Tour type: Shoestring
Group size: Min: 2 | Max: 45
Accommodation: 3 to 4-star hotels
Transport: A/C minibus/coach
Highlights: Tel Aviv, Caesarea, Haifa, Acre, Galilee, Tiberias, Golan Heights, Nazareth, Qumran, Masada, Megiddo, Beith Shean, Bethlehem, Dead Sea, old & new Jerusalem
This 8-day trip through Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is the perfect Holy Land tour for travellers of a Christan faith and it is also an incredible adventure for travellers who are here for the exploration of this fascinating country. The tour has time to explore the buzz of the city and beaches of Tel Aviv before visiting Tiberias and touring Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth and visiting many important religious and historical sites and monuments. The tour also includes a visit to the Dead Sea where you can bob on top of this remarkably salty Sea, the lowest place on Earth. The tour also visits the famous Sea of Galilee and Masada. On this tour you get to see most of the highlights of this amazing country and relate the important religious sites to the relevant important passages in scripture.
Standard accommodation is based on 3-4 star hotels and a Kibbutz Hotel with upgrades available to deluxe 4-star and 5-star hotels on request.
Note: Our Classic Israel also follows a similar itinerary but has less of a focus on connecting sites to biblical writings and features some more general non-religious sites and a wine tasting in the Golan Heights.
"I would like to praise your Biblical Israel tour, which I was part of between May 21st - May 28th. It was an incredible experience to see all the holy sites in the Holy land, with a highly professional guide who we felt was part of our group at the same time as he was telling us all the facts about the places we visited." Susanne Hultman
Upon arrival you'll be met in the airport by one of our representatives who will then transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is then free for you to settle in, relax after your flight, and have a look around the area independently before meeting the group and starting the first sightseeing tours tomorrow morning.
Tel Aviv Hotel
Extra day in Tel Aviv - pre-tour
Single room supplement (ISSGFI)
Following a delicious Israeli buffet breakfast (which you will enjoy each morning prior to departing for your day of touring), depart Tel Aviv. Drive north along the coastal plain to Caesarea (Acts 9.30 Acts 10 24-48), capital of Judea under the Romans. Visit the excavations of this ancient city, the Roman theatre and aqueduct. Continue to Megiddo (1 Kings 4.28, 9,15, 2 Kings 23,29 & Revel. 16.16), identified as the site of Armageddon. Visit the archaeological excavations at Megiddo, including the well-preserved water supply system. Drive to the beautiful port city of Haifa, nestled on the Mediterranean Sea, for a panoramic view of the Bahai gardens and Haifa Bay. From Haifa continue to Acre (Micah 1.10), capital of the Crusaders for more than a century. Visit the ancient city and harbour before continuing eastwards across the plains of the Galilee to Kibbutz hotel Lavi , not far from the Sea Of Galilee for dinner and overnight.
After a short tour of the Kibbutz grounds we take a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum (Matt. 4.13 13.54, 17.24, Luke 7, Mark 1.2, John 4.46-54). Visit the remains of the 2nd century synagogue. Proceed to Tabgha (Matt. 13, Mark .33-45, & John 21), the site of the miracle of fish and loaves, and visit the Church of Multiplication with its 4th century mosaic floor. Continue to the Mount of the Beatitudes (Matt. 5,6,7,8), where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Drive to the Banias Spring and Waterfall (Matt. 16.13 and Mark 8.27), where Jesus was recognized as The Messiah by His Disciples. Tour the Golan Heights, with its valleys, grazing land and snow capped mountains. Return to Kibbutz Lavi for dinner and overnight.
Begin the day with a drive to Nazareth (Luke 1.26, 4.16-29, Matthew 2.23) via Cana of Galilee (John 2.1-11). In Nazareth, we shall visit the Church of the Annunciation, St. Joseph’s Workshop and Mary’s Well. Next on our program is the Jordan River and the Baptismal site Yardenit. A baptism or rededication ceremony can be carried out here if you wish (advance booking required). Continue to Beit Shean, one of the ancient Decapolis cities (Mark 5.20, 7.31), and visit the Roman theatre. This is the city where Saul and his son Jonathan were nailed to the walls (1st Samuel 31.10). Judges 1.27 also mentions Beit Shean. Continue south along the shores of the River of Jordan. Passing Jericho, we proceed westward and climb to the Golden City of Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Today we visit the Old City of Jerusalem. Our appreciation of this Golden City begins with a panoramic view from the Mount of Olives, overlooking the walls of the old city and the ancient Jewish cemetery. Visit the Church of All Nations. Proceed to Mount Zion to see the tomb of King David and the nearby Room of the Last Supper (Mark 14.13, Luke 22. 10-38, Matt 26 17-29, Acts 1.13 and Acts 2 the Pentecost). Enter the Old City to begin exploring the wonders of Jerusalem. Walk through the Cardo, the main street of Jerusalem 2000 years ago. View the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. Walk along the Via Dolorosa, where Jesus carried His Cross. Continue to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Matt. 27. 33-57, 28.10). No visit to Jerusalem is complete without a walk through the colourful Arab bazaar (a chance to test your negotiating skills). Visit the Garden Tomb. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Today's program is dedicated first to the new city of Jerusalem. Visit the model of ancient Jerusalem. Continue to Yad Vashem, Israel's memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Enter the site by walking along the Street of the Righteous Gentiles, dedicated to the non-Jews that risked their lives in order to save their Jewish neighbours. Continue to Ein Karem, birthplace of John the Baptist (Luke 1.39-80). This Spanish style church and Mary's well is where Mother Mary met her cousin Elizabeth. Next we cross into the Occupied Palestinian Territories and proceed to Bethlehem (subject to border restrictions) to visit the Church of the Nativity. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Drive through the Judean Desert to Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls where found in 1947 by a Bedouin boy. Visit the ancient city of Qumran and drive along the shore of the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, to Masada, the last stronghold of the Jews after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. Ascend Masada by cable car and visit the food storeroom, water irrigation system and Herod's Palace. Time and weather permitting we will have an opportunity to float on the Dead Sea waters. Return to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
After breakfast, your time is free until we pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your departure.
Extra day in Jerusalem - post-tour
Israel is extremely busy this year and many hotel allocations are full. Availability is on a request basis so please contact us with your preferred dates and we will check space in the standard and upgraded hotel levels for you.
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
Grand Beach Hotel
Located in a prime location, the heart of the bustling city of Tel Aviv, the Grand Beach Hotel offers you spacious rooms, stylish urban design, and the unmatchable sensation of a truly relaxing vacation.
Just 3 minutes' walk from the beach, Grand Beach Hotel features 212 well-equipped rooms with free Wi-Fi. It also offers a traditional Israeli buffet breakfast and a rooftop pool with panoramic views of Tel Aviv.
All rooms are modern and have been completely renovated. Each room is air conditioned and comes with an LCD TV, mini fridge and safe.
The hotel's business centre is open 24-hours a day. Drinks and light snacks are sold at the bar.
Hotel Grand Beach is near the most popular beaches and waterfront restaurants. Tel Aviv Marina is 10 minutes' walk away. In the neighbourhood you will find several cafes, shops and parks. Carmel Market and Jaffa Old Town are also nearby.
The 24-hour front desk can help to arrange tours and day excursions.
Located high on a mountain, this Glatt- Kosher hotel mainly caters for Jewish religious travellers. At this peaceful location, just minutes from Tiberias, there are spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
Located high on a mountain, this Glatt- Kosher hotel mainly caters for Jewish religious travellers. At this peaceful location, just minutes from Tiberias, there are spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
The hotel has different room types to cater to different tastes and budgets. It offers a full service restaurant, a tennis court, an indoor swimming pool (men and women swim separated), and a children's playground.
The hotel offers free wireless internet.
Prima Park Hotel
Hotel Prima Park is strategically located in Jerusalem offering all guests convenience of central location, just a short walk from the Israel Museum and the Knesset parliament. The old city of Jerusalem is also within easy reach.
Hotel Prima Park is strategically located in Jerusalem offering all guests convenience of central location, just a short walk from the Israel Museum and the Knesset parliament. The old city of Jerusalem is also within easy reach. Hotel offers over 200 rooms with free Wi-fi that's available in all the hotel areas. All rooms include LED TV, hair dryer, safe, tea and coffee facilities as well as air-condition for your comfort.
Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination youre visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.
All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.
Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.
The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.
We use good quality hotels rated at the Israeli 4-star standard level on this tour, together with a night in a Kibbutz hotel. Options are available to upgrade the accommodation to a better 4-star, or standard 5-star level. Please contact us for prices to match your dates. The normal hotels we use for these upgrades are shown below, though these may changes to alternate hotels of a similar standard on some dates:
Comfort (good 4-star): Tel Aviv - Grand Beach | Jerusalem - Grand Court | Kibbutz Lavi - Superior room
Superior (4/5-star): Tel Aviv - Dan Panorama | Jerusalem - Dan Panorama | Kibbutz Lavi - Superior room
As different hotel levels are available, this does mean that if some people take up the upgrades there will be more than one hotel pick-up and drop-off each day, though we do aim to plan these to minimise any extra travelling time.
Accommodation is based on twin or double en-suite rooms with air conditioning. All couples will be given a private double room. Single travellers will need to pay a single room supplement to guarantee themselves a single room throughout the tour. We aim to keep this cost as low as possible. As we may share this tour with other operators, we do not offer a room-share option.
Our trips feature a mix of different transport options. We want you to feel like you’re really experiencing the country you’re travelling through, but at the same time we want you to finish journeys refreshed enough to enjoy the next stage of the tour. Our routes in Israel and the small distances involved mean that we use private vehicles throughout this tour.
Your airport transfers are only included on the first and last day of the set tour itinerary, plus on any additional days if you book your hotel room with us. If you make your own arrangements for additional accommodation at either the beginning or the end of the tour then you will need to arrange your own airport transfers on these days.
We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to suggest flights to go with the tour. Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from.
Your airport arrival & departure transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour.All our group tours in Israel start and finish at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv (TLV).
On average the group departures on this tour tend to have a minimum of around 10 passengers and an average of 14-18, though we only need 2 passengers to book for a departure to be guaranteed. The maximum capacity of this tour is 45 which is why we class it as a Shoestring level tour, despite the 4-star level of the hotels. To ensure affordability in what is a very expensive country to arrange tours like this, we share this tour with a small number of other operators so you may join with travellers booking with different companies.At Encounters Travel we aim to only ever use local Israeli guides and reps. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing. A different guide may be used for the Occupied Palestinian Territory sites to the rest of the tour
The tour price includes entrance fees to all the tourist sites mentioned in the itinerary. You will need to cover the cost of entrance to any other extra sites that you may wish to visit.
You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:
Egypt: Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A
Jordan: Tetanus, Hepatitis A
Israel: Hepatitis A, Poliomyelitis
Lebanon: Dipheria, Hepatitis A
Malaria is not generally present unless it has been contracted abroad; you do not need to take malaria prophylactics.
Note: We are aware of some places in Egypt using 'black henna' instead of pure brown henna. Black henna contains a chemical dye PPD (paraphenylenediamine) which can result in severe allergic reactions and resultant scarring. To be safe we recommend avoiding any henna tattoos while in Egypt unless you are certain they are using pure brown henna.
Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities.
Many nationalities (including UK, European, USA, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, South African) do not need to obtain a visa to enter Israel as a period as long as your stay is for less than 3 months. Other nationalities should check with their local consulate.
Most of our tours visiting Israel also enter the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). No special visas are required but check points and border posts are operated by the Israeli authorities and access is sometimes limited or restricted.
The time in Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon is GMT plus 2 hours and in UAE GMT plus 3 hours. Daylight saving adjustments have historically been applied in some years but not others. At present it appears that there will be no daylight saving changes in Egypt 2016 and beyond, though this may change at short notice (with a resulting impact on flight times and schedules). In Jordan and Israel, daylight saving of one hour is generally applied between the end of March and the end of October, making it GMT plus 3 hours. Exact dates vary from year to year and sometimes the changes may be scrapped altogether.
Sockets are two round pronged and 220 volts (Type C). Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don't have one already. Standard European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are normally available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.
The local currency in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is the Israeli Shekel (ILS). You do not need to arrange to bring any Shekels with you as exchange facilities are available in the international airports and in most hotels, banks and bureau de changes in major towns. You should try to obtain and keep hold of small denomination notes or coins on you during the tour as these are useful for toilets, tips and small purchases. ATMs are readily available in major towns and many local shops will accept VISA/Mastercard or Amex, but may charge fees of up to 10% - check before you pay. Travellers cheques are not recommended as they can not be changed in many places now, and can incur high fees.
While in Israel and the OPT you will need sufficient funds to cover meals not included in the itinerary, drinks, snacks, souvenirs and personal expenses such as laundry. These should generally all be paid for in local currency, though tips for guides and drivers may be paid in hard currency (GBP, USD, EUR).
It is difficult to recommend a level of personal spending money which will suit everyone as this can differ greatly, but as a guideline, we would suggest allowing USD 25-35 per person per day as a minimum. Allow more if you plan on doing lots of shopping, or buying many alcoholic drinks.
Luggage: Suitcases, rucksacks or fabric holdalls are all fine to bring with you to Israel. You should also bring a small daypack/bag to take out during the day. Your main luggage will normally be left in the hotel during your sightseeing trips – you will not need to carry it far, and there are nearly always hotel porters to assist.
Luggage limits: There is no luggage limit for this tour. However, most airlines restrict you to between 20kg and 25kg for your hold luggage and between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage. Please check with your airline before travelling to the airport.
Clothing: The climate in Israel varies widely from hot days in the summer to cool and sometimes wet days in the winter months. At night, especially in the deserts, the temperatures can drop quite dramatically. So you must pack for cool conditions. Formal dress (eg. suits & ties) is not required. When visiting any mosques, legs and arms should be covered.
Other items: We also recommend you bring a sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a basic first aid kit, toiletries, money belt, small torch, camera & charger.
We run regular small-group departures on this tour starting on Sundays throughout the year. All departures are guaranteed to run with a minimum of 2 people. Departure dates and prices are listed on our website and on a separate dates & prices sheet available on request.
If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.
Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...
You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.
Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.
Note - to comply with insurance sales regulations, our travel insurance policies are only available to customers booking directly with us. If you have booked through a travel agent you will need to arrange your own insurance.
If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.
If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.
IMPORTANT: We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour. If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.
We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
Financial failure insurance is also provided through Affirma to protect all customers for the land portion of your tour.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.
It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.
All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).
You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')
It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.
General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.
You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.
Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.