Days
13
Price from
$2,910CAD

Enter ancient worlds on a journey through Jordan and Israel

Hang out in Amman, head to Aqaba for some Red Sea play and Wadi Rum for desert, and on to Petra for ancient amazingness. Zoom along the Kings Highway, check out Jerash, Jerusalem and the Sea of Galilee (it rhymes, awesome).

In a traditional Bedouin coffee ceremony you’ll actually drink three cups of coffee: one for the soul, one for the sword and one because you’re a guest. Don’t ask for a fourth – it’s greedy and you might wet your pants on the bus.
In 2015 this trip was known as 'Where Hummus all began'.


Start
Amman, Jordan
Finish
Jerusalem, Israel
Countries
Israel, Jordan
Code
GEJI
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
1 review
Ages
Min 18 , Max 39
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Get into the ancient and modern sides of Jordan and Israel with your enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable local leader, who’ll be heaps of fun too

  • This trip’s got it all. History? How about 11,000 years of it. Culture? Oh, just incredible architecture, food and music. Scenery? City, beach and the desert. What more could you want?!

  • 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

  • If you thought the Middle East was all sand and dust, think again – check out the lakeside towns of Tiberias and Tabgha, the place where a crowd miraculously had a lot more fish and bread than they thought

  • Discover for yourself the towns that everyone knows from the Christmas carols – Jericho and 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

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 that aren’t included.

  • It’s not all hot desert days in Jordan, 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 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.

  • You’re probably pro at packing light and smart, but just in case your tempted to bring a big, heavy bag, remember you’ll have to carry it to and from hotels, bus stops, train stations etc.

Itinerary

Touch down in main town Jordan - 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 6pm 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 or have a cultured afternoon at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts before a rendezvous with your Geckos crew for a team catch-up. It may or may not be at the local pub.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning you’ll jump on a JETT bus for the four-hour journey down the Desert Highway to Aqaba. Keep your eyes peeled for camels at around the 230km mark. Out to the left. No, the other left. Anway, Aqaba is landlocked Jordan’s only town on the sea, which they got through some tense negotiations with their neighbours. Now this beach resort on the Red Sea is yours to explore for the rest of the day. If you want to get historical then there’s the 14th century Ottoman Fort to check out. This is where the T.E Lawrence (of ‘of Arabia’ fame) rode to Cairo with big news about a revolt. There are also plenty of cafes and restaurant's to help you enjoy the local cuisine. Otherwise, most of the fun is to be found in the water – just south of town there are stunning untouched coral reefs, which make for some of the best snorkelling you can find. This morning maybe grab a mask and some flippers and do your best mermaid impression. How many of the 100 species of fish can you spot?
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Drive for about an hour to a rugged moonscape of huge sandstone mountains in the desert around Wadi Rum. You’ll bounce around this stunning, remote scenery with the crazy young local Bedouin (just remember to buckle up in the rickety, but reliable, jeeps). Keep an eye out for the Wadi Rum Desert Patrol in their spiffing khaki and red uniforms. The Bedouin, meaning ‘Desert Dwellers’ in Arabic, are super friendly and will show you around this awesome desert landscape of dunes and rocky outcrops formed by wind and ancient water, where you can pretend like your on the surface of Mars. Hit the road again (approximately 2.5 hours) and snuggle up in Petra overnight. You’re gonna need your sleep as there are some serious sites to see tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Who doesn't like a dramatic entrance. Make your way through a narrow gorge, past tombs and rock formations to get your first glimpse of the legendary Al Khazneh (The Treasury, you might recognise it from Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade). Pick your jaw up off the ground, because there are flies everywhere. This is the entracne to a city carved into the rock, the ancient capital of the Nabatean people way back in 600BC. Nobody in the West knew about it until 1812, when a Swiss guy dressed up like a local to sneak in and then blab the secret to everyone. Thankfully he did though because this isn’t something you’d want to miss out on. The site is surprisingly big, and you can explore the old Roman road, temples and several old tombs, as well as the rock-hewn amphitheatre. If you’ve got it in your legs there’s also the option to walk up to the Monastery and up the cliff top path overlooking the Treasury. Be sure to keep an eye out for the cafe run by Marguerite van Geldermalsen, the Kiwi woman who has been living in Petra with a local Bedouin for 30 years or so. After a long day’s exploring, there’s not many who would turn down the option to soothe their body with a chillax in a Turkish bath. Happy days.

Notes: One day's entrance fee to Petra is included. Please note that when entering Petra as a group, a complimentary horse ride is included in the ticket price from the entrance point down to the Siq. Geckos doesn't recommend that passengers take this option due to the safety and insurance liability involved.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Guided tour of Petra ( Including 1 day pass ).
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
We were talking about Crusaders earlier right? Well they built Shobak Castle atop a grassy knoll and thought it would last forever, but Saladin's Arab army knocked it over after an 18-month siege. You’ll drive a short way from Petra to get here, and the castle makes an impressive sight as you approach. Poke around the site and discover a small chapel, original gatehouse, and find out where a long, dark secret passage leads. Kick on half an hour to the ancient village at Dana, where at the craft centre you can (you guessed it) pick up some crafts, like silver jewellery and charms. Drive on to Madaba (approximately 3 hours), home to Byzantine mosaics way better than anything you ever made in art class. Visit the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George and check out a 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land. Then it’s on to Amman and time to enjoy a felafel tonight.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Entr Mt Nebo - JOD1
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Drive back in time (approximately 1 hour) to Jerash, once a thriving ancient Roman city, and now some of the best-preserved ruins this side of Italy. Do your best Biggus Dickus impersonation (Monty Python, anyone?) in Jerash's main street, check out the columns of the Oval Plaza and the tiered seating of the South Theatre, and imagine the chariot race from Gladiator in the hippodrome. In the afternoon you can choose to wash off the dust from exploring ruins with an (attempted) swim, so you’d better have packed your swim gear. Drive around 1.5 hours to the shores of the Dead Sea. This isn’t actually a sea but a super-salty lake (dead because of the lack of life in it) where the density of the water means you’ll go for a float, not a swim. A guy we know took a packet of unsalted chips to the Dead Sea. After being in the water he grabbed a bunch of chips, wiped them on his arm to make them salty, then ate them. We just wanted to mention that somewhere. Maybe grab a handful of the shoreline’s mud and slop it over your body on the way back in – it’s full of nutrient-rich natural minerals and will leave your skin feeling awesome. Afterwards you will return to Amman for the evening (approximately 1 hour). Maybe ask your leader where locals spend their evenings.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Dead Sea (lunch & transfer / min 3 people) - JOD40
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Freedom is the word of the day. Take some time in Amman to relax or create your own adventure. You could head up to the hilltop Temple of Hercules to snap some pics of the city, check out the local craft shops on Rainbow Street, or sweat it out in a Turkish bath house. Otherwise you can fill up on the fabulous food - by now you should also be addicted to hummus, ara'yes (oven-baked sandwiches filled with spiced mince) and mansaf (Google it, then wipe your drool off this page). If not, we haven't done our job properly. Tonight you will meet your new group and maybe head out for an optional group dinner.

 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today it’s goodbye Jordan, shalom Israel. You’ll make your way from Amman to Israel via the Sheikh Hussein border (named after the small village nearby, but nobody knows who Sheikh Hussein really was). Today can kind of be a test of your preparation and patience skills. How many books did you pack? Did you charge all your tech? Where’s your water bottle? This border crossing is usually not as busy as the others and fingers crossed for a relatively easy pass, but it could take a lot longer that expected, so make sure to bring along patience, understanding and sense of humour just in case! When you complete all the important immigration stuff, you’ll also get a brand new local leader – lucky you, two leaders in two days! Then it's a pretty short drive on to the lakeside city of Tiberias where you’ll end the day the perfect way – with a hearty feed and a proper good sleep.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you’ll get your biblical history on with some of the most famous religious sites around. Something about ‘the loaves and the fishes’ is a favourite grumble for mums around the world when anyone unexpectedly brings a load of hungry mouths home for dinner. Discover what they’re on about with a visit to Tabgha. Jesus hungout here quite a few times when he was alive (and once after he died) and it’s said here he performed one of the only miracles that’s in all the gospels. With only five loaves of bread and two fishes he fed a whopping 5,000 people. Check out the church and its ancient mosaics, built to mark the spot of the miracle of the multiplication. Head on to Capernaum to see the ruins of this old fishing town, the site of two ancient synagogues and a church said to have been Saint Peter’s crib. Next it’s on to Jesus’ hometown – drop by the Church of Annunciation where Mary got the news that she was knocked up (virgin-style) along with the well where she got water every day. The holiness doesn’t stop there; jump back on the bus and head to the centre of it all – Jerusalem.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Kick off the day with a drive out to the spectacular cliff-top fortress of Masada, near the Dead Sea. 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. It's kind of like Gallipoli for the state of Israel. Check out this slow-paced West Bank town of Jericho, one of the world’s longest continually inhabited cities, and just try and wrap you head the fact that people have lived here for 11,000 years. 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 (on top of the cave where Mary popped out Jesus) and the Shepherds’ Fields (where the angels appeared and told them to get their gold, frankincense and myrrh out). You were gonna stay in Bethlehem but there was no room at the inn and someone had already shot-gunned the stable, so you’ll head back to J-town for the night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Does your bucket list include: ‘visit olive oil soap factory’? If not, why not? And if yes, then phew, because today we’ll head out to Nablus and tick that one off. You’ll visit Jacob’s Well and from there go to the Old City of Nablus. Walk through the streets, visit the Turkish Hammam (Bath), and watch how Knafeh, the world famous sweet originating from the city, is made. You’ll then get to eat your weight in mouth-watering, cheesy pastry deliciousness drenched in sweet, sweet syrup at the shop next door. Once the tour of Nablus is done, drive up to Mount Gerizim to visit the tiny, ancient community of the Samaritans, a religious group closely related to Judaism, where you’ll learn about their views and their ways of life. Drive to Sabastya to walk through the Roman ruins, olive trees and hills and the site where John the Baptist was allegedly beheaded. Then it's back to Jerusalem for the night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you’ll get to grips with Jerusalem, the city that’s overflowing with spirituality and legend. Start by getting a panoramic view of the city from the Mount of Olives, which has churches and tombs all the way down from top to bottom. If you ever felt like having a chat with the old man upstairs, then Gethsemane would probably the place to do it. Visit this garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives, a favourite hangout for Jesus and his disciples, before driving to a gate where you’ll enter the Old City. Walk to the ‘Cardo’ in the recently restored Jewish Quarter, which was a road that ran the entire length of the city in Byzantine times. You’ll also check out the Western Wall (the remains of the Temple Mount which act as an outdoor synagogue, where written prayers are slid into the cracks between stones), Via Dolorosa (or the “way of sorrows”, which follows Jesus’ path to crucifixion), and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, died, buried, and rose again. In the arvo, things get very mellow and moving with a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. This evening you’ll head back to sunny Jerusalem for your final night on the town.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your trip ends in Jerusalem today. Say goodbye to all your new mates and don't forget to stalk their Facebook photos for pictures of yourself.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

12 breakfasts

Transport

Jeep, Private bus, Public bus

Accommodation

Budget Hotel (12 nights)

Included Activities

  • Guided tour of Petra ( Including 1 day pass ).

Reviews

Our Jordan & Israel Explorer trips score an average of 4 out of 5 based on 1 review in the last year.

Where Hummus All Began, August 2015

Danielle Winzenried

Dates & availability

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Important notes

ENTRANCE FEES:
With the exception of a one day pass to Petra (included), entrance fees are not included. You pay these as you go along.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:
An optional single supplement is available on this trip. Please refer to your booking agent for further information.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.