Immerse yourself in the history and culture of the Holy Land on an expedition inspired by the peace-building 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 program designed in 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, continue to
our hotel located in the Ein Gedi kibbutz on the
shores of the Dead Sea. Learn about the kibbutz
movement before enjoying time on your own to
float in the Dead Sea, wander through the hotel’s
botanical garden, or enjoy an optional spa treatment.
Ein Gedi Boutique Hotel (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.
The Scots Hotel (B,L,D)
Visit 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 through the Tel Dan Nature Reserve
to the ancient city of Dan. 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.
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)
Author, journalist, traveler and cultural critic Yuval Ben-Ami writes for the Hebrew edition of National Geographic magazine and has published a monthly column in the Hebrew edition of National Geographic Traveler. Born in Jerusalem, Yuval later moved to the United States and began writing for Israeli and international newspapers and magazines, among them Haaretz, the Boston Globe, and Yedioth Aharonot. His books include Susanna, Don’t You Cry—a travelogue of the American South—Finnish Mythology, the novel I’ll Meet You Halfway, and two travel books about Israel: Wonderland and A Day on the Town. He also hosts a radio show and is a founder of the web magazine +972. Yuval's work in conflict resolution began in 2000 at Jerusalem's Youth Center of World Cultures, where he introduced Jewish high school students to Palestinian culture and narrative. He has since mediated, lectured, and trained in a number of forums, and appeared as guest speaker in numerous universities in Israel and abroad. Since 2007, he has also led cultural travel experiences, bringing individuals into areas they would not normally visit: Israelis into Hebron, Palestinians to Tel-Aviv, secular Jews to Meah Shearim, and so on, creating unique encounters.
Yuval will join the following departure:
Dec 26, 2015 - Jan 06, 2016
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single
room, add $1,845 in 2014 and $1,895 in 2015.
International airfare to/from Tel Aviv is not included
in the expedition cost.
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.