About 5 years ago I founded a project called HIKE THE HOLY LAND after an unforgettable trip I did to the Holy Land of Israel, Palestine and Jordan.
I was so impressed by the land, the people, the history, the food /drink, and the music that I knew I wanted to bring back travelers to the Holy Land on active tours to connect more authentically, immerse in the culture, and truly live the experience as it unfolds.
Well, the HIKE THE HOLY LAND tour just returned from another adventure, and a mix of 22 people from NoHo, LA and other parts of the USA had a rich, unforgettable experience in the Holy Land that tantalized all of our senses, reawakened our spirits and faith, and inspired us in ways that are still moving us deep inside.
We walked the land on nature trails and footpaths of history, including the Jesus Trail which runs from Nazareth where he grew up, to Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee, where he practiced his ministry. The Battir Trail, which lies between Bethlehem and Jerusalem and features ancient agricultural terraces and lots of olive, fig and almond trees. Mount Meron, where the vistas over the Lebanese border are simply stunning. And of course Masada, the opulent mountain top fortress palace of King Herrod and Jewish sacred place of rebellion against the Romans.
We visited a winery in Upper Galilee in Israel and did a wonderful tasting of wines. We took a cooking class in Bethlehem and made delicious Palestinian dishes that we then gladly ate. And everywhere you go in the Holy Land there’s freshly squeezed pomegranate and orange juice stands. It’s like a daily shot of medicine!
We floated in the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth. Its healing properties left our skin smooth as silk and healthy. And we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee and danced until our heart's content.
We refreshed in an actual desert Oasis of natural mineral pools and waterfalls called Ein Gedi.
We walked through Jericho, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, where the first humans stopped being hunters and gatherers and started village life.
We went to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and saw where Jesus was born and the spot of the Manger. We went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and touched Jesus’s tomb and reflected on the spot where he was crucified.
We stayed a couple of nights on a Kibbutz, the communal farm living environment that Israel was founded on.
We urban walked around modern, trendy Tel Aviv on the shores of the Meditteranean Sea, and down to the ancient Jaffa port city with its charming boutique art galleries.
We rambled through Jerash in Jordan, the largest preserved ancient Roman city in the world.
We marveled at the lost city of Petra in Jordan, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The colossal monuments are carved into the sandstone cliffs. This is where “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” was filmed.
We took jeep rides in Wadi Rum, the desert in Jordan where they filmed “Lawrence of Arabia” and “The Martian”. It's truly a vast, immense landscape to behold. It actually does feel like you’re on Mars. And the silence of the Wadi Rum desert stirs the soul.
On 2 nights in Jordan, we stayed with the desert Bedouin peoples in a luxury camp, and they would sing/perform for us in the evenings and give us sweet hot tea around our campfire under the stars.
We went to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, took a tour underneath Jerusalem in cavernous ancient tunnels and then walked around the old city on top of the ancient rampart walls. There’s simply no city that compares to Jerusalem in the world. It’s one of a kind, and it’s been the center of the universe for so many cultures for so many thousands of years.