This tour mixes study with hiking and adventure. It includes several nights in sleeping bags under the open sky, but with slight alterations we can design the itinerary using only hotels, according to the season and the wishes of the group. We present here the optimal nature-study tour: it can of course be shortened. A further note: Some prefer to reverse the order in this itinerary, starting in Galilee and finishing in Petra. This has the advantage of leaving the most spectacular vistas till the end – working backwards, roughly speaking, in chronology.
Arrival in Amman, capital of Jordan. (Hotel)
A visit to Mount Nebo, from which God showed Moses the Promised Land. Following the ancientKing’s Highway, we drive on to Petra. Preliminary tour.
We spend most of the day in Petra, where the Nabatean Arabs carved temples and monuments out of the multi-colored sandstone, such as the “Deir” on the left. We continue to Wadi Rum, where we overnight in sleeping bags under the open sky.
A day of hiking in Wadi Rum , whose fame goes back not merely to Lawrence of Arabia and the Hashemite Beduin, but deeper into biblical history. For this was the heartland of Midian, which played a crucial part in early Israel’s faith: Exodus2:15; 3: 1-14; 18. In the late afternoon we continue to Aqaba .
We boat across the Red Sea to Nueba in the Sinai Peninsula. Here we meet a new guide, with jeeps for the group. We drive to the oasis of En Hudra. Then we hike for about two hours through the “White Canyon.” We sleep outdoors.
We drive to the area of the Monastery of Saint Catherine in Sinai. From here we climb Mount Moses on foot, accompanied by Beduin whose camels will carry our baggage. We sleep beneath the summit in a mountain valley named after Elijah. From here we can easily climb to the top.
We descend to the Monastery and visit it (in modest dress). We take the rest of the day for relaxation in Nueba, with possibilities of swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. In the late afternoon we drive to the border and cross to Eilat in Israel.
We drive through the central Negevdesert, including Maktesh Ramon, to the area of Avdat and Sde Boker. We hike through Nahal Havarim, finishing at Ein Avdat. Overnight outdoors at a nearby campsite.
With the help of a four-wheel drive vehicle, we spend the next day hiking and bathing above the Zin river bed. Return to campsite.
We drive to Tel Arad for a look at the remains of an ancient Israelite temple. We continue to Masada. Here we climb the Roman ramp, tour the site and hear its story, then descend by the Snake Path, bathe in the Dead Sea and lodge in a nearby youth hostel or a hotel.
A four-hour hike in Ein Gedi: the Arugot River with its waterfall. We drive to Qumran for a brief visit, then to Jericho and on to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives. Foot descent. A visit at Gethsemane. Then we cross the Kidron Valley, passing Absalom’s Monument, to the Gihon Spring and Hezekiah’s Tunnel at the foot of the first Jerusalem. Here we walk for 1700 feet in knee-deep water to the Pool of Siloam (John 9). We then ascend the City of David to the Ophel excavations and the Temple steps from Jesus’ time. We proceed by bus to Bethlehem, walking through the old town to the Church of the Nativity. (Return to Jerusalem hotel.)
We begin with an early morning visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We walk through the bazaars, cross the central valley, and visit the Western Wall. We then ascend the “mountain of the Lord” (Temple Mount), visiting the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque. We continue to St. Anne’s Church and the Pools of Bethesda. Outside the Lion’s (or Stephen’s) Gate, we board the bus, which takes us to the New City. Here we shall visit the Shrine of the Book (containing the Dead Sea scrolls) at the Israel Museum, as well as an outdoor model of Jerusalem as the city may have looked in 66 AD.. We conclude the day at Yad Va Shem, the Holocaust memorial.
A free day in Jerusalem.
The heart of the Holy Land: conditions permitting, we visit Nablus (Shechem), Jacob’s Well, and Samaria-Sebastia. We then drive through the Jezreel Plain to Nazareth. (Hotel)
Visits in Nazareth and a view from the ridge toward Mt. Tabor. We visit the excavations at Sepphorisand finish the day with a hike down the Arbel cliff to the Sea of Galilee. Here we lodge in a guest house.
The Sea of Galilee: Panorama of the entire lake from the Golan Heights. Mt. of Beatitudes. We descend the Mount to the lake. Tabgha. On to Capernaum. After lunch we take a boat trip on the lake. The rest of the day is free.
Passing Hazor, we drive to one of the main tributaries of the Jordan and float down it in kayaks or inner tubes (about 90 minutes in water). We then hike through the nature reserve at Tell Dan to the Jordan’s largest spring, afterwards visiting an ancient Israelite high place. We continue to Caesarea Philippi (Banias), another major spring, and then drive back to our lodging via the Golan Heights. (In winter, when we cannot float down the Jordan, we substitute a hike at Gamla or the Zvitan River, both on the Golan.)
We start at Beth Shean, climbing the tell for the story of the death of Saul. We cross the Plain of Jezreel to Megiddo for a visit. Then on to Caesarea Maritima for a tour of the hippodrome and a view over the ruins of Herod’s harbor. Hotel on the Sharon Plain.
Departure from the Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv.