Home to three of the world’s most important religions, and filled with significant historical and religious sites, Israel is unlike anywhere else in the world. Modern Israel is a rich mosaic of ethnic and religious groups, each with long-standing ties to the land. To offer a more in-depth understanding of these communities, our tour not only explores the landscape and history of Israel, but features interactions with representatives of some of Israel’s diverse groups. We start and end our tour in modern Tel Aviv. We will then drive around central and northern Israel to visit the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights. We will also explore the most famous sites in and around Jerusalem including: King David’s tomb, the room of the Last Supper, the Western Wall and the Arab market. Another day will feature the ancient fortress of Masada overlooking the Dead Sea. Join us on a journey to this unique land as we explore ancient sites and contemporary life and enjoy the hospitality of this gay-friendly nation during our gay Israel tour.
And for those with more time, our three-night extension to Petra and Amman, Jordan adds another rich chapter to your exploration of the region.
May 31 to June 9, 2018 – US $5,698.00
Optional Tour Choices:
$1425 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
$100 Personal transfer between Jerusalem & Tel Aviv
$210 Excursion to Bethlehem
Accommodations for 9 nights, including 2 nights at a comfortable kibbutz hotel; All group ground transportation during the trip; Airport transfers between Ben Gurion Airport and our Tel Aviv hotel; Breakfast every day and four dinners; Wine or soft drinks at the Welcome and Farewell dinners; Services of a professional Israeli guide and (subject to minimum participation) HE Travel tour director; Entrance fees to all sites in the program; All hotel service charges, government taxes, porterage, and gratuities for drivers and included meals. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Airfare between home and Tel Aviv; International departure taxes; Meals that are not part of tour itinerary; Gratuities for guides and HE Travel tour director; Personal items such as alcoholic beverages, telephone calls and laundry.
Along the way we will visit Neve Tsedek, the first Jewish neighborhood in the northern area of Jaffa, which today is a cultural and entertainment center. Another stop will be Old Jaffa, now home to many art galleries, but the most important port in ancient times. Through this port the cedars from Lebanon were imported for use in building Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem.
Because this day falls on the weekend day of Friday, the outdoor arts and crafts market is open, and Rothschild Blvd will be packed with shoppers. Nightlife should also be quite festive!
On the morning of our second full day in Tel Aviv, you have a choice. We offer an optional tour to Bethlehem, including round-trip transportation from Tel Aviv, assistance with the border crossing, and visits to the Church of the Nativity and Manger Square, an overview of Shepherd Field, and a short stop at a souvenir shop.
Those not going to Bethlehem can join our guide for a Tel Aviv walking tour, after which you’ll have a free afternoon to visit the gay beach (just a 5 minute walk) or cultural institutions such as the Diaspora Museum at the University of Tel Aviv. This museum illustrates the life of the Jews in different communities around the world during 2000 years of exile. During our time in Tel Aviv and/or Jerusalem, we will meet with representatives from Israel’s LGBT community to learn more about their lives and accomplishments in creating marriage rights and other achievements in this highly religious but diverse land.
We will take a panoramic drive through Haifa, including a visit to the newly renovated Baha’i Temple with its golden dome and Persian gardens. Time permitting, we will also pause at the ancient city of Akko, before heading east toward the Sea of Galilee.
Along the way, we will pass the surprisingly lush green hillsides of the region called Galilee, as we drive through Tiberias, and alongside the Sea (a large lake). Our home for the next two nights will be in the comfortable, modern guesthouse of a Kibbutz in the thin finger of Israel between Lebanon and Syria.
Enjoy a stop for wine tasting at one of the emerging boutique wineries in the region, before returning to our kibbutz for one more night. Time permitting, during our stay in the Galilee we’ll visit the picturesque town of Rosh Pina, and we’ll drive by the holy city of Safed, birthplace of the Kabbalah, with its ancient synagogues and its contemporary artists’ colony.
One of today’s highlights will be a visit to Beit Shean, one of the most magnificent archaeological sites in Israel, located at the strategic juncture of the Jezreel and Jordan Valleys. Like Jericho, it has been almost continuously inhabited throughout history.
We’ll start our exploration of Jerusalem with a panoramic overview from the Mount of Olives, which lies across an ancient valley from the Old City. Once we arrive at our deluxe hotel just outside the city walls, the rest of the evening will be free to start your exploration of this unique city.
Our appreciation of the historic Old City of Jerusalem will include visiting elements of all four quarters: the Jewish, Arab, Christian and Armenian sections. To put the city in perspective, we’ll start our tour with an overview at the David Citadel Museum at Jaffa Gate. Highlights of our Jerusalem touring will be our visits to King David’s Tomb and the Room of the Last Supper. We’ll also enjoy the recently opened Davidson Center with its 3-D reality program that makes the local archaeological sites come alive.
Of course, we’ll also visit the Western Wall, the Southern Excavations, and the Broad Wall, and explore the Jewish Quarter. There will be a visit to the home of the Kathros Family, better known as the Burnt House. The Kathros Family were residents of Jerusalem during the first century AD, when this entire quarter of Jerusalem was burned in the year 70 AD. After lunch on your own, we head on to the Christian Quarter for a walk on a portion of the Via Dolorosa and into the Church of the Holy Sephulchre, which is jointly maintained by six different Christian denominations.
No visit to the old city of Jerusalem would be complete without a visit to the Arab market to test your negotiating skills with the local merchants. As you make your way towards the Jaffa Gate, walk by the Citadel of David. Don’t forget to pay your respects at the two almost forgotten tombs on your right – those of the architects of the Old City Walls. They were killed by the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1538, since they were the only people who knew all of the “secrets of the wall.”
Today we will also head outside the walls to visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s recently renovated memorial to the Holocaust Victims.
During our tour we will learn more about the latest walls to surround Jerusalem, Israel’s controversial Security Barrier. We will gain insights as to why some Israeli’s credit this wall for a significant reduction in violence against Israeli Jews, and why the Wall is viewed by others as a deep insult against Israel’s Palestinian community.
For our farewell dinner in Jerusalem tonight we will invite some members of the local LGBT community to get their perspective on daily life in Israel today.
Then we head east across the desert to begin our exploration of the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea. We will stop at Masada, where we will ascend to the top via a cable car. This mountaintop fortress is best-known for the long siege of a small band of martyrs who were trapped there by Roman soldiers. However, it was originally built by King Herod, and still retains colorful elements of his royal rooms.
After touring Masada, we slow down our busy touring schedule with lunch at a hotel overlooking the Dead Sea. There will be time for an enjoyable “swim/float” in the world famous rejuvenating waters of the Dead Sea. The water is so salty that it is actually easier to float than to try to swim! And because the Dead Sea is over 1000 feet below sea level, the distance from the sun, combined with the ambiance of the air, makes it almost impossible to get a sun burn.
We finish the day with a drive across the width of Israel from the Dead Sea coast to the Mediterranean coast, where we’ll spend our last tour night at our waterfront hotel in Tel Aviv. You’ll be just a short distance from the city’s vast expanse of beach, and the active nightlife of this vibrant capital city, particularly lively on a Thursday night, the start of the weekend in Israel.
Or you can join us for a rewarding extension to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, including Amman and the memorable archaeological site at Petra. In 2007 Petra was selected in a worldwide Internet vote as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, so join us to see why! See Extensions tab for details.