Safety & Comfort on an Abraham Path Journey

In our experience, walking in the region has been safe: over 12 years and tens of thousands of travelers the only known incident is a broken ankle resulting from a fall.

Use the awareness, sensitivity and good sense you would when in a new city or setting anywhere in the world. Before your trip consult relevant travel advice from your home country government. Listen to your guides, your hosts, and others with local knowledge.

API does not guarantee and is not responsible for the personal safety or property of any traveler participating in a trip or trip-related activities, including, but not limited to, airline travel, ground transportation, meals, lodging, and recreational activities.

While the media often portrays the Middle East as a hotspot of political violence, millions of tourists safely enjoy traveling throughout the region. Crime levels are very low in these countries, though pickpocketing and other petty crime is still sometimes an issue in big cities and tourist areas. Major crime such as murder, rape, and kidnapping are extremely low and on par with western European standards. Statistically the most dangerous part of any trip is driving to the airport in their home country.

Sexual harassment against women can be problem, especially for women traveling alone. We do not recommend that single women or small groups of women hike independently. It is a good idea to dress conservatively and use discretion when interacting with men you do not know. If you have specific questions or concerns, address them with your guide: s/he is the best interpreter of intercultural considerations.

Check the travel advisories issued by your home country and be sure to be in touch with Abraham Path Initiative staff, along with the  local tour operating implementor, to be aware of any issues that might affect your trip. Remember that most travel insurance does not cover any losses in case of political unrest.

While hiking carries with it certain inherent risks, most of these can be prevented and managed with appropriate planning, awareness and emergency response strategies.

The first step in managing risks is to select an appropriate difficulty level for your fitness level and daily distance goals. Furthermore, know about the location you will be traveling to, thoroughly read all information packs and materials, participate in any pre-departure webinars, and ask the organizers any questions.

The Abraham Path Initiative partners with local experts, including tour operators and guides, to implements all journeys. Tour operators are registered companies that have decades of experience in the field. From transportation to liaising with hotel and family homestay providers, we trust our partners to administer the best experience possible.

Local guides are hired for all portions of every trip, including the trekking and cultural overlay.  We work with guides who know the trails and terrain and who can also translate the local language and help to explain and facilitate interaction with local culture. Guides point out interesting flora, fauna and historical sites, as well as recount stories from their own life in the area. In areas where hiking is not very common, having a local guide helps to explain to locals why you are there and can dispel any suspicion that you have ulterior motives to your walk. Hiring a local guide also contributes to the local economy and provides a job that utilizes local knowledge and expertise. All guides are licensed by the country’s respective ministry of tourism.

Water:

Water is the most important resource to consider on any hike. While humans can survive for months without food, most can survive a maximum of only one week without water, and even mild dehydration poses health and comfort risks. All journeys are carefully designed so that walkers have the necessary amount of water they will need each day.  We recommend carrying a minimum of two liters of water on a cool-weather hike, and a minimum of one liter per hour of walking on a hot-weather hike. 

Whenever possible, we recommend using durable refillable water bottles to avoid the environmental impact of one-use bottles, especially in areas where recycling is not yet possible. 

Sun:

Many trail sections pass through exposed, shadeless landscapes where the sun can be extremely intense. 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 and long pants/trousers and a long-sleeved shirt. We recommend bringing sunscreen from your home country since there may be no time to buy upon arrival.

Rain and other Adverse Weather:

In all the areas of the region, the rainy season lasts for about three months per year. The rest of the year is quite predictably dry. For walking during the rainy season, we recommend a waterproof, breathable jacket (such as Gore-Tex) and a waterproof pack cover. A poncho can also be used for an all-in-one rain protection piece. Dress in layers so you do not become too warm, since sweat can make you just as wet and cold as being soaked by rain. Pack your valuables in ziplock bags or waterproof stuff sacks. 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 if you would get soaked in a downpour. Flash floods are a real danger during the rainy season, and any hiking in low ground or valleys should be checked with local authorities. The Abraham Path Initiative and the implementing partner will be in touch with all participants should the need arise.

Animals:

Never approach or feed wild animals. While wild animals pose very little risk to hikers, it is best to know how to deal with animals you could encounter. A few poisonous snake species do live in the region, however, sightings are rare and contact/bites almost unheard-of. Wearing long pants and thick shoes can protect against snake bites. Mosquitoes, bees, and other stinging insects can be found 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 on the trails. 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 seen along walking segments, either outside of a home or accompanying a shepherd. Generally, dogs may bark from their territory, which can be intimidating, but is best ignored. If a dog approaches aggressively, do not make eye contact, turn your back or run away, but rather shout for help from local people. Cows, sheep and goats are a common too and do not pose any danger to hikers.

Even with the best of preparations, emergencies situations can still crop up on a journey. We recommend carrying a cell phone with roaming coverage or a local SIM card. Be sure to add emergency numbers to the phone. In any emergency, please tell your guide immediately.

Emergency numbers

Jordan: 911

Palestinian Territory: 100

High quality medical care is available in all countries where Abraham Path journeys take place. For severe injuries, you will likely be transferred to a hospital in the nearest large city (Jerusalem or Amman), which offer the most up-to-date and professional medical care in the region.

**IMPORTANT: Traveler insurance is mandatory for all participants on an Abraham Path journey. We recommend purchasing trip insurance that will cover evacuation to your home country in case of medical emergency.

We highly recommend that all hikers closely follow the Leave No Trace principles, developed by the Center for Outdoor Ethics, which present a framework for enjoying outdoor activities with minimal damage to the environment and with respect for other hikers and local residents.  Here are the Seven Principles for Leave No Trace.

Abraham Path journeys include a variety of accommodation options. Often, the selection of accommodation styles available depends on the region and community.

Options include: family homestays, guesthouses, hotels, hostels, Bedouin tents, and camping.

Given the unique opportunity to stay with a local family, we do encourage it where and when it is possible (particularly in Palestine and northern Jordan). This will only serve to enhance the experience through quality time spent with the local communities, gain a better understanding of the culture, and organically lead to conversations that would not otherwise happen in a limited time and group setting.

What is a family homestay?

Family homestays are a style of accommodation in which guests stay in the home of a local family, eating meals with them and participating in the daily life of the host community.

Homestays are an important part of the Abraham Path community-based approach to experiential travel, in addition to serving as both a tool for economic development for communities and a valuable window into local culture.

What should I expect from a homestay?

Expect to experience the local lifestyle in an entirely new way! When participating in a family homestay, walkers sleep in a local home, eat local food, and participate in local events and community activities.

Homestay hosts can offer guests their own room to sleep in; others provide mats or mattresses on the floor of the living room.

In all homestays, you can expect to be treated like family and cared for very intentionally. Hospitality is a prominent characteristic of all cultures across the Middle East and an important value in each community along the path. Your hosts will take great care to ensure that you are comfortable and well fed, and the coffee and tea will flow freely!