One-day-trip to the West Bank

Doing a trip to the West Bank means soaking up its history, returning a few years to the past and being wide-eyed all the time. It is, without a doubt, such a shocking place. Despite this, due to the political situation and numerous conflicts that have occurred throughout the history in these territories, it is not one of the destinations with the greatest tourist attraction.

Although it does not stand out for the level of tourism, it is a destination that draws a lot of attention to the most curious and skeptical ones. So, if you are one of these kind of people who would like to visit the West Bank, I am going to tell you next some tips and recommendations to help you organize your day trip to the West Bank from Jerusalem on your own. 

  • CONTEXT

For those who do not know about it, the State of Palestine is formed by the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It is a State with limited recognition and with a long story behind their back.

Before going to the trip, with the intention of getting information about the situation between Palestinians and Israelis, I found this website where it is all explained in a very complete and detailed way. Here it is the link, in case you are interested to find more out about it. Note: Although it is in Spanish, you might have the option to translate it into English.

PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI CONFLICT

  • WHAT TO SEE

Although a day passes very quickly and it is impossible to see everything, there is enough time to keep the essence of the place and to visit the most outstanding places, talking in terms of history. In addition to being able to discover other hidden and very original spots, which will pleasantly surprise you.

    • BETHLEHEM

This town located 9 kilometers away from Jerusalem is the most touristic and famous one in the entire West Bank due to the great religious significance it has for many believers. That is why you should not stop visiting it on your trip to the West Bank. Which are the spots that you cannot miss visiting in Bethlehem?

1. CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY: It is one of the oldest Christian temples in use and where it is believed that Jesus was born.

2. WALL THAT SEPARATES THE TERRITORIES OF PALESTINE AND ISRAELDespite its not nice function, it is a place worth seeing. It is full of graffiti, which represent many of the feelings of numerous people who have been affected, both directly and indirectly, by the war/conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

As it is told in one of the grafitti:

“LESS WALLS, MORE BRIDGES”

Grafitti of Ahed Tamimi

The young woman in this graffiti is Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian activist who became famous due to a video in which she was slapping an Israeli soldier hours after other soldiers had shot her cousin in the head. After this, she was arrested. This is just one of the many hard events she has had to experience during her life. From the age of 9 until today, she continues to fight for his strong convictions.

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3. BANKSY PAINTINGSFor those who do not know about him, Banksy is a famous British urban art artist, whose identity is still unknown. Most of his graffiti carry a political message and social criticismDuring the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he left some graffiti in Bethlehem, Here it is one of them:

Original BANKSY painting
BANKSY graffiti reproduction
    • SAINT GEORGE OF KOZIBA MONASTERY (JERICHO)

It is a Greek Orthodox monastery located in Wadi Qelt, about 9 kilometers away from Jericho and 20 kilometers away from Jerusalem. Although we were told that there is a trekking route to get there from Jericó, I recommend you take a taxi that leaves you at the entrance, since it is in the middle of the desert. Once there, you will have to follow a steep path until you reach this precious hidden treasure.

It is indescribable how impressive the place is and the peace it transmits. If you want to access its interior, you can do so from Sunday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. I highly recommend you not to overlook this place when making your trip to the West Bank. It is so original and beautiful.

I also recommend you take the opportunity to make a short stop at this viewpoint with impressive views of the monastery and the desert. Taking into account these indications, you will see the exact point where this viewpoint is located in the MAPS.ME app.

Saint George of Koziba MONASTERY (Jericho)
Sandra and I at one of the VIEWPOINTS of Saint George Monastery (Jericho)
  • TRANSPORT

Every Israeli public bus that goes to the West Bank is white with blue lines in order to be identified. In addition, once in the West Bank, there are roads that can only be accessed by Israeli transports and others that only Palestinians can access to.

When crossing the borders, there are always military doing passport controls. So remember to bring your documentation with you.

    • JERUSALEM – BETHLEHEM

From HaNevi’im terminal (in front of the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem), you can take bus 231 towards Bethlehem.

      • Price: 7 ILS (€1,80)
      • Duration: 40 minutes
    • INTERIOR OF THE WEST BANK

As I said before, we decided to take a taxi, since there was no other transport option to go to the Monastery of Saint George. So, after asking a few taxi drivers and negotiating with them, we decided to go with ASHRAF, a lovely man, who took us to see:

      • The graffiti of the wall that separates Palestine and Israel
      • Banksy’s main artworks
      • Saint George of Koziba Monastery
      • The only land area in the world which is below sea level 

Ashref’s treatment was impeccable. In addition to giving us a lot of useful and interesting information about Palestine, he explained us part of the history of each of the places we visited. I highly recommend to hiring his service as a driver, so here I share  his contact in case you want to talk to him:

+972 59-981-8467

    • NEAR TO MA’ALE ADUMIM – JERUSALEM

On the way back from the monastery, Ashraf left us in a remote place to take bus 263 towards HaNevi’im terminal in Jerusalem. Palestinian taxis can not enter Israeli territory, so that is why he took us to that place and waited until he was sure we were inside the bus ready to go.

      • Ticket pricee: 7 ILS (€1’80)
      • Duration: 30 minutes
In the WEST BANK on our way back to Jerusalem
  • OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION

    • If you want to do a trip to the West Bank, but not on your own, I recommend you check out the following organized tours and trips. I have not hired any of them, but from other experiences, Civitatis is a company that offers excellent services.
    • As you can deduce, you will not be able to discover and enjoy in one single day everything that the West Bank offers. So, in case you want to extend your stay or prefer to visit other places, here you have a list of other outstanding sites that might be of your interest:
        • Hebron
        • Monastery of Temptation (Jericho)
        • Nabi Musa (Jericho): this is where Moses was supposed to be buried
        • Herodium Palace (Bethlehem)
        • Dead Sea: you can choose to access it through Palestine or through the southern half of Israel (Sandra and I chose this second option, when we were going to Eilat from Masada National Park)

Here ends this post with useful information that will help you arrange your trip to the West Bank. I hope I have encouraged you to discover and venture through this little piece of the world. Do not hesitate to write any messages or doubts in comments and/or directly to travelwithlorens@gmail.com . I will be so happy to read them and be of any help to you. Greetings dear travelers!

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