Walking with Jesus in the Galilee
Afterwards, climb to the top of the hill for panoramic views of the whole trail, and hike 9km northwest to end the day with a delicious meal at the Arbel Guesthouse, where the chef's specialty is lamb casserole and homemade chocolate. Hikers are welcome to stay a night here or at the nearby luxurious cabins of Arbel Holiday Homes.
The final day begins with a 2km trek north from the village of Arbel to the summit of Mount Arbel, an imposing mountain overlooking Lake Galilee, then heads 5km down to the small closed-off ruins of Migdal (biblical Magdala), thought to be the home of Mary Magdalene. The tiny ruins of Migdal's old synagogue are not open to the public but visitors can take a 2km detour to the shore of Lake Galilee for a trip on the Jesus Boat, a 2,000-year-old vessel that was excavated and restored in 1986. From here, either enjoy a swim in Lake Galilee (from one of the many pebbled beaches or pay to use the facilities of Kibbutz Ginosar, 2km east around the lake). Or go straight to the Mount of Beatitudes, 2.5km to the northeast, to see its tranquil gardens and church, known for the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon, the longest piece of teaching from Jesus, was the “I Have a Dream” speech of its day and includes such famous quotes as “Blessed are the peacemakers”.
The trail ends just 2km southeast of the Mount of Beatitudes in Capernaum, a large fishing village at the time of Jesus and said to be the home of Saint Peter. Travellers can explore the ruins of two ancient limestone synagogues, a modern Catholic church built over a 5th-century octagonal church known as St Peter's House and the spectacular pink-domed Orthodox Church of Capernaum.
In addition to following Jesus' footsteps, the Jesus Trail closely follows the principles of the Leave No Trace organisation: only walking along established footpaths, respecting wildlife and carrying trash bags to dispose of any waste. "There is no enforcement of garbage disposal fines in Arab towns," explained Inon. "But thanks to the Jesus Trail, the local communities are becoming more aware of their environment."
Indeed, the Jesus Trail aims to have a positive impact on the local environment. In 2012 they participated in Clean-up the World Day (an annual global conservation event to be held again on 20 to 22 September 2013) by leading hundreds of local school children in and around Nazareth, picking up garbage along the route.
"We also encourage hikers to sleep in the villages and not to camp, as it contributes to the local economy and reduces their impact on nature," Inon said. "One of the highlights is that one night you are staying with a Muslim family in Cana and the next night with Jewish families in Kibbutz Lavi. This is the core of the Jesus Trail."