Guides are fundamental to a good experience on the Abraham Path. Although it is possible to hike many sections of the route independently, a guide’s ability to contextualize the experience and bridge differences of culture and language makes for a far richer experience and we recommend that most first-time hikers take a guide along for their trip.
This need for more qualified guides has lead to the creation of a training program specifically designed to support the unique needs of guides along the Abraham Path. The yearlong course is held at Bethlehem University and enrolls 22 qualified students. Graduates will receive guide certification from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism, and the course is slated to be completed in the spring.
The class is comprised mostly of young professionals, men and women in their thirties, many of whom are already working in the tourism industry and are excited to enter into a new market of alternative tourism.
Although the program’s primary focus is to provide a comprehensive training that provides graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary to share the Abraham Path experience with walkers, students were also intentionally selected to be geographically distributed along all of the different regions along the trail. This will create a tight-knit network of tourism professionals with the expertise to make sure that hikers are fully supported every step of the way.
So although students spend every weekend learning about everything from history and geography to hands-on first aid education and navigation courses out in the field, the weekly meetings have also given students an opportunity to network and collaborate with each other; and they are already working to improve the path experience. A number of the students have already been acting as local guides along the path for some time, so some of the most valuable education comes simply from the opportunity to collaborate and share experiences. According to Anwar Dawabsheh, one of the students with experience guiding along the trail, he has had a chance to “discuss a lot of problems which face us in the field, and I think I develop myself in these two months more than any other time.”