Camping in the middle east
I'm not actually planning this as a bike tour, but since tourers often camp and I don't know of any camping or backpacking forums I thought I'd ask here if anybody has done backpacking or camping in the middle east - more specifically Israel and the West Bank. I've already spent a lot of time in the region and I'm going back this spring or summer; anyway already being pretty familiar with the area my questions are basically about the camping aspect of things. This isn't a thread to ask if it's safe to go the West Bank, I've already lived there and I'll tell you it's safe as long as you don't wander into the wrong settlement on the sabbath...I've gotten chased by M16 wielding settlers..but that's another story.
It basically doesn't rain there in the summer so I'm sort of banking on sleeping under the stars all the time and skipping a tent. I wanted to see if anyone has any climate- or wildlife-related tips here based on experience. I know I don't need to worry about bear-bagging my food, but are there any other unpleasant animals that might come sniffing around? I seem to remember there being coyotes or jackals or some other kind of gross dog in the Bethlehem area but never saw any. Other than, it's pretty much hyraxes, goats and farm animals from what I saw.
Israel's pretty great to hike in since there are plenty of open, fairly undeveloped spaces outside the towns and of course the national trail, all in all it's pretty easy to move around freely in. Unfortunately not so for the West Bank, since the occupation is engineered specifically to prevent that and you can't hardly walk half a mile without running into a checkpoint, concrete wall or walled-off settlement. Still does anybody know of good walkable routes inside there? I've done Wadi Qelt but not too much else.
The only thing I can think of are carrying enough water in an arid terrain and stinging / biting insects and snakes at night. Here is an article concerning those critters in Israel.
I think using a tent without the rain-fly would be a good option for this.
Last edited by gregw; 03-17-10 at 04:44 AM.
I lived in Dubai for a few year. You don't go on weeklong unsupported camping trips out in the desert in summer unless you enjoy suffering and felt like you had something to prove, but I supposed you don't really need advice on those survival logistics, and cycling is easier than hiking.
I'd still recommend bringing a tent (or rainfly plus groundsheet plus poles, maybe a Tarptent) though. We had some unpleasant sand storms and brutal sunshine. Sometimes you're done cycling by mid afternoon. Shelter would make your life much more enjoyable.
I don't recommend tent without rainfly. If your tent is anything like mine, sand will blow right through the mesh and land on your face all night.
Well, aside from the Negev, we're not talking about deserts here - the climate is much more hospitable than that. Also, human settlement is pretty compact but widespread so you're never THAT far from a town...thanks for the poison-animal link also. Have heard of good personal experiences tentless camping with others, too.