Journey to Jerusalem
A walking pilgrimage through the Judean Mountains and the Judean Desert – Up to Jerusalem
For more than 2500 years Jewish and later Christian pilgrims have been walking up to the Holy City of Jerusalem. This tradition became reinforced among Christian pilgrims during medieval times.
What we have done is re-establish a footpath to Jerusalem – The Journey to Jerusalem Project. This is an ancient route that has gone unused and forgotten for the last 200 years!
What attracts people to walk the Journey to Jerusalem ? Perhaps it is the mix of adventure, seeing the Land of Israel and its cultural and scenic mosaic, and the companionship that builds up over several days of walking and exploring together. Pilgrims as well as nature lovers come from all over the world to hike through valleys and forests, Jewish and Arab villages, desert oases, passing by ancient churches and monasteries, encountering different people and their foods of all kinds, enjoying the silence of nature….
This pilgrimage hike is divided into two complementary parts. The first begins in the Ayalon Valley on the western slopes of the Judean Hills, and winds up the fertile olive- and pine-tree covered mountains for three days to reach the pastoral village of Ein Kerem – just a few kilometers away from Jerusalem. But we will not enter the city yet! Restraining our curiosity, we approach the city from the east, walking from the Dead Sea through the dramatic landscapes of the Judean Desert with its ancient monasteries and unexpectedly lush desert oases – until we reach Jerusalem!
DAY 1 – Individual arrival
87 Ben Yehuda Street
Tel Aviv 63437
(located in downtown Tel Aviv, within walking distance to the beach)
DAY 2 – From Emmaus Nicopolis to Neve Ilan
Breakfast at the Deborah Hotel. 08:00 am: Gather in the hotel lobby. Meet the guide and transfer (30 min.) to Emmaus.
Through the “Valley of Springs” we pass by the remnants of ancient civilization and until modern history scattered over a vast area: wine presses, terraces and venerable olive trees.
We enter the beautiful Nahal Yitlah canyon, and finish today’s tour with a steep ascent to Neve Ilan.
Overnight: Neve Ilan Hotel
DAY 3 – From Neve Ilan via the Church of Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant to Tzuba
We continue through Nahal Yitlah canyon and reach the village of Abu Gosh, the ancient Kiryat Ye'arim. We visit the church of "Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant” and the Benedictine Crusader church.
Along the village of Ein Rafah we reach the spring of Ein Lamun, from where we ascend to Kibbutz Tzuba.
Overnight: Tzuba Hotel
DAY 4 – Walking in the Footsteps of John the Baptist: From Tzuba to Ein Kerem
We ascend Tel Tzuba, turn towards Ein Tzuba and visit the cave of John the Baptist.
Through the ancient agricultural terraces of Sataf we descend to the riverbed below and continue to the village of Ein Kerem – the traditional birthplace of John the Baptist.
In the afternoon hours we will drive around Jerusalem towards the Dead Sea – ending our day with a “floating experience”!
Overnight: Kibbutz Almog Guest House
DAY 5 – Through the Judean Desert – Along the ancient Sugar Road
In the early morning we hike along the ancient “sugar trail” up to Nabi Musa. We then descend into the Og Wadi and rest at the Bir el-Malki cisterns. We walk further west until we reach the Jerusalem-Dead Sea Highway.
Overnight: Kibbutz Almog Guest House
DAY 6 – Desert Springs and Monks in Upper Wadi Qelt and Entry into Jerusalem
Hiking the upper Wadi Kelt – from Ein Fawwar to Ein Fara and to the Chariton Monastery.
Around noon we descend from Mt. Scopus and through Tzurim Valley into Jerusalem until we finally reach the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
DAY 7 – The Old City of Jerusalem
Visit to Mt. Zion with Tomb of King David, Dormition-Abbey and the Room of the Last Supper. Along the Turkish Wall, Dung Gate and Western Wall and visit to the City of David/Silwan excavations.
Free time in the Old City.
DAY 8 – End of the Journey to Jerusalem - or Optional Excursion to the Sea of Galilee
Optional trip to the Sea of Galilee (advance reservation with a minimum of four participants).
We drive to the Sea of Galilee and visit Capernaum, Tabgha and the Mount of the Beatitudes.
On the way back to Jerusalem we will make a brief stop in Nazareth for the beautiful Church of the Annunciation.
Difficulty level: moderate
- Suitable for hikers of all ages who are in good health and fit for a full day of hiking. Trails are generally in good condition. Uphill sections are gentle, with a few short steeper sections.
- Average daily hiking times: 6-8 hours *
- Overnights in hotels along the route.
- Luggage transfer from overnight to overnight.
* Please note: The number of the hiking hours per day is given as an average and may change according to walking speed, the number of breaks and readings throughout the day.
"...Five gospels record the life of Jesus. Four you will find in books and one you will find in the land they call holy. Read the Fifth Gospel and the world of the four will open to you." (Bargil Pixner – Italian Benedictine monk and archaeologist)
“I rejoiced with those who said to me: Let us go to the house of the Lord. Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem.” (Psalm 122:1)