The Holy Land with Kathryn Whitaker and Father Michael Niemczak

March 11th – 20th, 2023
$4,500 (plus air)
Sold Out! Email me to be on the waitlist.

The Holy Land is currently open to anyone passing a rapid COVID test – but I imagine even that could be dropped by Spring 2023. Should they add any restrictions, I have a very generous cancellation policy, which you can read below. If you have any questions, email me.

As with all The Catholic Traveler pilgrimages, this one includes daily Mass, my favorite local guide, excellent hotels, amazing meals in some of the best restaurants, wine with meals, and all your tips to our local guide, our driver, and our servers.

We are staying in some beautiful hotels, all but two lunches are included – most meals are outside the hotel in some wonderful restaurants.

Is this pilgrimage trip for you?

You need to be flexible.
This pilgrimage is not for grumpy people or those unable to be joyfully flexible. The Holy Land should be fully back to normal by Spring 2023, but the world is still a bit uncertain. While I don’t expect any complications, we have be able to adjust our plans if needed.

I just lead one of the first pilgrimages since they reopened to everyone in March pilgrimage and there were zero issues. Everything was fully open.

So if you are easy-going and excited to travel, even with some uncertainties mixed in, this could be the trip for you!

You should be in good physical shape.
We will do a lot of walking, much of it outside, and much of it on uneven ground. We average around 5 miles per day. Please do consider this before signing up.

Itinerary

March 10th: Your overnight flight to TLV.

March 11th: Arrive TLV and transfer to our hotel located on the beach of Tel Aviv. Dinner included.

March 12th: We begin our pilgrimage with a visit to Caesarea, Haifa, and Carmel. This afternoon we travel to Nazareth to visit the Basilica of the Annunciation and celebrate Mass here. We will view the Jezreel Valley from Mount Precipice. Next we’ll visit the spot of the first miracle in Cana and have an opportunity for marriage vow renewals. Lunch and dinner included. Overnight on the Sea of Galilee.

March 13th: This morning we sail across the Sea of Galilee. Next we travel to Caesarea Philippi to the spot where Christ said “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Lunch and dinner included. Overnight on the Sea of Galilee.

March 14th: Today we visit Capernaum and visit the church built over Peter’s mother-in-law’s home. Next we will visit the Mount of Beatitudes, site of the Sermon on the Mount. From here we will go to Tabgha where Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes. We’ll take a short hike down a trail Jesus walked and visit the town of Magdala. This evening we will have a wine tasting at a Galilean winery. Lunch and dinner included. Overnight on the Sea of Galilee.

March 15th: This morning we head up to Jerusalem. We will stop at Mount Tabor to the Basilica of Transfiguration and celebrate Mass here. We will visit Jericho, the oldest city in the world. We will visit the Jordan River and have a chance to renew our baptismal vows. Lunch and dinner included. Overnight in Jerusalem.

March 16th: Today we will visit Bethlehem. We will do some shopping to support the local Palestinian Christians, we will visit Shepherd’s Field, and celebrate Mass at the Church of the Nativity. This afternoon we will visit Ein Karem and the church of the Visitation. Lunch and dinner included. Overnight in Jerusalem.

March 17th: We will visit the Mount of Olives. We will walk Palm Sunday Road to Dominus Flevit, where Jesus wept over Jerusalem, then continue into the Garden of Gethsemane. We will visit the Church of Agony, the Grotto of Gethsemane, and the empty tomb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This afternoon we will attend a cooking class with a famous Jerusalem chef. After lunch we will visit Mount Zion to visit Saint Peter in Galicantu, Dormition Abbey, the Upper Room, and King David’s Tomb. Lunch and dinner included. Overnight in Jerusalem.

March 18th: We will begin with an early morning walk along the Via Dolorosa, ending with Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We will visit the Church of Saint Ann and the Pools of Bethesda. Then it’s over to Ecce homo and Judgment hall, where Jesus stood before Pontus Pilate. We will visit the Western Wall and then have the remainder for the day free to explore the Old City. Dinner included. Overnight in Jerusalem.

March 19th:
Today we will drive to Masada to visit the fortress built by King Herod. We will stop in Qumran to see where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. This afternoon we will float in the Dead Sea. We will have a great dinner tonight with views over the Old City. Lunch and dinner included.

March 20th: Flights home.

Price

$4,500 per person – ground only.

The cost is per person, in double occupancy, meaning two people to a room.

Final payment of $3,500 is due January 15th, 2023. Final payment is nonrefundable.

Traveling alone?
I match singles with other traveling singles (of the same sex) and that always works out great. If you are uncomfortable sharing a room with a stranger, you can request a single room for an additional $1,100.

Included in the price

Accommodations for 9 nights
We are staying one night at Herods Hotel, located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

We are staying three nights at the Magdala Hotel, right on the Sea of Galilee.

We are staying five nights at Notre Dame in Jerusalem, right across from the entrance into the Old City.

Breakfast daily plus 16 additional meals, including 11 meals in some of my favorite restaurants.

Drinks, including wine, are included in all our lunches and dinners.

Winery visit and tasting

Cooking class

Airport transfers
Once you’ve booked your flights, send me your flight info and I’ll arrange pick up.

All group ground transportation
We’ll be traveling in a private motor coach.

Full time service of a local tour guide
My local guide Shafik will be with us throughout the pilgrimage.

Full time service of a tour director
I’ll be with you at all times.

No hidden costs
If we do it as a group, it’s included in the price! You are responsible only for things you do on your own, souvenirs you wish to buy, and Mass donations directly to the churches.

Guaranteed price
Once I receive your deposit, your tour price will not go up!

All tips for group meals, guides, and drivers
Would you believe that many tour companies require you to tip as you go? Not only does that add to the advertised sticker price of a tour, it’s also a huge hassle to you! No need to worry about that here. Tips are already included.

Entry fees and tours
All entry fees and tours to our included group activities.

You time
We have a lot planned, but time on your own is important. We take our time in churches to give you the opportunity for prayer and reflection. We also include free time for you to explore, shop, relax, even get tattoos on your own.

Not Included

Your flights
You should arrive TLV no later than March 11th. Most flights from the US depart late on the 10th, and arrive the afternoon of the 11th. Some people like to arrive a day or two early to get over jet-lag and to enjoy the sea. I can help extend the stay at the hotel if you plan to arrive early. Our only planned activities on this day are Mass, followed by dinner.

Our last group activity is dinner together on the 19th. We have the hotel rooms for the night of the 19th. Your transfer to TLV is included.

Once you’ve booked your flight, send me the flight info so I can arrange the airport transfer.

Most airlines are offering free changes should anything happen to the trip. Some airlines are not offering refunds, but rather a credit.

If you need to cancel your trip for any reason, if the situation in the Holy Land changes and we need to cancel or postpone the trip, it’s your responsibility to work with your airline to cancel, reschedule, or request refunds.

If you have any questions or concerns about booking your flight, email me.

Your COVID tests
This could be dropped before our pilgrimage, but currently…

You’ll need a negative rapid COVID test taken within 24 hours of your flight to TLV. Book this as soon as you can.

The US requires everyone returning from abroad to have a rapid antigen test. I will have someone come to the hotel to test the group.

Entry & Exit Requirements

This could be dropped before our pilgrimage, but as of May 20th, 2022…

You’ll need a negative rapid COVID test taken within 24 hours of your flight to TLV.

Vaccination status does not matter and there are no additional tests required on arrival.

Israel is currently requiring Trip Insurance that includes COVID coverage. For my March trip, I was able to get 100% cancellation coverage for two people for just $15 total. You can get this from any insurance provider, but I use and recommend someone I know and trust, Michael Incata. You can contact him here.

To go home: The US requires everyone, regardless of vaccination status, returning to the US from abroad to pass a COVID test within 24 hours before departure. The test is $35 per person and will take place at the hotel.

What if you test positive on arrival or before departure?

If you test positive at any point in the pilgrimage, you will have two options…

Quarantine at the current hotel (depending where we are in the trip). The room and meals (beyond the already included nights) will be at your own expense, but figure about $300 per day.

Or we will arrange for you to quarantine in a studio apartment with a fully stocked refrigerator, and 3 meals a day delivered to you. This too would cost about $300 per day. Israel requires a 7 day quarantine for a positive test. At the end of the 7 days, you must test negative with a PCR. Travel insurance can help with all of this.

Vaccinations

Since Israel is allowing anyone in who passes a negative test, know that we could have people who are vaccinated on the trip and some who are not.

If you are uncomfortable around those who are not vaccinated, or those who are vaccinated, this is not the trip for you.

Masks

As of this writing, masks are not required anywhere.

Should something change, however, we will follow the local laws. That means if masks are required while outside in crowded places and/or on buses, we will comply. But it also means that if masks are not required outside and/or on buses, then it will be up to the individual to wear a mask or not.

If you are uncomfortable around those who do wear masks, or those who do not wear masks when not required by law, this is not the trip for you.

Openings and Closings

Currently, everything in the Holy Land is open, including churches, museums, restaurants, cafes, and bars. But keep in mind that things can change. Again, we need to be flexible. If something unexpectedly closes, we will look for a good alternative.

Cancellations

I want you to feel comfortable signing up for my pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

If Israel changes their requirements for entry, and you decide that doesn’t work for you, you will be refunded 100% of the cost of the pilgrimage.

If you need to cancel for any reason at all up to 90 days before the start of the trip, you will be refunded 100% of the cost of the pilgrimage.

If you need to cancel for any reason at all within 90 days of departure, you’ll get everything back minus the deposit.

Trip insurance is a wise investment in case something comes up while you are in Italy. If you think there is any chance you may need to cancel, I recommend you purchase travel insurance. A “Cancel for Any Reason” plan will let you, well, cancel for ‘most’ any reason. Most plans should allow for at least a 75% refund should you need to cancel at any time before departure. I have a friend who specializes in trip insurance, you can contact him directly, but you are under no obligation to use him and I don’t get any sort of kick backs, so shop around and find what is best for you.

Sign up

Use the form below to sign up for this pilgrimage. If you have any questions, email me at mtn@thecatholictraveler.com

Deposit Info
You’ll be able to pay by credit card or check. Payment info will be emailed to you once you sign up.