Embrace local life as you travel with passionate local leaders, discuss history with a geopolitical expert, meet a local Rabbi, and immerse yourself in Bedouin culture during an exciting evening at their camp.. Visit one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Amman and enter a cooking school run by three sisters in the home of their grandmother. Learn how to make traditional Jordanian food and of course eat plenty of it too.. Spend a day exploring the majesty and mystery of Petra, embark on a 4WD drive adventure through wind-swept rock formations of Wadi Rum and experience the unique sensation of floating in the Dead Sea.. With two feature stays, experience the best of each country with a night in isolated elegance at a luxury camp in Wadi Rum and old school opulence in Bethlehem in a grand and elegant palace.
Explore the lands of Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories on a 14-day Premium journey and come face to face with a history of biblical proportions. Jordan’s capital, Amman, reminds us of the glories of a great empire. Mysterious Petra appears out of nowhere – a remarkable rose-coloured city hewn from the sandstone cliffs by Nabataean people. Jerusalem is one of history’s great cities and a holy site for many of the world’s religions. The Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Temple Mount – it’s all in one place. Discover all these cultural hotspots with the guidance of local leaders, staying in premium accommodation and appreciating authentic experiences. This is the proud heart of the Middle East.
Welcome to Jordan – cosmopolitan and contemporary yet steeped in biblical history. You will be met by an Intrepid representative at the airport and transferred to your hotel where there will be an important welcome meeting with your group and local leader at 6pm. If you arrive early, perhaps visit a local cafe and pick up a coffee and ara’yes – a pita filled with spiced meats. Otherwise, head to the Old Town’s Roman Amphitheatre or find some culture at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts. After your meeting, head out to a local restaurant for a welcome dinner with your group and leader. Sharing food is a huge part of Jordanian culture and eating out is a social affair that’s packed with flavour. Tonight your leader will introduce you to some of the country’s most beloved dishes, like mansaf, a dish made with lamb, yoghurt and rice, and kunafa, a delicious dessert made with pastry and cheese.
This morning, leave Amman for a short drive north to Jerash where you’ll find some of the world’s best Greco-Roman ruins. Reaching its peak as a favourite of the emperor Hadrian, Jerash holds a striking collection of archways, theatres, baths, public buildings and colonnaded streets. Your leader will share the incredible history of the ruins and help you imagine what life once looked like in this glorious Roman city. 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 and head to a cooking school run by a mother and her daughters, where you’ll get a special look behind the scenes of Jordanian cuisine. You’ll feel as through you’ve stepped into the welcoming home of a local grandmother as you learn how to make classics like tabbouleh, flat bread and lentil soup with passionate guidance and generations of culinary know-how. The flavours, recipes and warmth of this evening are sure to stick with you long after your time in Jordan is over.
Today you will make the journey from Amman to the Dead Sea. Named for the lack of life in its waters, this lake is so intensely salty that the water density makes swimming very difficult, but bobbing on the water's surface is a truly fun and one-off experience. En route, stop off at Mount Nebo and hear the story of how Moses saw the Promised Land before he died from what is believed to be this very spot, and St Georges Church, best known for its Byzantine mosaic depicting a map of the Holy Land. On arrival, enjoy some time to float in the buoyant waters of the Dead Sea, relax on your hotel’s beachfront or take a dip in one of three swimming pools or jacuzzi.
Depart the Dead Sea and drive to the ancient Crusader castle at Shobak – your leader will explain how this ancient castle was 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 to your Petra accommodation. Petra dates back to the sixth century BC and is considered the crown jewel of Jordan, featuring an impressive series of tombs and dwellings carved directly into the rock. 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.
Today will be spent uncovering the secrets of Petra with the knowledgeable guidance of your leader. The iconic view of 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 at points only a few metres wide, with walls soaring up to 180 metres on either side. Explore the old Roman road, amphitheatre and several ancient tombs. You will also have time to climb to the Monastery if you wish, 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.
For another glimpse at Petra, rise very early for an unguided morning visit, if you wish. Then, drive to Wadi Rum, a protected area of desert that impresses with sandstone mountains, canyons and arches. 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. Visit several of the area’s distinctive rock formations and appreciate the vast silence and spectacular desert landscapes. These landscapes are home to hardy Bedouin communities that live in scattered camps. You will gain a deeper understanding of their way of life as you join them for a zarb (underground oven) dinner at one of their camps, set in an amazing location deep in the desert. Tonight’s feature stay accommodation is a luxury camp that offers a splendid base among remote and wild surroundings. Spacious tents are fitted out with creature comforts like king-sized beds, air conditioning and en suite bathrooms, and all furniture is made by hand with décor inspired by Bedouin culture. Fall asleep beneath a magnificent canopy of stars and wake up to a sunrise over the red-hued landscape.
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, return to Amman for the evening. Tonight you may like to join your group for a final dinner to round off your adventure – speak to your leader about the best restaurants in the city that are popular with the locals.
Today you will depart Amman and travel by private vehicle to Jerusalem. On arrival, you’ll be transferred to your centrally located hotel where a meeting will take place at 6pm to welcome any new travellers joining you for the next part of your adventure. After your meeting, join your leader on an orientation walk to get acquainted with your home for the next three nights. Discover a captivating city influenced by its multicultural residents who have roots across the world, and leave feeling like a local. Then it’s time to get to know your group over an included dinner at a restaurant set in an atmospheric 120-year-old building, serving up traditional delights. You may like to try maqluba, one of the region’s most celebrated dishes, and find out why the name translates to “upside-down”.
Set off on a walk through Jerusalem as your leader shares local knowledge and ancient tales. Enter the Old City and visit the church of St Anne and the Pool of Bethesda. Follow the Via Dolorosa along Jesus’s path to crucifixion and stop by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, then visit the remains of the Western Wall on the Temple Mount. Take some time out for lunch before meeting with a regional expert for a lively conversation about the fascinating geopolitics of the area, then check out the views from the rooftop of a 19th-century guesthouse. Then onto an activity you won’t find in the guidebooks - spend the evening with a local family in the Old City who will serve up a home-cooked dinner with Armenian and Arabic influences. Relax in their beautiful garden, surrounded by lemon and mandarin trees, and learn about living a Christian life in the Holy Land.
This morning, head to the clifftop fortress of Masada, where you’ll take a cable car to the top. Your leader will explain why this World Heritage-listed site is so important to Jewish people, as 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’ll even have a chance to float in the famously buoyant Dead Sea, which is not only fun but is also believed to provide numerous health benefits. Discover the slow-paced town of Jericho in the West Bank, where people have lived for over 11,000 years. Return to Jerusalem where you’ll have the unique opportunity to meet with a local rabbi, learning of Jewish traditions and a different perspective on the Israel–Palestine conflict.
Drive out to visit the Garden of Gethsemane before stopping at the Mount of Olives, where you’ll be treated to incredible views of the Old City. See the Church of All Nations then continue to Yad Vashem for a sobering visit to Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Take a guided tour with a local expert to hear personal stories of those affected by tragedy. Continue to Bethlehem and see the Church of the Nativity and the nearby Shepherds’ Fields in Beit Sahour. Arrive in Bethlehem and discover the Jacir Palace, a magnificent 100-year-old mansion and your feature stay hotel. Commissioned by Bethlehem’s former mayor, the hotel offers tranquillity in the heart of the city paired with service worthy of a sultan. The charming courtyard and pool are fringed with elegantly decorated guestrooms, and its four restaurants serve almost anything you could dream of.
Travel to Tiberias, where if weather permits, you’ll take a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. Then visit Tabgha, where the Bible says Jesus performed the ‘Feeding of the 5000’ with loaves and fish. 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, home to two ancient synagogues and a church said to have been the home of Saint Peter. Sit down to a traditional St Peter’s fish lunch as your leader tells you how the famous fish got its name. Visit the Church of the Annunciation, where Mary received the news of the Immaculate Conception. Continue on to the eclectic city of Haifa, where you’ll spend the evening. On arrival in Haifa, take in the views over the perfectly landscaped Baha’i Gardens - with 19 terraces flowing down to a domed shrine, these gardens are considered Haifa’s crowning glory.