Trail and Travel Safety

Minimize risks through effective planning

Middle East Safety

While many travelers may be intimidated by the Middle East and its reputation as a hotspot of political violence, millions of tourists safely visit the region every year.  The incidence of violence is generally localized to predictable areas and usually does not target foreigners.  Though pickpocketing and other petty crime can be an issue in some big cities and major tourist areas, rates of major crimes like murder and kidnapping are extremely low throughout the region and similar to those of most western European countries.  Sexual harassment against women is prevalent in much of the Middle East, though; we do not recommend that women hike or travel alone.  Additionally, familiarity with certain cultural considerations can assist travelers in minimizing some of the risks associated with traveling in the region.

Do be sure to check the travel advisories issued by your home country, and be in touch with the Abraham Path Initiative and local tour providers for further information regarding the situation on the ground in specific areas and current issues that might affect your trip.  A partial list of travel warnings for the regions on the Abraham Path will also be kept up to date on this page.

In areas where hiking is not very common, one way to decrease risk is to hike with a local guide.  Local guides can help explain to those living in the communities along the path why you are walking through their region, helping to dispel any suspicions that you may have ulterior motives.  Hiring a local guide also contributes to the local economy and provides a job that utilizes local knowledge and expertise.


Currently, a number of countries have issued travel warnings regarding travel in certain areas of Israel, the West Bank, Turkey, and Egypt. Note that we do not advise travel in Iraq, Syria, or Saudi Arabia.

Israel, West Bank, and Gaza

 Due to current political tensions, we highly recommend that walkers in the Jenin, Nablus, Jericho, Bethlehem, and Hebron Regions (West Bank) contact Abraham Path local partner Masar Ibrahim al-Khalil before planning a walk and hire a local guide to accompany the walk. We advise that travelers use extra caution when traveling the path in the Gilboa, Beersheva, Arad, Craters, and Arava Regions (Israel), keeping an eye on the news and minimizing time in public places when possible. Please contact us with any questions.

 In the area between Nebi Musa and Mar Saba in the Jericho Region, there have been incidences of robbery and assault against lone walkers. For the time being, we do not recommend walking in the area around Mar Saba.

Turkey

For the time being, API advises against all travel south of the Urfa-Mardin highway and in the city of Urfa.

Jordan

 Egypt

Environmental Safety

As with any hike, there are certain safety considerations walkers should keep in mind when preparing to travel on the Abraham Path.

Water

Water is the most important resource to consider when hiking; even mild dehydration poses health and comfort risks. Carefully plan the amount of water you will carry, be aware of refill places, and be conscientious about drinking water and replacing electrolytes continuously as you walk. Drinking before you get thirsty is recommended to stay hydrated. Learn to recognize the signs of dehydration.

We recommend carrying a minimum of three liters of water on a cool-weather hike and a minimum of one liter per hour of walking on a hot-weather hike.

Tap water in most areas of the path is generally treated and should be safe to drink; but ask local partners for specific guidelines. In Egypt, tap water is usually not recommended for foreigners who are not accustomed to local water, and bottled water is a less risky option. Whenever possible, we encourage you to use durable, refillable water bottles to avoid the environmental impact of one-use bottles, especially in areas where recycling is not yet possible.

Sun

Many sections of the Abraham Path pass through exposed, shadeless landscapes where the sun can be extremely intense even outside the summer months. It is very important for hikers to take sun protection seriously, especially in the warmer months. Be prepared with a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen (minimum 30 SPF), lip balm with SPF, sunglasses, long pants/trousers, and a long-sleeved shirt (see our suggested packing list). We recommend bringing sunscreen from your home country as it can be quite expensive in the Middle East. In hot weather, begin your walking day early, avoid walking during the hottest parts of the day, and take any breaks in the shade.

Rain, Flash Floods and other adverse weather

In all areas of the path, the rainy season lasts for three to four months a year (see When to Go); the rest of the year is quite predictably dry. For walking during the rainy season, pack a waterproof, breathable jacket (such as Gore-Tex) and a waterproof pack cover, and carry any valuables in ziplock bags or waterproof stuff sacks. A poncho can also be useful as an all-in-one rain protection piece. The biggest risk in rainy and cool weather is hypothermia. Make sure you always have a spare set of dry clothing (including socks) to change into in case you get soaked in a downpour. Dress in removable layers to avoid becoming too warm; remember that sweat can make you just as wet and cold as being soaked by rain.

Flash floods are a real danger in some areas during the rainy season; any plans to hike in low areas or deep wadis (gorges) should be checked with local partners or authorities. Our maps indicate areas of particular risk for flash floods.

Always check local weather conditions before setting out on a section of the path. Look at temperatures, predicted precipitation, and any other environmental factors that could affect your trip (high winds, sandstorms, flash floods, etc.).

Animals

While wild animals pose very little risk to hikers on the Abraham Path, it is best to know how to deal with animals you could encounter. A few poisonous snake species do live in the region; but sightings are rare, and contact/bites are almost unheard of. Wearing long pants and thick shoes can protect against snake bites. Mosquitoes, bees, and other stinging insects can also be found in many regions along the trail. If you have extreme allergic reactions to any stings, carry appropriate medication (such as antihistamines and epinephrine). Jackals and wild boar are sometimes seen along the path; stay together in a group if you encounter these animals.

Domestic animals make up the vast majority of animal bites and attacks around the world. Dogs are occasionally present along various sections of the path – often outside of a home or accompanying a shepherd. Generally, dogs will bark to defend their territory; this can be intimidating, but it is often best ignored. Dogs usually do not venture far outside the territory they are trained to guard. Often, the simple act of stooping down and picking up a stone to carry while you walk can signal to the dogs that you are capable of defending yourself, keeping them at a safe distance. If a dog approaches aggressively, do not make eye contact, turn your back, or run away; rather, shout for help from local people. Cows, sheep, and goats are also a common site along the path; they do not pose danger to hikers.

Responding to Emergencies

Even with the best of preparations, emergency situations can still occur on the trail. As you plan your hike, pay attention to roads and access points that could be used for emergency evacuation routes. In any emergency, try to stay calm and remember to look out for your own safety even as you try to help others. For the case of emergencies, we recommend carrying a cell phone with roaming coverage or a local SIM card.

Be sure to add local emergency numbers to the phone:

Jordan: 911

Israel/Palestinian Territories: 101

Turkey: 112

Medical care is available in all countries along the path. For severe injuries, consider transferring to a hospital in the nearest large city for the most up-to-date and professional medical care. We also advise purchasing trip insurance that would cover evacuation to your home country in case of medical emergency.