Walking Israel…More than a Pilgrimage

Late February 2021 • 11 Days • Approx $3500-$3800

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

Early March 2021 • 5 Days • Approx $1800-$2100

Extend your visit to Israel to another part of the Holy Land—Jordan! We visit the rose-red City of Petra, the breathtakingly stark desert world of Wadi Rum, and offer an optional Red Sea cruise to Pharaoh’s Island for lunch and snorkeling.

Now accepting Early Bird deposits on this potential 2021 tour! An Early Bird is a $50 deposit that holds your spot during the planning stages of a trip, when we don’t have a set itinerary or dates. Early Birds are always refundable!

Walking Israel

This is a draft itinerary. Revisions will be made, and an updated itinerary with dates and pricing will be made available!

Including:

Pricing is based on double occupancy.

  • 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. We also provide a roommate matching service.

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

This is a draft itinerary. Revisions will be made, and an updated itinerary with dates and pricing will be made available!

Including:

Pricing is based on double occupancy.

  • 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. We also provide a roommate matching service.

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)
  • Pharaoh’s Island with snorkeling – Red Sea (Day 5)

Adventure Pace

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

Important Info

Group Size

24-28 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 motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 40+ seats.

Traveler Age

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

Your Guides

WAI Guides Scott & Ruth BurkScott and Ruth Burk have been leading travelers on Walking Adventures for the past several years, sharing highlights of European and American destinations with fellow Adventurers! Always on the lookout for the best viewpoint or hole-in-the-wall café, they enjoy finding the hidden treasures along those paths less traveled. While at home in the Pacific Northwest, they are passionate about their family, enjoy hosting soirees, and for several years now have helped to raise guide dogs for the blind. Ruth and Scott have guided our Israel tour many times, and will be assisted by local guide Ran Ortner on this tour. They look forward to sharing the history, culture and scenery of this special part of our world with you!

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, and has completed his doctorate program in an area of study involving 1st century conflicts between Judea and the Roman Empire. Ran looks forward to sharing the complicated history and fascinating culture of Israel with you!

Itinerary

This is a draft itinerary. Revisions will be made, and an updated itinerary with dates and pricing will be made available!

Click on each day to reveal more details. BLD refers to meals included – Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner.

Walking Israel

DAY 1: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 2: 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 3: 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 (Price TBA), 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 4: 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. Price TBA

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

DAY 5: 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

Click on each day for more details.

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

Call or mail in your Early Bird ($50) to save your spot! We’ll take 24-28 travelers on this tour, accompanied by 2 Walking Adventures guides and our local guide, offering a guide to traveler ratio of 1:9.

What’s an Early Bird? Early Bird deposits are refundable $50 deposits which serve to hold your spot on a tour until dates and pricing have been confirmed. Once all details on a tour have been finalized, travelers can then register with an additional $450 deposit to bring their total on a tour up to $500.

Why Israel?

Birthplace of Judaism and Christianity, and hosting one of Islam’s holiest sites, Israel offers a kaleidoscope of religious, historical, cultural, and political conundrums! Walking unveils new perspectives at many must-see biblical sites, including Galilee, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem. Further afield, surprises await at the ancient aqueducts of Caesarea, headwaters of the Jordan River; ruins of the evocative ancient city of Beit She’an; and Gamla Nature Reserve, where ghosts of Roman soldiers still struggle with unyielding Jewish rebels. Acre for acre, no other piece of the planet has had a greater impact on world events. Join us for a multi-faceted exploration of the Holy Land where every day offers a new intriguing riddle or epiphany!

Traveler Rewards Program

No traveler rewards are available for this tour.

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. More information on airfare and travel agent contact details will be provided after this tour has been finalized.

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.

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?

We are currently developing the itinerary for this Adventure. Once the itinerary is released, we will accept registration deposits ($500) to save space.

If you have Early Birded with a refundable $50 deposit, your spot on the tour will be held for 2 weeks after the itinerary is published while you make a decision on whether or not you’d like to register with an additional $450 fee, bringing your deposit on tour up to $500. If you decide not to join us for this tour, your Early Bird can be refunded or transferred to another tour.