will not be offered during the ride. Be prepared for endless tiny glasses of sweet black tea, often served with mint, and for grainy, delicious Turkish-style coffee after meals.
In Jerusalem and in Bethlehem, you can find wine and beer in many restaurants. The trail also passes through Taybeh, home to Palestine’s first brewery. Here you can sample a high-quality, organic lager beer brewed in accordance with the German purity laws of 1516! If you pass through in September or October, you might find the Taybeh version of Bavaria’s legendary Oktoberfest in full swing – two days of Palestinian celebration, music and culture.
Traveling to Israel and Palestine is fairly straightforward for European and US travellers. Several airlines offer flights from Europe and the US to Tel-Aviv (Ben Gurion International Airport), which is about a one-hour bus or shared taxi (sheroot) ride away from Jerusalem. If you are arriving from other parts of the Middle East, you will need to check on specific border crossings and routes. The bike tours start from Jenin, which is most easily accessed from Jerusalem. Our tour operators can provide advice on the journey and on where to meet.
What to wear
For the bike ride, you will need appropriate shoes, a helmet and your cycling clothing. Optional: a scarf to cover the back of your neck to protect it from sunburn. Because the route goes through rural areas, both women and men are advised to dress accordingly to show respect to these communities. Wearing light fabrics like linen and cotton can help keep you comfortable. Women are not required to cover their heads except in mosques and other holy places. We advise women to wear ¾ or full length pants, and either wear long-sleeved blouses or carry a scarf in their bag for covering shoulders and arms as needed. It's also best to avoid low-cut shirts, tank tops, or sheer clothing.
Looking after your health
Before you travel, be sure to refer carefully to the information provided here by the Israeli Ministry of Health for the most current COVID-19-related protocols.
With the exception of current COVID-19 guidelines, there are no special inoculations required for travel in Palestine, though it is recommended that you be up to date with immunizations against hepatitis A, polio, tetanus, tuberculosis, and typhoid fever.
There are no special health issues concerned with biking in Palestine. The greatest risks are from heat stroke/exhaustion, sunburn, dehydration and traveller’s diarrhea. Cyclists should take the usual health precautions, carry water at all times, ensure that they drink only bottled water, protect themselves from the sun, and carry a small personal first aid kit. The UK’s NHS Travel Health website offers detailed and reliable information about vaccinations and other travel-related health issues.
Safety and security
Palestinians are a friendly and hospitable people with legendary respect for guests and visitors to their land. The cycle route in Palestine was established in 2006, and since then, several hundred people from many countries, including the USA and UK, have biked all or part of the route without safety or security incidents of any kind. You will be biking in rural areas and will be accompanied at all times by a professional Palestinian guide who knows, and is held in great respect and affection by, the communities along the route.
Despite the increase in security in the West Bank in recent years, it is clearly not possible for the Siraj Center to guarantee the personal safety of every traveler to Palestine. There is still an element of political tension and instability. Travelers are advised to visit the website of their home government for detailed and up-to-date information about the security situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (see below for relevant web links).
Petty travel-related crime – theft or pick pocketing - is extremely rare in Palestine, and unknown along the trail. Travelers should exercise normal caution and use common sense in the larger towns and cities.
For more details, refer to “Safety and Security Guidelines and Protocols." click here.
Travel insurance is your responsibility and you are strongly advised to take out adequate travel insurance before you travel, including emergency health care and repatriation coverage.
Street markets abound in all the major towns selling everything from fruits and vegetables to sweets, toys, and small jewelry. Every village offers a roadside shop for drinks, food and snacks.
No special biking equipment is needed, other than appropriate footwear and helmet. Bike, bike repair equipment, and wheel gears will be supplied for all participants.
Carrying your gear
Baggage transfer between villages can be arranged, so you do not need to carry all your gear while you are cycling. Bring a small day-pack to carry with you on the bike, and one other small suitcase. We recommend that you keep the weight of the pack to not more than 10% - 15% of your body weight, plus your water bottle and water.
NOTE: To enhance your travel experience, be sure to refer also to “Helpful Travel, Health, and Cultural Information for All Visitors to the Region.” https://www.walkpalestine.com/en/information