Thousands of sightseers view the land of the bible through the window of a tour bus. A few seek a deeper experience. If you are among the latter group (or know someone who is), I invite you to try Galilee on foot. There is no better way to slow down and appreciate the natural beauty of the Heartland. For those who are veterans of a standard study- or pilgrimage-tour, this may be the perfect way to build upon that previous experience.
In January of 2017 we leave the crowds behind and traverse the hills of Lower Galilee along a marked path known as the "Jesus Trail." Starting in Jesus's boyhood home in Nazareth, we walk to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The hike is strenuous at times, but cool, and possibly even wet in the winter. We have the support of a dedicated vehicle to help with gear and other logistics. The good folks from the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies (and their parent company, Educational Opportunities) stand behind all arrangements.
Along the way sites from many periods of history are encountered. At each place (as well as along the trail!) we lean into the archaeological and biblical story.
While subject to change, our itinerary is as follows:
Day 1 - Tuesday (Jan 3) Departure.
Depart the USA for an overnight flight to Tel Aviv.
Day 2 - Wednesday (Jan 4) Arrival.
Arrive in Tel Aviv. Transfer to Kibbutz Lavi for dinner and overnight.
Day 3 - Thursday (Jan 5) Hike from Nazareth to Sepphoris (about 5 miles)
We begin our hike in Nazareth, Jesus's hometown. From here, we cross a ridge to Sepphoris and explore the ruins of this Roman capital of Galilee. Sepphoris is remembered as the traditional birthplace of Mary and a place where Joseph and a young Jesus possibly labored. We return to Kibbutz Lavi by vehicle for dinner and overnight.
Day 4 - Friday (Jan 6) Hike from Kibbutz Lavi to Moshav Arbel (about 10 miles).
After breakfast, we walk across expansive fields to the Horns of Hattin, a twin peak where the Crusader forces suffered defeat in 1187. After enjoying the spectacular view, we continue down the ancient volcano to Nebi Shueib, the Druze shrine to Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses. Here, we stop and explore before continuing through the Arab village of Hittin destroyed during Israel's war of Independence in 1948. Along the way we admire the olive trees and arrive at Moshav Arbel. In this place, perched high above the Sea of Galilee, a 4th-century synagogue still stands. After a strenuous day of walking, transport will carry us back to Kibbutz Lavi for a comfortable rest, dinner, and overnight.
Day 5 - Saturday (Jan 7) Hike from Mt Arbel to Capernaum (about 10 miles).
We begin at the summit of Mt Arbel with a stunning view to the Sea of Galilee. From here, the trail descends into a canyon pathway taken by many travelers, possibly including Jesus and his disciples. We skirt the edge of the Sea of Galilee to the ruins of Tabgha and Capernaum and in each place, stand on the ruins to contemplate their significance. Be aware that the hike on this day includes some serious downhills and scree scrambles. We then travel by bus to Tiberias for dinner and overnight in a new hotel.
Day 6 - Sunday (Jan 8) Jordan Valley.
All site visits on this day are accomplished by bus. We travel the Jordan Valley from Tiberias to Jericho. A stop is made at Qasr el-Yehud and we soak our feet in the Jordan River. We then climb the mound of ancient Jericho and explore what is left of this ancient Canaanite center. From Jericho, we traverse the Wilderness of Judea and arrive in Bethlehem to visit the traditional site where Christ was born. Dinner and overnight are adjacent to Old City of Jerusalem.
Day 7 - Monday (Jan 9) Jerusalem.
On this day we enter and explore the old city of Jerusalem on foot. Sites of interest include the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Via Dolorosa, Western Wall, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. After a busy day, we return to hotel for dinner. Depending on the flight schedule, the group with either overnight in Jerusalem or transfer to Tel Aviv for a late night flight home.
Day 8 - Tuesday (Jan 10) Return to USA.
This program is sponsored by The Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies, an interdenominational study center with offices in Lakeland, Florida (www.JCBS.org). Price includes the basic tour and guided sightseeing, roundtrip airfare from New York (JFK), fuel surcharges and government taxes, administration fees, entrance fees, hotel gratuities and program fees, continental breakfast and dinner daily, box lunches on hike days, deluxe motorcoach, first class hotels.
The trip will be limited to 20 participants.
Email me at email@example.com for questions about logistics, sites, or travel on the ground.
For pricing, hotels, and other details, contact the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies. You may access the brochure and registration form here or email Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you will join us!