I was very excited about the first walk in Palestine, and loved every part of it (despite ending up with a mild sunburn on my arms). The features of the land were as expected - rolling hills, terraces of olive trees, relatively dry land. However, we came across some surprising elements, and of course being there in person is awe-inspiring.
We started the walk at a small village called Nabi Saleh that is known for demonstrations against the Israeli occupation every Friday. There were some traces of crowds (i.e. rubbish) but no person in sight. An illegal settlement is located right next to this town, and the Israelis built a watch tower right next to the village entrance which means the villagers must now enter and exit via the neighboring town.
Halamish settlement on the left, Nabi Saleh on the right.
I won't go into detail about why Nabi Saleh is a historical site, but it is interesting to mention that the Swedish and Swiss governments developed a very nice historical centre there. Sadly, as is the case for many initiatives paid with donor funds, there was nothing but a renovated building (falling into decline quite quickly again) and a plaque for the donors. When we asked the guide why nothing is here, he just shrugged it off as one of those typical things to happen in Palestine. It is a real shame as the site would be perfect for a visitor's centre.
We were a group of about 14 people, all foreigners exept for Al, and all living in either Jerusalem, Ramallah or Nablus. We also had a German TV crew on the tour with us, who are producing a programme on hiking in Palestine.
The TV crew team came from Tel Aviv and although they emphasised that the programme was not political, I couldn't help but get annoyed by the fact that the main TV reporter was wearing a t-shirt from Israel, advertising some Tel-Aviv-Yafa (Jaffa) festival. Given that we were walking in Palestine and through Palestinian villages, I thought that was quite insensitive and political! One of the crew was also wearing Caterpillar shoes, another statement in itself. All in all the TV crew were quite annoying... but I did manage to take a funny photo of them to illustrate how silly they were.
The other walkers were mainly German speakers (surprise surprise) and all had interesting stories about why they are in the area.
A low point of the walk was to come across a public picnic area in the middle of a beautiful wood, that was left in a very bad state and full of rubbish. Sadly the rubbish is mainly due to Palestinians who picnic there on Fridays (as pointed out by our local guides). It is very sad to see that Palestinians do not look after these sorts of precious sites, and it does not help the situation when they share these sites with Israelis, and that Israel manages the site and will eventually clean it up.
Otherwise, came across a number of interesting things during the walk, including a roman tomb, bee-keepers, farmers (as per image above) and lots of cute wild-flowers.
Update: here is the 5-minute clip that the German TV crew produced