The Holy Land: Past, Present, and Future

  • 12-day journey through Israel and the West Bank
  • Explore Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, and more

Expedition Details

 

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.

Trip Highlights

  • Meet artists and politicians, settlers and refugees, imams and rabbis.
  • Explore the archaeological wonders of Caesarea Maritima with National Geographic Emerging Explorer Beverly Goodman.
  • Enjoy a unique dual narrative provided by the Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilders who accompany you throughout the expedition.
  • Visit the Yad Vashem Memorial and hear a first-hand account from a Holocaust survivor.

Itinerary - 12 Days

Days 1 & 2 — U.S./Tel Aviv, Israel/Jerusalem

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)

Day 3 — Jerusalem

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)

Day 4 — Jerusalem

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)

Day 5 — Jerusalem

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)

Day 6 — Bethlehem and the West Bank

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)

Day 7 — Jerusalem/Jericho/Dead Sea

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)

Day 8 — The Jordan River Valley/Tiberias

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)

Day 9 — Galilee

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 Golan Heights.
The Scots Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Nazareth/Jaffa/Tel Aviv

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)

Days 11 & 12 — Caesarea Maritima/Tel Aviv/U.S.

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 home.
Dan Tel Aviv Hotel (B,D;B)

Optional Extension

National Geographic Expert

Yuval Ben-Ami

Yuval Ben-AmiAuthor, 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 departures:

May 09 - 20, 2014
Sep 12 - 23, 2014
Dec 26, 2014 - Jan 06, 2015

SEE OTHER EXPERTS »

Dates

2014
  • Apr 25 - May 06, 2014 (waitlist only)
  • May 09 - 20, 2014
  • Sep 12 - 23, 2014
  • Oct 24 - Nov 04, 2014
  • Nov 07 - 18, 2014
  • Dec 26, 2014 - Jan 06, 2015

Expedition Cost

2014

$5,795

Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,845 in 2014.

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.