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Off the Beaten Path: A Walking Tour in Israel and Palestine

March 8 to 27, 2018

Get ready for something completely different: an alternative tourism adventure in Israel and Palestine. We will be walking off the beaten path for 11 out of 20 days (see the itinerary). This will be a “small group” tour, with 15 to 19 participants.

I have led nine Middle East tours, every one packed full of visits to ancient sites and guest lectures on the political situation. This time we will be heading in a slightly different direction. And we will slow down. Our focus will be on the land, the people, and, of course, the food.

We will walk for three days on the “Jesus Trail” in Galilee (from Nazareth to Capernaum), and then for six days in the West Bank/Palestine: from Nablus (ancient Shechem) to Jericho, and from there to Bethlehem. A few other hikes in the Golan region (Caesarea Philippi/Banyas) and around Bethlehem (from Beit Jala to Battir) will round out our walking experience.

You may be thinking, “This doesn’t seem to be a biblical tour.” Be assured. We will visit the traditional sites: Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, Nazareth, and Capernaum. In addition, we will visit Hebron (the burial site of Abraham and Sarah and others), participate in a Cooking School in Nablus, walk the famous Wadi Qelt, eat with and spend the night with Bedouin families, and much more.

You will experience the land in a way that would not be possible on a shorter, traditional Holy Land tour. St. Jerome once said that the land itself is the fifth gospel. Walking the land will provide insight into the ancient world of the Bible in a way that no lecture or visit to piles of ancient stones could ever do.

You will also experience the current political situation in a unique way. You will hear the stories of people along the way. Walking the ancient paths will open your eyes to the realities of life on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territories, both for Jews and for Palestinians.

I hope also that this will be a pilgrimage tour—an experience of reflection on what it means to be human in our time. For Jesus followers on the tour, I expect we will discover something of the vibrancy of the church in the Holy Land beyond the so-called holy places. To top it off, we will be in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Please note that this is a walking tour. You will need to be physically fit. We will be walking from 15 to 20 kilometers per day for 11 of the 20 days. Some days will find us on hilly and rocky terrain.

The tour includes all breakfasts and dinners, plus eight lunches along the way. 

Optional extensions or excursions after the end of the tour:

Please send a note to Gordon Matties if you are interested.

The tour is currently full. If you would like to be added to our waiting list, please contact Gordon Matties at

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The blog will be updated regularly with information, suggestions for preparing for the tour, links to articles, other websites, etc.

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