11 days from $2,200 + airfare
Geared toward the active traveler, this tour includes many of the key experiences of any Holy Land pilgrimage while including activities like walking the Jesus Trail, hiking in the wilderness, and staying in the homes of Palestinian Christians. This tour includes overnight accommodations in three to four star hotels (except during optional homestays), all meals, expert local guides, airport transfers, entry fees, tips, and gratuities. During the Jesus Trail hike, Progressive Pilgrimage will transport your luggage to your overnight accommodations so that you may hike with only a day pack. Five star accommodations can be arranged; price available upon request.
Day One: We depart from the United States on an afternoon flight. Overnight onboard.
Day Two: Upon arrival in Tel Aviv, our motorcoach will meet us for transport to Nazareth. In the afternoon we will visit the Basilica of the Annunciation or Nazareth Village. Dinner and overnight at Nazareth hotel.
Day Three: Today we begin walking the Jesus Trail from Nazareth. We briefly visit Zippori National Park and enjoy a picnic lunch before continuing on to Cana, the site of the wedding where Jesus turned water into wine. Dinner and overnight in Cana hotel. (Total hiking distance: 11 miles.)
Day Four: We continue walking today from Cana, crossing an ancient Roman Road and stopping at Kibbutz Lavi for lunch. The Kibbutz remains a working Orthodox Jewish kibbutz making synagogue furniture. After lunch we climb the Horns of Hattin and continue our walk to Moshav Arbel where we have dinner and overnight accommodations. (Total hiking distance: 19 miles. Note: this section of the Jesus Trail could be divided into two days for an additional charge.)
Day Five: We finish our walk today by trekking through Arbel National Park with expansive views of the countryside. Descending the cliffs at Arbel, we continue toward the Sea of Galilee at Tabgha and the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes, a site where Jesus miraculously fed some 5,000 people. We will take a break from hiking for a lunch of St. Peter’s Fish. We then continue up to the Mount of Beatitudes and then back to the ancient ruins of Capernaum, the place where Jesus made his home during much of his adult ministry in the Galilee. We finish the day with a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee. Dinner and overnight in Tiberias. (Total hiking distance: 12 miles.)
Day Six: We depart Tiberias in the morning via motorcoach and arrive two hours later at the site of Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan, near Jericho. Here we will have the opportunity to worship together and remember our baptismal vows. We will lunch at the monastery of St. Geronimus. In the afternoon, we will visit St. George’s monastery, dramatically built into the hillside before hiking the Wadi Qelt in the Judean wilderness. Dinner and overnight at Tantur Ecumenical Institute.
Depart Tiberias via motorcoach and travel to Jacob’s Well in the morning. In the afternoon we will visit the Palestinian village of Zehbabdeh, home to 4000 Christians and visit the local churches. Time permitting, we will visit the Taybeh Brewing Company. The group may opt to stay overnight in the homes of Palestinian Christian families or continue on to Tantur Ecumenical Institute for overnight accommodations.
Day Seven: We begin the day with a with an early morning visit to the Temple Mount, now home to the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Next, an expert Jewish guide will lead us in exploring the ruins of the ancient Temple built first by Solomon, rebuilt under Ezra and Nehemiah, expanded by Herod the Great, and destroyed by Rome in 70 CE. We will have time to pray at the Western Wall before lunch in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. After lunch, we will walk through the ruins of the City of David including Hezekiah’s Tunnel, still filled with waist-deep water. Dinner and overnight at Tantur Ecumenical Institute.
Day Eight: We blend old and new today as we visit the Church of the Nativity and Shepherd’s Field, reflecting on the mystery of Jesus’ birth. Following lunch we will visit an artisan cooperative and have the opportunity to purchase handmade gifts of olive wood, mother of pearl, and more. In the afternoon we visit the International Center of Bethlehem, home to Diyar Academy for children and youth and Dar al-Kalima college. Pending his availability, we will meet with Lutheran pastor Rev. Mitri Raheb. Dinner and overnight at Tantur Ecumenical Institute.
Day Nine: We will reflect on Jesus’ last days before his death and resurrection with a morning walk down the Mount of Olives, the traditional route of the Triumphal Entry parade. Take in spectacular views of Jerusalem as you walk through a Jewish cemetery and sites regarded as holy by Christians and Muslims alike. We will share lunch in the Ecce Homo monastery before walking the Via Dolorosa together, stopping for prayer and meditation at each station of the cross. While the Via Dolorosa is a Catholic tradition, Protestant pilgrims find it meaningful. Our day in Jerusalem will conclude at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of Jesus crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Dinner and overnight at Tantur Ecumenical Institute.
Day Ten: We return to Jerusalem today to reflect on a more contemporary period of Israel’s history. Groups have the choice of visiting either the Israel Museum (home of the Dead Sea Scrolls) or the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in the morning. We will eat lunch in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. The afternoon will offer free time for shopping the the Jerusalem marketplace. We conclude the day with a festive dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at Tantur Ecumenical Institute.
Visit the ancient Israelite fortress at Masada and take a dip in the Dead Sea. Dinner and overnight at Tantur Ecumenical Institute.
Day Eleven: Morning departure by motorcoach from Jerusalem to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Return flight to your city of origin.