The world without visas: Around the world with Valery Shanin Israel: The Shvil Israel trail The campaign on the National trail of Israel became the next stage of The World without Visas project; in which, Valery Shanin, travels only around the countries that are visa-free for Russians. The Shvil Israel trail begins on the territory of the agricultural kibbutz Dan, located at the steps to the Golan heights, on the junction of the borders of Israel, Syria and Lebanon. The flower Hatsap — unlike the majority of others, blossoms in the fall instead of the spring. Its appearance means that the summer has already passed. The entrance of motor transport to the border zone is forbidden. The frontier guards are not in sight. But it is obvious that this territory is under thorough surveillance. There are also minefields here. It is better to stick to the trail. Here is the first national park — the reserve Snir. It is also the only place on the trail where it is necessary to pay for an entrance. However, you won’t regret it. There is nothing like this on the whole trail. The rivers in Israel are very rare, in general. And one like this — pure, fast, covered with the shady trees — is unique. It is lively on the trail. The Israelis prefer to spend their days off actively, outdoors. It is rare that somebody manages to take a few months off, to hike the whole Shvil Israel trail from beginning to end. It is more often done in parts. There is even a travel agency that organizes a campaign on the trail, lasting one year. Every weekend the tourists are brought to the next leg of the trail, and then are taken back home. This way, it is also possible to complete the trail from the beginning to the end. But it is the extremes. Most of the tourists come for tracking for one or two weeks, surely with backpacks, rugs and tents. In such a small country as Israel, it is only possible to experience all the charms of a hiking lifestyle by walking this trail. To get to meet with the fellow colleagues — the travelers. The conversations can struck up easily, and the road immediately becomes even more interesting, when you get to communicate with a new person. The foreigners are not left out either. Nearly each hiker in Israel speaks fare English. Israel always seems to be under the martial law. From their appearance, kibbutze’s either look like military units or concentration camps. At the kibbutz Tel Huy, there is a monument established to Iosif Trumpeldor. Born in Russia, he was fighting in the Russian-Japanese War and the World War I, and was awarded with the St George’s Crosses for his bravery. He was killed in 1920, on this very spot, during the skirmish with the Arabs. The trail goes along the mountain slope over the Hula valley. From here, you can see a nice range of views over the town of Kiryat Shemona, the Golan heights and the Hermon mountain. The Hula valley is part of the Rift valley, stretching along the Syrian-African canyon, from Lebanon to Mozambique. It is November. But it is still summer hot in the afternoons, especially when walking with the backpacks. It is better to spend the hottest time of the day somewhere in the shade, but shaded areas are nowhere to be seen. There is no shadow anywhere. Only the pathetic bushes that don’t have enough space for everybody. The trail goes along the road, but there are no cars here. Some still appear, but rather rarely and they all go on short distances. Hot. A goodhearted farmer placed a flank of water on the trail side for everybody who passes by. The Yeshy fort has been constructed by the French, during the period when Israel was under the mandatory management of France. Now it is called “the Fort of the 28” – in memory of the Israeli patriots who have died during the assault, in 1948. The entrance to the fort’s territory is closed. Inside there is a police department. It is only possible to visit the small museum, near camping ground. On the Naftali cliff, near the triangulable tower, there are some remains of the ruins of the fortress and the temple. During the War for the independence, here was a military post. The place is very convenient. From here, one can see almost all of the Hula valley and the Golan heights, located directly opposite. The trail changes from being rocky into a dirt road. There are long stretches of gardens on both sides. The Dishon stream, that has dried out by now, spreads for 35 kilometers from the source on the mountain of Meron, before it falls into the Jordan river. There are oaks, pistachios, carob trees and olives growing on its coast. On both sides, there are stretches of rocks. Their height is no more than 300 meters, but the passage between them is so narrow, that it seems as if you are walking on the bottom of a very deep canyon. It is dry, but the stones are smooth. There is probably some water in the creek in the winter, after heavy rains,. The Eyn Arvot spring does not dry up all year round. The water, by the looks of it, is pure. But there are no guarantees. It is better not to drink it straight. The trail crosses the highway No. 899 through an underground passage. Of course, it was not built for people, but for draining of the flood water, it is still convenient. It is possible to walk upright, without the need to bend down. The trail crosses the forest reserve of Baram. We entered the gorge of Zivon and began slowly but surely, the rise to the top of Meron mountain. The trailpasses between the rocks covered with mosses and lichens, and is almost hidden by a shadow from the big trees. Shvil Israel is not just a trail, it is a national trail. The state supports everybody, who wants to walk the trail, in every possible way. And not only morally. On the top of Meron mountain, there is something similar to Russian pioneer camps. Here it is called a field school. It is unknown who learns here and what do they study. But anyone can spend the night here free of charge — in one of the lodges or in your own tent. Here there are showers and electricity. It was not incidental, that this place was chosen for the field school. At the time of the Ottoman Empire, there was here a caravan-serai for travelers, and a source with water. They save water here. The taps only work when pressed. Not everybody understands it. – The trail on the Meron mountain goes through a very dense eucalyptus forest.