Walking Israel…More than a Pilgrimage

October 30-November 9, 2018 • 11 Days – 2 SPOTS!

20–25 travelers: $3,400
26–30 travelers: $3,200

Explore Israel on foot! We start and finish in Tel Aviv, taking in an abundance of historical and Biblical sites within this exotic, bewildering, and enchanting land!

Jordan & Petra Extension

November 9-14, 2018 • 6 Days • $1750

Including walks and activities in Petra, Aqaba and Wadi Rum.

View Daily Itinerary

The Israel & Jordan 2018 tour is offered in conjunction with the Milwaukie Christian Church family.

Expect to be challenged by the breadth of historical periods that overlap each other in a seemingly endless chain of tribes, conquerors, and kingdoms. You’ll probably be surprised by Israel’s flora and fauna and the verdant green spaces of Galilee and Golan in the north. And it’s difficult not to be impressed by the deserts of the south at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered; at Ein Gedi, where David hid from King Saul; and at Masada, the “Alamo” of the Jewish world.

In addition to preparing for a massive dose of sensory overload, expect to be surprised by the difference between your experience in Israel and Jordan and preconceptions we all have about the Middle East and Israel. Layers of history and culture overlap in this ancient and storied part of the planet. Peeling them back to find the reality hiding beneath the perception is never more intriguing than in Israel!

The trip is offered in two parts. The main program is Walking Israel…More than a Pilgrimage, eleven days of exploring Israel that start and finish at Tel Aviv International Airport. We strongly suggest continuing on for the optional Jordan & Petra Extension. Jordan is truly an integral part of “the Holy Land” with ancient connections to the Exodus out of Egypt led by Moses, and the following centuries of dramatic history leading up to the birth of Christ. It is also the site of the most dramatic walks and scenery of this program.

We are smitten with Israel and Jordan and suspect you will be too!

Walking Israel

Including:

  • Airport to hotel group transfers on first and last day
  • Tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
  • All land travel as outlined
  • 20 meals: All breakfasts, 9 dinners, and 1 lunch as listed (BLD)
  • All listed walks
  • Fees for walking credit (if IVV approved)
  • Cultural & historical expertise of our national guide throughout program
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • All tipping for national guide and coach drivers
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. Single rooms are available for a supplement of $790.

Activities/Visits to:

  • Caesarea National Park
  • Special lunch in a Druze home
  • Mukhraka Monastery
  • Tsipori National Park
  • Nazareth Village living history project
  • Arbel National Park
  • Jesus Boat Museum
  • Capernaum National Park
  • Sea of Galilee cruise
  • Tel Dan National Park
  • Hermon National Park (Caesarea Philippi)
  • Gamla Nature Reserve
  • Beit She’an National Park
  • Qumran National Park
  • Dead Sea beach
  • Masada National Park
  • Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
  • Chapel of the Ascension (Mt. of Olives)
  • Pater Noster Church (Mt. of Olives)
  • City of David National Park and Hezekiah’s Tunnel
  • Yad Vashem holocaust museum
  • Jerusalem Ramparts
  • Jerusalem Archeological Park – Davidson Center
  • Western Wall Tunnel
  • Israel Museum – Shrine of the Book
  • More fun and educational stops than we can list!

Jordan & Petra Extension

Including:

  • Group airport transfer on last day
  • All land travel by motorcoach as outlined
  • Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
  • 12 meals: All breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 5 dinners as denoted (BLD)
  • All listed walks
  • Fees for walking credit (if IVV approved)
  • Cultural & historical expertise of national guide and local guides throughout program
  • WAI guide service throughout
  • All tipping for national guide, local guides, and coach drivers
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. Single rooms are available for a supplement of $230.

Activities/Visits to:

  • Mount Nebo
  • Karak Castle – Karak
  • Petra Archeological Park
  • 4×4 jeep transport with guide – Wadi Rum
  • Jordan River – site of Jesus’ Baptism
  • More fun and educational stops than we can list!

Optional Excursions:

  • Camel ride – Wadi Rum (Day 4) – Estimated price: $35
  • Pharaoh’s Island with snorkeling – Red Sea (Day 5) – Estimated price: $75

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

Important Info

Group Size

25-30 travelers

Hotels

Strategically located Tourist Class hotels or better

Meals

Breakfasts included with a selection of lunches and dinners. Letters BLD indicate which meals are included.

Airfare

Not Included. Official start and finish point is the Tel Aviv airport.

Transportation

Included. We use full-size motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 45+ seats.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Your Guides

Guide Dan Friesen

Dan Friesen has been guiding tours for over 20 years on all 7 continents. He has hiked the Great Wall of China, hobnobbed with penguins in Antarctica, felt the spray of Iguazu Falls in Brazil, yodeled from the heights of the Swiss Alps, and walked the ruins of majestic Machu Picchu. Dan will be leading this tour along with Russ Isom.

Guide Russ Isom

Russ Isom has been the pastor at Milwaukie Christian Church for over 39 years. Russ has guided Walking Adventures trips as well as church groups in Israel and will be assisting Dan on this tour.

Guide Ran Ortner

Ran Ortner has guided our tours to Israel multiple times and offers a wealth of knowledge and background into the Israeli history and culture. Ran will accompany our group, offering lectures and insights along the way. Ran lives in a suburb of Tel Aviv. He has just completed his doctorate program in an area of study involving 1st century conflicts between Judea and the Roman Empire.

Itinerary

Walking Israel

DAY 1-Oct 30: Arrive Tel Aviv, Israel (D)

Travelers arrive throughout the day into the Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport, where you are greeted by a representative of WAI and transferred to our hotel located just two blocks from the Mediterranean Sea. Travelers who arrived a day early (yesterday) may participate today in an optional walking event along the seaside promenade to the ancient port of Jaffa (Joppa). In Jaffa, King Solomon imported cedars from Lebanon to build Jerusalem’s First Temple. Here as well, the Apostle Peter received a vision of Gentile equality with Jews. The only official activity for today is a “get acquainted” dinner.

DAY 2-Oct 31: Tel Aviv to Nazareth (BLD)

Caesarea Walk – 3 miles, rated 1C

From a trio of ancient aqueducts we walk south, with sweeping views of the Mediterranean into the ruins of 1st century Caesarea, now a national park. Numerous New Testament events took place in Herod the Great’s impressive port city, including Peter’s presentation of the Gospel to the household of  Cornelius, the Roman centurion. Stately remnants of the Crusader era give way as we walk to the impressive hippodrome and amphitheater. A delicious lunch on nearby Mount Carmel in a Druze home provides insight into this mysterious Arabic culture combining elements of all three monotheistic religions. The afternoon stop takes us to Mukhraka Monastery, which commemorates the duel between the Old Testament prophet, Elijah, and 450 prophets of the pagan god, Baal. Our home for the next two nights is Nazareth, in a rustic 200-year-old Arab mansion!

DAY 3-Nov 1: Activities from Nazareth (BD)

Jesus Trail to Cana Walk – 6 miles, rated 3C

We walk in Jesus’ footsteps today. Tsipori is the remarkable excavation of the hometown of Jesus’ mother, Mary. After exploring the ruins of Tsipori, we continue along Galilean hills, through an Arab village, arriving at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine at a local wedding – his first public miracle. Following lunch in Cana, we return to Nazareth Village, a living history museum, operated by Messianic Jews, that brings the biblical-era to life, and provides us with a biblical-era dinner!

DAY 4-Nov 2: Nazareth to Sea of Galilee (BD)

Mount Arbel Walk – 2 miles, rated 2C
Beatitudes to Capernaum Walk – 3 miles, rated 2B

Mount Arbel offers dramatic panoramas over the Sea of Galilee with an equally dramatic story of extreme Jewish resistance to Herod the Great, told by Jewish historian Josephus. We lunch at the Jesus Boat Museum, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and visit a 2000-year-old fishing boat carefully preserved and displayed here. Today’s main walk starts at nearby Mount of Beatitudes, likely site of Jesus’ most familiar teachings, the Beatitudes, also called the Sermon on the Mount. The route takes us along the shores of Galilee to ancient Capernaum. Jesus spent the great majority of his public ministry around the Sea of Galilee. This afternoon we sail across this freshwater lake from Capernaum to Ginosar, where we spend the next two nights at a kibbutz hotel on the western shore of Galilee.

DAY 5-Nov 3: Activities in Golan Area (BD)

Tel Dan Walk – 1 mile, rated 1B
Jordan Headwaters Walk – 2 miles, rated 2C
Gamla Nature Walk – 3 miles, rated 3C

North of Galilee, in the Golan Heights, our first walk passes through a 3000-year-old Israelite gate from the time of King Jeroboam and enters the Tel Dan archeological site to a high place of sacrifice and an overlook into Lebanon. Next, we visit the headwaters of the Jordan, marked by an intriguing ruin also known as Caesarea Philippi. Here, challenged by Jesus’ question, “Who do men say that I am?” Peter became the first of the apostles to affirm Jesus as Messiah. Further south, the national park of Gamla offers both historic intrigue and natural wonder. An epic battle between Jewish rebels and Roman legions in AD 67 ultimately led to the devastation of Jerusalem foretold by Jesus. From the viewpoint over the long lost ruins of Gamla, where you can almost hear the sounds of the battle, we walk along a breathtaking canyon known for its jackal population and soaring griffin vultures.

DAY 6-Nov 4: Sea of Galilee to Dead Sea (BD)

King Saul & Jonathan Walk – 1.5 miles, rated 2B (unsanctioned)

Heading south, our first stop is the ancient city of Beit She’an, claiming 20 different eras of occupation. Before dropping down to the Roman-era ruins, we climb the Philistine Tel, where victorious Philistines displayed the bodies of King Saul and his sons after their defeat on nearby Mount Gilboa. Further south, we visit a parched desert at Qumran, where a Bedouin shepherd boy discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. The find sent tremors through the archeological world and lent immeasurable weight to the authenticity of the Bible and its record of Jewish history. The day ends early at a Dead Sea resort in Ein Bokek with time for a spa treatment or a relaxing, unsinkable soak in the soothing waters at this lowest spot on earth!

DAY 7-Nov 5: Dead Sea - Jerusalem (BD)

Masada Snake Path Walk – 1.3 miles, rated 3B (OPTIONAL)
Ein Gedi David Waterfall Walk – 1.3 miles, rated 2C

Masada is another masterpiece of Herod the Great– a mountaintop citadel/playground captured by rebelling Jews in AD 66, at the beginning of the First Jewish-Roman War. To reach the top, either climb the ancient, winding Snake Path, or ride the 21st century gondola. In an epic setting, we learn of the epic siege that ended tragically in self-inflicted death for the Jewish defenders. Our second walk intersects the wanderings of King Saul again, this time at Ein Gedi, as we walk along a stream past lovely waterfalls below the caves where Saul hunted in vain for his son-in-law, fugitive and future king, David. Returning north, we end the day just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem in a hotel that will be our home for the next four nights.

DAY 8-Nov 6: 1st Day of Activities in Jerusalem (B)

Jerusalem Footsteps of Jesus Walk – 3 miles, rated 2B
City of David Hezekiah’s Tunnel Walk – 1.3 miles, rated 2C

Today’s memorable walk begins at the Mount of Olives with sweeping views over Jerusalem. From here, we trace a trail of tears along a network of legendary sites connected with Jesus’ last days. Most prominent are the Sanctuary of Dominus Flevit (commemorating Jesus weeping over Jerusalem’s future destruction) and the Garden of Gethsemane. Upon entering the Old City through the Lion’s Gate, we continue through the Muslim Quarter on Via Dolorosa, the Way of Suffering, a historically dubious route to Golgotha marked out by medieval Franciscan Catholics. The route is thought-provoking, nevertheless, and takes us through Jerusalem’s evocative, winding, cobblestone streets to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, culmination of our route and focal point of human history. Most archeologists believe this to be at or near the likely site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and, resurrection. Join us this afternoon for a visit to the City of David National Park. Here, where David first took Jerusalem from the Jebusites, we descend below ground. The wet route splashes through the dark, water-filled (up to your calves) 2700-year-old tunnel built by King Hezekiah as a secret water channel prior to the Assyrian siege. A dry route that shares the historical value of the experience is also available.

DAY 9-Nov 7: 2nd Day of Activities in Jerusalem (BD)

Bethlehem Manger Walk – 2 miles, rated 1B (unsanctioned)

We begin our day with a short, six mile drive south to Bethlehem, in the Palestinian West Bank. A walk through old Bethlehem takes us to Manger Square, where we enter the Church of the Nativity, memorializing the birth of Jesus. Our next stop explores a network of caves overlooking fields where shepherds may have “watched their flocks by night”. Following a cultural lunch experience in Bethlehem, a Palestinian town, join us for an excursion to Yad Vashem, an unforgettable holocaust museum and memorial in West Jerusalem. The evening continues with a high-tech Sound and Light show magically projected on the crumbling shapes of the ruins of the Tower of David. Dinner is nearby in a historic old building in the Armenian Quarter of Old Jerusalem.

DAY 10-Nov 8: 3rd Day of Activities in Jerusalem (B)

Jerusalem Ramparts & Western Wall Walk – 2.5 miles, rated 2C

This unique day exploring both above and below the Old City begins with a walk along the ramparts, built in the 16th century by Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. We start at the Jaffa Gate and exit at the Zion Gate, walking through the Jewish Quarter to the Jerusalem Archeological Park (Davidson Center) to review what we have learned about this incredible city. Timelines and short films illustrate the various periods of history. Following a break for lunch, we visit the Western Wall, holiest site in Judaism, absorbing the significance of this place of Jewish worship, backed by the Muslim-controlled Temple Mount. From the Wall, we descend into a tunnel that runs along the lowest courses of the Western Wall of Herod’s Temple. Our route takes us below the Muslim Quarter, adjacent to the spot in the Temple where the Holy of Holies had been.

DAY 11-Nov 9: Depart from Jerusalem (BD)

We begin our day with an ascent to the Temple Mount (condition permitting), holy to both Islam and Judaism as the site of Mt. Moriah, where Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac; Solomon’s Temple and the Second Temple of Herod; Mohammed’s Night Journey to Heaven; Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s oldest and most sacred; and Dome of the Rock, built over the spot from which it is said Mohammed ascended to Heaven on his Night Journey. Next, we visit the Garden Tomb, an alternative site of the tomb and resurrection of Jesus just north of the city walls. The Garden Tomb complex contains a tomb from the 1st century period and, unlike the crowded and overly decorated Church of the Holy Sepulcher, evokes a sense of the peace, power, and purpose we associate with the resurrection of Jesus. Our last stop is the Israel Museum, often referred to as the Shrine of the Book for the Dead Sea Scrolls that are reverently displayed here. Later, a farewell dinner prepares us for late evening flights to North America.

Our journey through the Holy Land is complete, but the impact of what we have experienced will linger long.

Jordan & Petra Extension

DAY 1-Nov 9: Overnight Jerusalem (BD)

After a full day in Jerusalem on the last day of Walking Israel, we overnight in a nearby hotel in preparation for tomorrow’s fascinating foray across the Jordan River into the land of Jordan. Surprises await us in this land held in biblical times by Edom, descendants of Esau, and Moab and Ammon, descendants of the sons of Lot by his daughters.

DAY 2-Nov 10: Jerusalem to Petra, Jordan (BLD)

Departing from Jerusalem, we cross the border into Jordan and view the “Promised Land” from Mount Nebo, final resting place of Moses. The King’s Highway takes us down an ancient route once used by caravans, Roman legions, and Hebrews en route from Egypt, to the ancient city of Karak. After wandering through the evocative crusader fortress there, we continue to Petra, in preparation for an unforgettable trek through the Rose Red City tomorrow.

DAY 3-Nov 11: Activities in Petra (BD)

Rose Red City of Petra Walk – 7 miles, rated 2C

A full day is allotted to roaming the Rose Red City of Petra. This breathtaking collection of sandstone formations with hues of red, yellow, gray, and orange was carved into magnificent facades by wealthy Nabatean merchants 2000 years ago to serve as tombs for their nobles. Add-on routes offer energetic travelers additional sites and views of the valley that will long linger in our memories.

DAY 4-Nov 12: Petra to Aqaba (BLD)

Wadi Rum Desert Lawrence of Arabia Walk – 5 miles, rated 1C

Leaving Petra, we enter the stark beauty of a desert world once used by Lawrence of Arabia to rally Arabs against the fading power of the Turks. The expedition begins with an optional camel ride (Estimated price: $35), followed by a combination of walking and jeep rides with local Bedouin guides. Stunning panoramas of multi-colored monoliths against grain-colored waves of sand and bright blue desert sky are no less impressive than the timeless scenes of Petra! A memorable Bedouin feast in a desert camp precedes our return to “civilization” in Aqaba.

DAY 5-Nov 13: Activities in Aqaba (BD)

After many busy days, enjoy a day off to stroll and window-shop!

Or join us for an optional excursion into the Red Sea to Pharaoh’s Island to see yet another face of this corner of the Middle East. Home to a well-preserved crusader castle captured by the able Muslim general Saladin, Pharaoh’s Island also offers a chance to snorkel amongst the Red Sea’s famed underwater coral and sea life. Estimated price: $75

Back in Aqaba this evening, we celebrate our Adventure in Jordan at the Farewell Dinner.

DAY 6-Nov 14: Depart from Aqaba (BD)

The Adventure comes to a close today as we make our way north with more memorable vistas along Jordanian coast of the Dead Sea. A last visit in Jordan takes us to the Jordan River site proclaimed as the place where Jesus ministry officially began with a baptism by his cousin, John, the Baptist. Crossing back into Israel, we have dinner together then continue to the Tel Aviv airport for an evening flight. We return to North America with a changed perspective, and a clearer context in which to understand the Bible, ancient pillar of Western civilization, as well as current headlines in modern newspapers and news websites.

More Details

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

Call or mail in your registration ($500) to save your spot! A maximum of 30 travelers will be accepted on this Adventure.

General Tour Conditions and Registration Forms

To finalize your official registration, a completed and signed copy of the Registration Form is necessary. Please be sure to read all the fun stuff (the fine print) in the General Tour Conditions!

Tour Discounts

Because this tour has been offered in conjunction with Milwaukie Christian Church, the price has been previously discounted and no additional special offers are available for this Adventure.

How is airfare arranged?

The official start and finish point for this Adventure is the Tel Aviv airport in Israel. The Jordan & Petra Extension also returns to the Tel Aviv airport to fly home. Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving the Adventure Advice flyer, which will be mailed to you upon registration! The Adventure Advice flyer outlines the timing of when to book your flights and how airport-hotel transfers will take place. You may also consider arriving into Israel early: WAI will help with booking one extra night for those who choose. Arriving early has several advantages, including the participation on an optional walk down to Joppa.

Travel Insurance

WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Debbi Custer of World Travel Inc., a travel agent who provides air travel services to many WAI travelers, can provide travel insurance options for your WAI tour as well as your airfare (email [email protected] -OR- call 888-276-0925 / 503-231-9507). For those of you who purchase airfare through Debbi, purchasing your travel insurance from her as well may be the simplest option. As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the Insuremytrip.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.

Other options include:

  • Allianz
  • Travel Guard
  • Travel Insured International

We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). In addition, be aware that some travel insurance policies contain time-sensitive provisions—i.e. some benefits are available only if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days of the purchase of the travel package.

A word about risk

The WAI philosophy of travel often clashes with certain aspects of modern journalism. The oxymoronic union between reporting and marketing has produced a “tabloid” mentality where “news” that stokes the emotions is often the unfortunate result.

Israel is admittedly the epicenter of conflict between Arabs and Jews, which has broadened to include non-Arab Muslims. Hard things have happened in this part of the world. Violence occurs. The violence that occurs in Israel, however, usually receives a disproportionate level of media attention relative to the impact of that violence on the region as a whole, or levels of violence that occur here in the USA, or in other reputedly peaceful cultures.

Many times during the past 25+ years of planning and leading Adventures, we have been in parts of the world that have less than hospitable reputations. Almost without fail, we’ve found that though life does not come with a money-back guarantee, and bad experiences do come our way from time to time, the feeling of fear generated by media reports bears little resemblance to what we actually experience in-country!

In regard to Israel, the odds of our being impacted by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict pales alongside everyday risks such as driving your car or falling in your home that we all instinctively factor into daily life choices without a second thought.

Our point? Though safety is always top of mind as we plan our Adventures, life is inherently uncertain, and we will not likely cancel our plans to visit Israel unless war is declared or significant, widespread violence makes it clear that we would be in danger.

NOTE: For a higher premium, you can purchase insurance that allows you to cancel “for any reason.” Check with your travel insurance provider for more details.

What about the walks?

We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. Several walks on this trip are oriented more towards education, and therefore take longer due to stops for guide commentary. Nature walks, on the other hand, generally continue at a steadier pace because we’re stopping less to talk.

In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please call our office at 1.800.779.0353.

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented on the table below:

INCLINE

1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.

What happens next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter, initial invoice, and Adventure Advice flyer with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you receive the Adventure Advice flyer. The final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure, and you will receive a final billing packet about 3 weeks prior to that point, including a factsheet of additional information about the Adventure to help you get prepared!

About 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final packet with all the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed schedule. For now, take some time to find a quiet place and review the Israel and Jordan 2018 program. The Holy Land of Israel and Jordan is the birthplace of the Judeo-Christian ethic woven deeply into the fabric of Western civilization, and the soil in which our faith heritage is rooted.  Israel has always been an integral part of our culture, an ancient land that is now very close to becoming an unforgettable part of your current reality!

We look forward to exploring Israel and Jordan with you in 2018!!