December 26th, 2019 – Israel Tour

December 26, 2019 Holy Land Tour – Israel with optional Petra add on

Tour Directors: Hank Smith & John Hilton III (see bios below)
Price: $2,095 per person based on double occupancy ($2,175 if paying by credit card)


Tour Israel this Christmas with your family. Discover the Holy Land and feel the power of the Savior’s and apostles words as you study them on site. You get two LDS tour directors for one price..giving variety and different approaches to your Holy Land experience.

Hank Smith and John Hilton will be your tour directors. They are both dynamic teachers and great for teens and adults. You will love them. They will rotate buses. Every other day you will be with either Hank or John. We will stagger the buses so that it doesn’t feel like you are with a big group. Along with the LDS guides, we will have awesome Israeli guides accompanying the group.


Tour Price Includes

  • Hotels – Dan Boutique or Olive Tree (Jerusalem), Nazareth Ramada (Northern Israel), Renaissance (Tel Aviv)
  • Local Guide & LDS Tour Directors
  • Breakfast & Dinner (Lunches Not Included)
  • First Class Coach/Bus
  • All entrance Fees
  • Whisper Head Sets

Not Included In Tour Price

  • Tips:  We will collect these in advance $100 per person. You will not need to tip anybody during the course of the tour.
  • International Airfare – We can assist you in making the airline reservations at no charge if necessary. We email the group about 4 months prior to the tour the suggested flight schedule. We do not arrange group airfare since usually it is considerably more expensive to do so. We are flexible on flights and we will give you an arrival time for when you should arrive in Tel Aviv. Flights are usually around $1,300-$1,500 out of SLC.
  • Lunches, personal items, phone, internet, etc.

December 26 (Thu): Depart United States

December 27 (Fri): Arrive in Tel Aviv: Enjoy a relaxing evening, walk on the beach or swim in the Mediterranean as you recover from jet lag and prepare for our wonderful adventure.

December 28 (Sat): Tel Aviv – Jaffa – Caesarea – Mt. Carmel

caesarea-hadera-jer113We will begin our vacation with a visit of Old Jaffa (Joppa) and the Artists’ Quarters. Jaffa is where Peter received his vision leading to the expansion of missionary work to the Gentiles and is also the place that Jonah attempted to flee from the Lord’s presence aboard a ship bound for Tarshish. We will look at similarities between these two events as well as the message of “the sign of Jonah”. From Jaffa, we will travel along the Mediterranean coast to the Roman, New Testament capital, Caesarea. Once in Caesarea, we will see an ancient Roman theatre and study the Biblical events that happened here, connecting them to the events at Joppa. From Caesarea, we will go to Nazareth stopping at Mt. Carmel on the way, where we will discuss the epic battle between Elijah and the wicked priests of Baal as well as take a look at the story of David & Nabal. We will overnight at our hotel in Nazareth.

December 29 (Sun):   Cana – Megiddo – Nazareth  Village – Mount Tabor 

megiddo gateWe will start the morning at Nazareth village where we will have a glimpse into the life of villagers during Christ’s childhood. Then we will continue with a visit to Megiddo, which is prophesied as the beginning location for Armageddon. This was an ancient cross-roads where taxes were collected and many battles fought, foreshadowing the “end of days” battle between good and evil. From Megiddo, we will drive via Cana, the place where Christ turned water into wine at a wedding feast, to Nazareth. Nazareth was the boyhood home of Jesus. Here we will see the Church of Annunciation and a local synagogue church. This synagogue will give us an idea of the synagogue where Christ taught his first recorded sermon. We will finish the day on Mount Tabor, where we will discuss the transfiguration as understood in context of modern revelation.  We’ll finish the evening by dining at the home of our Bedouin sheik bus driver (if possible) before returning to our hotel in Nazareth.

December 30 (Mon): Sea of Galilee Boat Ride – Caesarea Phillipi  – Capernaum – Mount of Beatitudes – Tel Dan

caesarea phillipi 2Today will begin with a drive along the coasts of the Sea of Galilee, passing by Magdala (home town of Mary Magdelene) before arriving at traditional site where Christ delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Here we will find a quiet place to study the doctrines of that amazing sermon. Then we will visit Capernaum, which was the center of Jesus’ Galilean ministry. In Capernaum, Christ performed many miracles and gave many profound teachings, including the “Bread of Life” sermon. We will see the remains of a synagogue from the time of Christ, which very well may have been the synagogue in which He taught. For lunch you will have the opportunity to try St. Peter’s Fish (or a chicken/lamb kabob). After lunch, we will take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Feel the power and peace of this amazing location and learn of those miracles that took place on this Sea. We’ll continue our day with a visit to Banias (Caesarea Phillipi) at the foot of Mount Hermon, which is the site of Peter’s testimony of Savior and one of the sources of the Jordan River as it emerges from the foothills of Mount Hermon. Time permitting, we will visit the ancient site of Tel Dan and discuss why the Northern Kingdom would have begun to worship the golden calf. Return to our hotel in Nazareth.

 December 31 (Tue): Beth Shean – Jordan Valley – Jordan River (Bethabara) – Wadi qelt 

bet-sheanAfter checking out this morning, we will begin the day with a visit to the strategic site of Beth Shean (one of the Greek decapolis cities of the New Testament). At these impressive ruins we will see the splendor of Roman life and Hellenistic culture. Here Saul’s body was nailed to the city walls when he was captured. We will then drive through the Jordan Valley passing by Jericho and review some of the important scriptural events that took place on the road to Jericho. We will stop by what is believed to be near the ancient baptismal site of Christ on the Jordan River.  From here we will continue on to Jerusalem.

January 1 (Wed): Jerusalem – Mount of Olives – Old City –  City of David/Hezekiah’s tunnel – Davidson Center (Southern Steps of the Temple) – House of Caiaphas – Gallacantu

dome-of-the-rock1.jpgWe will begin our first full day in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives, where we can view and discuss the history of ancient Jerusalem. From the Mount of Olives, we will walk down to Gethsemane. Then we will begin a walking tour of the Old City in which we will see Mount Zion, the St. Anna Church with the Pools of Bethesda, and the Antonia Fortress. We will walk a portion of the “Via Dolorosa”, which is the traditional road that Christ walked on his way to Golgotha. We will walk through the Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall and descend into the tunnels of the Western Wall. In the afternoon, we will see the Cardo Maximus, Mount Zion and the House of Caiaphas. For those who would like, there will be the option of going through Hezekiah’s tunnel. We will return to our hotel in the evening.

January 2 (Thu): Bethelehem – Garden Tomb –  Golgotha — Old City (Free time & anything we missed on first day)

garden tombWe will start the morning early in Bethlehem, the birth place of Christ. In Bethlehem, we will visit the church of the Nativity and the Shepherd’s field. We will then return to Jerusalem where you will have free time for shopping at the Joffa gate. We will also visit any of the sites in the Old City that we missed on Thursday. From there we will proceed to the Garden Tomb, where we will also be able to view the ancient Golgotha. Here we will be discuss and ponder the final moments of Christ’s mortal life and his glorious resurrection.

January 3 (Fri): Jordan River – Qumran –  Massada – Dead Sea

masadaThis will be the final day of tour in Israel. We will start the morning with church services at the Jerusalem Center. We will begin by driving to the Qumran caves where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered. From there, we will head to Masada. Here we will take a cable car to the top of Masada to see the ruins of the palace-fortress built by King Herod. We will discuss the history of the Zealots’ last stand against the Romans. For those interested in swimming, we will stop on our way back at a beach on the Dead Sea where those who would like can float in the salty water. Those flying home to the US will go directly to the airport this evening. Those continuing on to Jordan will stay on the bus as we head down to the Red Sea.

Transfer to airport for late night flight home. Flight should be scheduled for around midnight if not going on to Petra/Jordan.

January 4 (Sat): Arrive Home

Petra Add-On
$650 Per person – Check Price

January 4 (Sat): We’ll begin the morning by driving to Rum Wadi where we’ll get in jeeps to take a ride through the Rum Wadi desert. This is a surreal experience not to be missed. The afternoon will be free to relax at our luxurious resort on the Red Sea or to go snorkeling.

January 5 (Sun): Jordan – Petra 

Petra Today we will visit the amazing site of Petra. Petra is a historical and archaeological city in the Jordanian governorate of Ma’an that is famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. Petra was established sometime around the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans and was later occupied by the Romans. It is a symbol of Jordan as well as its most visited tourist attraction.  We will have dinner and then travel to Amman for flights home.


January 6 (Mon): Arrive home


Tour Directors:

John Hilton III – John Hilton III is an assistant professor of Ancient Scripture. Prior to coming to BYU, John worked with the LDS Seminary and Institute program for eleven years in a variety of capacities. John has a Masters degree from Harvard and a Ph.D from BYU, both in Education. John loves to teach and his research focuses on issues relating to both religious pedagogy and Open Educational Resources (OER). John and his wife Lani have six children. John is passionate about doing humanitarian service and is an amateur magician.

Hank Smith – Hank is a master teacher. He is super fun and engaging. Youth love him. He grew up in St. George, Utah and has an MBA from Utah State University. Hank is currently Ph.D. candidate at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah where he is also an instructor.  In addition to his work in consulting with companies and families, Hank has presented at nationwide Best of Especially for Youth, Retreat for Girls, Time to Blossom, and Time Out for Girls programs, several University Education Weeks, public school assemblies, and various forums around the country.  Hank has also authored many books and “Audio CDs” with Covenant Communications.

Hank and his wife, Sara, currently live in Mapleton, Utah.  Hank says that, “Sara is amazing, she knows everything about me and still loves me.” They have 3 adorable children. Hank enjoys running marathons (15 so far) and eating lots of ice cream, which is why he runs marathons.  More than anything else he loves being with his wonderful wife and children.

Comparing us with our competitors:

When comparing our tours to Israel with our competitors, you will want to consider accommodations, guides (LDS & local), price and itinerary.

Price: Our prices will meet or beat most of our competitors (on a per day average) plus you get two LDS tour guides, rotating back and forth on the buses.

Accommodations: We stay at mostly 4 and 5 star hotels (Israeli standards – similar to 3 star US hotels) and use first-class motor coaches. For groups over 30 guests, we will use headsets so that everybody can hear. Most LDS tour operators use similar accommodations although there are a few that use very budget hotels.

Group Size: We limit our groups to one bus load per LDS tour director. In this case, this tour will have two LDS tour directors – one on each bus. We will also have one Israeli guide on each bus. For most of the time, the buses will run separate routes during the day. This is a very important consideration when booking an Israel tour. Two buses traveling together can be slow.

Guides: Our LDS guides are not just gospel scholars, they are personable and good teachers. Hank and John are both very charismatic, insightful teachers. You will love them. They are also excellent for teens and young adults. We are very selective about our local guides and drivers as well. The local guide we typically work with is an orthodox, Scottish Jew. We have found over the years that Israeli and Palestinian guides often do not work well with American, LDS groups. Our local guide is quite easy going and easy to understand. We think you’ll love him.

Itineraries: You will find that most itineraries are similar. We have tried to not commercialize our tours. We will not stop during the day at diamond shops, rug shops, olive wood shops, etc. We schedule a little free time during the day in Jerusalem for shopping and then an evening trip for those interested to an olive wood shop (Jimmies Bazaar). Typically we will arrive at a site. The local guide will give a short historical/archaeological overview of the site. Then the LDS tour director will spend 5 to 30 minutes in the scriptures on site. You will then have a little free time for pictures, shopping and restrooms.

We have chosen to de-emphasize visits to Catholic & Orthodox churches. Invariably you will visit many of churches and cathedrals on a visit to the Holy Lands, but we focus more on the natural sites and the Biblical events that took place there rather than on the Christian churches that have been built up on most of the sites.

Terms & Conditions
Deposit: $250 per person (deposit is non-refundable – it can be transferred to another person on the same tour date)
Final Payment:
Due October 26, 2019
Single Pricing: There is an additional cost of $125
Passports: Required and must be valid 6 months after tour date
Price does NOT include airfare, lunch and tips

To Reserve Call 800-217-7660 or 801-850-1498

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