Classic Egypt, Jordan, Israel & the Palestinian Territories


This whirlwind exploration of the Middle East takes you from ancient wonders to holy cities. On this 3-week trip, witness the immensity of the great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx in Cairo, sail down the Nile River and explore the architecture of the past, take in the majesty of The Treasury in Petra, Jordan, float in the strangeness of the Dead Sea and visit one of the oldest holy cities in the world – Jerusalem. Connect with the Bedouin women in the Negev Desert region of the Palestinian territories over tea and a traditional weaving demonstration. Head on a desert safari in a 4WD through an International Dark Sky Park. Traverse the open-air museum that is Luxor, full of Pharoah tombs, temples and monuments. Visit the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, where Jesus is said to have been born. This Middle Eastern odyssey is packed with local experiences, modern traditions and ancient artifacts.

22 days, from

$8,369

per person

GROUP SIZE

12 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: XEKNC
Style: Comfort
Theme: Explorer
Print itinerary

Details

Countries Visited:  Egypt Israel Jordan
Accommodation: Hotel (15 nights), Cruise boat (4 nights), Overnight sleeper train (1 night), Desert camp (1 night)
Transportation: Private vehicle , Plane , Cruise boat , Felucca , Overnight sleeper train , 4x4 Jeep
Included Meals:

  • 21 breakfasts
  • 7 lunches
  • 10 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • Explore an ancient wonder of the world - the Pyramids of Giza, along with the famed Sphinx, Karnak Temple and Valley of the Kings, as you learn mythological history from an expert guide.

  • You'll never forget your first glimpse of The Treasury in Petra. Spend a day taking in the majesty and mystery of this unforgettable place on a guided tour then enjoy free time to explore.

  • Explore the Ramon Crater in the Negev Desert in a 4WD, spotting constellations unimpeded by light pollution on a tour with an expert local guide.

  • Join Bedouin women for special lunch at Lakiya Negev Bedouin Weaving, an initiative that empowers women to apply their traditional weaving skills to the manufacture and sale of their products, and earn an income.

  • Experience the unique sensation of floating in the super-salty waters of the Dead Sea, then cover yourself in the mineral-rich mud for a spa treatment like no other.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Cairo

Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Egypt. You'll be met on arrival at Cairo International Airport and transferred to your hotel, before your Egyptian adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6pm 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 Sphinx. If you have some time spare, perhaps get out and explore the busy city streets or visit the Cairo Citadel which dates back to 1176 and is home to multiple museums and mosques.

Day 2: Cairo - Overnight Train

This morning after breakfast you’ll see two of the world’s most iconic sights – the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. Explore structures that have stood for over 4500 years and learn the history from a true local. For an additional charge, you may be able to go inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu (although occasionally it’s closed to visitors). The Pyramids complex can be very hot in the summer months and has little shade to protect you from the sun so prepare accordingly. Your adventure continues to the Egyptian Museum, home to one of the world's greatest collections of ancient artefacts. Recovered from the tomb of Tutankhamun, the gleaming jewellery, golden death mask and gilded sarcophagi are an impressive site to say the least. It’s clear this pharaoh was prepared for a lavish afterlife! Take some time to freshen up back at the hotel before you board an overnight sleeper train to Luxor.

Day 3: Nile River Cruise

It's an early start this morning as you'll pull into Luxor around 6am. Take advantage of the early morning peace by visiting Karnak Temple – a spectacular collection of temples, chapels and pylons that are perhaps the most impressive of all the Pharaoh’s monumental works. Learn the secrets of an ancient Egyptian sanctuary, which developed over 1000 years and was, at its peak, the most important religious complex in Egypt. Your leader will take you through some of the most incredible highlights, such as the Avenue of Sphinxes and the Great Temple of Amun. After exploring Karnak, board your Nile cruise boat and settle into your cabin. This afternoon you'll have the option of heading off on a walking tour of Luxor and its bazaar with your leader. 

Day 4: Nile River Cruise

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 are over 60 pharaoh tombs, many richly decorated with reliefs and paintings. With your leader, explore the 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. Visit three of the royal tombs, including Tutankhamun’s tomb where he is buried, then continue to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut – a columned building set against high cliffs that create a spectacular natural amphitheatre. The afternoon is yours to explore. Maybe you'd like to shop in the market or visit the world's first Mummification Museum, where you can discover the secrets of pharaonic preservation. This evening, set sail to Edfu.  

Day 5: Nile River Cruise

This morning, enjoy breakfast before setting off towards Kom Ombo. The temple of Kom Ombo, in the town of the same name, is an unusual double temple right on the bank of the Nile. This second century BC complex is unique because it has a mirror-image design, 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 the other half is dedicated to Haroeris (also known as Horus the falcon god). The whole temple is full of fascinating reliefs. You’ll explore Kom Ombo with your leader and absorb the history of the place, before having lunch aboard the ship. Sail onwards to Aswan, the home of beautiful Nile Valley scenery and significant archaeological sites.  

Day 6: Nile River Cruise

You have time this morning to explore or relax as you choose. Your leader can recommend one of the many optional activities that are available to you in this incredible location. Explore the picturesque city centre and its bazaar, opt to visit the High Dam and Unfinished Obelisk or feed your history needs with the Nubian Museum. Maybe you’d like to visit the breathtaking Abu Simbel – 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. Late in the afternoon, enjoy a leisurely sailing trip on a traditional felucca before dinner on the ship.

Day 7: Cairo

After breakfast today, say goodbye to your nights spent on the Nile. Visit Philae Temple this morning, an island-based temple complex built during the reign of Ptolemy II (around 280 BC). These picturesque walls show hieroglyphic scenes from Egyptian mythology – when Isis brought Osiris back to life, gave birth to Horus and was mummified after death. Catch a short flight back to Cairo. 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. To celebrate your time in Egypt, join a local Cairo family for a delicious home-cooked dinner. The food and conversation will surely make for an evening to remember!

Day 8: Amman

This morning take a short flight from Cairo to Amman. You will be unescorted on this flight. 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 a welcome meeting for the next stage of your trip. 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, you may like to get to know your group over an optional 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.

Day 9: Wadi Rum

After breakfast today, journey down the Desert Highway to the spellbinding Wadi Rum, 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 jeeps operated by the local Bedouin community, part of an initiative by the Jordanian Government to bring much-needed income into this region. 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 10: Aqaba

Enjoy a spectacular sunrise at your desert camp, perhaps checking out a few more of the local Wadi Rum sites or taking a scenic walk before you leave. 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. With great visibility and abundant marine life, this is an incredible spot for snorkelling, and the warm waters play host to clownfish, angelfish, sea turtles and coral formations. Speak to your leader if you’d like to arrange snorkelling, or you may prefer to acquaint yourself with the hotel's pool or head to the beach.

Day 11: Petra

This morning, enjoy some relaxation time in Aqaba before travelling to the fabled city of Petra. Dating back to the sixth century BC, Petra is considered the crown jewel of Jordan, featuring an impressive series of tombs and dwellings carved directly into the rock. The site remained unknown to the wider world until 1812 when it was visited by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. In 1985, Petra was designated a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, and simply put, is one of the world’s most incredible ancient sites. On arrival, settle into your hotel and check out the village before enjoying an included dinner at your hotel.

Day 12: Petra

Petra is justifiably on most people’s list of ‘must-visit’ places. 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. 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, where you’ll find magnificent views of the entire site. To cap off a truly memorable day, be welcomed into a local home for dinner. On the menu will often be maqluba – a casserole with rice, vegetables and chicken which is cooked, flipped, then served with either yoghurt or an Arab salad with tahina sauce. Chat to your friendly family hosts about the delicious meal and what life is like in such a popular spot.

Day 13: Amman

After breakfast, drive to the ancient Crusader castle at Shobak, where your leader will show you the grounds, a small chapel and the original gatehouse. 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. Depart the castle and stop off at the viewpoint overlooking the Dana Nature Reserve before arriving in Madaba where you’ll visit the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George and see an impressive ancient mosaic map of the Holy Land. Arrive in Amman in the late afternoon, where your leader will recommend some great restaurants to sample the best of the city’s food scene.

Day 14: Amman

Take a short drive north 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, theatres, baths, public buildings and colonnaded streets, and is a beautiful place to spend a morning exploring. Then, drive 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. 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 15: Tel Aviv

This morning we farewell Jordan and drive to the Allenby Bridge Crossing for your onwards journey to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. You will be accompanied by your leader or a local guide to the crossing. They will provide you with instructions for the border officials. Once you have cleared the border there will be a driver to take you to your hotel in Tel Aviv. There are no activities planned today until a welcome meeting at 6 pm, where you’ll meet your local leader and fellow travellers. Afterwards it's time to get stuck into the exciting flavours the city is known for with an included dinner.

Day 16: 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. 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.

Day 17: 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 18: Mitzpe Ramon

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 – and visit the Anzac Memorial there. 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 19: Jerusalem / Dead Sea

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, you will visit the Mount of Olives for your first view of Jerusalem. Visit the Garden of Gethsemane, known as the place where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before his crucifixion.

Day 20: 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 21: Jerusalem / Bethlehem

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 where famous artists like Banksy have contributed to the artworks. 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, this afternoon, visit the Aida Refugee Camp and join some passionate home cooks for a cooking class. Learn about everyday life for those who live in the camp as you whip up authentic Palestinian dishes with the families of those who were forced to leave their villages during the 1949 Israeli-Arab war. At the end of the class, enjoy your culinary creations during a shared lunch. Tonight, 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 are some great eating spots around there too.

Day 22: Jerusalem

Your journey comes to an end after breakfast today and there are no activities planned, so you are free to check out at any time.

22 days, from $8,369

to book call 1-844-205-6226