Backpacker Magazine on the Jesus Trail

The Jesus Trail crew was excited to welcome Backpacker Magazine senior editor Dennis Lewon and acclaimed photographer Jason Florio to the trail this March.  The two came to walk the trail for a story for Backpacker Magazine scheduled to come out in 2012.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather for the six days of exploring, walking and photographing the Jesus Trail.

Dennis is an experienced and seasoned journalist, editor and adventure traveler who has worked with North America’s outdoor industry-leading magazines Backpacker and Outside.  Jason ( captures amazing images from all around the world, including taking portraits of local leaders on his 900-km trek around the perimeter of the Gambia, and documenting Somalian pirates and Burmese freedom fighters.  We really enjoyed the opportunity to learn from these experienced adventurers, and also to share the sites and friendships along the trail that we value so much.

Each day we were met with friendly faces from across the diverse ethnic and religious spectrum that makes up the Galilee.  At one point, Jason mentioned that walking the Jesus Trail feels like being inside of a “cultural washing machine,” with new diverse experiences each day.  From the beginning we’ve believed that the Jesus Trail is a world-class hiking route, and continued experiences such as the ones we shared with Dennis and Jason only confirm this to us.

We’re looking forward to seeing the story in print in the coming year.

Highlights of the journey:

  • Two days in Nazareth, visiting the local sites including Nazareth Village, the Basilica of the Annunciation and the White Mosque and hearing the story of the Fauzi Azar Inn and other local businesses.
  • Walking to Cana via Zippori, enjoying the ancient Byzantine mosaics and the hospitality of Arab Christians Sami and Suad Bellan in Cana.  Several couples from various continents were renewing their wedding vows at the Catholic Wedding Church at Cana.
  • In Ilaniya, the privilege of meeting with local historian Estie Yankelevitch, who took us to ruins of the Arab village Shejera, and showed us an ancient synagogue, wine presses, and tombs including an ancient tomb with a menorah on the wall from the Jewish town during the Roman era.  We shared a Shabbat meal with Avie and Estie’s family at Yarok Az Ecolodge.
  • Walking over the Horns of Hattin with a marvelous clear view and explosion of wildflowers in every direction.
  • At the Nebi Shu’eib shrine we met with Shafiq Tarif, a Druze leader, who told us more about his little-known religion.  Nearby at the ruins of the village of Hattin, a Christian family from Bar’am was having a barbecue.  They invited us to eat a pork sandwich with them– the first pork those of us who live here have eaten in a long time!
  • At Shavit’s Arbel Guesthouse, owner Sara Shavit told the story of her parents’ miraculous escape from the Holocaust and shared her pride and happiness in now having a large family of her own and a family made up of the guests she hosts daily at their B&B.  Her husband, Israel, prepared a sumptuous feast of lamb casserole and many fresh and tasty salads and spreads.
  • The final walking day took us down Arbel cliffs where we met a friendly group from Sakhnin also hiking, who invited us to visit their village.
  • We finished the walk at the Sea of Galilee, with a visit to several churches and the ruins of Capernaum.

View photos from Backpacker Magazine’s visit on Facebook