Inward & outward Journeys in the Holy Land
A few years ago I founded a travel brand 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 inaugural HIKE THE HOLY LAND tour just returned from our 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 fresh 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 hearts content.
We refreshed in a 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 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 it’s charming boutique art galleries.
We rambled trough 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 colassal 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.
We rode donkeys and camels (one camel actually kissed a member of our group !) , and we saw endless sheep being herded by their shepherds all along the rural areas of the Holy Land, just like they’ve been doing for thousands of years.
We experienced so much it’s challenging to put it all down in a blog post/article. No matter how religious you are, or if you’re religious at all (we had a couple atheists on the tour) – the Holy Land is a remarkable destination to visit, chock-full of history and biblical stories, beautiful landscapes and nature (it’s not all desert!) and the people are incredibly warm, genuine and hospitable. Contrary to today’s fear based and sensationalized news cycles, most Israeli’s and Palestinians actually work together and live in harmony in communities all throughout Israel and the West Bank of Palestine. And with almost 4 million tourists visiting the Holy Land per year and returning safely to their countries with rewarding experiences to savor in their memories and photo albums, it really is a destination to put on your travel and adventure list.
If you’d like to do a Hike the Holy Land Tour just let me know. I’ll be occasionally hosting open tours where anybody can sign up, but also hand-crafted private tours for churches, groups and organizations with a minimum 10 people on dates of your choice.
And so in conclusion, many people do get “hooked” on the Holy Land and return for multiple visits. It’s hard to explain, there’s just something about it. It does offer so much to see and do, and then under the surface, so much for inward personal journeys and reflections. I look forward to my 3rd time visiting the Holy Land…and I hope it’s with you!
(Hike the Holy Land partners with local tour guides and books 3-4 star hotel accommodations to sleep in each night. Ground transportation consists of clean, comfortable private mini-buses and coaches.)
This article made its debut on Jack’s Lifestyle Blog on www.NoHoArtsDistrict.com
About the author: Jack Witt is a Los Angeles based Health and Fitness Coach, Author, Speaker , Healthy Community Organizer and Active Travel Specialist. His other websites include www.GetFitwithWitt.com and www.SilverSailings.com