Classical Holyland (8 days / 7 nights)
DAY 01: ARRIVAL IN TEL AVIV
Arrival in Tel Aviv. After passport control and baggage claim, you will meet your guide and board your vehicle and transfer to Tel Aviv or Nethanya for overnight.
DAY 02: CAESAREA MARITIMA - MT. CARMEL - MEGIDDO - NAZARETH
We enter Caesarea Maritima to explore this Roman bridgehead to the East, which became the Christian springboard to the West. We ascend Mt. Carmel, site of Elijah's confrontation with the prophets of Baal. We then drive to the mound of Megiddo, har megiddo in Hebrew, which gave its name to Armageddon.
After surveying the Plain of Jezreel, we proceed to Nazareth, visiting the site of the ancient village and enjoying a view of Mt. Tabor. We go on to Cana, commemorating Jesus' transformation of water into wine. We end the day at the Arbel cliff, which affords a view over the Lake of Galilee and the main sites of Jesus' ministry. Nazareth or Tiberias for overnight.
DAY 03: A DAY AROUND THE SEA OF GALILEE
We drive along the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum, where we visit the synagogue and the place where early Christians remembered Peter's house. We continue to Tabgha (short for Heptapagon, "seven springs") to view the mosaics in the Church of the Loaves and Fishes. Ascending the Mt. of Beatitudes, we listen to Jesus' teachings.
On an ancient trade route, we pass Hazor and then go on to Tell Dan. Here we do a nature walk and visit the high place where Jeroboam son of Nebat set up a golden calf. We continue to Caesarea Philippi (Banias), where Peter answered Jesus' question, "Who do you say that I am?" Our route then takes us over the Golan Heights, skirting Mt. Hermon, with a view toward Damascus. We end the day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Nazareth or Tiberias for overnight.
DAY 04: BETH SHEAN - NABLUS - JERICHO - JERUSALEM
We visit the mound of Beth Shean, hearing the story of Saul and viewing the ruins of Roman Scythopolis. Then (conditions permitting) we drive through the Dotan Valley, where Joseph's brothers threw him into a cistern, and pass Samaria, Ahab's capital. At Nablus (Shechem), we visit the mound of the ancient city where Joshua renewed the covenant. We stop at nearby Jacob's Well, site of Jesus' conversation with a Samaritan woman.
We then drive through the lovely valley of Bidan and down Wadi Fariah, the pass through which Jacob (and probably his grandfather before him) entered the Promised Land. At Jericho, we visit the tell of this oldest city and view the traditional mountain of Jesus' temptation. Ascending the Roman road along Wadi Qilt, we stop for a look at St. George's Monastery. Finally, atop Mt. Scopus, we behold majestic Jerusalem. Jerusalem or Bethlehem for overnight.
DAY 05: FULL DAY JERUSALEM & BETHLEHEM
We start the day with an orientation to Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives. We then follow the traditional Palm Sunday route to the church known as Dominus Flevit ("the Lord weeps"). After viewing the Golden Gate, we walk downhill to Gethsemane, where we take time to meditate on the Gospel text. Then we drive to Mt. Zion: to the grounds of a church called Peter in Gallicantu, which affords the best view of early Jerusalem from the west. Here, the Assumptionist Fathers propose, was the house where the High Priest Caiaphas interrogated Jesus.
Driving south, we visit Solomon's Pools, Jerusalem's main source of water for almost 2000 years. Passing the monastery of Hortus Conclusus ("the sealed garden") in Artas, we go to Shepherds' Fields. We conclude the day with a visit to Bethlehem, walking through its alleys and markets to the Church of the Nativity. Jerusalem or Bethlehem for overnight.
DAY 06: FREE MORNING - AFTERNOON DEAD SEA - MASADA - JERUSALEM
(Assumed to be a Sunday) The morning is free, whether for worship or to explore Jerusalem on your own. (Worship services.) In the early afternoon, we drive through the Judaean desert to Qumran. Here we view Cave # 4, which contained the greatest quantity of Dead Sea scrolls. We continue south to Masada. We take the cable car to the top, visiting Herod's mountain bunker and the last stronghold of the Jewish revolt against Rome (66-73 AD). We conclude the day with a float in the Dead Sea, then return to Jerusalem. Jerusalem or Bethlehem for overnight.
DAY 07: FULL DAY VISIT OLD JERUSALEM
We visit the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site. (Bar Mitzvah ceremonies take place on Mondays and Thursdays.) We ascend to the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site of Islam, located on the traditional site of the ancient Temple Mount.
We then walk the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We drive to the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, at the Israel Museum. There we also survey an open-air model of Jerusalem, representing the city on the eve of the first revolt against, 36 years after the Passion of Jesus. Jerusalem or Bethlehem for overnight.
DAY 08: DEPARTURE
We drive to the airport for departure.