Practical Information

HOW LONG IS THE JOURNEY?

• The entire Nativity Trail is 11 days - approximately 160 km.

WHERE WILL WE STAY?

In…

• villagers' homes
• monasteries’ rooms
• local bed & breakfasts
• Bedouin tents
• campsites, where hikers can pitch their own tents or sleep under the  stars

WHAT KIND OF TERRAIN DOES THE TRAIL COVER?

• Sometimes rough terrain, climbing up and down steep rocky hillsides, crossing desert ‘wadis’     (valleys)

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE?

• This is an outdoor adventure for physically fit nature lovers with an interest in history, culture and religious tradition. Participants must be experienced hikers able to spend 6 - 9 hours a day on the trail.

• Groups will consist of approximately 10 individuals. 

WHO ARE OUR GUIDES?

• The journeys will be fully guided by professional local guides.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

• Basic first aid will be available.

• Health insurance is recommended.

• Hikers need to be in sound medical condition.

• Ensure that your routine vaccinations are up to date.

Pharmacies are widely available in Palestine; however, we recommend you bring your own medication in case needed:

• Antihistamine for bites or allergies

• Antibiotics broad spectrum

• Aspirin or other pain relief

• Antiseptic

WHAT TO BRING

• Back bag

• Flash light

• Hat

• Sun screen

• Walking or hiking shoes

• Modest clothing

• An open mind and heart

ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation will vary between guesthouses, hotels, family stays and camping in Bedouins tents.

A support vehicle will be available for the whole duration of the walk.  The support vehicle will transport your bags to each location that you will be staying overnight. 

THE COST OF THE NATIVITY TRAIL DOES NOT INCLUDE:

• The visa fee

• Transfer from/to the airport or from/to the Bridge

• Tips to drivers or waiters

• Other personal expenses

 

OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION

COUNTRY

Palestine is located in the heart of the Holy Land, surrounded by Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. 

AREA

6,020 sq km

POPULATION

Palestinian Territories: 4 million (The West Bank: 2.5 million and the Gaza Strip: 1.5 million)

CAPITAL

East Jerusalem

GOVERNMENT

Palestine is governed by a Parliamentary democracy with a legislative system.

VISITING PALESTINE

  • BY AIR:

                Ben Gurion International Airport, located in Tel Aviv, is approximately one hour away from Jerusalem. The Siraj Center can arrange for your transportation from the airport.

  • BY LAND:

                Visitors to Jordan can also easily visit Palestine by traveling through some of the below crossings points.

THE ALLENBY – KING HUSSEIN BRIDGE BORDER CROSSING:

This border crossing is the closest to the Amman airport and closest to Jerusalem.  Upon prior request, Siraj can arrange for your transportation to/from the border crossing.

The Terminal is open at the times stated below.

DAYS AND HOURS OF OPERATION:

Sunday – Thursday:        08:00 – 00:24

Friday – Saturday:            08:00 – 15:00

 
EXIT FEES:

The crossing fee is currently NIS 171 per traveler.  However, it is advisable to check the bridge crossing website for any changes in fees and opening times.

GETTING TO AND FROM THE CROSSING:

Travelers at the terminal can use the following travel options:

• Siraj can arrange for your transportation to/from the bridge crossing.

• Taxi service to/from East Jerusalem

• Bus service from the Abdul Hai Shahin company in Jericho, where other public transportation    can be taken to/from Jerusalem and/or other cities

THE JORDAN RIVER – SHEIKH HUSSEIN BORDER CROSSING:

DAYS AND HOURS OF OPERATION:

Sunday - Thursday:         06:30 – 21:00

Friday and Saturday:       08:00 – 20:00

The terminal operates throughout the year

EXIT FEES:

The bridge crossing fee is currently NIS 98 per traveler.  However, it is advisable to check the bridge crossing website for any changes in fees and opening times.

 VISA REQUIREMENTS:

Access to Jerusalem and the West Bank is controlled by the Israeli authorities.   Please click the link below in order to verify whether you need a visa before traveling through Israel.

http://mfa.gov.il/MFA_Graphics/MFA%20Gallery/Consular%20forms/VisaRequirements.pdf

An onward or return ticket is required for entry.  Please ensure that your passport is  valid for six months from the date of travel.  This and may prevent boarding if a traveler does not have at least six months' validity on their passport. 

SAFETY AND SECURITY:

The Palestinians are a friendly and hospitable people with legendary respect for guests and visitors to their land. 

TRAVEL INSURANCE:

It is advisable that all participants obtain travel insurance when booking their flights, to cover flight cancellation, loss of baggage, delayed departure, medical expenses, repatriation and/or personal accident.

FOOD

Fresh locally prepared Palestinian traditional food: pita bread, cheese, yoghurt, hummus, olives and salads, chicken or lamb with rice are just some of the food / meals offered at restaurants.  Western style food is also available.

Traditional sweets include delicious kanafeh and an assortment of baklawa.

After meals, tiny glasses of sweet tea, often served with mint, or Arabic-style coffee are offered.  Don’t forget to try the refreshing lemonade with fresh mint!

WEATHER AND CLIMATE

Situated in the eastern Mediterranean, Palestine has a temperate climate, with hot dry summers, cold winters and mild spring and autumn. 

April and May bring some of the most beautiful wildflowers in the world. Wild poppies, jonquils, irises, and other vibrant species paint the hillsides with color during the spring season. The best times of the year for walking, hiking and cycling are from March to May and from September to November.

In the summer months, the evening desert temperatures can be cool.  It is advisable to carry a lightweight jacket or sweater for the evenings.

The rainy season in Palestine is between November and April.  During the winter season, it is common for Jerusalemites to escape to Jericho, next to the Dead Sea, to enjoy more mild temperatures.

Because of low humidity, the air in Palestine is dry. It is always a good idea to carry a bottle of water while hiking or walking during the day.

CLOTHING

When visiting Palestine’s many religious sites, dress modestly and maintain a respectful attitude.  Women and men should not wear shorts into any religious sites. Islamic sites may require visitors to remove their shoes, and ask that women wear a headscarf, while men are required to wear a head covering in Jewish areas.

ACCOMMODATION      

We encourage visitors to stay in local guesthouses, in family homes in cities or rural areas thus experiencing local hospitality, customs, traditions, enjoying homemade meals, experiencing authentic Palestinian family, thus contributing to the local economy.

LANGUAGE

Arabic is the official language of Palestine, however English is widely spoken.

RELIGION

Palestine is an ideal destination for those seeking cultural knowledge and spiritual enrichment. Palestine values its ethnically and religiously diverse population, consequently providing for the cultural rights of all its citizens. This spirit of tolerance and appreciation is one of the central elements contributing to the stable and peaceful cultural climate flourishing within Palestine.

More than 96% of Palestinians are Sunni Muslims, and less than 4% are Christians. The majority of Christians belong to the Greek Orthodox Church.  However, there are also Greek Catholics, Roman Catholics, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and a few Protestant denominations.  Shi’a and Samaritan populations can also be found in Palestine.

HOLIDAYS

The busiest seasons in Jerusalem and Bethlehem are during the Easter and Christmas holidays.

CHRISTMAS

Christmas is celebrated on December 25 by the Catholics and Western denominations, on January 6 by the Greek Orthodox, and on January 18 by the Armenians.

RAMADAN

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Business hours throughout Palestine adjust their working hours accordingly. All shops close before sunset.

Restaurants, except those at hotels catering to tourists, are closed during the day. Some restaurants open after sunset. It is advisable not to eat, drink, or smoke in public in order to avoid offending people who are fasting.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

Islamic and Christian holy days are national holidays.

National days are also public holidays.

BUSINESS HOURS

Shops are generally open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., six days a week, and are closed either Friday or Sundays.

Public sector institutions, like ministries and post offices, are closed on Friday and Saturday and major national and Islamic holidays. Opening hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Mini vans (orange) or buses are used to travel from one city to another.

Taxis (yellow) or service taxis (orange) are used for intercity transportation.

Upon request, the Siraj Center can arrange private transfers from  the crossing borders to Palestinian, as well as to Israelis cities .

CAR RENTAL

Many car rental agencies are available in the main cities of Palestine. An international driver’s license is required, and insurance is available from the rental agency.

ELECTRICITY

Palestine uses a 220-volt system.

TELEPHONE

Local pre-paid phone cards can be purchased at supermarkets or other shops.

Most shops, cafes and restaurants have public phones for making local calls, and public phones are available in most Palestinian cities.

Telephone and fax facilities are available at most hotels.

MEDICAL CARE

Siraj staff can recommend a doctor or hospital if needed. 

Pharmacies are located throughout the main cities.

CURRENCY

The Israeli Shekel (NIS), the U.S. dollar (USD) and the Jordanian dinar (JD) are accepted in Palestine.

There are currency exchange offices throughout Palestine.

Most hotels accept major international credit cards. 

Tourists paying in foreign currency are exempt from value-added tax (VAT) at their hotel.

TIME

GMT + 2 in winter

GMT +3 in summer

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES

Palestine follows the metric system in weights and measurements.