- Be amazed by the beautiful scenery as you cruise down the Nile on a felucca.
- Be amazed by the Pyramids of Giza.
- Explore vibrant Cairo with its bustling markets and colourful streets.
- Experience the feeling of weightlessness as you float in the super salty Dead Sea.
- Spend the night trying to count the billions of stars or chat with the locals at our bedouin camp in Wadi Rum.
- Discover the sights, sounds and tastes of Jerusalem's Old City.
- Hear the personal stories behind some of Bethlehem's graffiti walls.
- Take a cable car to view the incredible caves of Rosh Hanikra.
Egypt, Jordan, Israel & Palestine are ancient lands that conjure images of river valleys, powerful Pharaohs, pilgrims and cities carved from stone. Dive headfirst into Cairo, sail up the Nile on a felucca, party in Tel Aviv, take a jeep safari across Wadi Rum and experience more World Heritage Sites than you can shake a stick at: Battir; Petra; the Old Cities of Cairo, Acre and Jerusalem; the Church of the Nativity… it goes on – and so will you as you trek, swim, explore, photograph and taste your way across the best of the Middle East. This adventure will leave you with a greater appreciation for life here and a hands-on experience of some of the most significant religious and human history in this part of the world. Before booking on this trip we recommend that you read the ‘Safety’ section in the trip notes regarding special safety considerations for Egypt trips.
Day 1: Cairo
Welcome to Egypt! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 4 pm this afternoon. For those arriving early, why not take a walk to get your bearings of the neighbourhood, or escape the hustle and bustle and explore the Christian Coptic sector. After your important meeting, head out with your new travel buddies and discover Khan al-Khalili Bazaar, located in Cairo's Islamic centre. This traditional souk is a labyrinth of narrow alleys lined with local merchants; a perfect place to get introduced to daily Egyptian life.
Day 2: Cairo
This morning, head to Giza –home to some of the world’s most iconic sights. Approach the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx by camel, with panoramic views across the dunes. Explore these structures that have stood tall for 4500 years, and for an additional charge you may be able to go inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu, although occasionally it may be closed to visitors. Afterwards, make your way to the Egyptian Museum – home to one of the world's great collections of antiquities. Wander the treasure-filled halls of the museum, and make sure to check out the optional Mummies Hall for a close encounter with some of the country’s most important queens and pharaohs. Later in the evening, meet your leader and travel to the nearby train station, where you will board an overnight sleeper train bound for Aswan (approximately 13 hours).
Day 3: Aswan
The Nile, Elephantine Island and white-sailed feluccas. Welcome to Aswan – Egypt's southernmost city. Its easy-going charm is due in no small part to its large Nubian population. Today is a free day so take the opportunity to see such Aswan sites as the unfinished obelisk or the High Dam. The Nubian Bazaar is a must, while the excellent Nubian Museum is top of many visitors’ lists. Highly recommended is the beautiful Temple of Isis (the Goddess of health, marriage and wisdom) that was rescued from the rising waters of the Nile and relocated on Philae Island. The waterfront promenade, or Aswan's Corniche, runs alongside one of Nile's most appealing stretches and is the perfect place to stop for a mint tea. This evening you’ll experience modern Nubian culture first-hand with a visit to a nearby village. You’ll join a local Nubian family for a memorable dinner and get an unforgettable insight into the daily life of the local people.
Day 4: Aswan
Today perhaps head out of Aswan and book in to visit stunning Abu Simbel this morning. 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. Please note this optional activity has a very early start (but it’s totally worth it). There’s two ways to get there – a 40-minute flight, or renting a minivan with your group and leaving very early. The journey by land is 3 hours each way, with an early departure from Aswan at 5–6 am. Instead, you could take a sailboat ride around the islands in a traditional felucca, stopping off at the botanical gardens on Kitchener's Island. Or, take a camel ride to the Monastery of St Simeon, an abandoned seventh-century fortress monastery located in the desert on the Nile's west bank. Your tour leader will be on hand to help you arrange any excursions. Otherwise, simply relax and take in the beauty of the Nile or do some shopping in the local bazaar.
Day 5: Nile Felucca
With some free time this morning, perhaps head down and grab a felucca out to the Tomb of the Nobles or stock up on snacks for your evening on the Nile. Board your included felucca journey just before lunch and spend the afternoon out on the river, watching Egyptian daily life play out on the banks, then spend a night under the stars. Your Nubian sailing crew provides all the meals which are hearty and delicious. Being a traditional wooden boat with broad canvas sails, your felucca offers some shade and protection from the elements. However, there is no cabin or enclosed section. Nonetheless, watching the sun setting across the Nile in the evening is a sight you won't forget. This is the absolute highlight of the trip for many, especially with some local Nubian entertainment from your crew.
Day 6: Luxor
This morning, say goodbye to your Nubian friends and take a private van to the ‘open-air museum’ of Luxor (approximately 3.5 hours travel time). From the spectacular temple complex of Karnak to the Valley of the Kings, Luxor is full of wonderfully preserved reminders of the Pharaohs. On the way, there's the option to visit either the unique mirror-image design of the Temple of Kom Ombo, or the beautifully preserved Temple of Edfu. This afternoon you will explore the magnificent Karnak Temple, which is perhaps the most impressive of all the ancient Pharaohs' monumental works. One of the world's most celebrated temple complexes, Karnak is a house of the gods built over a period of some 200 years. The rest of the day will be free to relax, shop in the bazaar, which is open until quite late, or perhaps experience the atmosphere of a local teahouse.
Day 7: Luxor
Today you’ll hop in a private minivan and discover some of the wonder of ancient Thebes. Your first stop is the Colossi of Memnon – two 17-metre-high statues on Luxor's west bank. Carved from granite blocks, they represent the Pharaoh Amenhotep III and were once part of an impressive colonnade. Continue on to the spectacular royal burial site of the Valley of the Kings. Buried under the arid hills here are over 60 richly decorated tombs of pharaohs. With your leader, explore this sprawling and spectacular 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. Afterwards, join a local family for lunch to try some traditional home cooking. The rest of your afternoon is free to explore – with the Luxor Museum a great place to visit. Keep in mind that tonight you’ll board an overnight sleeper train from Luxor back to Cairo (approximately 10 hours).
Day 8: Amman
Today you will farewell Egypt and take a short flight to Jordan. This flight is currently scheduled for the afternoon to allow for delays from the overnight train. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your Amman hotel, where your Jordanian Group Leader will be waiting for you. There may also be new group members joining the trip in Jordan. Welcome to Jordan, cosmopolitan and contemporary, yet steeped in biblical history. Tonight consider a visit to Rainbow Street where you will hear “Welcome to Jordan” from the locals, and maybe pick up a coffee from one of the cafés and partner it with an ara’yes, a toastie filled with spicy mincemeat
Day 9: Wadi Rum
Follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia with a journey to Wadi Rum (approximately 5 hours). A half-day jeep safari will take you through some of the most striking desert scenery on the planet. Wadi Rum is full of weird and wonderful lunar-like rock formations, and traces of ancient civilisations can be seen in the many carved inscriptions found throughout the area – from pictographs to Thamudic, Nabataean and Arabic texts. The most enduring monuments in Wadi Rum are those carved by nature – the natural rock bridges, towering rose-coloured sand dunes and scattered rocky peaks. Tonight, sleep in a simple Bedouin desert camp, with the choice of sleeping under a camel hair tent or out under the stars. Enjoy dinner cooked in an earthen oven by your Bedouin hosts. Meaning ‘desert dwellers’ in Arabic, the Bedouins are a semi-nomadic people, and in Jordan up to 40 per cent of the general population is thought to have Bedouin ancestry. Conditions are basic at the desert camp, but the hospitality of your hosts as well as the chance to sleep beneath the twinkling desert night sky will sure make up for it.
Day 10: Wadi Rum
After waking up in the unique surrounds of the camp this morning, head out on a trek around the area (approximately 12 to 15 kilometres), with a stop for tea and a lunch break. You might scale one of the large sand dunes for sensational views of the valley – the perfect chance to snap some unbelievable pictures. Explore the distinctive rock formations and bask in its eerie silence. Wadi Rum is probably best known for its connection with the enigmatic British officer T E Lawrence, who was based here during the Great Arab Revolt of 1917–18. Tonight is again yours to enjoy the traditional Bedouin hospitality and the clear night skies of the desert.
Day 11: Petra
This morning you'll leave your desert camp, taking 4WDs to the main entrance, which is opposite the Seven Pillars of Wisdom – the mountain named after Lawrence of Arabia’s book. The visitor's centre here is also a great spot to buy some jewellery and handicrafts, mostly made by a women's co-operative aimed at supporting local industries. Continue your journey to the fabled city of Petra by private vehicle (approximately 2 hours). The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was discovered by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt – a Swiss explorer. In 1985, Petra was designated a World Heritage-listed site. Once arrived, spend the afternoon on a guided tour of Petra. Squeeze through a mile-long narrow path, known as the Siq, through huge towers of rock and get your first glimpse of the iconic Treasury complex. It’s amazing to think that this enormous, intricate building entrance was hand carved out of the rock.
Day 12: Petra
Enjoy a free day of self-discovery as you explore Petra on your own. The site is surprisingly big, and so it is up to you to choose your own route around the complex. You could explore the old Roman road, other smaller temples and several old tombs, as well as the rock-hewn amphitheatre. For those who are feeling a bit more active, there's the challenging but highly rewarding 1-hour walk up the steps to the secluded yet stunning Monastery.
Day 13: Madaba
Traverse the King's Highway to the historic crusader castle of Kerak, which stands on a cliff commandingly overlooking Wadi Karak and the Dead Sea in the distance (approximately 2.5 hours). You’ll have time to explore the ruins and discover the legends of centuries-old battles. Pack your swim gear as next you can wash off the dust in the Dead Sea – the lowest point on Earth (420 metres below sea level). This super-salty lake is a perfect place to spend some time relaxing and get some classic floating pictures. For those who are game, why not cover yourself from head to toe for a nutrient-rich natural mineral mud bath. Continue to Mt Nebo – the spot where the prophet Moses is said to have seen the ‘promised land’ and where he’s supposedly buried. Explore this sanctuary and view the remarkable mosaics of the fourth-century church. Afterwards, continue to Madaba, famous for its Ottoman-style houses and beautiful Byzantine-era mosaics, including the acclaimed sixth-century mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land at St George's Church. Other mosaic masterpieces from the fifth to seventh centuries can be found throughout Madaba’s churches, museums and homes.
Day 14: Madaba / Jerash
Today you will leave Madaba for a short drive to Jerash – once one of the grandest ancient Roman cities in the world (approximately 1.5 hours). These are some of the best-preserved Greco-Roman ruins around. The ancient walled town that survives today is a remarkable evocation of life 2000 years ago. It has a striking collection of archways and theatres, baths, public buildings and colonnaded streets, and is a beautiful place to spend a day exploring. Discover Hadrian’s arch, the partially restored hippodrome, ornate public fountains, the south amphitheatre, and see the collection of daily artefacts uncovered during excavations. Grand columns encircle the city's centrepiece, the Oval Plaza. After a full day of exploring, maybe gather your travel buddies together and share a celebratory shisha as you reminisce on your memories of majestic Jordan.
Day 15: Jerusalem
This morning we farewell Jordan and make the hour journey to the Alenby Bridge Crossing for your onwards journey to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Your Tour Leader will escort you to the crossing and provide you with instructions for the border officials. Once you have cleared the border there will be a representative to escort you to your hotel in Jerusalem. Welcome to Israel and Jerusalem, a city steeped in spirituality and legend; a rich tapestry of the many cultures, religions and nationalities that call it home, be they Palestinian Muslims & Christians, Sephardic Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, Armenian Christians, Ethiopian Copts or Greek Orthodox monks. Your arrival at the hotel should be just in time for lunch and the rest of your day is free to explore Jerusalem. We recommend checking out the range of tours on offer from Urban Adventures. There will be a meeting this evening at 6 pm with your Tour Leader and any fellow travelers, please look for this note in reception.
Day 16: Jerusalem
We will explore the Old City this morning on foot. We will start with the Courtyard of the Dome and the Wailing 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. Sip tea, sample fresh local bread and then walk through the Christian Quarter up to Jaffa Gate for a lunch break. That afternoon, get another perspective on modern day life in Jerusalem with a local Israeli guide. Your walking tour of West Jerusalem will see you stroll through Yemin Moshe; a historic neighborhood of old stone buildings built in response to overcrowding within the Old City. Check out the colourful, artistic hub of ‘Hamiffal’ (The Factory ). This abandoned old building was turned into a public art space by a local artists co-operative. While here you'll learn about the artists in residence program. Move on to the Muslim Graveyard, Mamilla Pool, The Burial Caves of Independence Park, and then a quick brief on the city center. The tour will finish up at Agripas Street, at the entrance of the Machane Yehuda Market. We recommend grabbing a beer in one of the many laneway bars to watch the market come to life in the evening, or go for a wander to check out the amazing graffiti popping up on shop shutters.
Day 17: Jerusalem
Start the day off with a panoramic view of the city. Drive out to the Mount of Olives that looks over Jerusalem’s Old City and visit the Garden of Gethsemane, most famous as the place where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before Jesus' crucifixion. See the Church of All Nations (also known as the Basilica of the Agony), which holds inside a section of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. Drive the short distance out to Bethlehem and take a Graffiti walking tour along the wall. Graffiti has filled the walls in Bethlehem by many artists over the years, including British Artist; Banksy. Hear the personal stories behind some of the more prominent pieces. The tour takes you past one of the largest refugee camps in the West Bank and previous conflict hot spots. Continue on to Manger square to sample Bethlehem's famous Falafel. Then visit the Church of the Nativity, marking the spot of the stable where Mary is said to have given birth to Jesus. Head back to Jerusalem and visit Yad Vashem for a sobering and moving visit to Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. The facility includes a research facility, art gallery, education department, archive, and numerous moving memorials. After a fascinating day, retire to your Jerusalem hotel.
Day 18: Jerusalem
This morning drive out to the spectacular cliff-top fortress of Masada. On the way we stop at the 6th century cliff-side Monastery of St. George of Koziba in the desert (Deir El Qelt) and see the massive church built into the mountains. In Masada you will take a cable car to the fortress built by King Herod around 35BC. This UNESCO site is very important to the Jewish people, a symbol of their exile from the Holy Land and of bravery and self-sacrifice. The story goes that here a Jewish sect called the Zealots held out against the Roman army in AD66. Rather than surrender, they either fought to the death or committed suicide, every last man, woman and child. Then, you’d better have brought your swim gear as you can wash of the dust from exploring with a dip like no other. Drive around 30 minutes to the shores of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth (420 metres below sea level). This isn’t actually a sea but 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. Spend some time relaxing here and get some classic floating pictures. The mud here is supposed to have healing properties and so why not cover yourself from head to toe for a nutrient-rich natural mineral mud bath. Return to Jerusalem for the evening.
Day 19: Nazareth
Travel to the western shores of the Sea of Galilee today and Tiberias – established all the way back in AD20. Swing by Hisham’s Palace in Jericho on the way. The old hunting lodge has one of the most beautiful and elaborately decorated mosaic floors in the world. Continue on via the Jordan Valley and visit the ancient fishing village of Capernaum – see the ruins of this old town, the site of two ancient synagogues and a church said to have been the home of Saint Peter. You’ll pass by Tabgha – this is where the Bible says Jesus performed the Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, one of the only miracles that’s in all the gospels. Then head up to Safad (Tsfat), one of Judaism’s Four Holy Cities. The city, at over 900 metres above sea level, is Israel’s highest city and is known as the centre of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. It’s a beautiful setting, surrounded by pine forest, and has become a haven for both artists and those seeking spiritual enlightenment. You’ll continue on to Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus, for the evening. Here we have the unique opportunity stay in a simple but beautiful convent established by nuns who arrived from France in the mid 19th century.
Day 20: Nazareth
Leave early this morning and drive to the ancient crusader port of Acre (Akko in Hebrew) approximately 45 minutes. Here you’ll visit the vast complex of buildings occupied by the Knights of St John (Knights Hospitaller), excavated to uncover rooms including a large hall, a dungeon, a dining room and the crypt of an ancient Gothic church. You will also see the secret tunnel of their rivals, the Knights Templar – an underground passage between their fortresses. Continue on to Rosh Hanikra where we take a cable car up the cliff face to view the spectacular grottoes. These incredible caves are located at the farthest point north on Israel’s Mediterranean coastline, on the border of Lebanon where the sea meets the cliffs. On the way back to Nazareth make a stop at the Church of the Annunciation. This is the site of where Mary received the news of the Immaculate Conception, along with the well where she drew water every day. You will overnight in Nazareth.
Day 21: Tel Aviv
After breakfast, journey to Tel Aviv via the coast and Caesarea (approximately 1 hour), which served as the capital of Israel during the Roman and Byzantine eras. This was once a great port town built by King Herod around 25BC, complete with a theatre, amphitheatre, hippodrome, palace, Roman temple and an extensive network of aqueducts, along with an artificial harbour. The city was eventually abandoned and lost under the desert sands, but thanks to archaeological excavations since the 1950s, its splendour is on show once again. Continue through Haifa (approximately 20 minutes) where you’ll see the lush and immaculate Bahaii Gardens on Mount Carmel Mountains (a memorial and shrine to the Bahai faith) and look out across the Mediterranean Sea. Drop by the ancient port city of Jaffa (approximately 1 hour) before arriving in Tel Aviv. Enjoy a final night in this modern cosmopolitan city, a true 'city that doesn’t stop'. With its lively cafe culture, relaxed Mediterranean beach scene, and renowned nightlife, Tel Aviv is a great place to spend your last trip night. Perhaps gather together you fellow travellers and take advantage of the excellent food and nightlife with a final celebratory dinner or drink as this Israel and Palestine adventure comes to an end.
Day 22: Tel Aviv
This trip comes to an end today. There are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time after check-out.
- Hotel (15 nights)
- Desert camp (2 nights)
- Felucca (1 night)
- Overnight sleeper train (2 nights)
- Petra - Petra By Night tour
- Luxor - Hatshepsut Temple
- Aswan - Unfinished Obelisk (entrance only)
- Urban Adventures - Saqqara and Memphis
- Jerusalem - Israel Museum
- Urban Adventures - Alexandria City Discovery
- Cairo - Islamic Art Museum (Entry, Transport, Guiding)
- Amman - Jordan Museum
- Cairo - Sound & Light Show at the Pyramids (entry fee)
- Edfu - Edfu Temple
- Urban Adventures - Treasures and Tut Tour
- Aswan - Tomb of the Nobles
- Luxor - Bicycle Hire
- Cairo - The 2nd Pyramid of Khafre (entry fee)
- Luxor - Deir el Madina
- Luxor - Mummification Museum
- Cairo - The Great Pyramid of Cheops (entry fee)
- Cairo - Coptic Museum (Entry, Transport, Guiding)
- Aswan - Philae Temple
- Urban Adventures - Islamic Cairo in Depth Tour
- Luxor - Medinat Habu Temple
- Cairo - The Citadel
- Aswan - Sound & Light Show at Philae Temple (entry fee)
- Luxor - Sound and Light Show at Karnak (Entry)
- Amman - Roman Theatre Entrance
- Amman - Citadel
- Cairo - Sufi dance performance at Khan al-Khalili
- Urban Adventures - Downtown Cairo Tour
- Urban Adventures -Half Day Pyramids Adventure
- Aswan to Abu Simbel: return transport by bus & entrance fee (price from per person - minimum 4 passengers)
- Amman - King Abullah Mosque
- Jerusalem - Old City Ramparts
- Luxor - Valley of the Queens (entry fee)
- Cairo -The Royal Mummy Room
- Luxor - Luxor Temple (entry fee)
- Luxor - Tomb of Tutankhamun (Entry)
- Aswan - High Dam
- Luxor - Luxor Museum (Entry)
- Kom Ombo - Kom Ombo Temple
- Cairo - Pyramid of Saqqara (Entry)
- Cairo - Solar Boat Museum (Entry)
- Tel Aviv
- Wadi Rum
- Nile Felucca
- Madaba / Jerash
Intrepid Travel is the world's largest small group adventure travel company. Intrepid trips are of the grassroots type and include travel via public transport, local food, and locally-owned accommodation Intrepid Travel has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1989. A company that began with two bearded backpackers, a typewriter and a kitchen table now leads 100,000 travellers across the globe each year. And although we’re a bit larger these days – with 1,000 local staff based around the world and over 800 different trips across every continent (not to mention multiple kitchen tables) – our mission remains the same. We still get a kick out of responsible travel, small groups and very (very) big adventures.