Frequently Asked Questions
Can I really walk the Abraham Path?
Yes, you can. The Abraham Path cultural route covers many regions that are accessible for walking. A lot of these regions are frequented weekly or even daily by local and foreign walkers. Abrahampath.org refers to generic resources for walking along the route as well as to region specific resources on walking via references to independent walking trails. In our latest estimates, approximately 15,000 people walk along these trails every year and the number continues to grow.
What is the difference between a cultural route and a hiking trail?
A cultural route is a geographic corridor whose significance comes from the long-term exchange of ideas, knowledge and values between people. A walking trail is a tangible and geographically specific footpath, usually waymarked or signposted for the walker. Some cultural routes, such as the Camino de Santiago or the Via Francigena, can be travelled on foot, even if they are not a single physical trail but a variety of physical trails within the cultural route corridor. This is the same for many regions along the Abraham Path.
The Abraham Path is a distinct cultural route connecting the storied places associated with Abraham’s ancient journey and embedded in the cultural memory of many in the Middle East and beyond. Much of the route can be travelled on foot and also by other means of transport. The route provides a unique platform for storytelling, walking and hospitality because Abraham represents a common story, shared by billions of people around the planet; because his story demonstrates the power of a walk that can give us perspective and help us remember where we come from; and because Abraham is a symbol of hospitality and kindness toward perfect strangers
What is the difference between the Abraham Path cultural route and the Masar Ibrahim trail?
The Abraham Path connects the storied places associated with Abraham’s ancient journeythrough its DNA of Story, Walking and Hospitality. This larger cultural route spans the entire Middle East and includes the places which are inaccessible for travel and walking at the moment. The Abraham Path is thus not a physical hiking trail that connects theentire Middle East region. The Masar Ibrahim al-Khalil is the Palestinian walking trail that runs for over 300 km from the north of the West Bank near Jenin to the south of Hebron (al-Khalil). The Masar Ibrahim is the namesake of the Abraham Path (its literal translation in Arabic) but is also an independent trail, run and developed by a union of Palestinian organizations, together with local hosts and guides from the communities on the trail. It has received support and technical assistance from the Abraham Path Initiative as well as other donors.
Is walking along the cultural route for experienced hikers only? How fit do I need to be?
Walking in the Middle East is appropriate for many ages and levels of experience. The difficulty of the local hiking trails varies sharply per region and/or trail stage. This website gives cultural background information to the Abraham Path regions and generic guidance for walking along the cultural route. For specific information on different stages of the various trails available along the route please consult the latest up to date info and hiker resources such as maps and GIS data on any of the trail-specific websites: www.masaribrahim.ps; www.sinaitrail.org; www.jordantrail.org; www.negevhighlandtrail.com
How about safety? Isn’t it crazy to travel, let alone go walking in the Middle East?
The vast majority of the Middle East can be traveled responsibly, both by organized groups and individual travelers. Walking routes, and more broadly eco- and community tourism, havebeen sharply on the rise across the region. Of course, hiking on trails anywhere is never without risk and, particularly when traveling without a tour operator, it is important to prepare well beforehand and inquire about local safety conditions prior to your travel. Local tour operators are in touch with the security situation on the ground and can advise walkers. Areas of unrest tend to be very geographically isolated at most times. Read our safety advice and disclaimer.
Risk is an inescapable element in all travel; it can be managed and mitigated but not completely avoided. Staying at home and watching the travel channel instead is, of course, always the safest alternative.
Can I walk alone as a woman?
We do not recommend that women walk alone on any of the trails along the Abraham Path. While the trails mentioned are generically safe for tourists, in many local cultures it is inappropriate for women to walk alone, and this can put women in a vulnerable situation. We recommend that individual women interested in walking do so via an organized tour or with a group. We also recommend modest dress (knees and shoulders covered), in keeping with local cultural norms.
Should I walk independently or with a group?
You can do either. See our description of the different styles of travel along the path to help you decide which style is most suitable for you. Some trails or sections of trails are more appropriate for independent hikers, while others are currently more realistic in a tour experience.
Do I need to walk with a guide?
We advise travelers to walk with a local guide because this holds several advantages. In particular for people who are new to the region and do not speak the local language, walking with a local guide will be safer and more comfortable than walking without. A second advantage is that walkers will have no concerns regarding navigation.
Even if you like path finding, consider the other advantages of hiring a local guide. There are no better explanations about the area you walk in than those from the people that live there. A guide can also introduce you to people from the area, even if you don’t speak the local language, and by hiring one you will contribute directly to the local economy and the development of small-scale community tourism in the Middle East.
How long would it take me to walk the entire Abraham Path cultural route?
The route is currently accessible for walking with over 2000km of local trails available. Accounting for a break here or there, this presently takes a good 5-6 months to walk, including some air or vehicle transfers between different regions. One walker has been able to cover nearly all regions of the route that are accessible to walk. In 2015/2016, Leon McCarron ventured out on his epic Walk the Masar journey.
Are trails along the route waymarked? Are there maps? Is there GPS data available?
While some trails are partially waymarked, most of them are not. Make sure you are confident and prepared in your navigation method before embarking on the path.
How does the Abraham Path compare to other cultural routes, such as the Camino de Santiago, etc?
The Abraham Path spans a very geographically and culturally diverse region, part of which is inaccessible for travellers due to conflict; in different places, it can be quite a different experience. Some parts of the path resemble a cultural route like the Camino de Santiago – accommodations and food are generally available each day, and much of the trail passes through villages and even bigger cities. Other regions (mainly in the deserts farther south) are much more of a wilderness experience – there are towns every several days in which to buy food. In some of these regions, water sources are not available daily; and more careful planning is needed with local tour operators, guides and hosts. See the individual region pages for further information.
What is the best time to visit?
For all the regions of the Abraham Path, the optimal seasons for walking and other means of travel are spring (March-May) and autumn (late September-early December). The landscape is more green and wet in spring and more dry in autumn.
Summer (June-early September) is extremely hot and dry and we strongly caution against walking during this time period, even if other means of travel are possible.
Where can I sleep? Do I need to book accommodations in advance? Can I camp?
Some regions along the path have a homestay network of families who are equipped to care for hikers in their home and provide meals and other services. Information on thesehomestays is available on the trail-specific websites and they are generally pre-booked through a local tour agency.
Other accommodation options rangee from family-owned hostels and Bedouin camps to free hiker shelters and wild camping.
A few places –espcially cities- do offer hotel accommodations, which can be booked independently.
Camping is not recommended in some areas, including all of the Palestinian regions (Jenin, Nablus, Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron). In Israel, camping is allowed only in designated campsites to protect the natural environment; elsewhere, camping in established or designated spots is preferable for the same reason. In some regions, such as Sinai, camping is the default option and local Bedouin arrange for the experience.
Where wild camping is allowed, keep in mind that many local people may not be used to this and might be interested or even suspicious or worried about your presence. Choose campsites in less-traveled areas, and avoid wells in the desert that may be a water source for locals. Any camping should be undertaken with strict adherence to the Leave No Trace principles and respect for private property and protected ecological areas.
When available, we recommend utilizing the homestay network for a deeper and richer experience with local culture.
What should I wear?
Clothing should also be appropriate to local cultural norms. Both men and women should wear long trousers/pants and shirts with sleeves. “Covered from shoulders to knees” is a good rule of thumb in most places. Women should avoid low-cut tops or tight clothing. In the Urfa and Harran regions, a long skirt is required of women staying in village homestays, though loose, long pants are appropriate for walking.
Certain religious sites have dress requirements, such as requiring all of a person’s body to be covered, from wrists to ankles. Mosques generally require women to cover their heads while visiting; a light scarf is useful to have on hand for this (as well as being good for hiking in the sun).
Sun protection is very important for health and comfort, and we recommend covering up fully with long trousers, a long-sleeve shirt, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sun cream.
What currencies do I need to use along the Abraham Path?
See exchange rates at www.xe.com
The most convenient way to withdraw local currency is with an ATM/bank card. ATMs are readily available in cities, but not in rural villages. Credit cards can be used in some hotels and restaurants in larger cities. Travelers’ checks are not recommended as it can be difficult to find places to cash them.
Can I find wifi or internet along the places promotes on the Abraham Path
Wifi and internet are readily available in bigger cities; in small villages, however, internet may be more difficult to come by. Travelers can purchase a local, prepaid SIM card with a 3G data plan for mobile phones if daily access to internet is necessary.
What should I do if I experience a medical emergency?
We recommend carrying a cell phone with a local SIM card or an international SIM card with roaming capabilities.
Medical care is available in all countries along the path. For severe injuries, we would recommend transferring to a hospital in the nearest large city (Jerusalem, Beersheva, Amman, Sanliurfa, Sharm al-Sheikh). We also recommend purchasing trip insurance that would cover evacuation to your home country in case of medical emergency.
Is this a religious project?
No. The project respects all religious traditions but does not belong to any religious group or agenda.
Is this a normalization project with a political agenda?
No. The focus of the path is on individuals and small local communities on the cultural route. The path is a platform for learning more about the people of the Middle East. It does not associate itself with any political agenda in or outside the region.
How do you know where Abraham actually walked?
We don’t; there is no historical or scriptural evidence specifying the exact route Abraham walked. The cultural route does not imply any judgment about the veracity or precedence of the different scriptural traditions.
There is, however, abundant evidence that Abraham exists today in the memory and traditions of all people in the Middle East. The path thus follows the anthropological Abraham, symbolically honoring the memory and wisdom of his journey across the Middle East.
The scriptural traditions of the Abrahamic faiths do concur in citing a number of specific places that he passed, including the cities of Harran, Jerusalem, Beersheva, and Hebron. Between these places, the route includes cities, towns, villages, and natural and culturallandmarks that are cited in the scripture, revered in local traditions, or passing a ‘line of beauty’ — winding through the most appealing landscapes in the region and passing through sites of more recent historical interest.
When does the Abraham Path Initiative make connections across international borders?
Only when this is specifically requested by people on all sides of the border concerned. The Abraham Path Initiative does not force people into any connection they do not wish to have. The initiative has on numerous occasions brought together walkers, hosts, writers, photographers and film-makers from the region and the rest of the world.