While many travelers may be intimidated by the Middle East and its reputation as a hot-spot of political violence, millions of tourists safely visit Palestine every year. The incidence of violence is generally localized to predictable areas and usually does not target foreigners. Though pick-pocketing 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.
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.
Some trails passes through exposed, shade-less 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. In hot weather, begin your walking day early, avoid walking during the hottest parts of the day, and take any breaks in the shade.
The rainy season lasts for three to four months a year; the rest of the year is quite predictably dry. For walking during the rainy season, pack a waterproof, breathable jacket 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.
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.).
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; 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. If you have extreme allergic reactions to any stings, carry appropriate medication (Such as antihistamines and epinephrine). Jackals and wild boar are sometimes roaming around; 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.
Responding to Emergencies
Even with the best of preparations, emergency situations can still occur on anywhere. As you plan your trip, 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. For emergency, dial 101.
Medical care is available in the bigger cities. 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.