Israel Pilgrimage
In the Footsteps of Jesus

  • Oct 12 – 24, 2021

with Nayaswami Diksha and Nayaswami Gyandev

Israel Pilgrimage Itinerary

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

Day 1 (October 12)—Arrival in Jerusalem

You can arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on October 12, or you can do what most of our pilgrims do: 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 12, where you'll check into the beautiful Prima Kings Hotel, a pleasant walk from the Old City. We'll get a first look at Jerusalem, then dinner and a first get-together with our guide, Joe (whom we've had before, and whom you'll love dearly).

Jiuhuashan group

Day 2—Bethlehem, Ein Karem

We'll begin at the beginning: After a short drive to Bethlehem, we’ll visit the Church of the Nativity, built on the site of Jesus birth. We'll also visit the grotto at the Shepherds' Fields, where the angel announced Jesus' birth. After a traditional Middle Eastern lunch, we’ll return to greater Jerusalem to visit the picturesque village of Ein Karem, where we’ll visit the Church of John the Baptist (site of his birth) and the little-known Church of the Visitation, site of Mary's visit to Elizabeth (it has a sweet and powerful feminine vibration). Then we'll return to our hotel for some afternoon relaxation and dinner. It’s a fabulolus first day in the Holy Land!

Church of the NativityChurch of the Nativity Ein KaremEin Karem

Day 3—Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, 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, the traditional site of Jesus' final ascent to heaven after the resurrection. Then we'll walk down Jesus' route on Palm Sunday, to the Garden of Gethsemane, where we'll have a private meditation among the ancient olive trees. After lunch in the Christian Quarter of the Old City, we'll visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, on the site of Jesus' crucifixion and the tomb traditionally held to be that of Jesus. Afterward, we'll walk to the Garden Tomb, a relatively recent discovery that some authorities claim to be that of Jesus—and in any case, gives you a realistic picture of what Jesus' tomb would have looked like. Then we'll return to our hotel for dinner.

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 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. We’ll also get a close up look at one of Wadi Qelt’s famed landmarks: the scenic, 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 tour Qumran, the ancient spiritual community where archaeologists found the Dead Sea Scrolls. With its desert beauty and solitude, plus its ancient spiritual heritage, it’s a very magnetic place for meditation. Afterward, we'll check in at the beautiful Ein Gedi Kibbutz Hotel.

St. George MonasterySt. George Monastery The Dead SeaThe Dead Sea
Ancient Qumran communityAncient Qumran community QumranQumran

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 if you prefer, you can 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, perhaps getting a relaxing massage or enjoying its salt-water pool.

MasadaMasada Desert Oasis of Ein GediDesert Oasis of Ein Gedi

Day 6—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, one of the world's oldest cities. We'll take the tram up to the top of the Mount of Temptation, where Jesus was tempted by the devil. After lunch, we'll drive through the Jordan Valley to Galilee, where you'll check into our beautiful Ramot Resort, with its gorgeous view from high above the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

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

Day 7—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 Jesus' fourth post-resurrection appearance, where Jesus asked Peter 3 times, “Do you love me?“ After a traditional Middle Eastern lunch at a beautiful nearby restaurant, 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. There you'll see the ruins of a stone home where archaeologists have concluded that Jesus lived for a time. 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 8—Mount Tabor, Nazareth

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 and have lunch in the very authentic Nazareth Village. Finally, we'll visit Mount Precipice, the cliff off which it is said the Nazarenes tried to throw Jesus to his death. (They failed, fortunately.) Here, the view over the Jezreel Valley and Mount Tabor is spectacular.

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 9—Sea of Galilee, Free Time

We'll start the day with another memorable 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 resort and take advantage of the amenities, or hike a portion of the Jesus Trail, the likely route that Jesus walked from Nazareth to Capernaum. Or you can return to any of the special sites you enjoyed on Day 7: 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 10—Safed/Tzfat, 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. You'll visit the gallery of a local artist and hear him speak about his deeply spiritual art, tour a revered synagogue, then be free to enjoy the many shops with a wide variety of quality artistry. After lunch in Safed, we'll drive back to our Jerusalem hotel.

SafedSafed Safed street musiciansSafed Street Musicians

Day 11—Western Wall, Israel Museum, “Shabbat of a Lifetime”

We’ll begin the day with a return visit to the Old City, where we'll go to the Western Wall (aka Wailing Wall), located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. After lunch (falafel, anyone?), 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 Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea scrolls are kept. After relaxing back at the hotel, we'll depart for a special Sabbath ceremony and dinner in a Jewish home, which is always an unforgettable experience

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

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, or simply walk back to our hotel and relax.

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—Free Time & Departure

Depending on when you're departing Israel, you might have time to pay a return visit to some of your favorite Jerusalem sites—or even some that you haven't visited yet. In any case, the day is yours to do as you please.

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: Although the above itinerary is unlikely to change significantly, the tour leaders might, at their discretion, modify it if needed.



Diksha McCord

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