Jesus Trail 2019

Millions of tourists come to Israel-Palestine every year. They crowd onto busses and move en masse from one site to another. They strain to understand the chirp of local guides. They struggle to perch on the same rock in order to get “the” picture. They flutter from site to site. And then comes the shopping. Oh, the shopping! The program is full. The program is king.

Jesus Trail hikers near Karei Deshe.

Jesus Trail hikers near Karei Deshe.

Fortunately, there are other ways to experience the biblical Heartland. One of them is to hike the Jesus Trail. Unlike the turnpike of millions, the Jesus Trail is the road less traveled. Here the groups are small, the pace is slow, and the priorities are different.

Urban landscapes are an integral part of the Jesus Trail. These offer opportunities to interact with village life and support the local economy. Pictured here is the village of Mashhad, the traditional home of Jonah the Old Testament prophet.

Urban landscapes are an integral part of the Jesus Trail. These offer opportunities to interact with village life and support the local economy. Pictured here is the village of Mashhad, the traditional home of Jonah the Old Testament prophet.

The Jesus Trail is a 65-kilometer hiking path across Galilee. It draws its name from the association between many of the sites along its flank and the narrative of the Gospels. The path begins in Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus and concludes in Capernaum, the base of his Galilean ministry. Between these end points are a variety of rural and urban landscapes. There are open pastures, banana and mango fields, archaeological sites, Jewish kibbutzes, Arab villages, cows, sheep, birds, and Christian churches aplenty.

Susan Ruth captured this wonderful image of a hoopoe on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Susan Ruth captured this wonderful image of a hoopoe on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Nine Bible Land Explorers from five states headed for Tel Aviv at the start of 2019 to give it a go. They came with hats on their heads, cameras in their hands, and packs on their backs. January weather in Galilee can be unpredictable. Sun, rain, hail, and snow are possible; all can happen on the same day.

This year there also happened to be some significant mud.

Local flooding forced a few detours.

Local flooding forced a few detours.

Heavy rain in the days leading up to our trail walk created some flooding and *ahem* some “wet-sediment challenges.” Portions of the trail were blocked due to high water. Arriving early and scouting the trail once in advance of the group’s arrival gave me the opportunity to do a little risk management.

Fortunately, that rain disappeared the day the group arrived. We had only to deal with its aftermath.

The Sea of Galilee was muddy and stirred.

The Sea of Galilee was muddy and stirred.

For all our winter walkers, a hearty dinner and a dry bed were appreciated each night. The Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies housed us comfortably in the guest quarters at Kibbutz Lavi and in the Royal Plaza in Tiberias.

Hunting meals outside of the hotel scene offers a vibrant and authentic experience.

Hunting meals outside of the hotel scene offers a vibrant and authentic experience.

Prior to walking the Jesus Trail, our group spent one day site-seeing at Caesarea-by-the-Sea, Mount Carmel, and Megiddo.

Following our walk, we continued south by bus and explored Jerusalem and Bethlehem before returning to the USA.

All in all it was a damp but rewarding experience.

An email recently appeared in my inbox. “Thanks again for the trip of a lifetime. I can’t believe I am feeling the pull to go back already.”

Let’s go! Discover the place where faith begins!

Visiting the church at Tabgha, a Byzantine site commemorating Jesus’s miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes.

Visiting the church at Tabgha, a Byzantine site commemorating Jesus’s miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes.


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Our next adventure is slated for March 12-23, 2019. We’ll be doing a study-tour in Israel-Palestine with Master’s-level students enrolled in Johnson University’s residency program. I’m already excited. Student trips are always fast-paced, high-energy, and full of great conversation.

For a complete list of travel opportunities in 2019, see our schedule here. You may also contact me at markziese@gmail.com for more details.