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Take an epic 26-day journey across lands of ancient civilizations, holy relics, cities carved from stone and sunrises over desert landscapes. Sip aromatic coffee in Cairo before you discover the pharaonic temples and tombs along the Nile River. Take jeep safaris in Wadi Rum and Negev, camping under unpolluted skies full of stars. Discover the Rose City of Petra and the Roman city of Jerash before arriving in Tel Aviv. Taste unbelievable falafel in Manger Square and take a walking tour through Jerusalem. Immerse yourself in the frequently misunderstood Middle East and gain an understanding you can't get from news bulletins.
Day 1: Cairo
Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Egypt. You'll be met on arrival at Cairo International Airport and transferred to your hotel, and your Egyptian adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm this evening. Cairo is one of the great cities of antiquity and its history can be symbolised by two imposing landmarks – the Pyramids of Giza and the Mosque of Mohammed Ali. If you have some time spare, perhaps get out and explore the busy streets of this city of contrasts – from donkey carts to expensive cars, desert slums to modern shopping malls. You could also travel along the river by felucca – a traditional wooden sailboat – or head out to explore the Khan al-Khalili markets.
Day 2: Cairo
This morning after breakfast you’ll see some of the world’s most iconic sights – the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. Explore these structures that have stood tall for over 4500 years, and for an additional charge you may be able to go inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu, although occasionally it’s closed to visitors. Afterwards, your adventure continues to the Egyptian Museum, home to one of the world's great collections of ancient artefacts. Wander the treasure-filled halls, and make sure to check out the optional Mummies Hall for a close encounter with some of the country’s most important queens and pharaohs. The masses of gleaming artefacts recovered from the tomb of Tutankhamun are an impressive sight – from jewellery to the famous golden death mask and his gilded sarcophagi, this pharaoh was certainly prepared for the afterlife.
Day 3: Alexandria
Jump in a private van today and drive to the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria (approximately 3 hours). Egypt's second largest city and main port, locals call this vibrant city the Bride of the Mediterranean Sea. The Greek architect Dinocrates built Alexandria in 331 BC under the orders of Alexander the Great. The city, immortalising Alexander's name, quickly flourished into a prominent cultural, intellectual, political and economic metropolis. On arrival, head underground and delve into the mysteries of the Kom ash-Shuqqafa catacombs. This Roman burial site is the largest of its kind in Egypt. The crypts are 20 metres below street level, and what probably began as a small family tomb grew into a labyrinth of chambers that could accommodate more than 300 bodies. Afterwards, stop by the strikingly modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina, inspired by the original great library of Alexandria and built to hold over eight million books. Take some time to stroll along the Corniche and around Fort Qaitbey to enjoy the fresh Mediterranean air.
Day 4: Alexandria
This morning, pay a visit to Al Montazah Palace and Gardens. Montazah Gardens is home to two palaces, one built in 1892 and another in 1932 by King Fuad I, and acres of manicured gardens. They are located along the shoreline and flow from splendidly landscaped gardens into great beaches. Soak up the surroundings before returning by private van to Cairo (approximately 3 hours). Take some time to relax or get some snacks before you board an overnight sleeper train to Aswan (approximately 13 hours).
Day 5: Aswan
The Nile, Elephantine Island and white-sailed feluccas. Welcome to Aswan – Egypt's southernmost city. Its easy-going charm is due in no small part to its large Nubian population. The city is Egypt's southern gateway to Africa and an important market town, so take time here to check out one of the country's best bazaars. When you arrive, you’ll explore the beautiful Temple of Isis (the Goddess of health, marriage and wisdom), which was rescued from the rising waters of the Nile and relocated on Philae Island. It's a marvel of decorative pylons featuring some of Egypt's finest carvings – definitely one of the real gems of Upper Egypt. In any free time, you might choose to visit the excellent Nubian Museum, which showcases the history, art and culture of the Nubians. This evening you’ll experience modern Nubian culture firsthand with a visit to a nearby village. Join a local Nubian family for a memorable dinner and get an insight into the daily life of the local people.
Day 6: Nile Cruise
This morning, take a short flight (approximately 45 minutes) from Aswan to Abu Simbel, where you’ll explore some magnificent temples. Built by Ramses II, it was the gateway to Egypt for Southern Africans and its imposing facade clearly delineated the line between what was the Pharaoh's land and what was not. With the four gargantuan statues of Ramses guarding the Great Temple, carved directly out of the mountain on the west bank of the Nile, this is one of Egypt's most memorable sights. Return from Abu Simbel and transfer to meet your Nile cruise boat. Enjoy a fantastic mix of total relaxation and organised sightseeing on a Nile River cruise to Luxor.
Day 7: Nile Cruise
Continue your leisurely cruise down the Nile, with today’s stop at Kom Ombo Temple, north of Aswan. Built on a high dune overlooking the Nile, the complex sits picturesquely ruined on the river's edge and dates back to the second century BC. The complex is unique because it has a mirror-image design, divided down the middle, with either side dedicated to a different set of gods. One half is known as the Temple of Sobek (the crocodile-headed god of fertility), and it includes details on the Ancient Egyptian's relationship with crocodiles, whom they revered and feared in equal measure. The other half is dedicated to Haroeris (also known as Horus the falcon god), and the whole temple is full of fascinating reliefs. Afterwards, return to the boat and travel upriver, with free time relaxing on the sundeck and taking in the surrounding sights – desert hills forming a backdrop to lush riverbanks, fishermen casting their nets and farmers working their land. This is living.
Day 8: Nile Cruise
Today finds you moored near Edfu – a beautifully preserved temple also dedicated to Horus, the falcon-headed god. You will disembark and discover the lively streets of Edfu town, so get acquainted the bustling town centre and the bazaar. You’ll have time to visit the City of Edfu if you wish (please see our notes below regarding visiting Edfu Temple) Back on board, continue towards Luxor passing through the Esna Locks. It is not uncommon to have to queue to proceed through the locks, a great opportunity to check out the process from deck with a cool drink in hand, and listen to the shouts of the many captains as they navigate their way through the various small boats of merchants selling their wares to a captive audience – life on the Nile. Chill out and make the most of the incredible views across one of the world’s greatest rivers and your last night onboard.Edfu Temple: In the past some of our customers have made the decision to walk to the Temple. The duration of the walk is about 30 mins each way, but be aware the road is busy and there is the risk of getting hassled from the carriage drivers. If you choose to walk please inform your Leader before you depart and ensure you are carrying water and have comfortable shoes and a hat and sunscreen.
Day 9: Luxor
Your Nile cruise comes to an end in the open-air museum of Luxor – from the spectacular temple complex of Karnak to the Valley of the Kings, Luxor is full of wonderfully preserved reminders of the Pharaohs. Today you'll explore the Karnak Temple, which is perhaps the most impressive of all the ancient Pharaoh’s monumental works. One of the world's most celebrated temple complexes, Karnak is a house of the gods built over a period of some 200 years. Your guided tour of this vast temple of impressive pylons, obelisks and chapels will reveal its finest sections, such as the Avenue of Sphinxes and the Great Temple of Amun. The rest of the day is free for you to relax, shop in the excellent bazaar (open until quite late) or perhaps experience the atmosphere of a local teahouse.
Day 10: Luxor
Today you’ll hop in a private minivan and discover ancient Thebes. Your first stop is the Colossi of Memnon – two 17-metre-high statues on Luxor's west bank. Continue on to the Valley of the Kings. Buried under the arid hills here are over 60 tombs of pharaohs, many richly decorated with reliefs and paintings. With your leader, explore this place, where the pharaohs of the New Kingdom (16th to 11th century BC) were secretly interred for all eternity, and where discoveries are still being made. Your group leader will explain the history and legends of these remarkable people, and the significance of the many paintings and hieroglyphics, still well preserved in the deepest tombs. You will visit three of the royal tombs and then continue to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut – a colonnaded building set against high cliffs that create a spectacular natural amphitheatre. The afternoon is yours to explore – perhaps you'd like to shop in the market or visit the world's first Mummification Museum to discover the secrets of pharaonic preservation.
Day 11: Cairo
Catch a short flight back up to Cairo this morning (approximately 1.5 hours). On your return to the capital, visit the Islamic parts of the city and the frenetic backstreets of the bazaar with your leader. A labyrinth of narrow streets and passageways, Khan is one of the biggest and oldest markets in the world. The 'Khan', sprawling around an old area known as Al-Azhar, is a quintessentially Cairo experience – a warren of alleys with stalls serving up a succession of intoxicating scenes. You might explore the gold market, ‘Perfume Street’ and the spice market, where heady aromas hang in the air like a thick blanket of Damascene cloth – which you could purchase next door in the cloth market! Tonight, perhaps gather together you fellow travellers for a celebratory kebab, kofta, sheesha, or all of the above.
Day 12: Amman
This morning take a short flight from Cairo to Amman. On arrival you will have some free time before the welcome meeting at 6pm. Take some time to start doing some sight seeing. Some of the highlights include the Citadel, with its sweeping views of Amman, the Jordan Museum (home to the Dead Sea Scrolls), or the Roman Theatre, right in the middle of downtown Amman.Meet your new leader and new group members at the welcome meeting at 6pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. Your new leader will be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand.
Day 13: Wadi Rum
After breakfast today, journey down the Desert Highway to the spellbinding Wadi Rum (approximately 4.5 hours), a landscape of rugged sandstone mountains standing tall among an ochre desert floor. Meet your Bedouin hosts on arrival followed by free time for lunch, before heading into this desolate, romantic area. Transport into the Rum is by way of rather rickety old jeeps operated by the local Bedouin community, part of an attempt by the Jordanian Government to bring much-needed income into this region (an initiative we support), plus they’re safe and a lot of fun! Visit several of Wadi Rum's distinctive rock formations and soak in the vast silence and spectacular desert landscapes. The Bedouins live in scattered camps throughout the area and you'll enjoy an evening under the stars at one of these sites.
Day 14: Aqaba
Enjoy a spectacular sunrise at your desert camp and maybe check out a few more of the local Wadi Rum sites, or just take a walk through this vast emptiness. Depart Wadi Rum mid-morning for the city of Aqaba on the Red Sea. Check into your hotel on arrival and head out for a brief orientation of the town with your leader – the small Ottoman Mamluk Fort, dating from the 14th century and from where Lawrence of Arabia rode to Cairo, is worth a look – otherwise, most of the fun is to be found in the water. Acquaint yourself with the hotel's pool or head to the beach.
Day 15: Petra
This morning, enjoy some relaxation time in Aqaba before travelling to the fabled city of Petra. This site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was discovered by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss explorer, and was described by John William Burgon as 'a rose-red city half as old as time'. Simply put, it's an incredible ancient site you'll probably recognise from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade if nothing else. On arrival, check into your hotel and check out the village, later tonight you’ll be welcomed into a home where you’ll have the opportunity to interact with the locals and enjoy some good food.
Day 16: Petra
Petra is justifiably on most people’s list of ‘must-visit’ places. It’s regularly cited as the world’s ‘8th Wonder’, and in fact made the list of ‘New7Wonders of the World’. Petra is the jewel of Jordan, the lost city of the biblical Nabateans. The iconic Petra view – the Treasury's glorious facade, glimpsed from the narrow cleft known as the Siq – is arguably the single most striking sight of the entire region. The Siq leads through the rock and is sometimes only a few metres wide, with walls soaring up to 180 metres on either side. As you wander through, it’s impossible not to imagine the armies and traders who made their way down here in the ancient times. Petra's greatest surprise, however, is its size. Join your guide and explore the old Roman road, amphitheatre and several old tombs, before enjoying free time to experience Petra at your own pace. Maybe climb up to the Monastery – carved from a mountain summit and the site's second beautiful facade – from where you will have a magnificent view of the entire site. This is a memorable day exploring a truly extraordinary destination and is sure to be one of the highlights of your trip.
Day 17: Amman
After breakfast, depart from Petra and head to the ancient Crusader castle at Shobak, which makes an imposing sight as you approach. Stroll the site and discover a small chapel, original gatehouse, and find out where a long, dark secret passage leads. We stop on the edge of Dana Biosphere Reseve for a phot stop before arriving in Madaba (approximately 3 hours), home to a number of fine Byzantine mosaics – visit the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George and see an impressive mosaic map of the Holy Land that clearly depicts Palestine and Lower Egypt around 550 AD. Arrive in Amman in the late afternoon, where you can spend the evening in one of its several fine restaurants.
Day 18: Amman
Take a short drive north (approximately 1 hour) to Jerash, once one of the grandest ancient Roman cities in the world and now home to some of the best Greco-Roman ruins around. Jerash has a striking collection of archways and theatres, baths, public buildings and colonnaded streets, and is a beautiful place to spend a morning exploring. Then, you’d better have brought your swim gear as you can wash off the dust from exploring with a dip like no other. Drive approximately 1.5 hours to the shores of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth (420 metres below sea level). This isn’t actually a sea, but rather a super-salty lake (dead because of the lack of life in it) where the density of the water means you’ll go for a float, not a swim. The mud here is supposed to have healing properties, so why not cover yourself from head to toe for a nutrient-rich natural mineral mud bath. Spend some time relaxing here before returning to Amman for the evening (approximately 1 hour). Maybe spend tonight at one of the many bars and restaurants in West Amman or ask your leader about the traditional cafes dotted around the city where locals spend their evenings.
Day 19: Tel Aviv
This morning we farewell Jordan and make the hour journey to the Alenby Bridge Crossing for your onwards journey to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Your Tour Leader will escort you to the crossing and provide you with instructions for the border officials. Once you have cleared the border there will be a representative to escort you to your hotel in Tel Aviv. Welcome to Israel and cosmopolitan Tel Aviv. This is a city that literally never stops. Combining golden sandy beaches, world class cuisine, bustling markets and a UNESCO listed architecture, it is no wonder the city has earned the title of the ‘Mediterranean Capital of Cool’ by the New York Times. Depending on the Border Crossing you should arrive at your hotel just in time for lunch. Spend the afternoon exploring Tel Aviv. Your hotel is located sea-side so you may want to grab a swim before meeting your new Leader and group at 6.00pm in the hotel lobby.Total journey time today 3-4 hours depending on Border Crossing.
Day 20: Nazareth
Today, make like a wise man for Nazareth, stopping at a few significant ports along the way. First up is Jaffa, now a vision of modernity but reputed to be one of the oldest ports in the world. According to the Bible, it’s also where Jonah set off in defiance of God’s wishes before being tossed into the sea and swallowed by a whale. You’ll continue on to Lewinsky Market – a very popular spot for locals and full of personality and colour. Take a stroll through its aisles and perhaps stop to sample some burekas (traditional pastries) as you walk around. You’ll then head up the coast to Haifa and enjoy the view of the renowned Bahai Gardens, a series of 19 terraced gardens overlooking the city. Afterwards, drive to Nazareth, arriving in the afternoon. An orientation walk will help you get your bearings so that you can make the most of your free evening in this holy city.
Day 21: Nazareth
Start the morning with a visit to the Church of the Annunciation. This is the site where Mary is said to have received the news of the Immaculate Conception, and of the well where she drew water every day. Get on the road again and head north to the port city of Acre, known for its well-preserved old city and the crumbling remains of its fortress. Explore the excavated hall, dungeon, dining room and crypt of an ancient Gothic church, once occupied by the Knights of St John. Before heading back to your hotel, stop by a local winery for a glass (or two) of their delicious drop. Spend the evening in Nazareth.
Day 22: Ramon Crater
Head out of Nazareth this morning, on your way to the Negev Desert region. Today join a special lunch at Lakiya Negev Bedouin Weaving. This initiative, founded in 1991, is all about empowering Bedouin women in this region to apply their traditional weaving skills to the manufacture and sale of their products, and earn an income. Spend some time with the women, joining them for a cup of tea and a local lunch. Stop en route to Ramon Crater at Be’er Sheva – the only city built by Ottoman Turks during their rule over this land. In the afternoon, arrive at Mitzpe Ramon, perched on the edge of the crater. Check in to your hotel and grab some free time before sunset when we hop in the back of a 4WD vehicle and head on a desert safari. Ramon Crater has been recognised as an International Dark Sky Park – the first in the Middle East – to promote the ecological, astronomical and cultural benefits of having a clear night sky, unimpeded by light pollution.
Day 23: Masada - Jerusalem
Take in a special sunrise then visit Masada, a spectacular cliff-top fortress built by King Herod around 35 BC that can now be reached by cable car. The fortress is seen as a symbol of the bravery and self-sacrifice of the Jewish people. Travel on to Ein Gedi, where you’ll have time to wash off during a swim like no other. The Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth, sits at 420 metres below sea level and is so salty that you'll easily float on the surface. The nutrient-rich mud is great as a body scrub too. Later on, as the sun cools, the group will slip into the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve to visit the natural spring and waterfalls. Take a short walk on one of the gentle hiking trails before continuing to the Mount of Olives for your first view of the Holy City of Jerusalem. Visit the Garden of Gethsemane, known as the place where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before his crucifixion. Also, take a visit to the Church of All Nations (Basilica of the Agony), which houses a section of the bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest.
Day 24: Jerusalem
Explore Jerusalem’s Old City this morning on foot. Start with the Courtyard of the Dome and the Western Wall – the remains of the Temple Mount, which acts as an outdoor synagogue, where written prayers are slid into the cracks between stones. Then continue along the Via Dolorosa starting at St Stephen’s Gate, passing the crusader church of St Anne and the Pool of Bethesda. Now located in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem, this pool was mentioned in the Gospel of John and associated with healing. Continue along the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) – the Way of Sorrows which follows Jesus’ path to crucifixion – and stop by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, died, buried, and rose again. The afternoon is free for you to continue exploring, so perhaps have more of a wander around the Old City or check out the Israeli Museum.
Day 25: Jerusalem
This morning, cross into Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity as well as Manger Square, where Jesus is said to have been born. Afterwards, discover a different side to Bethlehem on a graffiti tour at the Separation Barrier. Apparently even Banksy has contributed to these murals, so get your best artistic critique face on. Continue to Shepherds Field Chapel, a Roman Catholic religious building. The chapel marks the place where, according to Catholic lore, angels first announced the birth of Christ. Later on, head back to Jerusalem for some time to yourself. This afternoon, why not get a couple of your travel crew together and sit back with a cold beer at one of the many laneway bars near Machane Yedhua Market. There’s a heap of great eating spots around there too.
Day 26: Jerusalem
Your journey through the Holy Lands comes to an end after breakfast today and there are no activities planned, so you are free to check out at any time.
- Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
- Cairo - Pyramids and Sphinx
- Cairo - The Egyptian Museum headset
- Cairo - Egyptian Museum
- Alexandria - Catacombs of Kom Ash-Suqqafa
- Alexandria - Bibliotheca Alexandrina
- Alexandria - Al Montazah Palace & Gardens
- Aswan - Nubian Village Visit and Dinner
- Aswan - Philae Temple
- Abu Simbel - Abu Simbel temples
- Aswan - Felucca Sail
- Aswan - Kom Ombo Temple
- Luxor - Karnak Temple -Entry Fee
- Luxor - Colossi of Memnon
- Luxor - Valley of the Kings (3 tombs)
- Luxor - Tut Ank Amon Tomb
- Luxor - Hatshepsut Temple
- Cairo - Khan al-Khalili bazaar visit
- Wadi Rum - Desert Jeep tour
- Petra - Guided tour
- Petra - Local Family Dinner
- Shobak - Shobak Castle
- Madaba - St Georges Church
- Dead Sea - Visit including lunch
- Jerash - Roman ruins
- Haifa - Baha'i Gardens
- Tel Aviv - Lewinsky Market Visit
- Jaffa - Leader-led tour of Old Jaffa
- Nazareth - Winery Visit
- Akko - Knights Fortress Visit
- Nazareth - Visit to Church of Annuniciation & Mary's Well
- Nazareth - Walking Tour
- Beersheba Tour
- Ramon Crater Jeep Safari
- Negev - Lakiya Bedouin Weaving
- Beersheba - Anzac Memorial
- Masada - Masada visit
- Dead Sea - Visit and float
- Ein Gedi - Nature Reserve
- Jerusalem - Mount of Olives
- Jerusalem - Garden of Gethsemane
- Jerusalem - Guided tour of Old City
- Bethlehem - Church of the Nativity & Shepherds' Field
25 Breakfast(s) Included
5 Lunch(es) Included
7 Dinner(s) Included
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The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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