Thanksgiving in the Holy Land

November 18th – 30th, 2022
$5,800 (plus air)

As with all my pilgrimages, space is very limited.

The Holy Land reopened to vaccinated AND unvaccinated travelers on March 1st. I’ve taken several groups since the reopening and we’ve had amazing experiences.

I’ve been asked by many people to organize a Holy Land and Jordan pilgrimage over Thanksgiving. I had never considered taking a group on pilgrimage during this time, but I am looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with all of you in Jerusalem.

As with all The Catholic Traveler pilgrimages, this one includes daily Mass.

We will have my favorite local guides – Shafiq in Israel and Palestine, and Daoud in Jordan.

We are staying in excellent hotels. Some of the hotels are luxurious, one is a resort, and one looks like a tent on Mars.

We have amazing meals, including 14 meals in some of my favorite restaurants. We have unlimited wine (or beer or soda) with our meals. All meals, except for three lunches are included in the price.

All your tips to our local guides, our drivers, and for our meals.

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 and May pilgrimages, 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 can walk up to 5 miles per day. Please do consider this before signing up.

Is it safe?

I would not bring a group to somewhere I did not feel safe. I even brought my 17 year old daughter on my March and May trips.

On my March and May trips, 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 conflict, 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.

What is it like to visit Jordan?

Jordan is very friendly to westerners and western culture, they even have Starbucks. I’ve taken groups of all women, I’ve taken my wife and daughters, I’ve traveled alone. We’ve never felt unsafe or uncomfortable.

Itinerary

November 18th: 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 November 18th. Our only activity today is dinner.

Sunset over the Mediterranean Sea

November 19th: 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.

November 20th: 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…

November 21st: 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

November 22nd: 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.

November 23rd: 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. This afternoon we will tour a local market. On your own for lunch. Dinner included. Overnight in Jerusalem.

The Garden of Gethsemane

November 24th: This morning we will visit the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. We will go to Mount Zion to visit Saint Peter in Galicantu, Dormition Abbey, the Upper Room, and King David’s Tomb. Next, we will drive to Ein Kerem to the Church of the Visitation and the birthplace of Saint John the Baptist. Lunch and dinner included. Overnight in Jerusalem.

The Western Wall

November 25th: 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 on your own. Dinner included.

The spot of the Crucifixion

November 26th: This morning we cross into Jordan. Once crossing the border, we’ll head to Madaba to see the oldest map of the Holy Land, which is a mosaic on a church floor. While in Madaba we’ll dine at the excellent Haret Jdodna restaurant. Then we visit Mount Nebo to see where Moses saw the Promised Land and then died. We’ll celebrate Mass here and then head south to Petra. We are staying just outside the entrance to this ancient city at the Marriott Hotel. Lunch and dinner included.

The view of the Promised Land from Mount Nebo.

November 27th: This will be a best day ever! We will enter Petra with our guide right as it opens. We will walk the Siq, an amazing gorge that leads to the famous Treasury. Once here, you’ll have time on your own to hike and explore. This afternoon we will head deep, deep, deep into the Wadi Rum. Our coach can only go so far, so we will hop into 4x4s to get a tour of the sand dunes and watch an otherworldly sunset. Next, we will settle into our luxurious camp. We are staying at the otherworldly Aicha Camp. Lunch and dinner included.

The amazing views of Petra.

November 28th: This morning we leave the desert and head north to our Dead Sea resort. We are staying at the Marriott Dead Sea Resort. You’ll have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the resort amenities and float in the Dead Sea, but first, we’ll stop at Bethany Beyond the Jordan to the actual site where Jesus was Baptized. Saint John Paul II called this spot the heart of the Holy Land. Dinner included.

The spot where Christ was Baptized.

November 29th: Today we’ll visit the city of Amman. As long as their schedule allows, we will visit the Pontifical Mission for Palestine and spend a time with some of the Iraqi Christian refugee children. Lunch and dinner included.

Sunset over the Dead Sea

November 30th:
Your flight home from AMM.

Price

$5,800 (plus air)

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

Final payment of $4,800 with Jordan is due October 1st, 2022. 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 $1,700.

Included in the price

Accommodations for 12 nights
We are staying one night at the Setai on the Mediterranean Sea in Tel Aviv.

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

We are staying one night at Saint Gabriel in Bethlehem.

We are staying three nights at Leonardo Boutique in Jerusalem.

We are staying one night at the Marriott in Petra.

We are staying one night at the Suncity Martian Domes in Wadi Rum.

We are staying two nights at the Marriott Resort on the Dead Sea.

Breakfast daily plus 20 additional meals, including 14 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 hotel in Tel Aviv and our hotel at the Dead Sea and AMM. 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 Israel and Palestine portion. We will have Daoud with us in Jordan.

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 November 18th. 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 options.

You should depart no earlier than November 30th. We have dinner together on the 29th before heading to the airport. Let me know your flight info and I’ll arrange your airport transfer 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
No tests or vaccinations are needed to enter Israel or Jordan.

The US currently 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

No tests or vaccinations are needed to enter Israel or Jordan.

Vaccination status does not matter. And no additional tests are 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 $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 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. 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 to travel, 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.