Immerse yourself in the history and culture of the Holy Land on a special expedition inspired by the peacebuilding efforts of National Geographic Emerging Explorer Aziz Abu Sarah. Explore the City of David and Masada, glide across the Sea of Galilee, and discover Jerusalem through the eyes of Jews, Muslims and Christians. Hear a broad spectrum of narratives on this expedition designed in true partnership by Israelis and Palestinians, Arabs and Jews.
Take an overnight flight to Tel Aviv, and transfer to
Jerusalem. Relax at the hotel before our reception
and welcome dinner tonight.
American Colony Hotel (D)
Begin the day on the Temple Mount, capped by
the shining cupola of the Dome of the Rock. Meet
an imam from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, who will explain
the importance of the holy site to Muslims.
Then visit the Western Wall with a rabbi, touch the
ancient stones, and learn about the significance
of this sacred place. A local pastor then joins us
at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, home to six
Christian sects and, according to tradition, the
tomb of Jesus. In the afternoon, ascend to the top
of the Mount of Olives, and take in a panoramic
view of the domes, spires, and golden stones of
Jerusalem’s Old City.
American Colony Hotel (B,L,D)
Just outside the Old City walls lies the City of David,
thought to be the original capital city established
by King David some 3,000 years ago. Venture into
the archaeological site, and meet with its Israeli
administrators, and later with residents of the
nearby Palestinian neighborhood who oppose the
excavations. Later, get an insider’s perspective on
the Israeli–Palestinian conflict with an Israeli politician. Then travel to Ramallah, where we are granted rare access to the offices of the Palestinian Authority, and hear from a high-ranking politician.
American Colony Hotel (B,L)
Today, trace the turbulent history of the birth of the
state of Israel. At Yad Vashem, Israel’s moving memorial to the Holocaust, meet with a Holocaust
survivor for a personal glimpse into one of history’s
darkest moments. Then travel to Ein Kerem,
where Christian tradition says John the Baptist
was born. An Israeli and a Palestinian guide will
each tell their divergent narrative of the village’s role in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. Enjoy
time to explore Jerusalem on your own. Tonight,
gather for a discussion with Israeli and Palestinian
peace activists from the Bereaved Families Forum.
American Colony Hotel (B,D)
Travel to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc to
hear the viewpoints of Israeli settlers. Continue
to Bethlehem and meet with the mayor to learn
about the city’s shrinking Christian population.
Stop by Manger Square and, at the Church of the
Nativity, descend into the cave revered by many
as the birthplace of Jesus. Walk through a nearby
Palestinian refugee camp, and learn how murals
and graffiti have been used to depict the refugees’
struggles. Our final stop is Herodion, a volcano-shaped hill and fortress built by Herod the Great.
Over dinner, take in a musical performance by a
group of Israeli and Palestinian musicians.
American Colony Hotel (B,L,D)
This morning, meet with an environmentalist from
Friends of the Earth Middle East whose efforts to foster Arab–Jewish cooperation
through environmental stewardship were featured in the special April 2010 “Water” issue of National Geographic magazine. View the Dead Sea
Scrolls at the Israel Museum, and then drive down through the Judean Desert to Jericho to visit the archaeological site of Tel Jericho. This afternoon, arrive on the shores of the Dead Sea and check into our hotel.
Isrotel Dead Sea Hotel and Spa (B,L,D)
Soar up the flank of Masada in a gondola and
explore King Herod’s 2,000-year-old mountaintop
refuge. Then follow the Jordan Valley north to the
Roman city of Bet She’an to see its remarkably
preserved amphitheater, baths, and column-lined
streets. Along the way, stop to dip your feet in
the Jordan River where Christian pilgrims come
to get baptized. Visit a kibbutz in Galilee to learn
about early Jewish communities in Israel before
continuing to Tiberias.
The Scots Hotel (B,L,D)
Take a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee from
Tiberias to Capernaum, where Jesus lived and
preached, and many apostles, including Peter,
made their home. Continue north to Caesarea
Philippi, a center of worship from the Hellenic
age to the early Christian era. Explore the area as
you wish this afternoon: follow a scenic trail to the
Banias waterfall or enjoy a short hike throught the
Tel Dan Nature Reserve to the ancient city of Dan.
As the sun begins to set, take a drive through the
The Scots Hotel (B,L,D)
Hear the perspective of an Israeli Arab Christian on
the way to Nazareth, where we visit the Basilica of
the Annunciation, one of the largest churches in the Middle East. On an excursion to the mountaintop village of Beit Jann, discover the secretive traditions of the Druze, and enjoy lunch with a Druze family in their home. Travel towards the Mediterranean coast this afternoon, and explore picturesque Jaffa,
a strategic port town dating back to the Bronze Age.
Explore the bustling city of Tel Aviv, our home for
tonight, and enjoy dinner on your own.
Dan Tel Aviv Hotel (B,L)
Follow the coast north to Caesarea Maritima,
Herod’s harbor city, and visit the ruins with
geo-archaeologist and National Geographic
Emerging Explorer Beverly Goodman. Then enjoy
a free afternoon in Tel Aviv before gathering for a
farewell reception and dinner. After breakfast the
next morning, transfer to the airport for your flight
Dan Tel Aviv Hotel (B,D;B)
Aziz Abu Sarah
Named a 2011 National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his groundbreaking work as a cultural educator, Aziz Abu Sarah has dedicated his life to bringing Israelis and Palestinians together to find common ground, build mutual understanding, and forge lasting relationships. He has spoken in hundreds of churches, synagogues, and mosques, before both the European Parliament and the United Nations, and at many universities on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, peace, reconciliation, and interfaith dialogue. He is co-executive director of George Mason University’s Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution.
Aziz will join the following departures:
Oct 11 - 22, 2013
Nov 01 - 12, 2013
Apr 25 - May 06, 2014
Oct 24 - Nov 04, 2014
Nov 07 - 18, 2014
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,695 in 2013 and $1,845 in 2014. Airfare is not included in the expedition cost. Round-trip economy airfare between New York and Tel Aviv is from $1,000 (subject to change).
Please note: A State Department travel warning for Israel is currently in effect (click here to view the State Department's information page on Israel and the West Bank). We expect to operate this trip as planned, but will continue to closely monitor events in the region, and will alter the itinerary if necessary.