Arrive at Cairo International Airport. After passport control, meet the tour representative and then transfer to the hotel in Cairo for dinner and overnight.
Begin the day with a visit to the infamous Pyramids of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Cheops Pyramid, the largest of the three, was built in the Third Dynasty circa 2690 B.C. The Sphinx, carved from a single piece of stone, rests in front of the Pyramid of Chephren. Some believe that the massive monolith with the head of a man on the body of a lion is a portrait of Pharaoh Chephren. Experience a camel ride by the pyramids followed by a visit to the Papyrus Institute, showcasing the art and history of Ancient Egypt. In the afternoon, drive to the Egyptian Museum to look at antiquities from Egypt’s Pharaonic period, dating back fifty centuries and including the fabulous treasures of King Tut-Ankh-Amon. End the day with a visit to the medieval bazaars of Khan-El-Khalili. Dinner and overnight in Cairo.
The morning begins with an early flight to Luxor (Thebes), the capital of Ancient Egypt. Marvel at the spectacular temple complex dedicated to the divine triad, Amun, Mut, and Chons. See the Avenue of Sphinxes that originally connected the temple of Luxor to the temple of Karnak. Next, visit the ruins of Karnak and the enormous temple complex. Explore the Precinct of Amon-Re, the largest of all the temple halls in Egypt. Dinner and overnight in Cairo.
Valley of the Kings
Travel across the Nile to marvel at the splendor of the Valley of the Kings. Many New Kingdom pharaohs and royalty were interred in elaborate tombs concealed by the mountains of this valley. Explore at least one of the major tombs (these are opened at the discretion of the authorities, depending on ongoing excavations). Visit the Valley of the Queens, where the pharaohs’ wives and close relations were entombed in decorative burial chambers. Return to the airport for a flight back to Cairo. Dinner and overnight in Cairo.
(Optional Day 5: Sinai)
Board a bus early in the morning for a drive to Sinai. Journey through the desert, enjoying a retelling of the story of Exodus. Take in the beauty of the towering red-granite mountains, including Jebel Musa, the traditional Mt. Sinai. View St. Catherine’s monastery, the oldest consistently-inhabited Christian monastery in the world. Dinner and overnight at Morganland Village.
An optional sunrise journey begins the day for the adventurous. Wake before dawn to start the ascent of Mount Sinai, walking in the footsteps of Moses and the devoted pilgrims who have tread the same route for centuries. If the journey becomes too strenuous, Elijah’s Valley provides an excellent waiting area. Reach the peak in time to witness the sunrise and take in the splendid views. The traditional place of Moses’ encounter with God and the giving of the Ten Commandments is perched at the summit. After a careful descent, return to the hotel and rejoin the group for breakfast. Spend the later part of the morning touring St. Catherine’s monastery, taking in its remarkable icons. Following lunch, travel toward the eastern shores of the Sinai Peninsula on the Red Sea. At Nuweiba, embark on a fast ferry to Aqaba in Jordan. Meet the Jordanian guide and acquire a free collective visa before heading to the hotel in the Nabataean city of Petra. Dinner and overnight in Petra.
Spend the day touring glorious Petra. Nestled in the mountains of Seir, which Genesis often mentions in connection with Esau, this city is one of the seven wonders of the world. A walk through the Siq, the main entrance of the ancient city, leads to the Treasury, the first great monument. Continue through the outer Siq, with its tombs and burial chambers, reaching a massive theater carved out of the sandstone. Proceed to the Royal Tombs, which afford a great view of the city. Next, visit the Byzantine church and view its mosaics. Enter the so-called Palace of Pharaoh’s Daughter, one of Petra’s oldest Nabataean temples. After lunch, walk back to the entrance. Complete the day with a 3.5-hour drive to Amman. Dinner and overnight in Amman.
Mt. Nebo/Holy Land
Leave Amman, the biblical Rabbath Ammon and Roman-period Philadelphia, journeying to Mount Nebo, where God showed Moses the Holy Land. Continue to Madaba for a visit to the Church of St. George to view its 6th-century mosaic floor showcasing a map of the Holy Land. Descend to the Jordan Valley and the Allenby Bridge for border procedures to enter the Holy Land. Travel to ancient Jericho and visit the remains of the world’s oldest city. View the mountain traditionally believed to be the site of Jesus’ temptation. Proceed north through the Jordan Valley to survey the expansive ruins of Beth Shean. This city, under the Roman name of Scythopolis, served as the capital for the Roman Decapolis. The ruins include a well-preserved theatre, bathhouses with mosaic tile, ancient bathrooms, market areas, and a colonnaded street at the heart of the city. Stand on the tell above the ruins to view the setting for the last days of Saul (I Samuel 28 – II Samuel 1). Travel north to the Sea of Galilee for dinner and overnight.
Day 9: Sea of Galilee
Follow along the coast of the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum, the headquarters of Jesus’ ministry. Visit the synagogue and the site archeologists believe to be Peter’s house (Mark 1-2). Continue to Tabgha (short for Heptapagon, “seven springs”) to view the beautiful mosaics in the Church of the Loaves and Fishes. See the nearby shores where the breakfast mentioned in John 21 took place. Next, ascend the Mount of Beatitudes, the site of Jesus’ most famous teaching (Matthew 5-7). Then, follow an ancient trade route, passing Hazor and continuing to Tel Dan. Enjoy a nature walk and visit the high place where Jeroboam, king of Israel, set up a golden calf. Visit Caesarea Philippi (Banias), where Peter answered Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” Next, drive over the Golan Heights, skirting Mt. Hermon, with a view toward Damascus. Complete the day with a boat ride on the calm waters of the Sea of Galilee. Dinner and overnight at Sea of Galilee hotel.
Day 10: Journey to Jerusalem
The morning begins in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. Visit the spring where Mary would have done her family’s laundry. Meander through the bazaar to the Church of the Annunciation which stands over the site of the ancient village. After surveying the Plain of Jezreel, proceed to the mound of Megiddo (har Meggido in Hebrew), the site of Armageddon, mentioned in Revelation 16. Ascend Mt. Carmel, site of Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18). Travel along the coastal highway to Caesarea Maritima, home of Herod’s seaside palace. Explore the Roman bridgehead to the land, which became the Christian springboard to the West. Next, journey along historic Beth Horon Road (Joshua 10:10) to the Benjamin Plateau, passing ancient Gibeon. After descending the mountain, enjoy the beauty of Caesarea Maritima and the impressive ruins of Herod’s seaside palace. End the day atop Mount Scopus savoring the spectacular view of majestic Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Day 11: Mount of Olives and Bethlehem
Begin the day with an orientation to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Follow the traditional Palm Sunday route to Dominus Flevit (“the Lord weeps”), where it is said that Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19). After viewing the Golden Gate, continue downhill to Gethsemane. Enjoy time for reflection in the peaceful gardens. Drive to Mount Zion for visit to Peter in Gallicantu, a church that affords the best view of early Jerusalem from the west. Many believe that this is the site of the house of the High Priest Caiaphas where Jesus was interrogated on the night of his arrest. Next, visit Solomon’s Pools, Jerusalem’s main source of water for almost 2000 years. Passing the monastery of Hortus Cnclusus (“the sealed garden”) in Artas, travel to Shepherds’ Fields and then on to Bethlehem to “see this thing that has happened” (Luke 2:15). Stroll through the alleys and markets on a journey to the Church of the Nativity, where the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Day 12: Dead Sea
Journey through West Jerusalem to the Shrine of the Book to view the Dead Sea Scrolls. Visit a model of Jerusalem and see a representation of how the city looked on the eve of the Jewish revolt, 36 years after the Passion of Jesus Christ. Travel through the Judean desert to the ruins of a religious Hebrew community at Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Among the ruins, view Cave #4 which contained the largest quantity of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Continue to Masada, Herod’s impressive mountain fortress and site of the last stronghold of the Jewish revolt against Rome (66-73 AD). Conclude the day with a relaxing float in the Dead Sea. Return to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
Day 13: Old Jerusalem
Enter the city through the Dung Gate. Once inside, examine the Ophel excavations near the southern end of the Temple Complex. See the steps where Jesus and his disciples walked as they went up to the temple. Spend time at the Western Wall, Judaism’s most holy site. Ascend to the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, located on the traditional site of the Temple Mount. Continue to the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years (John 5). Revel in the remarkable acoustics of nearby St. Anne’s Church, perfectly preserved from the Crusader period. Follow The Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. The journey ends at the Garden Tomb for a poignant visit and Communion celebration. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Day 14: Departure
Depart Jerusalem, traveling to the airport in Tel Aviv for the flight home.