Recommended Holyland (15 days / 14 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 your hotel in Tel Aviv or Nethanya for overnight.
DAY 02: CAESAREA MARITIMA - MT. CARMEL - MEGIDDO - LAKE OF GALILEE
We enter Caesarea Maritima to explore its harbor, Sebastos, and the rest of this 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 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
A day around the Sea of Galilee. Depart for the Yarmuk River and ascend the Aphek Plateau for an unobstructed view of the lake from the east. Visit the Mt. of Beatitudes (Matthew 5-7), then the black basalt city of Chorazin. After lunch (optional St. Peter's fish) we will drive to Tabgha and Capernaum . Then we shall view the remains of a fishing boat from Jesus' day. From here we shall spend an hour on the lake in a wooden boat modeled after the one we have seen. Nazareth or Tiberias for overnight.
DAY 04: SEPPHORIS - NAZARETH - FREE AFTERNOON TO SWIM IN THE SEA OF GALILEE
We start with Sepphoris, a stunning example of a mixed (Jewish-Gentile) city; it was the capital of Galilee when Jesus was growing to manhood four miles away in Nazareth. Lunch. We then proceed to his town, visiting Mary's Well (the chief springs of the ancient village). We shall proceed to a view from the Nazareth ridge over the Jezreel Plain, recalling stories from both Testaments (Luke 4 and Judges 4). We then return to the lake for a few free hours in the afternoon with an opportunity to swim in the Sea of Galilee. Nazareth or Tiberias for overnight.
DAY 05: HAZOR - CAESAREA PHILIPPI - GOLAN HEIGHTS
After a brief stop at Hazor, the land's biggest Canaanite city, we drive to Tell Dan. Here we shall walk through the nature reserve to the headwaters of the Jordan, then visit the ruins, including the high place built by Jeroboam, son of Nebat (I Kings 12). We then proceed to Caesarea Philippi (Banias), recounting Peter's Confession (Matthew 16) at the foot of Mt. Hermon. We walk through the ruins of Agrippa's Palace. Nearby at Kibbutz HaGoshrim (except in winter) we shall have a chance to experience the Jordan in another way, letting its current carry us in rubber boats. (Some may prefer instead to use the kibbutz swimming pool for a fee.). We return to our lodging via the Golan Heights. Nazareth or Tiberias for overnight.
DAY 06: BETH SHEAN - JEZREEL VALLEY - BEERSHEBA
We visit Beth Shean, viewing the ruins of Roman Scythopolis, under which name it served as capital for the Roman Decapolis. Above the mighty Roman ruins is the tell, on which we shall stand to view the setting for the last days of Saul. (I Samuel 28 - 31). After lunch we shall drive up the Jezreel Valley to the tell of Jezreel, standing where Saul stood when he surveyed the Philistine army on the Hill of Moreh. We shall also recall here the story of Naboth's Vineyard and Jezebel's fate, as prophesied by Elijah. We shall then gird up our loins and drive to Beersheba in the Negev desert, where we shall spend the night.
DAY 07: BEERSHEBA - ZIN DESERT - EIN AVDAT - BEERSHEBA
A day in the Negev. We start with a visit at Abraham's Well in Beersheba. We then drive south to view the stupendous wilderness of Zin. From here we shall drive, then walk, to the spring of Avdat (Ein Avdat), an oasis in the desert. (We can include an uphill climb for those who wish.) Then we visit the well-preserved desert city of Avdat, founded by Nabatean Arabs and developed by the Byzantines. We overnight again in Beersheba.
DAY 08: TEL ARAD - MASADA - DEAD SEA - JERUSALEM
We visit the ruins of the ancient Israelite temple at Tel Arad. We then continue to Masada, which includes, amid Herodian grandeur, the last days of the Jewish revolt against Rome. After lunch and a swim in the Dead Sea, we drive up to Mount Scopus in Jerusalem to look at the city as pilgrims to the Temple once did. Lodge in Jerusalem. Jerusalem or Bethlehem for overnight.
DAY 09: FULL DAY JERUSALEM
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. After lunch, we shall visit St Anne's, a medieval church with remarkable acoustics, and the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed one who had been ill for 38 years. We continue on the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa), which culminates at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Jerusalem or Bethlehem for overnight.
DAY 10: JERUSALEM - EIN GEDI - JERICHO - JERUSALEM
Today we shall drive to beautiful Ein Gedi and hike up to the waterfall. From there we will backtrack to Qumran for a visit to the site and a look at one of the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. We finish with a visit to Jericho. Jerusalem or Bethlehem for overnight.
DAY 11: FREE DAY JERUSALEM
Free day in Jerusalem. Jerusalem or Bethlehem for overnight.
DAY 12: JERUSALEM
We visit the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site. We walk through an archaeological tunnel, exploring the full length of the Herodian Temple wall. From here we shall go to the grounds of Peter in Gallicantu for an excellent view of the original Jerusalem. Then on to Mt. Zion, City of David, Warren's shaft, and Hezekiah's Tunnel. Jerusalem or Bethlehem for overnight.
DAY 13: JERUSALEM - BETHLEHEM
We ascend to the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, located on the traditional site of the ancient Temple Mount. We then explore the Jewish Quarter excavations, including the Byzantine main street (Cardo) and the Broad Wall of King Hezekiah. We follow this with the Ophel excavations. After lunch, we go on to Bethlehem. Jerusalem or Bethlehem for overnight.
DAY 14: VISIT TO NEW JERUSALEM
After communion at the Garden Tomb, we proceed to the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are kept. There we also survey the outdoor model of Jerusalem (scale 1:50), as it may have looked in 66 AD, just before the Jewish revolt against Rome. Lunch. Then to the Holocaust Museum, Yad Va Shem. Jerusalem or Bethlehem for overnight.
DAY 15: DEPARTURE
We drive to the airport for departure.