Palestine and Israel small group tour
Description of Palestine and Israel small group tour
There is no doubt that this is a troubled region, for centuries the land and holy sites have been fought over and today is no different. With two nations laying claim to the region it can be a difficult land to travel through, not due to safety concerns but due to walls and checkpoints. With this small group tour we hope to take you across the checkpoints, travel on both Israeli and Palestinian roads and give you an insight in to the current situation faced by locals in their daily lives. We will also visit historical sites, Roman ruins, Byzantine churches and Crusader halls as well as take in the beautiful countryside.
Our tour takes in Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Hebron where we see ancient history and Biblical sites as well as meeting local people living in refugee camps and in the shadow of the separation wall. We also head away from the tourist trail to the villages of Battir and Taybeh taking the time to stop for a brewery tour and wine tasting. In the north we visit the Golan Heights, a beautiful rural Syrian area as well as the Mediterranean towns of Haifa and Acre.
Staying in local hotels, eating traditional food and travelling in a small group we hope to provide a great introduction for you to the area as well as increasing awareness and providing tourism to areas and people who will benefit from it.
|Day 1:||Depart London and fly to Tel Aviv, on arrival transfer to Bethlehem. (D)|
|Day 2:||Explore the city of Bethlehem visiting Manger Square and the Basilica of the Nativity as well as the taking in the Separation Wall and a Refugee Camp. Today will also bring the opportunity to meet with an Israeli settler as well as having dinner with a local Palestinian family. (BLD)|
|Day 3||Visit Jericho taking in the 8th century Hisham's Palace with its vast mosaic before taking the cable car to the Mount of Temptation. After lunch visit the Baptism Site before heading to the Dead Sea for a float in the saline waters. (BLD)|
|Day 4:||Head south to the city of Hebron, a city divided by barriers and checkpoints, visit the old city and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as well as a traditional glass blowing factory. In the afternoon head to the village of Battir to see the terraces and see a more rural way of life. (BLD)|
|Day 5:||Cross the checkpoint and head to Jerusalem, here take a tour of the Mount of Olives and the old city. A network of winding alleyways with stunning iconic buildings such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Dome of the Rock. (BLD)|
|Day 6:||Visit East Jerusalem and learn about the lives of those living in the shadow of the separation wall and about land confiscation and the building of settlements. The afternoon is free to explore a little further alone. (BL)|
|Day 7:||Visit Ramallah to see the tomb of Yasser Arafat and the lively bazaar. Continue to the hilltop village of Taybeh, with its ancient churches, microbrewery and winery! Drive on to Nablus for a night in the old city. (BLD)|
|Day 8:||Start the morning in Nablus, explore the labyrinthine old city, stop to buy spices and taste knafeh, a traditional dessert. Take in the views and Roman ruins of nearby rural Sebastiya before continuing on through the checkpoint to Nazareth. (BLD)|
|Day 9:||The home of Joseph and Mary, Nazareth’s old city boasts the huge Church of the Annunciation, after your visit head to the coast to see the port city of Haifa before enjoying a leisurely afternoon in Acre, an old town perched on the coast with Ottoman walls and Crusader remains. (BLD)|
|Day 10:||The Sea of Galilee makes numerous appearances in the Bible and we stop here to take in the views before heading to the Golan Heights, annexed from Syria in 1967. Here we meet some of the local Syrian Druze community and take a walk in the countryside. (BLD)|
|Day 11:||On the way to Tel Aviv we stop at Caesarea, a port built by Herod and where mosaics, a theatre, hippodrome and columns can still be admired beside the Mediterranean coast. (B)|
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PlanetEnvironmental concerns are fairly low down the list of priorities for many Palestinians, built up areas can be polluted with traffic fumes and rubbish and litter is prolific. In Israel recycling is more widely available. As with all our destinations we encourage our clients to use recycling facilities where available, use water bottles with filtration systems to eliminate the need to buy plastic bottles and to say no to unnecessary packaging, eg plastic bags.
Projects to protect the environment and countryside do exist in Palestine including various walking trails through the country. By offering these to tourists and increasing the numbers walking in Palestine, staying in local homes while they do this we can increase the awareness and knowledge of locals to the importance of protecting the environment.
As a company we have introduced responsible practices in our UK office including paper, cardboard, aluminium and plastic recycling. We also support local UK charities with a fund raising event each Christmas and various charities around the world. 50% of our office staff walk or cycle to work. Management encourages this with their introduction of the cycle to work scheme which offers subsidised cycle ownership.
PeopleOur local agent in Palestine is based in Bethlehem and is an NGO working with various different projects in the West Bank. “Established in 1995, ATG operates according to the tenets of “justice tourism”, that is, tourism that holds as its central goals the creation of economic opportunities for the local community, positive cultural exchange between host and guest through one-on-one interaction, the protection of the environment and political/historical education. ATG works to encourage all tourism operators to abandon exploitative mass tourism and to adopt practices that positively affect the host population. Through these methods, ATG seeks to promote a positive image of Palestine and its people and to contribute towards establishing rightful peace in the area. Since its establishment, ATG has provided its services to thousands of people from all over the world.”
While we have a UK tour leader on the tour our guides are locals and we use four different guides to make sure we are getting the best local knowledge and providing employment for those in each area as some guides are restricted as to where they can travel. Our drivers are also all local drivers.
The three hotels we use are all small locally owned hotels. The restaurant at our guesthouse in Bethlehem makes sure to just use locally grown produce which is in season to support local markets and farmers.
As well as visiting the main sights in this region we also strive to take our clients to a variety of other locations and to give them plenty of time in each location to explore further. This is a region where most tourists travel as part of large coach tours on pilgrimages and are bussed in and out seeing just the sight in question. By visiting other areas such as the villages and in some places deserted old cities we give our clients chance to see more and understand more and also to help increase tourism in areas which desperately need it - to handicraft shops and tea houses who rarely see many tourists.
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