Discover the Holy Lands with the right balance of holy relics, cities, beaches and deserts.. Experience the feeling of weightlessness as you float in the super salty Dead Sea – not just once, but twice.. Spend the night trying to count the billions of stars or chat with the locals at our Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum.. Take a jeep safari in the Negev Desert and check out the Ramon Crater – an internationally recognised dark sky and an acclaimed stargazing destination.
Tread some of the most ancient, revered paths known to humankind as you travel through Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Begin in Amman, Jordan’s capital, and make your way through the desert sands of Wadi Rum to the lost city of Petra. Head into Israel and visit holy sights including the Church of Nativity, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Church of the Annunciation, as well as the Masada fortress. Explore the Ramon Crater in the Negev Desert and float in the Dead Sea before this trip comes to an end.
Ahlan Wa Sahlan! Welcome to Amman, a cosmopolitan city steeped in biblical history. On arrival at Queen Alia International Airport, you will be met by an Intrepid representative and transferred to your hotel, ready for your adventure to begin at 6 pm with an important welcome meeting. If you arrive early, feel free to head out and explore – highlights include the citadel with its amazing sweeping views of Amman, the Jordan Museum, which is home to the Dead Sea Scrolls, or the Roman Theatre, right in the middle of downtown Amman. After the meeting, get out on to the streets this evening for an optional group dinner, or explore on your own and pick up a coffee from one of the cafes, partnering it with an ara’yes – a toasted sandwich filled with spicy mincemeat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This morning farewell the Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan as you transfer to the modern cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv a city that truly does not stop. With its lively cafe culture, relaxed Mediterranean beach scene, and renowned nightlife, Tel Aviv is a great place to start your exploration of the Holy Lands.
On arrival check into your accommodation and then your day is free to discover this lively capital. There will be a welcome meeting at 6.00pm this evening to meet your new Leader and your new travelling companions.
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.
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.
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.
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.