Epic Egypt, Jordan, Israel & the Palestinian Territories
The Middle East is living, breathing proof the old saying is true: you don’t know until you go. Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories – visit the holy land trifecta and have experiences you'll never forget. This trip has all the icons plus tonnes of surprises perfect for the Intrepid traveller. The pyramids and original botched surgery queen (the Sphinx) in Egypt and doing your best astronaut impression in the Dead Sea are awesome, sure, but have you tried your leaders favourite falafel cart in Jerusalem?!
Finish: Tel Aviv
Ages: 18 - 29
Theme: 18 to 29s
Accommodation: Hotel (9 nights), Hostel (4 nights) Desert camp (2 nights), Felucca (1 night), Overnight sleeper train (2 nights)
Destination: Tel Aviv
Welcome to Cairo! You will meet with your trip leader and the rest of your group at 6 pm this evening. If you arrive with time to spare before your tour begins, maybe go immerse yourself in the madness: grab a pair of authentic Roy Bunds sunnies from the bazaar, embrace the kitsch world of Dr Ragab's Pharaonic Village, or wash down the dust with a sahlab (sweet, hot custard drink with nuts). Be ready tonight to put your tastebuds into overload as you head out with your new travel buddies for some koshari where all the locals go.. downtown of course. Koshari? think vegetarian Egyptian chilli, you may want a fresh lemon juice with that.
Today you'll take a trip to the Egyptian Museum to see the golden mask of none other than King Tutankhamun. Drive out to the edge of the desert and explore the Pyramids and the nearby Sphinx (nobody's quite sure how it lost its nose). A guy called Khufu was responsible for building the Great Pyramid. It’s 4500 years old, 146 metres tall and made from 2.3 million blocks weighing around 2.5 tons each. And how did they honour him? With a 9 cm tall statue. Bummer. Later there are plenty of options, like visiting the Valley Temple of King Khafre (Chephren). Just remember these will cost you extra. In the evening, it's time for your sleeper train to Aswan (Sleeper Train to Aswan sounds a bit like the title of an adventure novel, doesn't it? Just you wait).
Hit the bazaar this morning on a tour with your leader. Be prepared for friendly shouts of ‘welcome’ and ‘where are you from’ coming from the vendors. Visit an oil and perfume merchant to learn about how aromatic botanicals have been used in Egypt throughout the ages. From mummification to smelling pretty for a date, you’ll discover their myriad uses. Later, choose whether to join an optional tour to the Philae Temple Complex. A standout here is the Temple of Isis (the Goddess of health, marriage and wisdom) that was rescued from the rising waters of the Nile and relocated in the 1960s. In the afternoon, pop on a lifejacket and grab a paddle for the kayaking adventure of a lifetime as you navigate the Nile. For dinner, you’ve got the chance to head to a Nubian village and enjoy an included dinner with a local family.
This morning is yours to spend as you please in Aswan. If you can manage a (very) early start, the optional drive to Abu Simbel is well worth it. Cut out of a solid rock cliff, this temple’s a real winner as far as sightseeing in Egypt goes (and that is obviously saying a lot). Renting a minivan with your fellow travellers is the cheapest option. Remember, it takes 3 hours to drive there and 3 hours to drive back, plus you’ll want at least 2 hours to explore when you’re there. Back in Aswan the evening is free to check out the town.
Chill this morning before boarding your overnight felucca. A bit like a floating tent, a felucca is a traditional Egyptian vessel and the perfect way to explore the Nile. Later, take a stroll through a colourful Nubian village and discover what life is like for people living along the Nile. Depending on the group vibe, tonight might include a little beach party.
Disembark your fine felucca this morning. While your body might be crying out for a shower, there’s one more temple to see before heading to the hotel. Check out the Temple of Edfu, where inscriptions give insight into life during the Hellenistic period when the temple was built. Continue to Luxor, where you’re free to explore this open-air, museum-city on your own. Can we suggest Karnak as the first stop? Wandering through this ancient village is a cool way to get a sense of life here more than 3000 years ago (hint: religion was a big deal). Legend has it that is you walk around the granite scarab that is west of the Sacred Lake seven times, you’ll meet your soulmate.
We hope you missed being on the water, because today you’ll jump back on a boat to discover the West Bank. Check out three burial tombs in Valley of the Kings, with the option to pay for an exploration of the formerly lost tomb of Tutankhamun. Continue to the Colossi of Memnon, where two huge statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III will have you pondering whether posting selfies to Instagram twice a day is really the height of narcissism. If your fellow travellers are up for it, you can choose to finish your West Bank adventure with an optional visit to the tomb of Hatshepsut. She became pharaoh when she married her half-brother, which wasn’t all that uncommon at the time. If you’ve got any energy left, there will also be time to squeeze in a visit to Luxor Temple before your overnight train to Cairo.
Head south from Bab al-Futuh (one of three remaining gates from the Old City), walking past the old Islamic monuments that stand watch over the bazaars. Join in some good nature haggling at the Kahan-el Khalili bazaar, then head to El Fishawy. This ramshackle 240-year-old cafe is the perfect place for a cup of tea or a glass of cold water with lemon and mint. While there is nothing scheduled for tonight, we recommend heading into town as a group for one last bowl of koshari (pasta, rice and lentils).
Touch down in Jordan's main town, Amman. You’ve got the whole day free to explore the capital city (depending on when you get here of course) before you join up with your crew at a 6 pm welcome meeting tonight (make sure you’ve got all your important docs and deets on you). Until then, hit the streets. Make a beeline for Rainbow Street for a falafel and a sheesha. It's what the locals would want. Something more substantial? Maybe head to the Old Town’s Roman Amphitheatre, have a cultured afternoon at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, snap some pics of the city from the hilltop Temple of Hercules, or sweat it out in a Turkish bath house. Afterwards, rendezvous with your new Intrepid crew for a team catch-up. It may or may not be at the local pub.
This morning, take a tour with your leader around Amman – best to begin at the hilltop Citadel, then follow the edge of the walls down into town past the Roman Theatre, the Nymphaeum ruins and the Al Husseiny Mosque. Be sure to stop in at some nut shops or a souq for some snacks along the way. After lunch, drive 4 hours to Wadi Rum. Once arrived, you'll meet your Bedouin hosts, who'll show you around camp and offer you many rounds of ‘Bedouin whisky’ (mint tea), so settle in for a night of traditional hospitality. This evening you'll be dining on traditional Bedouin cuisine, sleeping in Bedouin-style tents and gazing up at some traditional Bedouin skies. Did we mention Bedouin?
You won’t want to miss this: Wadi Rum rarely looks as fine as she does early morning. Wake up early to take in a magical sunrise, and once you're breakfast-ed, it’s time to head on safari. Jump in one of the jeeps and begin driving around the curious landscapes around, passing by Lawrence Spring – a rocky landscape contrasted by a freshwater spring, with panoramic views over the valley. You’ll also stop at Lawrence House, supposedly the house where Lawrence of Arabia lived and stored his equipment. Continue on to one of the largest sand dunes in Wadi Rum and check out some of the famous rock bridges. The deserts around Wadi Rum have got a real otherworldly feel to them, and so you wouldn’t be surprised that many Hollywood blockbusters have been shot in and around where you’ll tour today. Later in the afternoon, return to your camp and enjoy a second night of Bedouin hospitality.
Today, farewell your Bedouin mates and journey on to Petra (about a 2-hour drive). You’ll have two full days exploring Petra and its surrounds, so be sure to take your time in seeing the spectacular archaeological site. Once you’ve arrived, take a guided tour of the site, where you’ll learn about its thousands of years of history, and the many films that have used this as a backdrop – Indiana Jones, anyone? You'll get to follow in Indiana Jones’s footsteps on a guided tour that'll take you through the site's narrow siq (a narrow crack in the mountain) to Petra's tombs, temples and rock-hewn amphitheatre. For those wanting to admire the 'rose-red city' from a different angle, there's also the option of continuing up a cliff-top path past the Monastery for elevated views over the site. After a long day of exploration, you’ll probably be feeling quite weary, so the cave bar is good place to relieve your parched throat and put your feet up for while.
You’ve got another day to explore the majestic Petra, and the best thing is you’re free to do as you please. Perhaps walk the road to Al Khanzneh (The Treasury) – one of the most stunning temples of the whole site. Or, if you didn’t make it yesterday, head up the stairs to El Dier (the Monastery). Other great options today are to hike to the royal tombs or visit the incredible Byzantine mosaics. Your leader will know all the good things to do, so ask them for help with arranging these.
This morning after breakfast, head away from Petra and drive down the King’s Highway towards Madaba. You’ll stop to check out the renowned Dead Sea and have a swim in these salty waters. If you’re feeling a bit sore and weary after your Petra expedition, do not fear, as the Dead Sea’s mud has known healing properties and will be sure to bring back your youthful good looks. Afterwards, swing past Mt Nebo and view the Promised Land, just like Moses did. Arrive in Madaba – the city of mosaics – and take a leader-led walking tour to get your bearings of the city. Included this afternoon is a visit to St Georges Church where you’ll see the intricate mosaic map, containing the oldest surviving cartographic depiction of the Holy Land and Jerusalem. Later on, perhaps head out tonight with the gang for dinner – there are some awesome places to eat in this city; your leader knows where to go.
This morning your private transfer will collect you for the 1.5 hour journey to the Allenby Bridge Border Crossing. Here you will make the crossing into Israel. Please be aware that you will cross the border unaccompanied. There will be a transfer driver waiting to collect you for the 1 hour journey to Jerusalem. Shalom! Welcome to Jerusalem, Israel. On arrival to your hostel there will be a welcome note waiting for you. Meet your leader at the hostel at 4.30 pm .After your meeting finishes head out on an orientation walk up to the very cool Machane Yehuda Market. Here you can sample tasty local eats using your bite card at any of the vendors. Your leader will leave you here so you can kick-on after dark. We recommend grabbing a beer in one of the many laneway bars and watch the market come to life in the evening, bar hop, or go for a wander to check out the amazing graffiti popping up on shop shutters.
This morning drive to Jaffa Gate where you will start a walking tour of the Old City from above and below! Start with the Ramparts Walk from Jaffa Gate all the way to Herod’s Gate. This will take about 45 minutes. Go down at Herod’s Gate and walk along the Via Dolorosa (Stations of the Cross), stopping at the Austrian Hospice for a short break and go up to the rooftop for a view of the Old City, before continuing to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Walk to the Wailing (Western) Wall stopping at the 'Cardo' in the recently restored Jewish Quarter. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to do as you please.
Rise and shine nice and early (approximately 5 am) to drive out to the spectacular cliff-top fortress of Masada, near the Dead Sea. Kick off the day with an early morning hike up the Masada Snake Path which winds its way up approximately 400 meters from the lowest point on earth (The Dead Sea) to the Peak. This UNESCO site is super 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. Catch the Cable Car back down then drive to the Dead Sea for a float in the salty waters. Apparently, Cleopatra used products from the area as part of her beauty regime, which also allegedly included animal milk and almond extract! After soaking in the salty waters, transfer back to your hostel in Jerusalem for a free evening.
This morning, check out of your hostel and head to the Mount of Olives for a panoramic view of the Old City. From there, drive to Bethlehem – no doubt you're familiar with it from all the Christmas carols and nativity plays. Drop by the Church of the Nativity, built on where it is said Jesus was born, and also head to the Shepherd’s Fields, where the angels appeared to bring the good news. You’ll also have time to explore the graffiti walls that have been added across the years, including by Banksy. Learn the personal stories behind some of the more prominent pieces. Afterwards, continue on to Tel Aviv via the ancient port city of Jaffa, the basis of modern Tel Aviv. Once checked-in to your hostel, join a sunset bike ride (approximately 2 hours) to get acquainted with this vibrant seaside city. Tonight, why not get the gang together and hit the town this evening – Tel Aviv is known for its happening nightlife scene.
There aren’t any activities planned for today, so you’re free to leave the hostel at any time. That doesn’t mean your Middle Eastern adventure has to come to an end! If you’re looking at spending more time in Tel Aviv, we don’t blame you. We’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
- Bethlehem - Church of the Nativity & Shepherds' Field
12 Lotfy Hassona, Dokki
Phone: +20 2 27359595
The Spot Hostel
HaTa'arucha Street 3
Phone: +972 37590977
Despite the 'off-road' nature of this trip, it can be enjoyed by anyone who is reasonably fit. Please be aware that any visit to Petra requires a fair amount of walking. The amount of energy you expend there is largely up to you. The program in Wadi Rum involves a mixture of camel riding and trekking.
A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 5 (Felucca) Day 10 and 11 (Wadi Rum) where you will be in shared accommodation, and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
Some entrance fees are not included. If you wish to take part in these activities, you pay these fees as you go along.
The international connection from Cairo to Amman is unaccompanied. Luggage restrictions of 23kg checked and 7kg cabin apply on this flight.
Accommodation in Israel is in dorm rooms with up to 12 travellers. They may not all be fellow Intrepid travellers and your group could be split across different rooms. Where possible (and unless requested otherwise) we will accommodate you in same gender rooms.
Following recent safety incidents we recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest information on travelling in Egypt and in Israel; particularly within the West Bank before your departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas of your itinerary. We have links to prominent government travel advisories and regular updates on issues affecting this trip on our Travel Alerts page -
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
This trip is made of three smaller trips connected by an international included flight and a land border crossing. You will be travelling with different Leaders on each trip who are local to their destination. You will not have an accompanying Leader during your flight our your land border crossing where it will be necessary to carry your luggage through the customs checkpoints.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field: www.intrepidtravel.com/safety
FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms. BALCONIES: Some hotel balconies don't meet western standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm. TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware! SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts. PICK POCKETING & PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking at night and encourage you to walk in groups and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing. WATER SAFETY: Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water. TRAVEL ADVICE & TRAVEL INSURANCE We recommend that you check your government's advice in relation to the areas you will be visiting for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers.
SAFETY IN EGYPT: Following recent incidents in Egypt, we recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before your departure and that you ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas in your itinerary. We have links to all major travel advisories and regular updates on issues affecting your trip on our travel alerts page. The safety of our travellers and staff is our first priority. We continue to monitor the situation through official travel advisories and our local operations team, and we’re able to quickly change arrangements if for any reason we become concerned. If there should be any changes to the situation you will be advised immediately. We have also taken the following measures to minimise the potential risk for our travellers in Egypt: -24 to 48hrs prior to each departure our local office are in contact with tourist police to get approval for each itinerary. The tourist police notify our local operator immediately should any advice or information change. -We use private rather than public transport on all our itineraries. -We travel in (armed) convoys on main routes, and multiple check points are in place between most cities. EGYPT HOT-AIR BALLOON EXCURSIONS: Audits were carried out on balloon operators within Egypt to confirm the safety of their operations. But unfortunately, we were not able to ascertain the safety standards of these balloon operators- therefore, we are not able to recommend or assist in the booking of any balloon excursions.
As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
Visas are easily attainable on arrival at Cairo airport for most nationalities. The visa costs USD25 and can only be paid in USD cash. On arrival to Cairo airport you buy your visa at any of the banks before proceeding to immigration. You will be given a stamp that you then need to put into your passport yourself. A single entry visa is valid for three months from date of issue and entitles the bearer to one month in Egypt. Multiple entry visas are not available at the airport or any border crossings.
Please check with your travel agent or embassy before departure as this information may change.
Many nationalities are eligible for a visa on arrival, including UK, Australia, New Zealand, China, USA, Canada and most European nations, certain nationalities are exempt from visa fees including Turkey and the UAE, while others require Visa prior to arrival. We recommend you check this information before arrival with the relevant embassy or consulate in your destination
Visa fees as detailed below.
Single Entry visas are valid for one month: 40JOD (approximately 56USD). Double Entry visas are valid for three months: 60JOD (approximately 85USD)
Exit service fee applies for land and sea border points: 10JOD per passenger.
Please note that there are ATM's available in Amman airport and also currency exchange facilities. Visa fees can also be paid by Eftpos.
If you are travelling on a combination tour from Egypt to Jordan this visa fee does not apply.
Australia: No - not required
Belgium: No - not required
Canada: No - not required
Germany: No - not required
Ireland: No - not required
Netherlands: No - not required
New Zealand: No - not required
South Africa: No - not required
Switzerland: No - not required
United Kingdom: No - not required
USA: No - not required
It is important to be aware that many Arab and Islamic countries deny entry to any person that has evidence of a visit to Israel. Syria, Iran, Libya, Tunisia and several other countries are included in this list. If you are planning to visit any of these countries with the same passport you must request that your Israeli ‘tourist visa’ be stamped on a loose leaf ‘Form 17 L’ instead of in your passport. Likewise, if entering Israel through the land borders with Jordan please ask the Jordanian officials not to stamp an exit stamp in your passport. If you have evidence in your passport of visits to certain Islamic countries, Israeli border officials will scrutinise you regarding the purpose of your visit to Israel. They can sometimes appear difficult and the delay can be lengthy however patience and a friendly demeanor are advised.
Why we love it
The Pyramids might be hyped, but when you see them you’ll soon be saying oh mummy, I see the point (sorry).
Set sail on a felucca cruise along the Nile. Back in the day, these wooden boats had zero facilities, but our new pimped-out boat has western-style toilets on board.
Our guides are local and know all the best secret and hidden places to check out after a day of sightseeing
Only Petra’s Treasury is stunning enough to be the temple of the Holy Grail (well, according to Indiana Jones at least), and you’ll be blown away on a full day exploring the majesty and mystery of this world wonder.
Kick back in your own central hostel in Jerusalem, complete with movie room and rooftop .
Sample tasty local eats at the very cool Machane Yehuda Market where you can use your your bite card at any of the vendors.
Graffiti has filled the walls in Bethlehem by many artists over the years, including British Artist Banksy. Check it out on a walking tour with your leader.
Discover for yourself the town that everyone knows from the Christmas carols – Bethlehem – and find out about daily life in the epic city of Jerusalem as you chat with locals on the way to the Western Wall.
Float in the Salty waters of the Dead Sea.
Hike the iconic Masada Snake Path for some epic views across the Dead Sea and Jordan.
Is this trip right for you
You’re the boss! Not just in general, but also on this trip, where there’s free time to do whatever you want, or optional tours to show you the way. Maybe budget a little extra cash for activities and entrance fees that aren’t included.
Accommodation in Israel is in dorm rooms with up to 12 travellers. They may not all be fellow Intrepid travellers and your group could be split across different rooms. Where possible (and unless requested otherwise) we will accommodate you in same gender rooms.
It’s not all hot desert days in Jordan & Israel, as the winter months (December through to February) can be quite cold. Temperatures in northern parts of the country can drop to freezing overnight. Snowfall around these areas as well as Amman is common. Pack smart so that you’re prepared for varying temperatures especially if travelling during these months.
The thing about ancient ruins and other super old sites in the Middle East is that they usually involve walking on rocky and/or steep hillsides. But if you don’t feel up for it on a hot day then you can just sit it out, or wander along at your own pace.
Travelling on a felucca is awesome, but it's not for everyone. You will be sharing a sleeping area with your fellow group members for the night and a shared bathroom facility on board
Israel & The Palestinian Territories is by no means a cheap destination and you should budget accordingly. The good news is that your expert local leader is on hand to help you uncover the best deals!
Sites can get congested during peak travel periods with coaches of large pilgrim groups. We do our best to plan our visits around these times but sometimes it is unavoidable. There may be delays, queue's and private services that prevent us from entering the site. Your trip leader will manage this as best as they can on the day.
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip.
As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it may contain much higher levels of different minerals than the water you are used to at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Many hotels and lodges provide safe drinking water, while bottled water is another alternative. Water consumption should be about two litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
Food and dietary requirements
Your group leader or representative will endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements where possible, and vegetarianism and gluten intolerance will be catered for in most instances. There are, however some meals and activities that are fixed in advance and therefore cannot be modified to suit dietary requirements.
Please notify your booking consultant of any dietary requirements at the time of booking. For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader or representative will endeavour to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic.
When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need.
Also make sure you’ve read your trip details thoroughly so you know what’s included in the trip price and what isn’t. This should make budgeting a little easier. You’ll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that’s this document).
Please note: all recommendations for additional costs, tipping etc. are in USD. You will need to convert these into the relevant local currency.
MEALS NOT INCLUDED
Depending on the style of trip you have chosen (Basix, Original or Comfort), included meals will vary.
Breakfast. If breakfast is not included, you can expect to pay between USD5 to USD10 at a local café.
Lunch. Lunch at a touristy restaurant should cost around USD10 to USD20. However, local street food can be substantially cheaper.
Dinner. At dinner time, your leader will normally recommend restaurants where you can safely try the local specialties of the region. Expect meals to cost between USD15 to USD30 for a main.
These are indicative prices only. If you are in a tight budget and are happy to eat just local food you can eat cheaper than this. If you want to try the finest food at the finest restaurants, then you can expect meals to cost as much as in western countries.
Combination Trips – These prices are a guideline average you may find prices a little higher in Jordan and Israel.
CREDIT CARD, ATMS AND MONEY EXCHANGE
With the exception of Iran, ATMs are widely available in major towns and cities throughout the Middle East and Turkey. Credit and debit cards are the best way to access money throughout most trips (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Credit cards are generally available in tourist shops and restaurants. Visa and Mastercard are generally preferred over American Express, Diners, etc. Smaller venues take cash only.
Check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.
Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day.
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.
There are many opportunities to purchase souvenirs and handicrafts while on this trip, they can be a fantastic memento of your trip, and often these purchases help to support local artisans.
Your Leader may suggest visits to different stores during your tour. Rest assured that these vendors have been selected by our team on ground. They provide good service and good quality products at fair market prices. It also means that after sales service is available should you get home and have a problem with your purchase. Some visits may be included as part of your itinerary where we feel the making of the craft is relevant to the destination and interesting for everyone to visit. If this is the case you are under no obligation to purchase anything, simply enjoy the demonstrations and learning about the local craft. We do also encourage you to enjoy shopping in the markets to compare prices and quality.
Known as 'baksheesh' in the Middle East, tipping is a part of everyday life and is more than just a reward for services rendered. In countries where wages are extremely low it is an essential means of supplementing income. This practice is not merely reserved for foreigners and locals have to constantly hand out 'Baksheesh' as well - to park their cars, ensure fresh produce and pick up their mail. If you are satisfied with the services provided, a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate and always appreciated. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels.
Usually the equivalent of around USD5 to USD10 per person, per day to cover tips is fine. Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, your leader might raise the idea of a group tipping kitty. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running this kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips as you go. The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This kitty does not include tips for your leader and crew.
To give you a bit of guidance, we’ve put together the following tipping notes. These are just suggestions, based on feedback from past travellers and our staff on the ground.
- Basic restaurants – Round up to the nearest figure or leaving the loose change is generally fine.
- Up-market restaurants – When checking the bill, if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
- If you are paying for taxis, round up to the fare. If you feel like you're being driven in circles or otherwise ripped off, skip the tip.
- If you have booked a private transfer you may want to consider tipping your transfer. We suggest USD 2 – USD 3 per person
- Felucca boat trips: If you are travelling on an itinerary that includes an overnight Felucca trip up the Nile, we suggest USD3 per person, per day for the boat staff
TIPPING - Leaders and Drivers
you may also want to consider tipping your local leader and drivers for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however, we have provided the guidelines listed below. Of course, you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
Leader: USD2 – USD3 per person per day.
Leader: USD4- USD5 per person per day; Driver: USD3- USD4 per person per day
ISRAEL and PALESTINE
Leader: USD4 – USD5 per person per day.
The Official currency of Egypt is the Egyptian Pound (LE) or (EGP). Currency Sub units are called Qirsh (Piastre) = 1/100 of a Pound. Denominations come in Notes: 50 Piastres. 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 Pounds. Whilst the USD is often used we recommend local currency for everyday services. We also recommend keeping some smaller denominations for tipping.
CURRENCY – Jordan
The Official currency of Jordan is the Dinar referred to as the (JD). It is made up of 1000 fils. Try to change larger notes as often as possible. Most goods and services can be paid for using the local currency. The USD is also acceptable for souvenir type products. For the supply of everyday services like meals and general shopping we recommend the local currency.
CURRENCY – Israel and Palestine
The currency in Israel in the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). The shekel is divided into 100 agorot. Coins come in denominations of 10 and 50 agorot (marked ½ shekel) and one, two and five NIS; notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200NIS. Travelling in Palestine the NIS, the JD (Jordanian Dinar) and the USD are all accepted
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip.
GENERAL PACKING LIST:
• Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, air tickets or e-ticket receipts and a copy of this document.
• Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required), travel insurance and air tickets.
• Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes and bandaids.
• Watch/Alarm clock or phone that can be used for both.
• Power adaptors
• Insect repellent
• Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses
• Earplugs and eye mask (you might be sharing with a snorer!)
• Water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
• Warm clothes including hat and gloves - When travelling in cooler climates
• Wind and waterproof rain jacket
• Toiletries/travel wipes
• Travel Towel
• Closed in, comfortable walking shoes. As most of our trips include some walking elements, we highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in walking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings.
• Camera with spare memory cards and batteries
• Swimwear (itinerary dependant)
• Clothes! Bear in mind that laundry facilities will be widely available throughout this trip. The cost varies in each destination.
On this trip, you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and, although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage, we strongly recommend keeping the weight under 15kg. If your itinerary includes a flight, please keep in mind that some domestic airlines have checked luggage limits of 15kg.
CLOTHING & CLIMATE:
Please note that as a desert region, the Middle East can have extreme weather. Temperatures are generally hot with little rain. This can become extreme during the summer months of June to August. In the months of December to March it can be very cold, particularly next to the river or the ocean and out in the desert where night temperatures can drop dramatically. Even in the hot months, it can get cold in the desert at night. Consider bringing a sleeping bag, thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket for travel in this period, especially on itineraries which include camping such as on a felucca, in a desert camp, or at a Red Sea beach camp. A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat is essential.
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safes to store the bulk of your money, passport, and airline tickets. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden. We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
Most of our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras regularly. We always recommend that you carry an extra battery for your camera just in case. Charging of batteries is advised before checking out of your hotel rooms. Please bear in mind there may be some nights were electricity may not be as readily available as you might be used to – home stays, beach and desert camps etc.
Generally drones are not permitted into any Middle East destination or they require registration and pre approval please refer to your airline carrier if you are considering taking a drone on your travels or check out drone laws by country on line.
We have had some reports of binoculars being confiscated or causing delay in customs if carried in hand luggage.
Climate and seasonal
SUMMER IN EGYPT:
As the days get warmer, temperatures can start to soar, particularly in Upper Egypt (Luxor and Aswan). From April to October, to avoid the midday heat, some days start very early (for example - 5am). Please be prepared for this - our schedules are designed to make touring as comfortable for you as possible.
With around 90 percent of Jordan covered by desert the summer months can be very warm, with temperatures around the Dead Sea, Aqaba and Petra possibly rising to 40 degrees centigrade in July and August. However, always be aware of cold nights – Wadi Rum's sands plummet to 4 degrees centigrade in the winter. Amman reaches a comfortable 32 degrees between June and September, while nights can drop below freezing from December to February.
Consider your travel dates when packing for your adventure, whilst the camps in Wadi Rum do have blankets you may want to consider packing some thermals and carrying your sleeping bag if travelling in the winter months.
Temperatures are usually between 27-32 degrees Celsius. Tel Aviv, and Tiberias tend to be hot and humid, Jerusalem is dryer and cooler, particularly at night. Masada & Eilat are extremely hot often above 40 degrees centigrade.
The winter months in Israel (December through to February) can be quite cold. Temperatures in northern parts of the country can drop to freezing overnight. There’s often heavy rain and snowfall around these areas is common. You will need to be prepared to travel in varying temperatures over these months. Temperatures generally range 10-15 degrees during the day.
In 2020, the important month of Ramadan or Ramzan in Turkey will be in progress from 23 April through until 23 May, and the Eid ul-Fitr festival or Bayram in Turkey will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan, business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it's a period of national holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be affected.
Ramadan month can differ from country to country and region to region, it can be a wonderful inclusion in your vacation. If you have concerns about travelling at this time, please check with Intrepid or your booking agent before your departure.
A couple of rules
Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.
Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.
The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.
By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.
If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below:
Intrepid's Local Operator: +201096811067
Intrepid's Local Operator: +962 79700 4051
Intrepid's Local Operator: +972(0)58690 6428 OR+972(0)54721 4546
Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.
Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:
When packing, be aware that dress standards are conservative and you should dress accordingly. To respect the local culture and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. As a guideline, shoulders and knees at the minimum (and everything in between including midriff and cleavage) should be covered at all times. Wearing shorts and singlet tops is not appropriate and may well restrict your entry into sites of a religious nature, family homes, and will limit your local interaction opportunities in general. Loose, lightweight, long clothing (3/4 trousers that come to the calf are fine) is both respectful and cool in the predominantly warm climate. As the countries we visit are Islamic nations, women may find a headscarf useful.
The entrance fee to Petra includes a ‘free’ ride on various forms of animal transport and as such you will be offered this transport by a number of local Bedouin on the walk into the ancient city. While free to ride there is a strong expectation that you will need to tip the animals' owners.
In 2018 the animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) launched an international campaign highlighting the mistreatment of working animals in the ancient city of Petra. The animals – horses, donkeys and camels - carry both tourists and supplies to the city and through it.
The situation is a complex one – Jordanian organisations and their international partners are trying to improve the conditions for the animals, and for many local Bedouin this activity provides their only income yet issues around animal cruelty are raised on a regular basis. UNESCO themselves have stated that switching to motorised transport is not the preferred option in the ancient city.
As a responsible travel company we believe that - until conditions improve – our travellers should avoid using any form of animal transport in Petra, and if asked at the ancient city you should politely decline.
HEATING AND AIR-CONDITIONING:
As a desert region, this part of the world has extremes of weather. Winter months (approx December to March) can be very cold. All of our hotel accommodation contains suitable bedding, and simple light bedding is provided during camping activities such as an overnight felucca, desert camps or at the Red Sea Beach camp stay. Most of our travellers find the bedding provided here adequate, but for your own comfort and if you are particularly sensitive to the cold, consider bringing your own sleeping bag, thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket. Some of our guesthouses / hotels don't supply heating. In many cases this would be a major financial and environmental strain on our hotels and the local towns. Summer (approx June to August) can be very hot everywhere we travel, which means that it can be quite uncomfortable for those not used to the heat. Not all our hotels have air-conditioning, and in those that do, it's not always functioning.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.
A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Hotel (9 nights),Hostel (4 nights) Desert camp (2 nights),Felucca (1 night),Overnight sleeper train (2 nights)
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