AIA Tours: land

Israel Revisited

Tour Dates: May 4-17, 2024 (14 days)

Tour Leader(s): Jodi Magness ,

Join acclaimed AIA lecturer and archaeologist Jodi Magness and revisit Israel on this active, small-group adventure to explore ancient and natural sites, many of which are off the beaten path. This is a more strenuous itinerary than our other Israel tour, Treasures of the Holy Land, as it includes several hikes in nature reserves to see wildlife and geological wonders in addition to visiting a variety of archaeological and cultural sites. Estimated distances and difficulty of the hikes are indicated in red in the itinerary’s daily headings, but every day with group activities will involve walking, whether around archaeological sites or through towns and cities. End most days at a 5-star hotel/resort, where you can rest your weary but fulfilled traveler’s head and perhaps refresh yourself in their luxury pools or spas.
Highlights include:
Two UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

  • Tel Hazor National Park with the ancient city of Hazor which, twice in its history, was the largest fortified city in the area
  • Ein Avdat, a vast canyon with caves where monks once resided, part of the “Incense Route – Desert Cities in the Negev”
  • Walks and hikes in several nature reserves and national parks:
  • Tel Dan Nature Reserve, with the ruins of a 5,000-year-old city and the world’s oldest-known gated archway
  • Gamla Nature Reserve, home to Israel’s highest cascade (the 170-foot Gamla Waterfall), the remains of the ancient city of Gamla, and a Bronze Age field with 716 dolmens (megalithic structures of smaller vertical stones with one or more capstones)
  • Banias Nature Reserve, where we find Israel’s largest waterfall and the ruins of a palace complex built by Agrippa II
  • A walk on Mount Scopus, where we will visit the burial cave of Nicanor and then peruse the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology’s collection
  • The lush oasis of Ein Gedi National Park, with a hike along sparkling David’s Stream and the ruins of an excavated ancient synagogue with a perfectly preserved mosaic floor
  • Wadi Qelt’s monastery of St. George of Choziba, a breathtaking complex perched on the side of the valley’s walls
  • A well-paced itinerary with four nights at our hotel in Tiberias, on the western side of the Sea of Galilee, including a boat ride; and four nights in Jerusalem, with visits to the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, the excavations on the southwest side of Temple Mount, and the Southern Wall Museum
  • The desert town of Nitzana, with ancient petroglyphs and the remains of a Byzantine church, plus a chance to enjoy the hospitality of the Negev Bedouins.

Tour Prices (12 nights)

per person, double occupancy

15-16 Participants $11,895
10-14 Participants $12,495
Single Supplement (limited availability) $3,995

Download the brochure for complete details.

To reserve your space using the online form, click here.

For reservations or questions, please email us at aia@studytours.org (and include your full name) or call us toll-free at (800) 748-6262 (toll: 603-756-2884).

Itinerary


May 4, 2024: Depart home for Tel Aviv, Israel
May 5: Arrive in Tel Aviv | Private transfer to hotel
May 6: Kfar Bar’am | Tel Hazor National Park | Tiberias | Welcome dinner
May 7: Tel Dan Nature Reserve | Banias Nature Reserve | Tiberias
May 8: Umm el-Kanatir | Qazrin | Tiberias
May 9: Gamla Nature Reserve | Sea of Galilee boat ride | Tiberias
May 10: Wadi Qelt | Museum of the Good Samaritan | Jerusalem
May 11: Jerusalem: Mount Scopus, Israel Museum
May 12: Jerusalem walking tour: St. Anne’s Church, Church of the Redeemer, Tower of David, Rockefeller Archaeological Museum
May 13: Jerusalem: Southern Wall Excavations, PM at leisure
May 14: Ein Gedi National Park | Ein Boqeq
May 15: Sde Boker | Ein Avdat National Park | Mitzpe Ramon
May 16: Nitzana | Farewell dinner
May 17: Transfer to airport | Fly home

View Detailed Itinerary

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Saturday, May 4, 2024: Depart home for Tel Aviv, Israel

Sunday, May 5: Arrive in Tel Aviv | Private transfer to hotel
Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport (TLV), you will be met and transferred to our luxurious hotel on Tel Aviv’s waterfront. Enjoy the balance of the day at leisure to relax, explore the city by foot, or perhaps stroll along the oceanside Shlomo Lahat Promenade. Overnight at the 5-star Carlton Tel Aviv hotel (deluxe full sea view rooms).

Monday, May 6: Kfar Bar’am | Tel Hazor National Park | Tiberias | Welcome dinner
Today we visit the ancient village of Kfar Bar’am, home to a partially-restored synagogue dating to approximately the 5th-6th century A.D. We then continue to Tel Hazor National Park to tour the ancient city and the tell, or mound, of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hazor. During the Middle Bronze Age (circa. 1750 B.C.) and the Israelite period (9th century B.C.), Hazor was the largest fortified city in the area. Enjoy a guided tour of the site, including Solomon’s gate, the Canaanite palace from the 13th century B.C., and the water system. View ancient relics recovered from excavations of the city at the museum in the nearby Kibbutz Ayelet HaShahar. Continue on to our hotel in Tiberias, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret). Gather for a welcome dinner at our hotel. Overnight at the 5-star Scots Hotel (deluxe rooms) for four nights. (B,L,D)

Tuesday, May 7: Tel Dan Nature Reserve | Banias Nature Reserve | Tiberias
Moderate walks for 2 hours in Tel Dan and 2 hours in Banias Nature Reserves 

Today we explore the Tel Dan Nature Reserve, which contains the remains of a 5,000-year-old city. Among the ancient treasures found at Tel Dan are a sacred Israelite precinct, a complete Bronze Age gateway, and a stone with an inscription referring to the House of David—the oldest inscription to mention King David. The original inscription is on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, which we will visit on May 11th. We stop for an independent lunch, then continue on to the Banias Nature Reserve located at the foot of Mount Hermon, north of Golan Heights. We will enjoy a moderate walk to see ancient Hellenistic and Roman period temples and shrines along the steep cliff face overlooking the springs. Return to Tiberias and gather to have dinner at a local restaurant this evening. (B,D)

Wednesday, May 8: Umm el-Kanatir | Qazrin | Tiberias
Walk for 1.5 hours with a moderate ascent/descent in Umm el-Kanatir 

After breakfast, we drive to Umm el-Kanatir in the Golan Heights. Originally a Roman town, it later became one of three dozen Jewish villages founded in the Golan Heights after Jews were banned from Jerusalem following their unsuccessful rebellion against the Romans in the 2nd century A.D. The residents built a magnificent synagogue in the 6th century A.D., which was destroyed along with the entire village during an earthquake in A.D. 749. Enjoy a walking tour to the village spring and the reconstructed synagogue. Next we drive to the open-air museum at Qazrin, another of the Jewish villages founded in the Golan Heights. After an independent lunch we re-group for a tour through the restored village, with original ruins of the synagogue and its arched entrance, as well as restorations of several buildings with replicas of household tools, including a functioning wine press. Return to Tiberias and gather this evening for dinner at our hotel. (B,D)

Thursday, May 9: Gamla Nature Reserve | Sea of Galilee boat ride | Tiberias
Hike for 3 to 4 hours in Gamla (one section of sharp ascent/descent) 

This morning we hike in the Gamla Nature Reserve, home to numerous natural and archaeological wonders. Start out with the most challenging part of the hike, to visit Gamla. Jewish inhabitants reportedly committed mass suicide by throwing themselves over the steep cliffs in A.D. 67, when Gamla was besieged by the Romans during the First Jewish Revolt. Keep a lookout for griffon vultures, though with their 10-foot wingspan these birds should not be hard to spot. Next we have a short hike to the 170-foot Gamla Waterfall, Israel’s highest cascade. Enjoy a restful lunch, and then return to Tiberias for a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Dinner is at a local restaurant this evening. (B,L,D)

Friday, May 10: Wadi Qelt | Museum of the Good Samaritan | Jerusalem
Walk for 1 hour with sharp ascent/descent in Wadi Qelt; modest attire 

Today we head to Jerusalem. On the way, we spend some time exploring the Monastery of St. George of Choziba in Wadi Qelt, a valley in the eastern West Bank thought by some to be “the valley of the shadow of death” referenced in Psalm 23. The breathtaking monastery complex hangs from the side of one of the valley’s walls, and we cross a pedestrian bridge to reach it. Established during the Byzantine period, it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, most recently by Greek monks at the end of the 19th century. We make one other stop on our drive to Jerusalem, at the Museum (Inn) of the Good Samaritan, an indoor/outdoor museum of ancient mosaics, some of which date to the 4th century A.D. Enjoy dinner together in Jerusalem. Overnight at the 5-star Inbal Jerusalem Hotel (deluxe rooms) for four nights. (B,L,D)

Saturday, May 11: Jerusalem: Mount Scopus, Israel Museum
We begin today with a walk on Mount Scopus, where we visit the burial cave of Nicanor. After lunch we spend the afternoon taking in the extensive collection of both ancient and modern art at the Israel Museum. Dinner and the evening are on your own in Jerusalem. (B,L)

Sunday, May 12: Jerusalem walking tour: St. Anne’s Church, Church of the Redeemer, David’s Citadel, Rockefeller Archaeological Museum
Walk approximately 2 miles in the Old City; modest attire 

Today we visit three sites that reflect the multiple religions that call Jerusalem home. First, we take in St. Anne’s Church, currently a Roman Catholic church. Next, we explore the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer and climb its tower for a splendid view of the Old City. Finally, we tour David’s Citadel, a fortified medieval enclosure that contains the remains of earlier periods. Take some time to explore the museum housed in the original citadel to learn about Jerusalem’s history from its beginnings to the current day. After an independent lunch we re-group to explore the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, which houses thousands of artifacts arranged in chronological order. Dinner is on your own this evening. (B)

Monday, May 13: Jerusalem: Southern Wall Excavations, PM at leisure
After breakfast we tour the extensive excavations on the southwest side of Temple Mount, which have uncovered important remains dating from the Iron Age to the Islamic and Crusader periods. After lunch, the rest of the day is yours to explore the city on your own. (B,L)

Tuesday, May 14: Ein Gedi National Park | Ein Boqeq
Hike for 2 to 3 hours with a sharp slope in Ein Gedi 

This morning, we leave the city behind and head to the lush oasis of Ein Gedi. We hike through this national park, seeking the resident ibex and birds of prey. Walk along the sparkling Nahal David, or David’s stream; visit the Chalcolithic temple overlooking the oasis; and see an excavated ancient synagogue with a perfectly preserved mosaic floor featuring a central square of exotic birds surrounded by a precise pattern of intersecting circles. After the hike we continue on to our hotel in Ein Boqeq, on the Dead Sea, and then gather for dinner. Overnight at the 4.5-star Herbert Samuel Hod Dead Sea Hotel (superior sea view rooms). (B,L,D)

Wednesday, May 15: Sde Boker | Ein Avdat National Park | Mitzpe Ramon
Moderate hike for 1 hour in Ein Avdat 

This morning we head into the desert of southern Israel. We make a brief stop at Midreshet Sde Boker, an educational complex founded by the country’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and today the location of his tomb. Hike in Ein Avdat National Park, a vast canyon with a spring-fed oasis on the valley floor. Gaze up at the sheer walls to see caves where monks once resided. Continue on to our hotel in Mitzpe Ramon, and then gather for dinner. Overnight at the 5-star Beresheet Hotel (desert view with pool or crater view with balcony rooms) for two nights. (B,L,D)

Thursday, May 16: Nitzana | Mitzpe Ramon | Farewell dinner
We spend the day in the well-preserved desert town of Nitzana (formerly Nessana). Explore its ancient churches and other remains of the various peoples who lived here. This afternoon we enjoy the hospitality of the Negev Bedouins. Return to our hotel in Mitzpe Ramon, where we gather this evening for a farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

Friday, May 17: Transfer to airport in Tel Aviv | Fly home
Transfer as a group (time TBD; it is approximately a two-hour drive) to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) for flights homeward. (B)

 


For reservations or questions, please email us at aia@studytours.org (and include your full name) or call us toll-free at (800) 748-6262 (toll: 603-756-2884). To reserve your space using the online form, click here.

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