Eclectic Tour of Israel with Six Legs Will Travel
March 5 to March 16, 2017
The enigmatic land of Israel is home to some of the most Holy sites to three major religions, ancient cities and towns, museums displaying some of the oldest artifacts in the world and a rich history dating back to biblical times. It is also home to vineyards in the desert, cheese factories, Byzantine ruins, a mammoth crater, micro-breweries and many other facets, that, when combined, complete the jewel known as Israel.
The Many Faces of Israel is a 10-day experience that will introduce you to treasures and different experiences. When you return home, you will never think of Israel in the same way.
Your trip planners Penny Zibula, a freelance travel writer and blogger and Simon Lock a travel photographer and editor are committed to creating a tour to Israel and experiences that are unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere. Here are our PROMISES about what you can expect on this trip … and what makes us different.
We will start with a small group of like-minded travelers…individuals who want to explore, experience, and enjoy what’s unique and authentic about the places they visit. The group size will be limited to a maximum of 12 people (plus your planners), so you will have the opportunity to know everyone in the group. You will also have access to the wealth of local knowledge and experience of our friendly staff throughout your tour
It’s important to us that our accommodations match the destination. We will avoid international chains, because these hotels are similar wherever you go. Instead we will opt for smaller, family-run boutique hotels with unique characteristics that will blend with the environment of the fascinating places we visit. Each hotel has the same level of comfort and amenities as the larger brands, but with a lot more charm and character.
Our experience in travel writing and photography will augment this tour with benefits the average tourist might not receive. Through our trusted local Israeli connections we will have access to the most important religious/secular historical sites and museums, as well as markets, restaurants, cafés, shops, and villages that would be hard to find on your own. We will have the expertise of a qualified licensed Israeli tour guide, and where appropriate supplement her skills and knowledge with site-specific guides. At all times we will have the services of a tour director who has a deep knowledge of those special places in Israel only a well connected local would know.
Day 1: Sunday, March 5, 2017. Depart from New Bern or other US location to fly to Tel Aviv. We will provide some travel recommendations but of course you will be free to make whatever routing decisions you choose. We suggest that you find flights that will have you arriving in Tel Aviv in the late afternoon.
Day 2: Monday, March 6. Arrive in Tel Aviv in the late afternoon to be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel in Tel Aviv for the first night. We will have an early dinner together at an Israeli style restaurant (meal provided) and have general introductions, a review of our itinerary together and answer any questions.
Day 3: Tuesday, March 7. Breakfast will be available from 07:00 to 08:15. We will then check out of our hotel and make the one hour drive to Jerusalem. On the way into Jerusalem we will stop at the observation point at the Mount of Olives to take in a view of the old city and get our introduction to the layout and the history of Jerusalem. We will also stop at the Gardens of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount. Continuing into the old quarter our first destination will be the Wailing Wall and the adjacent Kotel tunnel that explores the mysteries of the 2nd Temple.
Lunch will be at a small family-run restaurant that is well known for it’s excellent hummus dishes typically served with side dishes such as falafel, Arab-style salad, pickles and pita bread.
After lunch we will tour the Jewish quarter, visit the four Sephardi synagogue complex and then, depending on time we will visit the site of the Last Supper at Mount Zion and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Christian quarter.
We will check into our hotel and have some down time. Dinner will be on your own but recommendations can be made.
Day 4: Wednesday, March 8. We will need to make an early start today so that we can visit the Temple Mount which is only open to the public from 08:00 to 10:00. Breakfast will be from 06:00 to 07:00 and we will leave at 07:30.
After our visit to Temple Mount we will tour Yemin-Moshe the first neighborhood built outside the walls of the old city and then make our way to the Shuk – the Jerusalem market. We will meet with a chef from the King David hotel who will guide us to a series of restaurants to sample different cooking styles and talk about how the food is prepared and how he shops for ingredients in the shuk.
No visit to Jerusalem should be complete without a visit to Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, which we will tour after lunch. A bus tour in the capital will take us to see the Knesset (Israeli parliament), Shrine of the Book and other sights.
Remaining on the bus we will head to a unique winery for a wine tasting and dinner. The wines are all fermented in clay amphora, a technique that dates back to Biblical times.
Day 5: Thursday, March 9. After breakfast we will check out of the hotel and head by bus into the Negev desert. Our first call will be Mamshit National Park. Dating back to the Roman Byzantine period it was a Nabatean desert town sitting on the incense and spice route.
Next we will visit the grave site of David and Paula Ben Gurion; the first Prime Minister of the newly established country of Israel and his wife, located on a bluff affording a breath-taking view of the Zin valley before proceeding to the kibbutz Sde Boker and the modest house where the Ben Gurions spent their final years.
After lunch we will visit a desert vineyard to see how grapevines are cultivated in the desert and taste some of the winery’s products. We will then proceed to the ruins at Shivta with the oldest known baptisterium from the Byzantine period.
Our final destination of the day will be a desert farm where we will stay overnight and dine Bedouin style.
Day 6: Friday, March 10. Leaving our overnight accommodations we will head for the town of Mitspe Ramon. After touring the small museum and the observation deck we will visit the Carpentry at the Crater – an unusual rock formation on the crater’s floor.
Lunch will be in Mitspe Ramon and then we will head to the Dead Sea for some well-deserved relaxation by the pools or in the Dead Sea. For those that might be looking for a bit of pampering various spa treatments are available (at an additional cost) but you will need to make your own reservations. The Shabatt (traditional Friday night meal) dinner will be provided at the hotel.
Day 7: Saturday, March 11. In the morning we will head for the hilltop fortress of Masada, a UNESCO world heritage site. No we are not going to walk to the top – rather we will take the cable car to save our energy to explore the ruins and hear the story of the courageous group that defended the fortress from the Romans.
You will be able to pickup lunch (your expense) on the way back to our hotel and have another lazy afternoon that might include a spa treatment (at your expense) or time to experience the Dead Sea again.
Dinner will be provided at the hotel.
Day 8: Sunday, March 12. Heading out from the Dead Sea the first stop will be at Beit Shean a Roman-Byzantine city and another World Heritage UNESCO site. Then it will be on to Yardenit – the Baptism site on the banks of the River Jordan.
Lunch will be at Kibbutz Ein Gev. Before checking into our hotel in Mizpe Lashalom we will visit Tel El Saki on the Golan Heights and hear about the 1972 Yom Kippur war put into perspective with the actual terrain laid out before us.
In the early evening we will head out for another wine tasting experience at a boutique winery situated close to known inactive volcanic areas. A light dinner will be provided to accompany the wines we taste.
Day 9: Monday, March 13. After checking out of our hotel, we will visit some of the locations that are part of the Christian heritage of Israel. This will include the village where Jesus lived as an adult and the location of a boat dating back to the time of Christ.
Then we will completely change ideological direction with a visit to the town of Tzfat (also known as Safed) in Galilee, the highest town in Israel, to learn about the Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism). Then it will be on to the Hameiri cheese factory that has been producing sheep cheese for the last 170+ years.
We will arrange for a light lunch in Tzfat and then check in to our hotel and have some free time until dinner.
In the evening we plan to go to a typical Israeli steak house for dinner but because of the variety of dishes on the menu you will be responsible for your own meal.
Day 10: Tuesday, March 14. After checkout we will head for our hotel in Tel Aviv, where we will spend our last night in Israel. On the way we will visit the coastal cities of Acre and Jaffa; both of considerable historic interest. In Acre we will visit the knights halls at the capital of the crusaders kingdom and the El Jazar mosque. If time permits we will also visit the Bahai gardens.
Lunch will be at a fish restaurant of a well-known chef in Acre. Dinner will be a light meal in Jaffa sampling various pastries filled with a variety of cheeses typical of the Ottoman period and still baked as they were hundreds of years ago. Of course between lunch and dinner we will also tour the historical sections of Jaffa including the oldest continuously operating seaport on the Mediterranean. For those with a larger appetite you are welcome to find additional food after we have checked in at the hotel.
Day 11: Wednesday, March 15. The morning will be spent exploring Tel Aviv and some of the architecture of the first modern Hebrew city. We will include a visit to the house of the first mayor of Tel Aviv.
Our final meal together will be a late lunch at a micro brewery outside Tel Aviv. There will be an opportunity to sample different beer styles all named after the women that were special in the life of the owner and brew master.
For those heading home we will pick up luggage at the hotel and shuttle you to the airport in time to check in for flights leaving between 22:00 and 01:15. Those choosing to remain will be responsible for their transportation to a hotel of their choice to continue their travel independently.
Day 12: Thursday, March 16. Fly through the night and most of the day arriving back in New Bern in the mid-evening time period.
WHAT TO EXPECT:
ACTIVITY LEVEL: High
Be prepared for possible challenges when you first arrive because of the 7 hour time difference with the US east coast. Most of our travels will be at normal elevations but during the trip, we will spend some time by the Dead Sea – the lowest place on earth at about 1400 feet below sea level.
Make sure to stay hydrated and get plenty of rest. Some participants may wish to talk to their doctor before traveling about prescriptions that can help better manage potential physical reactions to the time zone change and the very low altitude.
Throughout your visit to Israel you’ll be walking up and down hills, on sometimes irregular stairs, and over uneven terrain. You should have the ability to walk comfortably for two miles and/or for up to an hour in these conditions.
If you are unable to keep up with the group, please understand that you might not be able to participate in an activity. If you have concerns about physical limitations, please contact us before registering. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (252) 876-3811.
Pricing and What’s Included in Your Twelve-Day Israel Tour
The total price for the land portion of this tour are $3295 per person double occupancy. There is a supplement of $850 for persons traveling alone and choosing single occupancy. The following are included:
- All hotel accommodation and breakfast daily – Note: All rooms at our selected hotels include free in-room WiFi.
- Transfers from and to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv (TLV) if you are traveling on the dates specified in the tour description
- All breakfasts, most lunches and some dinners as described in the itinerary. On days when certain meals are not provided recommendations will be available upon request.
- All transportation during the tour except taxis when you are dining independently
- Entry tickets to all historical monuments and museums as described in the itinerary.
- Gratuities for the bus driver(s), hotel staff and wait staff for included meals.
- One 1.5L bottle of water per person per day. Additional water will be at your expense.
What’s NOT Included in Your Twelve-Day Israel Tour
You will have some additional expenses but unlike many tours we are trying to limit your out of pocket expenses so that your total cost is somewhat predictable. So here are the things that are definitely NOT included:
- Airfare from and returning to your departure point in the USA. Current estimates for airfare are between $1500-$2000 per person coach class for an east coast starting point. These fares could change dramatically if you delay booking your flights after the trip is confirmed.
- Any accommodation or meals that result from you extending your trip.
- Transfers from and to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv (TLV) if you travel on days other than those specific dates mentioned for this tour
- Any spa treatments or other special services
- All alcoholic beverages except for the wine tasting opportunities.
- Optional gratuities for guides and tour organizers.
- Medical insurance and cancellation insurance.
This trip will have a maximum of 12 people plus the tour organizers, the tour manager and the guide. We reserve the right to cancel the trip before December 15, 2016 if we do not have sufficient interest. At time of reservation we will expect a $500 deposit with the balance due no later than December 31st 2016. If the trip does not proceed because of lack of interest you will be due a full refund but any cancellation after we have confirmed that the trip will proceed will be subject to a $500 penalty before December 31, 2016 and there will be no refund after January 31, 2017. Since we are not including air transportation, if you are able to join us you are welcome to pass your spot on to someone else as long as we are fully informed.