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Embark on a cultural odyssey through the Middle East, from the heartland of ancient Egypt down the iconic Nile River, to the desert landscapes of Wadi Rum, both sides of the Dead Sea and the centre of the religious world in Jerusalem. Over 22 unforgettable days, take flight to the temples of Abu Simbel, sail on a premium four-night Nile riverboat, break bread with local families and communities, discover lost kingdoms in Jordan, camp under the desert stars in traditional Bedouin accommodation and marvel at some of the world's most impressive sites in Jerusalem and Jericho. Discover the swathes of history alive in this region, joined by expert local guides and a small group of likeminded adventurers.
Day 1: Cairo
Welcome to Cairo! On arrival at the airport, take an included transfer to your hotel. You are free to arrive at any time today before an important welcome meeting, held at 6 pm. If you do arrive early, perhaps get out and explore the busy streets, finding a hole-in-the-wall eatery for a snack like ta’ameya – Egypt’s take on falafel. After your welcome meeting, where you will meet your local leader and fellow travellers, perhaps enjoy an optional dinner with the group. While your hotel may not serve alcohol, there are a number of great options for food and drink in the surrounding Zamalek area.
Day 2: Cairo – Overnight Train
This morning, tour the mighty Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx with your small group. Seeing these structures up close is captivating, and for an additional charge, you may be able to go inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu (or Cheops). After stopping to purchase some lunch, continue to the Egyptian Museum – home to an incredible array of artefacts and antiquities. Your expert leader, who is a trained Egyptologist, will take you through some of Egypt’s dynastic history, and will have plenty of time to explore on your own – perhaps purchasing a pass into the Royal Mummy Room. Afterwards, return to your hotel to freshen up before transferring to the railway station for a comfortable overnight sleeper train to Luxor.
Day 3: Luxor
After an early breakfast on board, arrive into Luxor. It's a vibrant place with an excellent bazaar, situated close to some of ancient Egypt's most important sites. Travel to Karnak – one of the world's most celebrated temple complexes built over a period of some 200 years, and some of it dating back to 2055 BC. Your guided tour of the temple reveals its finest sections. Later today, transfer to your Nile cruise boat, which will be your home for the next four nights. You can relax by the pool on the boat or explore the town. For the rest of the afternoon and evening, you are free to relax, shop in the bazaar or perhaps experience the atmosphere of a local tea house.
Day 4: Valley of the Kings – Luxor – Nile Cruise
Rise early this morning and head into the Valley of the Kings. Buried under the arid hills here are over 60 tombs of pharaohs, many richly decorated with reliefs and paintings. Tutankhamun's final resting place is also located here, and you'll have free time to visit it. Your guide will explain the funerary rites of the ancient Egyptians and significance of the many paintings and hieroglyphics. You will visit three royal tombs and then continue to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, set in a spectacular natural amphitheatre. Your final stop is the Colossi of Memnon – giant statues that were once part of an impressive colonnade. Enjoy lunch on return to the boat and relax on deck as you set sail from Luxor to Edfu, taking most of the afternoon and evening (approximately 1 pm to 11 pm), and passing through Esna Lock on the way.
Day 5: Nile Cruise
This morning, you will be moored near Edfu and may have the option to venture independently into town to see the nearby temple. Continue along the river, relaxing in the sun on deck and taking in the desert hills forming a backdrop over the lush riverbanks. This afternoon, arrive at Kom Ombo Temple, sitting spectacularly on the river’s edge. The temple was built in approximately 181 BC and is dedicated to two gods – Horus (god of protection) and Sobek (god of fertility, linked to the Nile’s water). Each god has a dedicated section – north or south – and there have been recent discoveries of mummified crocodiles in the Sobek section. Afterwards, board your boat around 6 pm and continue to Aswan, arriving at around 9.30 pm.
Day 6: Aswan
Explore Aswan today – Egypt's southernmost city. Its relaxed charm is due in no small part to its large Nubian population. Depending on time, you might visit the beautiful Temple of Isis – the goddess of health, marriage and wisdom – 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. The rest of your day will be free to wander, and Aswan is a great place for it. The Nubian Bazaar and the Nubian Museum are both recommended. The waterfront promenade, or Aswan's 'corniche', runs alongside one of Nile's most appealing stretches and is the perfect place to stop for a mint tea. Watch the waterfront come alive at dusk, with people strolling and socialising all evening.
Day 7: Aswan
Depart early this morning and visit the iconic Abu Simbel by plane. With four gargantuan statues of Ramses guarding the Great Temple, this is one of Egypt's most memorable sights. After your return, the rest of the day is free for you to make your own discoveries. A popular option in Aswan is a sailboat ride around the islands in a traditional felucca, stopping off at the botanical gardens on Kitchener's Island. Alternatively, travel to the Monastery of St Simeon – an abandoned seventh-century fortress monastery located in the desert on the Nile's west bank. You might even prefer to simply relax by the hotel pool or do some shopping in the local bazaar. Your group leader will be on hand to help you arrange any excursions. In the evening, visit a Nubian village with your group and enjoy the warm hospitality and cuisine of this local community. After dinner, watch some traditional Nubian dancing, perhaps attempting some moves yourself!
Day 8: Cairo
After breakfast, transfer to Aswan Airport for a short flight back to Cairo (approximately 1.5 hours) where you will be met and taken to your hotel. Drop your luggage and head with your group to the Al-Azhar neighbourhood to visit Khan al-Khalili Bazaar – a sprawling maze of alleyways with myriad products on sale, including the gold market, cloth market, 'perfume street' and the spice market. Continue to the ninth-century Ibn Tulun Mosque – one of the oldest and largest in Egypt. Its perfectly proportioned courtyard and distinctive minaret make it a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. Nearby stands the Gayer-Anderson Museum, housed in two fine old villas with a fascinating collection of Arabic artefacts, furniture and memorabilia. Stop off for an Arabic coffee or mint tea, and in the evening, share a meal with a family, gaining an insight into local Egyptian life.
Day 9: Amman
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Amman. On arrival at Amman's Queen Alia International Airport, you will be met by a Peregrine representative and transferred to your hotel. You are able to arrive at any time today, keeping in mind hotel rooms are available for check-in generally after 12 pm (midday), and there will be an important meeting with your new group and local leader tonight at 6 pm. If you arrive early, perhaps take a walk and pick up a coffee and ara’yes – a toastie filled with spiced meats – at one of the cafes. Otherwise, head to the Old Town’s Roman Amphitheatre, find some culture at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts or look down on the city from the hilltop Temple of Hercules.
Day 10: Wadi Rum
After breakfast, drive from Amman to Wadi Rum (approximately 4.5 hours). Enjoy some lunch in the small village of Rum and browse the informative visitor’s centre. Afterwards, jump into a local jeep and journey into Wadi Rum with your Bedouin hosts. This region is probably best known for its connection with the British officer T E Lawrence, who was based here during the Great Arab Revolt of 1917 and 1918. Much of David Lean's movie on his exploits, 'Lawrence of Arabia', was actually filmed in Wadi Rum. Visit several of the area’s distinctive rock formations and appreciate the vast silence and spectacular desert landscapes. These landscapes are home to Bedouin communities that live in scattered camps. You will enjoy an evening with them at one of their camps, set in an amazing location deep in the desert.
Day 11: Wadi Rum – Petra
After waking up in the unique surrounds of your Bedouin camp this morning, take a walk around the area – the length of which depends on the group’s desires – before scaling one of the large dunes to enjoy panoramic views of your surrounds. Afterwards, head in 4WDs back to the main entrance opposite the Seven Pillars of Wisdom – the mountain named after Lawrence of Arabia’s book. The visitor's centre here is also a great spot to buy some jewellery and handicrafts, mostly made by a women's co-operative dedicated to supporting local industries. Continue your journey to the fabled city of Petra (approximately 2.5 hours). On arrival, there is time to check out the town that has grown around the site and to relax, ready for a big day of exploring Petra tomorrow.
Day 12: Petra
Petra, dating back to the sixth century BC, is the jewel of Jordan, the lost city of the biblical Nabateans, an impressive series of tombs and dwellings carved directly into the rock. The iconic view – the Treasury's glorious facade, glimpsed from a narrow cleft known as the Siq – is perhaps 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. With your guide, explore the old Roman road, amphitheatre and several old tombs. You will also climb up to see the Monastery, providing a magnificent view of the entire site. There is a cafeteria on the site, where you can enjoy your own light lunch. The rest of the day will be at your leisure. This evening, perhaps take the chance to witness Petra by night if your dates align. Seeing the Treasury plaza lit up by candlelight while Bedouin music plays is a truly memorable experience.
Day 13: Petra – Dead Sea
For another glimpse at Petra, rise very early for an unguided morning visit, if you wish. Afterwards, drive to the ancient Crusader castle at Shobak – originally built to protect the eastern flank of the Latin Kingdom and its trade routes to the sea before it fell to Saladin in 1189. Enjoy superb scenery and stop off at the viewpoint overlooking the Dana Nature Reserve before arriving in the late afternoon at your Dead Sea premium accommodation. Named for the lack of life in its waters, this lake is so intensely salty that the water density makes swimming and getting underneath the surface very difficult.
Day 14: Dead Sea – Madaba – Amman
Enjoy a relaxing morning spent at the Dead Sea, perhaps heading back to the lake shores for a swim. The warm, highly saline waters make bobbing on the water's surface a unique experience. After lunch, leave the Dead Sea for Mount Nebo, considered to be where Moses saw the Promised Landed before he died. The modest church here with foundations dating back to the fourth century houses some of the best mosaics in Jordan. Continue to Madaba – or the City of Mosaics – and stop at St Georges Church, best known for its Byzantine mosaic depicting a map of the Holy Land. Head back to Amman and spend the evening here.
Day 15: Amman
This morning, leave Amman for a short drive north to Jerash (approximately 1 hour) – once one of the grandest ancient Roman cities in the world. These are some of the best ruins Greco-Roman ruins around. Reaching its peak as a favourite of the emperor Hadrian, it has a striking collection of archways and theatres, baths, public buildings and colonnaded streets, and is a beautiful place to spend the morning exploring. Grand columns encircle the city's centrepiece of the Oval Plaza – an atmospheric place to linger after exploring Jerash's riches. Afterwards, return to Amman for the evening (approximately 1 hour). Perhaps spend your night at one of the many bars and restaurants in West Amman, or speak with your group leader about the traditional cafes dotted around the city where locals spend their evenings.
Day 16: Jerusalem
Today, you will transfer to the Allenby Bridge Border Crossing in private transport with your Jordanian group leader. On arrival at the border, a VIP crossing service has been arranged for you. After departure formalities with Jordanian customs, there will be private transport to transfer you the six kilometres to the Israel and Palestinian Territories border. After clearing customs again here, your Peregrine transfer representative will collect you and transfer you to your hotel in Jerusalem. The journey from Amman to Jerusalem takes approximately 2 hours, but this can vary depending on the time of year and how busy the border crossings are. There are no activities planned today until a welcome meeting at 6 pm, where you’ll meet your local leader and fellow travellers. Afterwards, join your leader on an orientation walk and drink, then consider having dinner with some of your group members on your free evening.
Day 17: Jerusalem
Meet your leader for a walk, beginning at St Stephen’s Gate (or Lion’s Gate) to enter the Old City, and visit the church of St Anne and the Pool of Bethesda. Walk along the Via Dolorosa – the 'Way of the Cross’ or ‘Way of Sorrows' following Jesus’ path to crucifixion – and stop by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built where Jesus is believed to have been crucified. Continue along the Cardo in the Jewish Quarter – a road that ran the entire length of the city in Byzantine times. Visit the remains of the Western Wall on the Temple Mount, where written prayers are slid into the cracks between stones. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to wander around the city at your leisure. Meet up with your group later this evening for a meal with a local family in the Old City, learning about living a Christian life in the Holy Land.
Day 18: Jerusalem
This morning, drive to the biblical town of Ma'aleh Adumim and the Inn of the Good Samaritan in the Judean Desert. This inn is a museum located near the original site mentioned in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Continue to Masada and take a cable car to discover the clifftop fortress of Masada. This World Heritage-listed site is important to Jewish people – a symbol of exile from the Holy Land, of bravery and self-sacrifice. Afterwards, drive to Qumran, an archaeological site on the West Bank, home to major discoveries such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. You will also have a chance to float in the extremely salty and buoyant Dead Sea. Discover the slow-paced town of Jericho in the West Bank, where people have lived for over 11,000 years. See the Mount of Temptations and a Sycamore Tree mentioned only in the Luke’s Gospel. Return to Jerusalem and meet up with a local Rabbi, learning of Jewish traditions and a different perspective on the Israeli–Palestine conflict.
Day 19: Bethlehem
In the morning, drive out to visit the Garden of Gethsemane – the place where Jesus prayed beside his sleeping disciples before crucifixion. See the Church of All Nations, which holds inside a section of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. Continue to Yad Vashem for a sobering and moving visit to Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust and take a guided tour with a local. Travel to Bethlehem and visit the Church of the Nativity – marking the spot of the stable where Mary is said to have given birth to Jesus, and the Shepherds’ Fields in Beit Sahour just a couple of kilometres east of the city. This area has been identified as the scene where angels visited the lowly shepherds and informed them of Jesus’ birth. The rest of the evening is free for you to explore.
Day 20: Haifa
This morning, travel to Tiberias and, weather permitting, take a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. Afterwards, visit Tabgha. This is where the Bible says Jesus performed the ‘Feeding of the 5000’ with loaves and fishes. Here, you can see the church and its ancient mosaics that were built to mark the spot of this miracle. A short way up the lakeshore is Capernaum, where you’ll see the site of two ancient synagogues and a church said to have been the home of Saint Peter. Here you will have the traditional St Peter’s Fish lunch – ask your leader about his significance. Visit the Church of the Annunciation, where Mary received the news of the Immaculate Conception, along with the well where she drew water every day. Continue to Haifa for the evening, perhaps taking a late stroll through the Baha’i Gardens. With 19 terraces flowing down to a domed shrine, these gardens are considered Haifa’s crowning glory.
Day 21: Tel Aviv
Today, stop at the former crusader port of Acre. Visit the complex of buildings occupied by the Knights of St John, excavated to uncover rooms such as a large hall, dungeon, dining room and the crypt of an ancient Gothic church. You will also see the secret tunnel of their rivals – the Knights Templar. Continue to Caesarea, which served as the capital of Israel during the Roman and Byzantine eras. This was once a great port town built by King Herod around 25 BC, complete with an amphitheatre, hippodrome, palace, Roman temple and a network of aqueducts. The city was eventually abandoned and lost under the desert sands, but thanks to excavations since the 1950s, is on show once again. Arrive in Tel Aviv and spend the afternoon discovering the city with your leader, visiting the Old City of Jaffa and Peace Square. This afternoon, you’ll also partake in some hummus tasting – the city claims to have the best. Arrive at the hotel for an evening at leisure.
Day 22: Tel Aviv
With no activities planned for today, your journey through Israel and the Palestinian Territories comes to an end after breakfast. You are free to leave the accommodation at any time, provided you comply with the hotel’s internal check-out times.
- Cairo - The Egyptian Museum headset
- Cairo - Pyramids and Sphinx
- Cairo - Egyptian Museum
- Luxor - Karnak Temple
- Luxor - Valley of the Kings (3 tombs)
- Luxor - Tut Ank Amon Tomb
- Luxor - Hatshepsut Temple
- Aswan - Kom Ombo Temple
- Aswan - Felucca Ride
- Aswan - Philae Temple
- Abu Simbel - Abu Simbel temples
- Abu Simbel - Flights to and from Abu Simbel
- Cairo - Gayer Anderson
- Cairo - Home Cooked Meal
- Cairo - Khan al-Khalili Bazaar
- Cairo - Ibn Tulun Mosque
- Wadi Rum - Desert Jeep tour
- Petra - Petra second day visit (unguided)
- Shobak - Shobak Castle
- Dana - Ancient Village Visit
- Dead Sea - Visit Including Dinner
- Madaba - St Georges Church
- Mt Nebo - Mt Nebo visit
- Jerash - Roman ruins
- Jerusalem - Western Wall (Wailing Wall)
- Jerusalem - Walk the Via Dolorosa
- Jerusalem - Holy Sepulchre
- Jerusalem - Local Family Dinner
- Qumran - Archaeological site visit
- Masada - Dead Sea & Fortress visit
- Jerusalem - Local Rabbi Meeting and Discussion
- Jerusalem - Garden of Gethsemane & Basilica of the Agony
- Jerusalem - Yad Vashem Museum
- Jerusalem - Mount of Olives
- Bethlehem - Church of the Nativity & Shepherds' Field
- Tiberias - Church of the Multiplication
- Tiberias - Sea of Galilee boat ride
- Tiberias - Capernaum visit and traditional St Peter's Fish lunch
- Nazareth - Visit to Church of Annuniciation & Mary's Well
- Bahai Gardens - view & photo stop only
- Akko - Templar Tunnels
- Caesarea - Guided Visit
- Tel Aviv - Walking Tour and Hummus Tasting
19 Breakfast(s) Included
5 Lunch(es) Included
12 Dinner(s) Included
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