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Desert Tour

“I would flee far away and stay in the desert” (Psalm 55:7)

Adventure awaits as you explore the deserts of the Holy Land, experiencing first-hand the place where Jesus, John the Baptist and the Old Testament prophets honed their message.

DAY 1 - Ben Gurion Airport – Jerusalem

Where you will be met by a Nazarene Tours representative. Transfer to your hotel in Jerusalem for Dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 2 - Jerusalem Highlights

As a prelude to your desert experience, you’ll spend today taking in the sacred highlights of Jerusalem. First, from the Mount Scopus eastern promenade, you’ll get an unforgettable view of the Judean Desert. Continue to the Mount of Olives for the famous, inspiring sight of the holy city and a visit to the Garden of Gethsemane. Then, after visiting the Pools of Bethesda and the Church of St. Anne, follow the footsteps of Jesus on the Via Dolorosa, ending with at the venerable Church of the Holy Sepulchre, marking the site of Calvary and Jesus’ Tomb. Continue through the Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall, the most sacred spot in the world to Jews. In the afternoon, visit the Shrine of the Book, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the famous 1:50 Scale Model of Jerusalem. Overnight in Jerusalem

DAY 3 - The Judean Desert

Explore the Judean Desert today! Begin by learning the true meaning of an oasis in the desert with an off-the-beaten track visit to Ein Maboa, one of the springs of the famous Wadi Qelt, which supplied Jericho for thousands of years. Stop for a view of the beautiful ancient St. George’s Monastery overlooking Wadi Qelt, known as the “valley of the shadow.” Continue to the exotic centuries-old Nebi Musa marking the place where according to Muslim tradition Moses found a final resting place. From there, continue to one of the most astoundingly dramatic views the Judean Desert has to offer – the cliff-hanging 1,500-year-old Marsaba Monastery. Your adventure continues at Jabel Muntar, the Mount of the Scapegoat, where in the days of the Temple, the priests sent a goat symbolically bearing the sins of the people. The view is incomparable, with the Dead Sea glistening far below and the silvery Mountains of Moab, home of the biblical Ruth, to the east. Return to Jerusalem for overnight.

DAY 4 - Dead Sea and Masada to Hatzeva

Today you will be going down to the lowest place on earth – the Dead Sea. Your first stop today is the oasis of Ein Gedi for a walk up to the glistening waterfall past caves where King David roamed in his outlaw days. Continue to the Masada, now a UNSECO World Heritage Site. You’ll ascend by cable car to visit the magnificent fortress of Herod the Great, where Jewish rebels against Rome made famed their last stand. In the afternoon, there will be time for a dip in the healing waters of Dead Sea and a chance to relax in the bromide-rich air, before continuing to your overnight campsite at Hatzeva in the Arava Valley south of the Dead Sea.

DAY 5 - Hatzeva to Makhtesh Ramon

Awaking early, in desert tradition, to visit the ancient Hatzeva Fortress with ruins going back to the time of King Solomon, the Edomites, the Romans and the Byzantines. Hatzeva served as a way-station on the famed Incense Route, the road that brought frankincense, myrrh and other valuable commodities from Arabia to Petra, across the Arava Valley and the Negev Highlands to the Mediterranean port of Gaza. Together with the Nabatean cities of the Negev (which you’ll visit tomorrow) the Incense Route is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This theme continues as you head south to Moa, to visit the caravansary (known as a khan in Arabic) built by the Nabateans, the masters of the ancient Incense Route. From there, you’ll head deep into the desert to the Roman fortress of Katzra with its strategic view of the valuable road. Then via Wadi Nekarot you’ll ascend to the Negev Highlands and your overnight campground at the Harari Ranch near Makhtesh Ramon.

DAY 6 - Makhtesh Ramon and the Nabatean Cities of the Negev

Today you’ll start out by seeing some of the amazing geological wonders of the unique natural crater of Makhtesh Ramon. After a stop at the Ramon Visitors Center, You’ll continue to the ruins of the city of Avdat, with its imposing Byzantine-era fortress walls, temple and church and monastic complex of St. Theodorus. Next, stop at the grave of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister. At Ben-Gurion’s own request, he was not interred in Jerusalem with other heads of state, but close to his simple kibbutz home of Sde Boker, overlooking the Negev landscapes he loved, since he believed this dry region could once again bloom the way it did in ancient times. It’s back to Nabatean times as you drive on to Mamshit. This is the best-restored of all the Nabatean cities, with entire streets surviving intact and a colorful mosaic-floor church among the highlights. Continue to Jerusalem for overnight.

DAY 7 - Transfer from Jerusalem to Ben Gurion Airport.

Transfer from your hotel to Ben Gurion Airport for departure. A Nazarene Tours representative will assist you through the formalities.