May Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

May 2nd – 9th, 2022
$4,300 (plus air)
Priest: Father Andrew Dalton

The Holy Land reopened to vaccinated AND unvaccinated travelers on March 1st and I took one of the first post pandemic Catholic groups on pilgrimage. It was amazing. We had all the sites to ourselves. There were many people who could not make that pilgrimage work because it was announced about 2 weeks before departure, so I’m offering another to give more people a chance to get to the Holy Land before it’s crazy crowded again.

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

We are staying in some beautiful hotels, all of our meals 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 is getting back to normal, 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.

During our March pilgrimage, there were no 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!

If this pilgrimage doesn’t work for you, no worries, I’ve been doing this for nearly 17 years and plan to do many, many more.

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.

Is it safe?

First, I would not bring a group to somewhere I did not feel safe. I even brought my 17 year old daughter on my March trip.

On the March trip, we traveled up to the Syrian, Lebanese, and Jordanian borders and we were completely safe. We had several meals in Palestinian restaurants in the West Bank and we were completely safe.

What about the war?

War is a concern in that people are suffering. But the Middle East is used to fighting, so nothing has changed in that sense. Yes, Kyiv is closer to Israel than the US, but it’s still 2262 miles away — about the same distance between NYC and Vegas.

Itinerary

May 2nd: Arrive TLV. Transfer to our hotel located on the beach in Tel Aviv. Dinner included. Some people like to arrive early to enjoy the Mediterranean beach, but you should make sure your flight arrives by May 2nd. Our only activity today is dinner.

Sunset over the Mediterranean Sea

May 3rd: 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. We’ll also visit Saint Joseph’s Church. 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.

The Word was made flesh, here.

May 4th: 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.

You are Peter, and on this rock…

May 5th: We will visit Capernaum and visit the church built over Peter’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. Lunch and dinner included. Overnight on the Sea of Galilee.

The trail Jesus walked to Nazareth

May 6th: This morning we head to Mount Tabor to the Basilica of Transfiguration. Then we will continue to Bethlehem. We will do some shopping to support the local Palestinian Christians, we will visit Shepherd’s Field, and then the Church of the Nativity. Lunch and dinner included. Overnight in Bethlehem.

Christ was born, here.

May 7th: This morning we head up to Jerusalem. 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. After lunch, we will go to 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.

The Garden of Gethsemane

May 8th:
This morning we will visit the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. Next we will drive to Ein Kerem to the Church of the Visitation and the birthplace of Saint John the Baptist. We will then visit the town of Jericho. We will stop at the Jordan River and end the day with a float in the Dead Sea. Lunch and dinner included. Overnight in Jerusalem.

The Western Wall

May 9th: 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 Pontius Pilate. Lunch included. Most flights to the US depart late tonight and some will depart early morning on the 10th.

The spot of the Crucifixion

Price

$4,300 per person – ground only.

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

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 8 nights
We are staying one night at Herods on the Mediterranean Sea in Tel Aviv.

We are staying three nights at the brand new boutique hotel Sofia, right on the Sea of Galilee.

We are staying one night at Saint Gabriel in Bethlehem.

We are staying three nights at Notre Dame in Jerusalem.

Breakfast daily plus 14 additional meals, including 9 meals in some of my favorite restaurants.

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

Airport transfers
Airport transfers both ways between TLV and our hotels. Send me your flight info as soon as it is confirmed.

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
*** Before you book a flight, wait for me to confirm we have enough people to make the trip happen.

You should arrive at TLV no later than May 2nd. Send me your flight info once booked. Tel Aviv is a beautiful city on the beach. Some people like to arrive early and enjoy the Mediterranean Sea and the excellent food option.

You should depart no earlier than the evening of May 9th. We have lunch together on the 9th before heading to the airport. Most direct flights to the US depart around 10 or 11 PM or 6 AM the following day. If you have a European connection, your flight may depart in the morning of May 10th. Just let me know and I’ll arrange your airport transfer and hotel stay at no extra charge.

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.

Your COVID tests
You’ll need a PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival to TLV. Book this as soon as you can.

You’ll need a PCR on arrival in TLV. I will send you the link to book this before arrival. It’s a very easy process (and it was also one of the gentlest tests I’ve ever had).

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

Starting March 1st, Israel will allow anyone (vaccinated or unvaccinated) with a negative PCR COVID test taken within 72 hours before arrival to enter the country.

You will also take a PCR test on arrival in TLV. This test is not included in the price as you will pay them directly when you book the test.

Israel is requiring Trip Insurance that includes COVID coverage. For my March trip, I was able to get 100% cancellation coverage for $140. 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 one of the first post-pandemic pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

A “Cancel for Any Reason” Trip Insurance 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, some will give 100%. 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.

If for any reason I need to cancel or postpone the trip, you will be refunded 100% of the cost of the pilgrimage.

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.