Walking Israel 2023
February 21–March 3, 2023 • 11 Days • $3875
Explore the Holy Land of Israel on foot! We start in Tel Aviv and finish in Jerusalem, connecting with an abundance of historical and Biblical sites within this exotic, bewildering, and enchanting land!
NOTE: This is a special departure of Walking Israel provided only for Willamette Christian Church, Beaverton Christian Church, and Hope City Church. If tour spaces remain available in mid-August, we will then open these spots for guests of the WCC/BCC/HCC church family. This tour is recommended for individuals High School and up.
Greetings from the WAI Travel Team,
We are excited and honored to present this lsrael 2023 journey to the Willamette Christian Church, Beaverton Christian Church, and Hope City Church. As the owner of WAI and a fellow believer, I have been thrilled to discover that our walking philosophy of travel also enhances a travel program in the Holy Land. Getting off the bus to walk, and including visits with cultural and historic significance, in addition to the biblical sites, leverages a trip to Israel into “more than a pilgrimage”! We’ve been captivated by Israel and believe you will be too.
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, we recommend approaching this experience expecting to be challenged. Let’s journey with open hearts, asking the Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Guide, to pare away traditions of religion that are an inevitable product of living in an affluent Western culture long established upon Christianity.
Anticipate returning with your worldview realigned with Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, having walked in His footsteps. Expect to gain a clearer understanding of the Father, our Master, and how we can be a more effective part of His plan to reconcile His lost world to Him.
Dan Friesen, WAI Owner
- Airport to hotel group transfers on first and last day**
- Tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
- All land travel as outlined
- 21 meals: All breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 9 dinners (BLD as listed)
- All listed walks
- WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
- Cultural & historical expertise of our local guide throughout
- Biblical interpretation by Pastor Jon Furman
- All tipping for local guides and coach drivers
- Double occupancy accommodations – limited number of single occupancy spaces available for additional fee of $825
- Caesarea National Park
- Cultural lunch in Druze home
- Mukhraka Monastery
- Nazareth Village
- Zippori National Park
- Arbel National Park
- Capernaum National Park
- Sea of Galilee cruise
- Jesus Boat Museum
- 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)
- Sanctuary of Dominus Flevit (Mt. of Olives)
- Church of the Holy Sepulcher
- City of David National Park and Hezekiah’s Tunnel
- Church of the Nativity
- Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center
- Tower of David Sound & Light Show
- Jerusalem Ramparts
- Jerusalem Archeological Park – Davidson Center
- Western Wall Tunnel
- Garden Tomb
- Israel Museum – Shrine of the Book
… more inspirational & educational stops than we can list!
**Details of transfers provided are listed in Adventure Advice email sent upon receipt of tour registration.
Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5
Jon and Janelle Furman have been with the Willamette family since 2010 serving on both the West Linn and Beaverton campuses. Serving as Lead Pastor of BCC, Jon’s love of all things history, scripture and pop culture blend themselves seamlessly in his relevant teaching. Janelle’s eye for beauty and passion for global experiences come alive as she encourages fellow travelers to immerse themselves in the culture, cuisine and character of the intriguing land of Israel.
Scott and Ruth Burk have been leading travelers on Walking Adventures since 2013, sharing highlights of European, African, South American, and North 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.
Ran Ortner has guided our tours to Israel since 2011 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.
Day 1, Feb 21: Arrive Tel Aviv, Israel (D)
Travelers arrive throughout the day into the Tel Aviv Ben-Gurion International Airport, where they are greeted by a representative of WAI and transferred to our hotel located just two blocks from the Mediterranean Sea.
Travelers arriving a day early, February 20, may participate today in a complimentary, optional, half-day 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. Those arriving on February 20 may purchase the pre-night in our hotel, including breakfast, for $113 per person in a double room ($218 in a single room).
The first official group activity of the day is this evening’s Welcome Orientation followed by dinner.
Day 2, Feb 22: 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. We walk past stately remnants of the Crusader era that give way to ruins of the ancient hippodrome and amphitheater.
A delicious cultural lunch on nearby Mount Carmel in a Druze home provides insight into this mysterious Arabic culture which combines elements of all three monotheistic religions.
The afternoon stop takes us to Mukhraka Monastery, commemorating the duel between Old Testament prophet Elijah, and 450 prophets of the pagan god Baal. Our home this evening is in Nazareth, where Jesus grew up and started His ministry as Messiah.
Day 3, Feb 23: Nazareth to Sea of Galilee (BLD)
Jesus Trail to Cana Walk – 6 miles, rated 3C
We start the day in Nazareth Village, a living history museum (operated by Christian Israeli Arabs) that brings the biblical era to life and offers a biblical-era lunch!
Afternoon activities begin in Zippori, the remarkable excavation of the hometown of Jesus’ mother, Mary. From Zippori, we walk in Jesus’ footsteps on the “Jesus Trail” along Galilean hills, through an Arab/Israeli village, arriving at Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine at a local wedding – his first public miracle.
We spend the next three nights at a kibbutz hotel on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Day 4, Feb 24: Activities in the Sea of Galilee area (BD)
Beatitudes to Capernaum Walk – 3 miles, rated 2B
Mount Arbel offers dramatic panoramas over the Sea of Galilee with an equally dramatic story of radical Jewish resistance to Herod the Great, told by Jewish historian Josephus. Not far away at Ginosar is the Jesus Boat Museum, a 2000-year-old fishing boat carefully preserved and displayed, which we visit before lunch.
Today’s main walk starts at nearby Mount of Beatitudes, likely site of some of Jesus’ most familiar teachings, and takes us along the shores of Galilee to ancient Capernaum. Jesus spent the great majority of his public ministry around the Sea of Galilee, and this afternoon we sail across this freshwater lake from Capernaum to Ginosar, the site of our hotel, where we spend a relaxing evening on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
Day 5, Feb 25: Activities in Golan Area (BD)
Tel Dan Walk – 1 mile, rated 1B
Jordan Headwaters Walk – 3 miles, rated 2C
Gamla Nature Walk – 3 miles, rated 3C
North of Galilee, in the Golan Heights, our first walk passes through an 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 neighboring Lebanon.
Next, we visit the headwaters of the Jordan, marked by an intriguing ruin with the biblical name of 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 beauty. An epic battle between Jewish rebels and Roman legions here in 67 AD 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 wildlife and its population of soaring griffin vultures.
Day 6, Feb 26: Sea of Galilee to Dead Sea (BD)
King Saul & Jonathan Walk – 1.5 miles, rated 2B
Heading south, our first stop is the ancient archeological site of Beit She’an, claiming 20 different eras of occupation. Before dropping down to the Roman-era ruins, we climb the Philistine Tell, 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 throughout the archeological world and lent additional 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, Feb 27: Dead Sea to 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 mountain-top citadel/playground captured by Jewish rebels in 66 AD, 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, marking the end of the brutal First Jewish-Roman War.
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, Feb 28: Activities on first day in Jerusalem (B)
Jerusalem Footsteps of Jesus Walk – 3 miles, rated 2B
Today’s memorable walk begins at the Mount of Olives with sweeping views over Jerusalem. From here, we descend 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 into 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, more importantly, the focal point of human history.
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 underground. 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, Mar 1: Activities on second day in Jerusalem (BD)
Bethlehem Manger Walk – 2 miles, rated 1B
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” before they received the momentous announcement by the heavenly host!
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 history of Israel magically projected onto 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, Mar 2: Activities on 3rd day in Jerusalem (B)
Jerusalem Ramparts & Western Wall Walk – 2.5 miles, rated 2C
We begin our day with a walk from our hotel to the Temple Mount (conditions 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.
This unique day exploring both above and below the Old City continues with a visit 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. Close by is the Western Wall, holiest site in Judaism where we absorb 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.
Following a break for lunch, our walk of the day snakes through the Jewish Quarter then mounts the city walls at the Zion Gate. We find ourselves walking atop the ramparts, built in the 16th century by Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and providing a bird’s eye view down into Old Jerusalem. Our trail descends the walls at the Jaffa Gate where you are free to walk back to our hotel or explore fascinating Old Jerusalem on your own.
Day 11, Mar 3: Depart from Jerusalem (BD)
Our first stop on our last day in Israel is the Israel Museum, often referred to as the Shrine of the Book for the Dead Sea Scrolls that are reverently displayed here. Following a massive renovation in recent years, the Israel Museum is world class and warrants several days of exploration.
This afternoon, 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 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 of the resurrection of Jesus.
Early this evening, 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.
How Do I Lock in My Place on this Adventure?
Click the BOOK NOW button above to register. A $500 nonrefundable deposit is required for registration. The balance is due 90 days before departure.
Once 20 registrations are received, the tour will be confirmed.
Please make sure you understand the General Tour Conditions, including the cancellation terms. Once you have registered, your spot is secured. The closer we get to departure day, the harder it is to fill that spot should you change your mind. Cancellation terms are therefore necessary to ensure that we all understand the importance of shared commitment to this trip. Cancellations received in writing 89 to 60 days before departure will receive a 50% refund. No refunds will be made on cancellations received less than 60 days before departure. No refunds will be made on any unused or cancelled services once the tour has commenced.
Keep in mind that if WAI cancels this tour, you will receive a full refund of your tour payments.
We strongly recommend travel insurance (see below).
What is a Classic Curated Tour?
With help from local experts and walking guides, these itineraries are crafted with extensive on-site planning by WAI tour planners.
When designing Classic Curated Tours, our objective is to capture the essence of a destination—the history, culture, and natural wonders unique to that part of the world. We then build activities and walks that take us inside these characteristics.
Yes, these tours are educational, but they are also interactive and immersive; walking gets us off the bus and penetrates local cultures to not only see, but also touch, smell, and feel these special spaces.
Along the way, interactions with locals amplify the experience by sharing insights into the magic of that particular location.
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 1.360.260.9393.
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:
1. Minimal hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain: <200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain: 1000-2000 feet.
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).
How Do We Arrange Airfare for this Adventure?
The official start and finish point for this Adventure is Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport (airport code TLV). More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided in an Adventure Advice PDF by email after you register for the Adventure.
Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving these flight details from us! The Adventure Advice email 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 participation in a complimentary, half-day optional walk to Joppa.
Once you receive the Adventure Advice email, we recommend that you contact Laura Pfahler, the travel agent we work with, to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment!
- Laura Pfahler: 503.434.6401 or [email protected]
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. This is now especially true in the era of COVID-19, which is typically treated like any other illness for travel insurance purposes. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Laura Pfahler and Sharon Mitchell of World Travel Inc. are travel agents who provide air travel and insurance services to many WAI travelers.
Check out Insurance Tips from World Travel for a short introduction to travel insurance. (NOTE: WAI receives no commission or financial remuneration from World Travel Inc.).
As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the SquareMouth.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.
Other options include:
- Travel Guard
- Travel Insured International
NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). Travelers interested in purchasing “cancel for any reason” insurance coverage should be careful to check pricing and terms BEFORE they register for a tour. Recent changes in the international travel landscape has caused changes in the policies of some insurance companies, and made the purchase of this particular type of policy even more time-sensitive.
What if WAI Cancels the Tour?
Walking Adventures International reserves the right to cancel this tour departure with fewer than 12 participants, in which case registered participants would receive a 100% refund of payments received. This refund policy contains one exclusion. Many suppliers require non-refundable deposits as a condition of booking services. Though it is rare, unforeseen circumstances can force us to cancel a tour. In cases where supplier’s non-refundable policies are imposed, WAI attempts to retrieve as much of these deposits as possible, but cannot guarantee a 100% refund. In cases where full refunds cannot be obtained for a cancelled tour, we will do our best to transfer unrefunded money as traveler credits to be applied to a future tour to that destination.
NOTE: When the 2022 Walking Israel was cancelled due to Omicron concerns, all participants received full refunds.
COVID-19 Policies for This Tour
Walking Adventures International official policy is to mirror any COVID-19 policies in place in the destinations through which we travel (View our full Coronavirus Policy for more details.).
As of May 21, 2022, most COVID-19 related requirements and restrictions have been dropped. What is still required as of May 21 are the following:
- Visitors must fill out an online Entry Statement on the website of the Israel Ministry of Health within 48 hours of arrival into Israel.
- Visitors who become ill with COVID-19 while in Israel are required to isolate in a hotel for a maximum of 7 days at their own expense. The WAI in-country partner would help any travelers who need assistance with this process and with providing the official recovery letter required to board a homebound flight.
- Visitors must obtain an insurance policy for their visit to Israel that covers COVID-19 related expenses. COVID-19 is covered like any other illness for purposes of travel insurance. Visitors should check with their insurance agent as to coverage for food and lodging expenditures (i.e. caused by quarantine requirements). Travel insurance that meets these requirements only, but does not provide coverage for any possible pre-trip cancellation (related to insurance covered events such as illness or injury of the traveler or close family member) or flight-related delays, may be available from Israeli sources at a lower cost. Our recommendation is to purchase full insurance coverage, but if you are interested in this limited coverage insurance, please contact us at [email protected].
- Prior to boarding their return flight, US citizens are required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 1 day of departure (USA requirement).
Requirements that have been lifted include:
- Proof of vaccination
- Presentation of negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to Israel
- PCR testing mandate for those entering Israel
- Isolation for 24 hours upon entering Israel
- Mask mandate aboard the flight to Israel
- Mask mandates at the airport in Israel
Requirements and restrictions continue to be fluid. WAI will update travelers upon learning of any changes.
Travelers participating in the Walking Israel 2023 tour must agree to abide by Israel policies in place at the time of travel.
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 30+ 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 WAI tours, 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 Happens Next?
Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter, initial invoice, and Adventure Advice email 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 email.
The final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure, and you will receive a final billing about 3 weeks prior to that point.
About 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final email packet with all the details of the program in PDF, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed schedule. You will also be invited to team meetings organized by WCC/BCC/HCC leadership to better prepare your heart and mind for this amazing experience.
For now, we suggest time in a quiet place to review the Israel 2023 program. Because the Holy Land of Israel is the birthplace of both Judaism and Christianity, it is the source of the Judeo-Christian ethic and has therefore always been an integral part of American culture. For Christians, Israel is the soil in which our faith heritage is rooted. In a sense, we are spiritual immigrants, faith children of Abraham, according to the Apostle Paul, returning to our homeland!