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Walking Palestine
25 Journeys into the West Bank
Stefan Szepesi

published 2012 • 6" x 8 1/4" • 272 pages • full-color photos • maps
ISBN 9781566568609 • paperback • $22.95

“Economist and naturalist Szepesi takes readers through 25 kilometers of walking trails in Palestine...The hikes vary in intensity (easy, moderate, hard), distance covered (ranging from 3.6 to 16.9 kilometers), and time needed (about one hour to 6.5 hours each), depending on the hiker’s abilities and interests. A typical chapter’s sidebar describes the hiking surface (gradient, elevation, dirt road or pavement, marked or unmarked), distance/duration, longitude/latitude, and other basic information...The work includes full-color maps, color photographs, a two-page list of Arabic phrases, a one-page glossary, and tips for when to hike and what to wear while hiking. Verdict: This beautifully illustrated guide will appeal to adventurers and hikers interested in ‘sniffing in fresh air’ in a part of the world rarely experienced by most of us.”—Library Journal


More Reviews »

A Passionate and practical guide to exploring the natural beauty of Palestine

With the images of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so dominant in our minds, walking for leisure is the one activity probably least associated with the West Bank region. But Stefan Szepesi’s book wanders well off the beaten track of Palestine as only a synonym for occupation and strife, exploring its inspiring natural and cultural landscape, its intriguing past and present, and the hospitality of its people.

The book takes first-time walkers and experienced hikers, as well as armchair explorers, through Palestine’s steep desert gorges, along its tiny herders’ trails, and over its quiet dirt roads running past silver green olive groves. With side stories and anecdotes on heritage, history, culture, and daily life in the West Bank, the book ventures into the traits and character of Palestine today. Walking Palestine also offers a wealth of practical walking tips, including references to local guides, the West Bank’s best leisure spots and countryside restaurants, and charming places to spend the night.

Stefan Szepesi lived in Jerusalem on and off since 2006, working first for the European Union and then as economic adviser to Tony Blair.

Watch a video of the book launch in Jerusalem


Media Reviews

“Part guidebook and part memoir of his walks across the sometimes rocky, other times verdant, and always politically contested, territory, Szepesi draws on his many years traversing this terrain to offer helpful guidance for first-time and experienced hikers alike…Szepesi’s consummate guide to walking the West Bank is a must-have for visitors to the area…”—ForeWord

“When most of us…consider the West Bank it is more than likely that our thoughts run more along the lines of security and political issues rather than hiking possibilities on offer. That, at the very least, is the refreshing added value provided by Szepesi’s book…there is far more to "Walking Palestine" than just informative descriptions of where to go, and how to get there…[it] is both informative and entertaining.”—Jerusalem Post

“Walking Palestine: 25 Journeys into the West Bank is one of the most captivating and informative guide books I have ever seen…I came away with a new appreciation for the value of Palestine to the traveler, as well as much more knowledge of the people and the country than I have from shocking headlines and pictures of the Wall.”—Traveler’s Library

“Few places in the world are as controversial as Palestine. Indeed, it is rare to see Palestine written about as a travel destination. And yet, in this well-written and fascinating book, Stefan Szepesi, a Dutch economist by training, spent many hours walking in the West Bank. What he found surprised even him…as he explored rural Palestine, a land of "green rolling hills and spectacular gorges" as well as "charming villages, good restaurants and very hospitable people."—Chicago Tribune

“For visitors based in Jerusalem or one of the West Bank’s cities and wishing to understand more of the rural environment, Szepesi’s book opens up ways to do this that maximize engagement…For travelers unfamiliar with the West Bank, it’s…a supplement for those wanting to get out of the cities, to places which it would be very difficult for most visitors to otherwise find and safely explore…There is no disputing Stefan Szepesi’s passion for the Palestinian people and the stunning scenery of the West Bank. For the increasing number of people wanting to experience the area on foot this guide will be indispensable.”—Electronic Intifada

"Walking for pleasure is a concept unfamiliar to most Palestinians. But over the past five years, hikers—mainly foreign diplomats, aid workers and journalists, but also locals—have become a more common sight in the West Bank. Their hikes range from the rolling lush hills and valleys of the north to the dramatic arid desert landscape of the south. . . 'Walking Palestine' [is] a guide to 25 walks, the fruits of a four-year project by a Dutch diplomat, Stefan Szepesi. It details tracks, paths and dirt roads; supplies maps and information on historical sites, wildlife and natural attractions; and provides practical details on local guides, parking, public transport, restaurants and places to stay.”—The Guardian

“It is no exaggeration to say that Palestine is a walker’s paradise… The twenty five walks described here provide an excellent guide to the small but varied area of the West Bank: the desert, the plain, the hills, the wadis...Each walk serves not only as an occasion to encounter a different terrain but to comment on the various facets of Palestinian life and history… 'Walking Palestine: 25 Walks into the West Bank' is indispensible… It is a guide to enjoy and to trust. So read along, put on your boots and start walking. And be prepared for experiences that will surely be memorable.”—From the foreword by Raja Shehadeh, author of "Palestinian Walks", Winner of the Orwell Prize 2008
 
“No place on earth is better known yet more misunderstood than Palestine and there is no better way to get to know the spirit of the place and its hospitable people than walking.  In graceful and evocative prose mixed with practical information and stunning photos, Stefan Szepesi does us the great service of introducing us to the art of walking in the surprisingly safe, beautiful, and welcoming countryside of the West Bank.  May this book inspire many from around the world to come walk!”—William Ury, co-author of "Getting to Yes", co-founder of Abraham's Path/Masar Ibrahim, and Senior Fellow at the Harvard Negotiation Project
 
“In 'Walking Palestine' Stefan Szepesi has helped to make Palestine a more accessible and attractive tourist destination. Stefan’s book shows what a beautiful place Palestine is and how rewarding it is, for Palestinians and visitors alike, to explore its natural and cultural heritage on foot. This is a splendid book.—Tony Blair, British Prime Minister (1997-2007)



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Of Related Interest:
Walking in Jordan
A Million Steps
Palestinian Costume
Seeking Palestine
Palestine (2nd ed.)