Ancient Lands 2022: Israel

5 Days


Hosted by Jim Heck & Kathleen Morgan

October 30 to November 2, 2022


If you have traveled with Jim Heck before you know that one of his greatest passions is early man. This trip is the next step.

Archaeological sites in many parts of the world record a serious advance in human civilization around 7000 years ago marked by sophisticated trade and encouraged by a more comfortable climate, warm and wet. This is when agriculture developed, the first great collective human achievement.

This peaked around 3500 BCE simultaneously in Pakistan’s Indus Valley and Egypt. [China’s civilization at this point was a thousand years behind.] Just the buildings that you’ll see on this trip, from the pyramids to Petra to the Golden Dome, remain the most awesome structures man has ever constructed! And to think that they were built so long ago is mind-boggling.

Then the favorable climate began to reverse: It got hotter, sea levels declined and rain drastically decreased. Competition for good agricultural land grew fierce and we believe provoked alliances that turned into the “governments” of kings and pharaohs. Just after 3500 BCE the center of world power and politics was indisputably what is now Egypt, Jordan and Israel. The first and greatest capital in the world was Jerusalem.

I think you know what followed: endless conflict, wars, a constant struggle for diminishing good land. The relative paradise, the Garden of Eden – as simple and primitive as it was from 7000-3500 BCE – ended with human conflict and intelligence battling for an increasingly challenged natural world.

If you believe like many historians – ancient and modern – that an understanding of the present is only possible with a foundational understanding of the past, how does this work? Well, by schooling and study of course. But there’s also a more fun way: you can actually visit the places to see for yourself!

You’ll all warrant post-grad degrees after this trip! Of course these countries have popular beaches and Disneyland theme parks, even casinos. And as you’ll see on this trip, wondrous natural areas, too. But a visitor can’t go a minute in any of these places without some obvious reference to the gravitas of its past and the obvious implications for our future.

So Jim is specially pleased that this weighty task is started for us by the extremely special guide, Husam Jubran. Watch his half-hour interview with Rick Steves by clicking here. I don’t think it’s too much of an over-simplification to contend that the whole complicated struggle of the world can be reduced to the struggles between religions: Christians and Muslims, Jews and Palestinians, etc. Husam is one of only 43 Palestinian guides licensed by Israel to tell Israel’s story. Israel trusts him with their story but he is Palestinian and you’ll hear that story as you would on no other standard trip.

Join Jim on this extraordinary trip. Your eyes will pop; your brain might explode, but in the end we hope you’ll find the unique peace which a little bit more of the understanding of the human endeavor brings to us all.

You can choose to visit Israel, Jordan, Egypt or all three. This page details the Israel itinerary.

2022 Sharing Single
Israel Oct 30 – Nov 2 $ 3,645 $ 3,930
Jordan Nov 3 – 8 $ 3,680 $ 4,080
Egypt Nov 9 – 19 $ 7,945 $ 8,780

Note about the sightseeing: We’ve packed an awful lot into this tour in all three countries even though it hardly skims the surface. At the same time it’s probably too much for some people. If you’d like some free time or have certain other attractions in mind that aren’t described in the itinerary, let us know! It’s easy to skip or substitute days or half days and all the guides are prepared to assist you with convenient, quick and inexpensive ways of leaving the sightseeing early or catching up with it later in the day.


Following your independent arrival into Tel Aviv, take the bus, a cab or sherut to Jerusalem. The bus costs around $10 and operates every hour. A cab costs around $80 and a sherut (shared taxi) is negotiable. Tel Aviv will remind you of Miami. The size and looks and population of the two cities are similar. The 50-mile drive from Ben Gurion airport to our hotel in Jerusalem takes around 45 minutes with normal traffic. Nothing further is planned, today. Overnight at the American Colony Hotel. [no meals]
Sightseeing traditionally starts very early in Jerusalem, usually around 7:30a. First on this morning’s schedule is the Masada fortress which is a pleasant hour and half drive through rural countryside mostly along the west side of the Dead Sea. Masada is perhaps the most lauded historical site in Israel. It’s where heroic Jewish soldiers made their last stand against the Roman conquerors. Our special guide intends to go well beyond the impressive history “to engage in a good discussion about the past and the present.” We’ll enjoy a local sandwich lunch near the ruins then make our way back up the Dead Sea to the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. More than just insight into ancient languages, the detailed archaeological dig produced remarkable insights into the civilization of the time. Finally the day ends at Jericho, the oldest archaeological site in Israel where precious artifacts as old as 11,000 years were discovered. The guide will also introduce us to the “monastic life of Palestine” practiced in the area. We’ll return to the hotel around 5:30p and the evening is independent. Overnight at the American Colony Hotel. [b-l- ]
The day begins around 8 a.m. and is dedicated to visiting the West Bank for a greater understanding of the culture, history and politics of Palestinians. The day is centered around the city of Hebron. This is unique sightseeing for which few guides are licensed. The morning walk begins on the Israeli side of the city but quickly veers into the Palestinian side to visit the Tomb of the Patriarch where Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Leah, Isaac and Rebecca are believed to be buried. Lunch will be with an activist Palestinian family anxious to explain their politics. After lunch we’ll visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where it’s believed Jesus was born. The afternoon ends with a powerful and unique visit to a Palestinian refugee camp near the city wall. Return to the hotel around 5:30p. The evening is free. Overnight at the American Colony Hotel. [b-l- ]
Another early departure for the mandatory wait-in-line to visit the famous Temple Mount/Aqsa mosque. This is by far the holiest place for all the three religions active in Jerusalem: Jewish, Christian and Islam. It’s only possible to stand on the platform that overlooks the site “and we will learn why we cannot enter the structures once we’re there.” As you can imagine, the site is laden with historical and political controversy. Afterwards our guide will walk us to the Western Wall, which to many practicing Jews is as equally important religiously as the Temple Mount. This will be followed by a private lunch in the home of an Armenian family where a free, wide-ranging discussion about the diverse cultures populating Jerusalem over the eons is expected. In the early afternoon Husam takes us to the old city for a walk down the famous Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. Our afternoon walk ends as we exit the old city at the Jaffa Gate. We then take a scenic drive to the hilltop of the Mount of Olives for a panoramic view of the city and discussion of the Judean era. Back to the hotel around 4:45p with the evening independent. Overnight at the American Colony Hotel. [b-l- ]
Leave the hotel around 9 a.m. for our journey into Jordan. There will be time this morning for a walking tour of the Palestinian city of Ramallah. Ramallah is the center of Palestinian intelligentsia and much more prosperous than Hebron. We’ll enjoy a final Israeli lunch here before continuing to the Allenby Bridge. This is the main of three land borders with Jordan, and for the thousands of workers and residents crossing daily a major headache. With special V.I.P. service we’ll be whisked to the front of the lines and cross relatively effortlessly into Jordan. There our Jordanian transport will be waiting and the drive to our hotel on the eastern side of the Dead Sea is less than an hour where we join those just arriving for the Jordanian trip. [b-l- ]

Cost Includes

  • Accommodations and meals as named
  • Professionally guided sightseeing as described
  • Entrance fees for all included attractions
  • Private transportation for the group

Additional Expenses Not Included

  • All other necessary air fares, including international, regional and intra-country
  • Visas
  • PCR testing if required
  • Tipping (Jim & Kathleen do not accept tips)
  • The costs of obtaining requisite inoculations and documentation
  • Some meals
  • Most beverages
  • Upgrades and options whose prices and details change and are described on request