Israel Pilgrimage
In the Footsteps of Jesus

Oct 9 – 22, 2018

Here is the trip of a lifetime—deeply inspiring and at a relaxed pace. These sacred sites are so alive with the presence of Jesus and his disciples that you will meditate on the experience for the rest of your life.

See our photo album

Join Ananda Spiritual Travels for an unforgettable spiritual experience: a 2-week pilgrimage in the Holy Land, following in the footsteps of Jesus. Many of these sacred spots are so alive with his presence that you’ll continue to draw blessings from them for the rest of your life. You'll also  visit a variety of sites sacred to Judaism.

Pilgrimage Highlights

boat floating on Sea of GalileeImagine how you’ll feel as you:

  • Enter the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus.
  • Float peacefully on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee during two special sunrise meditations.
  • Visit Nazareth, scene of Jesus' boyhood.
  • Enjoy the serenity of the Mount of Beatitudes, site of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.
  • Go to the ancient synagogue at Capernaum, the center of Jesus’ Galilean ministry.
  • Feel the power and beauty of Mount Tabor, site of the Transfiguration
  • Visit Jewish holy sites, such as King David’s Tomb and the Western (Wailing) Wall.
  • Walk down the Mount of Olives, stop to meditate in the Garden of Gethsemane, then proceed into Jerusalem—Jesus’ route on Palm Sunday.Mount of  Olives
  • Meditate in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which houses the traditional sites of Jesus' crucifixion and tomb.
  • Visit dramatic Qumran, an ancient spiritual community where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.
  • Swim in the Dead Sea, and hike amidst the profound stillness and serenity of the nearby canyons.
  • Experience a Sabbath dinner in the home of a Jewish family in Jerusalem.

… and much, much more.

Israel Pilgrimage Video

Watch our video of this deeply inspiring pilgrimage to Israel

Enjoy a Relaxed Pace

Unlike typical tourist fare, the pace of this pilgrimage will be relaxed. You’ll have time not only to learn about the holy shrines, but also to meditate there and tune in to the joy-filled vibrations of Jesus and his disciples—and of many centuries of devoted pilgrims. And when you don’t feel to meditate, you can enjoy the upliftment of a stroll through the grounds of these shrines. Whether meditating, strolling, or simply soaking it all in, your spiritual efforts will get a boost from your many fellow pilgrims who have dedicated their lives to the divine quest. We’ll be one large spiritual family.

Church of The Holy Sepulchre
And yes, you’ll have free time to roam the streets of Jerusalem or the hills of Galilee, enjoy the dramatic beauty and stillness of the Dead Sea area, relax in the comfort of your hotel—and of course, shop for souvenirs.

 

Western wallTop-Quality Accommodations & Meals

To help you relax deeply and be fully receptive during this experience, you’ll stay in beautiful 4- and 5-star hotels, complete with pools, spas, and other amenities. Your Jerusalem hotel will be only a short walk from the Old City.

Your trip includes breakfast and dinner buffets each day (vegetarian or non-vegetarian). Some lunches will be included in the cost of the trip, while others will be on your own, sometimes at falafel stands, a classic—and delicious—highlight of any trip to Israel.

Enhance Your Pilgrimage Experience

On a personal pilgrimage in 1983, Swami Kriyananda felt deep inspiration from the living presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Land. He was inspired to write an oratorio, “Christ Lives”— a musical encapsulation of the life of Jesus. It has inspired thousands of people. To help you get into the spirit of pilgrimage, you will receive a DVD of this musical masterpiece upon registering.

Garden-of-Gethsemane

Pilgrimage Leaders

Nayaswamis Gyandev and Diksha are long-time teachers and ministers at Ananda Village, as well as experienced leaders of retreats at home and abroad—including a 2015 pilgrimage to Israel. Diksha is a native Israeli and a former Jerusalem resident; she directs Ananda’s Meditation Teacher Training program. Gyandev directs Ananda Yoga® and Ananda Yoga Teacher Training. Both lead workshops on a wide range of topics in the spiritual life.

Aerial photo of The Expanding Light Retreat, Northern California


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Nayaswami Gyandev McCord

Nayaswami Gyandev McCord

Co-Director of the Ananda Meditation Teacher Training ®, Director of Ananda Yoga®, Level 2 Ananda Yoga teacher, E-RYT 500, Raja Yoga Teacher, Spiritual Travel Host, Writer and Lecturer, Ananda Minister
What is a nayaswami?

Combining a fun-loving spirit, keen insight into the spiritual life, and genuine warmth, Nayaswami Gyandev makes the inner quest seem both natural and doable. Since 1983 he has taught Ananda Yoga to thousands of students and trained hundreds of teachers around the world, often forging deep and lasting bonds of friendship and inspiration.

See programs, articles, and full bio.


Nayaswami Diksha

Nayaswami Diksha

Ananda Minister, Counselor, Level 2 Ananda Yoga teacher, E-RYT-500, Director of Ananda Meditation Teacher Training  
What is a nayaswami?

A popular Expanding Light teacher since 1997, Diksha McCord is the Director of the Meditation Teacher Training program. Nayaswami Diksha, a native Israeli who came to the U.S. in 1990, is a powerful and dynamic woman who has shared yoga postures and yogic teachings across the United States, in Canada and Europe.

See programs, articles, and full bio.



Register by May 1, 2018: $3965 U.S. per person, double occupancy

Register after May 1, 2018: $4190 U.S. per person, double occupancy.

Single supplement: If you have a room to yourself, there will be an additional cost of $1195. If you prefer double occupancy but are not coming with a roommate, we will try to match you with someone. If you end up without a roommate, the additional $1195 cost will apply.

Included in Tour Cost

Jiuhuashan group
  • Deluxe hotel accommodations (4- and 5-star)
  • Breakfast and dinner every day; lunch on some days.
  • Group bus travel within Israel
  • Transportation from Tel Aviv airport to Jerusalem on October 9
  • English-speaking guides
  • Entrance fees for cultural attractions
  • Tips for guides and porters

Not Included in Tour Cost

  • International airfare to and from Israel
  • Overweight baggage fees
  • Fees for passport and Israel entry visa (if needed)
  • Personal hotel amenities and expenditures
  • Travel insurance
  • Some lunches (it will be easy to buy a lunch of your choosing).
  • Transportation from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv on October 22 (You can easily get a taxi at a time that works for your departure flight.)
Jiuhuashan group

To Register

Reserve Online and make your $1,000 U.S. deposit. You will then receive a confirmation letter with information on planning your flights and other details. Please note: the registration form requires your passport and emergency contact information, so have them handy then you begin the registration process.

We strongly recommend that all participants obtain travel insurance . Your confirmation letter will include tips for finding travel insurance.

Full payment is due September 1, 2018. The number of tour participants is limited, so early registration is advised.

Travel documents

You must hold a valid passport with an expiration date at least six months after the end of your stay in Israel. No Israel visa is needed for travelers from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, and most other countries in the Americas and Europe. If you are not from North America or Australia, you will need to find out whether you need a visa.

Cancellation Policy

If you cancel by September 1, 2018, your payment will be refunded, less a $300 cancellation fee. If you cancel after September 1, 2018, any refunds will be subject to the terms and conditions of any travel/hotel fees, our tour company, and other providers in Israel, plus any other charges incurred on your behalf by Ananda Sangha.

Reserve Your Space

A $1000 deposit is required. The balance is due September 1, 2018
Reserve online now. Please call 1-800-346-5350 or 530-478-7518 if you have any questions.

Most of your evenings will be free time. Click on any image for a larger view.

Day 1 (October 9)—Arrival in Jerusalem

You can arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on October 9, or fly to Israel a few days early to enjoy Tel Aviv and/or Jerusalem before the pilgrimage begins. Either way, we'll take you to Jerusalem on October 9, where you'll check into the beautiful Mount Zion Hotel, a short walk from the Old City. We'll get a first look at Jerusalem, then dinner and a first get-together with our guide.

Jiuhuashan group

Day 2—Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, Via Dolorosa, Old City

We begin atop the Mount of Olives, with its panoramic view of New and Old Jerusalem. We'll visit the Chapel of the Ascension, said to be the site of Jesus' final ascent to heaven after the resurrection. Then we'll walk down the route taken by Jesus on Palm Sunday, stopping at Dominus Flevit, the chapel at the site where Jesus is said to have wept. Then on to the Garden of Gethsemane, where we'll have a private meditation among the ancient olive trees. From there, we'll walk uphill into the Old City via the Damascus Gate, then through the Old City along the Via Dolorosa, the route along which Jesus is said to have carried his cross. After our lunch in the Christian Quarter, we'll visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, on the site of Jesus' crucifixion and a tomb that many authorities claim was that of Jesus. Afterward, we'll go to the Garden Tomb, a more–recently discovered site that some authorities claim to be that of Jesus. Then we'll return to our hotel for dinner. It’s a big first day in the Holy Land!

Mount of OlivesMount of Olives
Garden of GethsemaneGarden of Gethsemane Via Dolorosa Old City
Via Dolorosa
Church of the Holy SepulchreChurch of the
Holy Sepulchre

Day 3—Bethlehem, Ein Karem

After a short drive to Bethlehem, we’ll visit the grotto at the Shepherds' Fields, where the angel announced Jesus' birth. Then we'll go to the Church of the Nativity, built on the site of Jesus birth. After a traditional Middle Eastern lunch, we’ll return to greater Jerusalem to visit the picturesque village of Ein Karem, where John the Baptist was born and raised, and where his mother Elizabeth “felt life” when she met Mary. In Ein Karem we’ll visit the Church of the Visitation, which commemorates Mary's visit to Elizabeth. Then we'll return to the hotel for some afternoon relaxation and dinner.

Church of the NativityChurch of the Nativity Ein KaremEin Karem

Day 4—Ein Gedi, Wadi Qelt, Dead Sea

We’ll drive from Jerusalem into the Judean Desert and take a gorgeous late-morning hike along WadiQelt, a narrow, dramatically scenic canyon that cuts deep into the desert landscape. (Non-hikers can go to a nearby museum, with mosaics and other artifacts from ancient churches and synagogues in the region.) We’ll also get a close up look at one of Wadi Qelt’s famed landmarks: the 6th century, cliff-hanging St. George Monastery, where dwelt some of the Desert Fathers. After a picnic lunch, we’ll continue down to the Dead Sea (lowest point on earth) and check in at the beautiful Ein Gedi Kibbutz Hotel.

St. George MonasterySt. George Monastery The Dead SeaThe Dead Sea

Day 5—Masada, Ein Gedi

The highlight of this day is Masada, the plateau that was both King Herod’s retreat and, later, the focal point of the dramatic last days of the Jewish Revolution against the Romans. Those who want some early-morning exercise will hike to the top of Masada for the stunning Dead Sea sunrise and storytelling of Masada’s drama. This highly recommended hike is a bit challenging, and some people may wish ride the cable car to the top later. The afternoon is free time: You can visit the beautiful desert oasis of Ein Gedi (David's hideout from King Saul), where another beautiful hike is available. Or you can swim in the Dead Sea (well, sort of swim–the high mineral content of the water makes you bob like a cork), and pamper your body with the mineral–rich Dead Sea water and mud. Or you can simply enjoy the powerful stillness of the desert, and relax in the hotel spa.

MasadaMasada Desert Oasis of Ein GediDesert Oasis of Ein Gedi

Day 6—Qumran, hiking, relaxation

After a short drive to Qumran, we’ll tour this ancient spiritual community where archaeologists found the Dead Sea Scrolls. With its desert beauty and solitude, along with its ancient spiritual heritage, it’s a very magnetic place for meditation. After we return to the hotel, you can be free to explore beautiful hiking areas in the nearby canyons, or enjoy a relaxing massage or salt-water pool at the hotel spa.

Ancient Qumran communityAncient Qumran community QumranQumran

Day 7—Jordan River Baptism Site, Jericho

As we leave the Dead Sea area, our first stop is Qasr el Yahud, the traditional site on the Jordan River where John baptized Jesus. (Yes, you can get baptized in the river!) Then on to Jericho, with its ancient ruins and a visit to the house where Jesus stayed with Zaccheus. After lunch in Jericho, we'll take the tram up to the top of the Mount of Temptation, where Jesus was tempted by the devil. Then we'll drive through the Jordan Valley to the Sea of Galilee, where you'll check into our beautiful hotel, perched above the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Qasr el YahudQasr el Yahud Ancient Ruins of JerichoAncient Ruins of Jericho

Day 8—Sea of Galilee, Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha, Capernaum

Morning meditation on Sea of GalileeMorning meditation on Sea of Galilee

We’ll start the day with a memorable early morning boat ride and sunrise meditation on the Sea of Galilee. After breakfast back the hotel, we're off to the beautiful shrine on the Mount of Beatitudes, traditional site of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Next comes Tabgha, site of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, as well as the fourth resurrection appearance of Jesus, where Jesus asked Peter 3 times, “Do you love me?“ After a traditional Middle Eastern lunch at a beautiful restaurant on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, we'll visit the ancient site of Capernaum, where Jesus first taught; it's also the hometown of Peter, Andrew, James, John, and the tax collector, Matthew. It's a day full of blessings, but it won't be hectic or exhausting, because these sites are quite close together.

Mount of BeatitudesMount of Beatitudes Capernaum, where Jesus first taughtCapernaum, where Jesus first taught

Day 9—Mount Tabor, Nazareth, Cana

The day begins with a visit to the shrine atop Mount Tabor, site of Jesus' transfiguration. This dramatic location, with its breathtaking church/shrine, offers a beautiful overlook of the Galilee region. Then we'll go to Nazareth, birthplace of Mary and childhood home of Jesus, where we'll visit the Church of the Annunciation. Finally, we'll visit Cana, the famed site where, at a wedding, Jesus turned water into wine.

View of Mount TaborView of Mount Tabor Church of the AnnunciationChurch of the Annunciation
Mount TaborMount Tabor Wedding Church in CanaWedding Church in Cana

Day 10—Sea of Galilee, Free Time

We'll start the day with another unforgettable early morning boat ride and sunrise meditation on the Sea of Galilee. The rest of the day will be yours to enjoy: You can stay at the hotel and take advantage of the amenities, or our tour bus will be available to take you back to any of the special sites you enjoyed on Day 10: Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha, and Capernaum.

Tabgha   Tabgha on the shore of Galilee

Mount of Beatitudes
seen from CapernaumMount of Beatitudes seen from Capernaum

Day 11—Safed, Jerusalem

We’ll first drive to Safed, a picturesque city of artists that has been the spiritual center of Judaism since 1600. It’s the highest city in Israel, offering breathtaking views of the Galilee region. Galilee region. You'll visit the gallery of a local artist, then be free to enjoy the many shops with a wide variety of artistry. After lunch in Safed, we'll drive back to Jerusalem in time for a Sabbath dinner in a Jewish home, which is sure to be a memorable experience.

SafedSafed Safed street musiciansSafed Street Musicians

Day 12—Room of the Last Supper,Dormitian Abbey, Tomb of King David,

From our hotel, we'll walk up to the Coenaculum atop Mount Zion, reputed to be the room of the Last Supper. We'll also visit the Dormition Abbey, which marks the site where the Virgin Mary died. Another nearby stop is the tomb of King David. You'll then have a free afternoon to spend in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Coenaculum: Room of the Last SupperRoom of the Last Supper Mount Zion and Dormition AbbeyMount Zion and Dormition Abbey
Tower of DavidTower of David Shopping in the Old City   Shopping in the Old City

Day 13—Israel Museum, Western Wall, Jewish Quarter

We’ll begin the day with a return visit to the Old City, where we'll go to the Western Wall (aka Wailing Wall), followed by a tour of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. After lunch, we'll go to the Israel Museum, where we'll enjoy an overview of Biblical Jerusalem–including a huge scale model of the Old City in those times–plus an opportunity to see the Dead Sea scrolls and stroll through this huge museum.

Western Wall (aka Wailing Wall)Western Wall (aka Wailing Wall) Dead Sea Scrolls at Israel Museum (Jerusalem)Dead Sea Scrolls at Israel Museum
Biblical JerusalemBiblical Jerusalem

Day 14—Ein Karem, Western Wall, Shabbat

Your activities on this final day will depend on the time of your departure flight. In any case, the day is free time.

Church of All ReligionsChurch of All Religions Church of Mary MagdaleneChurch of Mary Magdalene
Jerusalem Old City WallsJerusalem Old City Walls Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Jerusalem)Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Jerusalem)

NOTE: The above itinerary is subject to change based on the discretion of the tour leaders.


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