The relatively new Jesus Trail already attracts thousands of visitors every year. Its most ardent fans are the many Biblical scholars who make their way to Israel to view the sites that Jesus traveled through in the New Testament.
But the Jesus Trail also holds great fascination for students of culture and history since it passes through Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities as well as the sites of some of the Middle East’s most memorable historical events. It’s also a mighty beautiful trail, with some of the north of Israel’s stunning vistas to take in…
The Jesus Trail begins in Nazareth at the famous Fauzi Azar Inn and ends right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee at Capernaum – a total of 40 miles (60km). Along the way, you’ll have the privilege of visiting some of the New Testament’s most significant locations, including Zippori where Jesus apprenticed as a carpenter, Cana where Jesus famously turned water into wine and the Mount of Beatitudes where the Sermon on the Mount was preached.
If you want to really experience the Jesus Trail in all its glory, we highly recommend you hike it. The scenery is spectacular and incredibly diverse, taking you through lush green valleys as well as bleak, barren desert landscapes. Moreover, you’ll get to interact with many of the locals during your hike. One of the most rewarding experiences any hiker can have on the Jesus Trail is learning about the unique way of life practiced in rural Israeli communities. If you’re lucky, one of the friendly locals may even invite you to his house for a meal!
The hike is relatively easy as the landscape is quite forgiving. Most hikers manage to finish it in about four days, so it’s not the kind of hike you have to train months in advance for. Typically you should be able to walk 10 miles (16km) a day. Bear in mind that the return leg to Nazareth is uphill, and hence a bit harder.
To make the hike that much easier, you can also hire a GPS unit at Fauzi Azar Inn that will help you measure the exact distance and your walking speed. If you’ve got your own GPS unit, you can download the GPS files in .GPX and .KMZ formats.
You can make the hike a whole lot easier on yourself if you pick the right time to visit. You should try to hike the trail in fall, during October and November or spring which lasts from February to early May. The temperature is much milder during these periods and the cool breeze makes for pleasant hiking. Spring hikes also tend to be exceptionally scenic as the flowers will be in full bloom and the creeks, rivers and streams will be filled with water.
We recommend you don’t hike the trail in summer. The heat is unforgiving and heat injuries and dehydration are very real and dangerous possibilities. Winter is also not a great time to hike as heavy rainfall is very common and will make your time on the trail fairly miserable.
Since the Jesus Trail is now one of Israel’s top tourist attractions, there are plentiful accommodation options along the entire route.
Some of the more popular ones include the cozy, family-run Arbel Guest House, which offers well-appointed private suites with a luxurious in-room jacuzzi, and the Karei Deshe Youth Hostel which offers economical dormitory-style accommodation and the opportunity to meet fellow hikers from countries all over the world with fascinating stories to share. It’s probably a good idea to check at the Fauzi Azar Inn for other good options along your route.
Many hikers will typically opt to stay in dormitories and hostels for their first two or three nights on the trail and treat themselves to a more expensive, comfortable and modern inn on their last night.
If you harbor a great love of the outdoors, you can even camp! Camping areas along the trail generally levy a small charge on campers. If you intend to camp, make sure you have a waterproof and leak-proof tent (rain is common in this region in early spring) and a warm sleeping bag for chilly nights. It’s also important to bring along some extra water for the night as not every camping area will be located near a water source.
The Jesus Trail deserves a place on any hiking tourist’s Israel itinerary. As long as you love the outdoors, want to learn more about Biblical history and Israeli culture and have an open mind, you’re sure to have a fantastic time on the trail.
For more, see the official site behind the trail: www.jesustrail.com