At times, Israel can seem like a country obsessed by spirituality. In Jerusalem, you may hear the Muslim call to prayer competing with the clanging of bells from Christian churches and the prayers of Jews before the Western Wall. In other parts of the country, you'll find yourself walking in the exact places where the events of the Bible unfolded. Everywhere you turn, you'll see reminders of the three religions - Islam, Judaism and Christianity - that have shaped this part of the world.
The Holy Land is about the size of New Jersey in the USA or Wales in the UK. It is quite a small country. The main features are a coastal plain including Haifa and Tel Aviv. Parallel to this runs a range of mountains with Jerusalem and Bethlehem, rising to about 750m or 3000 feet. This is followed by the rift of the Jordan Valley, dropping to around 400 m below sea level.
Day 1- Arrive Tel Aviv, Israel
Upon clearing customs and immigration, you are met by an iExplore Representative for transfer by private vehicle to your hotel for check-in and overnight.
Tel Aviv is a very new city compared with many others in Israel. It was founded in 1909. As befits a youngster, Tel Aviv has lots of energy and bustle with activity 24 hours a day. The city is the hub of the country's high-tech industry and its skyline is one of the most modern in the Middle East. The tallest building, the Azrieli Center, has an observation deck.
Overnight: Tel Aviv
Day 2 - Tel Aviv- Tiberias
Today there is a full-day tour en route to Tiberias. Drive north along the Mediterranean coast to Caesarea, once the capital of the Roman Province, to visit Roman and Crusader remains and the Roman Theater. Then go to Haifa on the Mediterranean Coast for a panoramic view of the port city the Bahai Gardens. On Mount Carmel visit Stella Maris and Elijah Grotto. Continue to Nazareth and see the Basilica of Annunciation and Joseph's Workshop.
Proceed to Lake Galilee for hotel check-in and overnight.
Overnight: Lake Galilee Area
Day 3 - Tiberias and the Golan Heights
Full day of sightseeing by private vehicle in and around Tiberias.
Visit the Mount of Beatitudes, site of the Sermon on the Mount; the ancient synagogue and St Peter's House at Capernaum; and the early mosaic of the Loaves and the Fishes at Tabgha. In the afternoon visit the Golan Heights a strategic crossroads for centuries. Stop at Banias also known as Caesarea Phlippi and return to Lake Galilee for overnight.
Overnight: Lake Galilee Area
Day 4 - Tiberias- Jerusalem
You are collected from your hotel this morning by your guide for a full day tour en route to Jerusalem.
Leave Galilee down the Jordan Valley visiting the Roman town of Bet Shean and the Crusader castle at Belvoir. We stop at Jericho, the oldest known city and then head to Jerusalem.
For centuries, Jerusalem has been a place where different ideas, peoples and religions run into one another, and that's a big part of what makes it such a fascinating place to visit. The collision of cultures is also part of the reason that the city has been the scene of upheaval and conquest throughout its long history.
Marvel at the fabled skyline of the Old City. Watch how sunset works its magic, creating the legendary golden city.
Hotel check-in and evening at leisure in Jerusalem.
Day 5 - Jerusalem & Bethlehem
Full day tour of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. From Mt. of Olives have a panorama of Jerusalem and the Judean Hills. Visit the Garden of Gethsemane and the Kidron Valley, and take a walking tour in the Old City to see the Western Wall. View the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock. Walk the Via Dolorosa and Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the bazaars, the Jewish Quarter, the Cardo and Mt Zion. See David's Tomb and view the Upper Room and Dormition Abbey.
Drive to Bethlehem* and see Rachel's Tomb and the Church of the Nativity.
Day 6 - Jerusalem & the Dead Sea
Full day tour to the Dead Sea. Drive past the Good Samaritan Inn, and along by the Dead Sea to Masada. Take the cable car up to the last stronghold of the Zealots and see Herod's palaces, baths, etc. On the way back dip in the Dead Sea, weather permitting, and stop at Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. Return to Jerusalem for overnight.
Day 7 - Jerusalem
Full day tour of the new city. Visit to Yad Vashem, memorial to the Holocaust and the Shrine of the Book where the Dead Sea scrolls are kept. Visit the fascinating Model of Jerusalem as it was at the time of the 2nd Temple, view the Knesset (Israel's Parliament.)
Day 8 - Depart Jerusalem
Breakfast at the hotel and private transfer to the Tel Aviv airport.
*Bethlehem is part of the Palestinian Authority. Visit is subject to security. The guide will take you to the checkpoint and wait for you there until you return. You will cross into Bethlehem alone. A taxi and guide will be provided.
Depart any day! Contact an iExplore Adventure Consultant for details.
2013 Rates: $3835 per person based on twin share. Valid from 1/3- 10/31/13.
Not valid during select high season dates: March 24- April 2, August 1-31, September 17-28.
· Meet and greet at the Tel Aviv Airport
· Deluxe A/C van for all tours and transfers
· 7 nights hotel accommodations as indicated.
· A private English speaking guide for all tour days
· All entrance fees as per the itinerary
· Daily breakfast at the hotel
· International Airfare
· Border or departure taxes if applicable
· Personal items and drinks with meals
· Gratuities to driver(s) and guide(s)
· Meals (unless otherwise specified)
· Travel Insurance
· Visa fees (if required)
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.
Options and Extras
Visitors from Europe, the USA and Canada only need a valid passport to visit the Holy Land. These should be valid for at least six months. A visa of up to three months is given on arrival at the port of entry. Regulations for other countries vary and you should contact us for information.
There are no vaccinations or immunizations required for entry.
The time in the Holy Land is GMT plus two hours or Eastern Standard Time plus seven hours. Summer time has the clocks move forward one hour.
The electric current is 220 volts single phase, 50 Hertz.
The currency in the Holy Land is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). This is divided into 100 Agorot. Bank opening times are daily from 8.00 am to 1.00 pm Sunday through Thursdays. Some banks have occasional afternoon opening hours. Banks are closed on Fridays and Saturdays. In addition to banks and hotels, there are many licensed money changers around the country. ATMs are prevalent through the country. Major credit cards are widely accepted.
The Holy Land enjoys mild Mediterranean weather year round. It has four seasons:
Spring: (mid March through May)
The average temperatures range between 20 °C (60 °F) and 30 °C (75 °F). The coastal area is generally very pleasant. In Jerusalem and the hilly areas, the temperature can drop in the evening and warmer clothes are needed. Occasionally, especially earlier in Spring, rainy and colder weather can come in, so you should be prepared.
Summer: (June through September)
Temperatures can run in the high 20s °C (80s °F) and mid 30s °C (90s °F). The coastal plain and Tiberias can be humid. The Negev desert, Jordan Valley and Eilat are hot and dry. Evenings in Jerusalem and the hills can be cool and a light sweater or jacket is needed.
Autum: (Late September through November)
The weather is like Spring. The average temperatures range between 20 °C (60 °F) and 30 °C (75 °F). The coastal area is generally very pleasant. In Jerusalem and the hilly areas, the temperature can drop in the evening and warmer clothes are needed. Occasionally, especially later in the autumn, rainy and colder weather can come in, so you should be prepared.
Winter: (December through early March)
The weather fluctuates alternating between sunny pleasant days and wintry colder weather. Temperatures are generally around 10-15 °C (45 - 55 °F) but can drop with cold fronts coming in.
The quotation is based on the hotels listed or similar. If the hotels listed are not available, we will look for the best alternative. The final hotels used will be the ones confirmed by us. If hotels of the quoted price range are not available we may have to charge a supplement for more expensive hotels.
During busy times or high seasons hotels may request non-refundable deposits to maintain reservations.
Single Rooms are subject to availability. Note that there may be a limited number of single rooms available n hotels especially in the high season. Hotels sometimes limit the number of single rooms to 10% of total rooms booked. Single Room Supplement is charged by hotels regardless of the reason for the single.
Most hotels provide twin beds in twin and double rooms.
Triple Rooms usually consist of a fold-up bed added to the room or a mini-sofa bed that opens up into a bed. These may not be as comfortable as the regular beds. Hotels generally give a minimal reduction for a triple share.
Most hotels do not have non-smoking rooms.
Some Jewish hotels only allow check-in after Shabbat is over on Saturdays and Jewish Holidays. This is especially the case in resort areas such as the Dead Sea, Tiberias, the coast and Eilat.
Nearly all hotels in the Holy Land are Jewish hotels and are Kosher.
Half Board packages are based on special Half Board (HB) hotel prices. All breakfast and dinners are at the hotels unless otherwise stated otherwise. Many hotels do not offer a reduction or refund for forgone breakfasts and dinners with this special HB rate.
Porterage at hotels is included and is paid for to the hotel. It is a service fee. Most porters at hotels also ask for tips in addition to this and additional payments are at the client's discretion.
Most hotels have one set of pipes for heating and air conditioning. This means that hotels cannot provide heating and air conditioning simultaneously. Hotels usually do a switch over from air conditioning to heat in the Fall and from heat to air conditioning in the Spring. The switchover is a major operation and takes 2-3 days. There is little that can be done about this as most hotels here operate in this manner. Only a few of the 5 star deluxe and expensive hotels have a dual piping system and can provide both air conditioning and heat.
Transportation is via fully licensed tourist vehicles that comply with government regulations.
Gratuities and Tips:
Tips are not included. Note tips are customary in the area and we have the following recommended tipping schedule:
Guide: $3-$5 per person per day
Driver: $2-$3 per person per day
Hotels: $1-$2 per person per day
Restaurants (lunches and dinners outside the hotels) : $0.5 per person per restaurant
Though Porterage at hotels is included and paid to us directly to hotels, porters often ask for an additional tip. It is up to you if you would like to give one.
Lunches, if included, are based on regular restaurants. Special meals or specific restaurants may be more expensive. The itinerary is based on an afternoon/evening arrival and morning departure unless otherwise stated. No sightseeing is included on the first and last day unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Any itinerary discussed with this quote is considered a guideline rather than a contract. Often the sequence of the itinerary is changed due to local conditions, but we strive to visit every site in the itinerary. Sometimes force majeur means that not all sites on the itinerary can be visited. With so many factors to consider (Muslim, Christian, Jewish holidays, national holidays, Eastern and Western Churches, political events) it is difficult to plan for everything. Generally all sites mentioned in the itinerary are visited though possibly with a changed sequence.
Certain services, such as the Tunnel, Yad Vashem, Masses, High Mass, Solemn Entry, etc, get fully booked and are subject to availability. The Tunnel visit should be booked 6 months in advance. The time allocated for the visit is allocated by the management of the Tunnel and is not flexible. It is not rare for visits to be very early in the morning or late at night.
Also, Masses, High Mass, Solemn Entry reservations are not opened to reservations till 2-4 weeks ahead of time, and are not necessarily given on a first come first serve basis. They are set by the Christian Information Center. We cannot guarantee them.
VAT refunds: Some stores offer this facility. Not all stores offer this and no stores in Bethlehem or Jericho offer this. It is the client's responsibility to check if this is available at a store and to arrange it. We cannot assume any responsibility for any problems with VAT refunds.