Tag Archives: itinerary

Israel 10 day tour

I guide a lot of 1 day tours but it is a very different experience to create a multi-day tour for a family or group and then be with them guiding for a week or more – it’s an opportunity to go deeper, to get to know each other and this land. For people planning a trip to Israel I would like to share a 10-day tour that I created for a small group. In general, hotel accommodation in Israel includes a buffet breakfast; this tour also included dinner except for Saturday night. The group got to experience a lot and visit some places less travelled.

Some participants’ comments:

Thank you for all your efforts to arrange a trip as diverse as Israel itself. You were always there for us and that allowed us to focus on the subjects at hand. Because of you we learned much more than we could have expected and your personal touch enriched all of our lives. We will think of you and your family every time we recall our experiences in Israel. A.B. Irvine, CA

It was much much more than we ever expected. Thank you for taking the time, preparation and sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm, history, variety of both places and people. Thank you again for a wonderful picture of Israel. Much love. EB and RG. San Rafael, CA

Here is the itinerary I worked out with them. I am happy to do the same for you.

Day 0 airport pickup and transfer to hotel in Tel Aviv

Day 1

  • drive to Neot Kedumim, the Biblical Nature Reserve
  • drive to Tel Aviv-Jaffa and walk along the beach
  • explore Old Jaffa and the neighborhood of Neve Tzedek
  • dinner in Neve Tzedek and dance performance at Susan Delal center
  • overnight in Tel Aviv

Day 2

  • morning walk in Yarkon park
  • visit the Eretz Israel museum in Ramat Aviv
  • Palmach museum
  • Tel Aviv port
  • Holon Design museum
  • overnight Tel Aviv

Day 3

  • travel north along the coastal highway
  • explore Akko: underground Crusader city, multi-media presentation in old Turkish hamam, tour of British prison
  • Lohamei HaGetaot Holocaust museum
  • Bahai gardens and tomb of Bahá’u’lláh outside Akko
  • overnight Kibbutz Ein Gev guest house

Day 4

  • watch video of famous battle of 1973 Yom Kippur War on Golan Heights, Oz 77 and Emeq HaBacha
  • visit the site and monument to the battle
  • Hula Nature reserve for bird watching
  • overnight Kibbutz Ein Gev

Day 5

  • drive to Katzrin and visit Museum of the Golan
  • wine tasting tour at the Golan Heights winery
  • drive the Jordan Rift valley to Jerusalem
  • Mahane Yehuda market before Shabbat
  • overnight Jerusalem

Day 6, Shabbat

  • day of rest
  • afternoon visit to the Israel museum
  • Israeli folk dancing
  • overnight Jerusalem

Day 7

  • walking tour of the Old City:
    • Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque
    • Davidson Archaeological park
    • synagogues in the Old City: Hurva and Ohel Yitzchak
    • panorama from roof top
    • Church of Holy Sepulcher
  • overnight Jerusalem

Day 8

  • Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found
  • desert botanical garden at Kibbutz Ein Gedi
  • Masada
  • Dead Sea spa
  • overnight Ein Gedi

Day 9

  • visit the Joe Alon Bedouin Culture museum
  • Bedouin life and hospitality (lunch) at Women’s Center in Lakiya
  • Ben Gurion’s hut at Sde Boker
  • evening walk to edge of makhtesh
  • overnight in Mitzpe Ramon

Day 10

  • jeep tour in Makhtesh Ramon
  • Ayalon Institute
  • tour of Weizmann Institute
  • farewell celebratory dinner in Tel Aviv-Jaffa
  • depart for airport

How much do you estimate a 10 day tour in Israel costs? Of course it depends on the size of the group, hotel accommodations chosen, itinerary and meals; it also depends on the expertise of person doing the arranging. I can organize and guide a tour like this (not including airfare), customized to your interests from $2500. per person.

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Four sites in Old City

Most archaeological sites in Israel are part of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority but in the Old City there are a few interesting sites that are run by the East Jerusalem Development Company:

  • Ramparts Walk
  • Roman Plaza
  • Zedekiah’s Cave
  • Davidson Archaeological Park

Together these 4 sites can be the skeleton for a tour of the Old City. Because these sites are under one authority there is a combination ticket that gives you entry to all 4 sites. The current price is 55NIS whereas it would cost 72NIS if you bought  them individually (a saving of 24%) and the ticket is valid for 3 days.

The walls around the Old City were built in 1540 by the Turkish Sultan Suleiman and it is possible to walk on the top of two sections of these walls: 1) from Jaffa Gate around the Christian and Muslim Quarters all the way to Lions Gate (though I would recommend descending at Damascus Gate) and 2) across from Jaffa Gate by the Tower of David Museum around the Armenian and Jewish quarters to Dung Gate.

It’s important when exploring the Old City to go up onto the walls or roofs to get an overview of the city, something you can’t do from the ground. Looking outside the walls lets you see the institutions that were built in the late 1800s by the various European powers as the Ottoman Empire became the sick man on the Bosphorus.

At Damascus Gate you descend back in time to 135CE to the Roman Emperor Hadrian who crushed the Bar Kochba Revolt, destroyed Jerusalem and exiled its Jewish inhabitants. Hadrian rebuilt the city as a Roman city that he called Aelia Capitolina, of which remnants of the city plan exist to this day. The base of the Roman wall and the leftmost arch of three Roman arches can be seen below Damascus Gate. From Damascus Gate going south is El Zeit Street which runs along the route of the Roman Cardo and  El Wad Street that follows the Tyropean valley, above the secondary Cardo. Remains of both Cardos as well as other remains from the time of Hadrian can be visited on your tour.

Not far from Damascus Gate is another site that is called Zedekiah’s Cave or Solomon’s Quarry. This cave was discovered by chance by Dr James Turner Barclay, a physician and missionary who lived in Jerusalem for some years and was interested in biblical scholarship. On a sunny Sunday during the winter of 1854 Dr. Barclay was out walking along the city walls with his son and his faithful dog as he ususally did every Sunday when suddenly the dog vanished as if the earth had swallowed him up. While searching for the dog near the bedrock at the base of the city wall they noticed a deep hole from which they could hear the sound of barking. Excitedly they went home, gathered lanterns, ropes, measuring instruments and other equipment and under cover of darkness returned to the hole – the opening to a man-made cavern that had been created by quarrying stone. This is the largest quarry in the Holy Land, the cave begins at the city’s northern wall and extends under the Muslim Quarter for 230 meters, reaching the Sisters of Zion convent. Barclay is the one who discovered the gate to the Temple Mount that bears his name today (that you can see in the Western wall in the Women’s section of the Kotel plaza).

Following the secondary Cardo to the south of the city will bring you to the Davidson Archaeological Park excavated by Benjamin Mazar and Meir Ben Dov from 1968 to 1978 and later in the mid 90s by Ronnie Reich. Perhaps the most impressive sight in Jerusalem is the main Second Temple street, littered with large Herodian stones that the Romans hurled off the top of the wall 15 meters above when they destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem in 70CE. Where the stones under Robinson’s Arch have been cleared away, you can see that the large paving stones are broken and have buckled under the tremendous impact of the arch’s collapse.

In the visitor’s center is a movie of a Jewish pilgrim’s experience coming to the Temple in Jerusalem. The movie uses 3D modelling of the Temple complex based on the archaeological evidence.

Under the street is the main drainage channel for ancient Jerusalem that has been recently opened and that goes as far as the Siloam Pool. Walking through the park you come to the southern steps that lead up to the double and triple gates. Below the steps is Eilat Mazar’s recent excavation of part of a citadel, a 4 chamber entrance gate whose dimensions are almost identical to the palace gate in Megiddo and a building of “royal character” dated to the 9th century BCE.

4–Day Itinerary

I’m happy when people contact me looking for a multi-day itinerary based from Jerusalem. It’s definitely worth a few days if you have the time. I’d like to share one itinerary that I guided for clients a couple of weeks ago. Of course, this itinerary is just to give you the idea – when you hire me as your guide you get a personalized itinerary that matches your interests.

Day 1

  • We started with an overview of Jerusalem from the promenade at Armon HaNatziv, learned about the aquaduct that brought water to the city from Hasmonean times (100 BCE). From there we drove to Herodium for a comprehensive tour: the lower city (pool, Roman bath, monumental building, Byzantine church) outside the park and the palace/fortress on the manmade mountain top built by King Herod including the latest excavation by Netzer of the tomb and Roman theater discovered on the north-east side of the mountain.
  • Visit to Gush Etzion (Etzion Bloc) to learn about the history of the Gush and memorial to the defenders of Kibbutz Kfar Etzion in 1948. Lunch at a lovely restaurant called Gavna in the forest of Kibbutz Massuot Yitzhak with a view all the way to the coastal plain.
  • Visit to Hebron and the Cave of Machpela, that Abraham purchased to bury Sarah in which our forefathers and 3/4 mothers are buried. The building over the cave was built by Herod. Walk around the city to try to understand the current political reality.

Day 2

  • Walking tour of the Old City covering the 4 quarters, the 3 religions and 3000 years of history, including Herodian, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Crusader periods. Views of the city from above and exploring underground. Tastes of the city for lunch.

Day 3

  • Visit the Israel museum to see the 2nd Temple model of Jerusalem. Tour of the Shrine of the Book, the unique architecture, the exhibits of artifacts from Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  • Opportunity to stroll through the Sculpture garden.
  • Visit the City of David, the walled Jebusite city captured by King David in 1004BCE and made the capital of his kingdom. Learn about the extensive archaeology going on there and the politics. Possibility of walking through Hezekiah’s tunnel.

Day 4

  • Drive from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea and Judean desert, the lowest point on earth, only 42 km away but 1170 meters lower. Learn about the African Rift valley, water, shrinking of Dead Sea, sink-holes, flora and fauna.
  • Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in passing.
  • At Ein Gedi, hike Nahal David to waterfalls and natural pools (it’s delightful to take a dip even in the winter months). Visit the ruins of the Jewish synagogue with mosaic floor.
  • Continue south to Masada, Hasmonean fortress in the desert extensively renovated by Herod, used by the Jewish rebels against the Roman and later by some Byzantine monks. Visit the new museum at Masada.