Day by Day Itinerary

Small Groups: Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

Israel is many things to many people ... A center of faith for three of the world’s great religions. A strategic crucible of modern world politics. A land of stunning natural beauty. A complex ethnic tapestry. An archaeologist’s dream. A realm of transcendent landscapes. A place that has resonance for any traveler seeking answers to the great spiritual matters of our times.

While many tours focus on one religious tradition or another while in Israel, we follow a multicultural pathway through Israel’s many layers of religious heritage. And we explore contemporary issues, too, inviting you to peer behind the headlines to meet Palestinians and Israelis, native Sabras and Eastern European immigrants, Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Druze. If you are drawn to destinations that challenge your preconceptions, or even inspire some soul-searching, come feel the power of this ancient place—at least once in your life.

Tel Aviv Masada Expand All
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    Fly overnight from the U.S. to Tel Aviv.

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    An OAT representative will meet us upon our arrival this afternoon at Tel Aviv’s airport, where we'll meet travelers who took the pre-trip extension to Jordan. We’ll transfer to our hotel and settle into our rooms, and then our small group’s Trip Leader will deliver a short orientation briefing before we share a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

    Israel’s cultural and commercial hub, Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 near the ancient port city of Jaffa (with which it later merged) as a planned “garden city” on the Mediterranean coast, and blossomed into the largest collection of Modernist buildings in the world. Today, Tel Aviv is home to about one-third of Israel’s population, and is a thoroughly modern city in every sense of the phrase—whatever it may lack in ancient history, it more than makes up for in vibrancy and contemporary culture.

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    Explore Old Jaffa and Tel Aviv

    After breakfast at our hotel, we begin today's discoveries with a visit to Jaffa, a 4,000-year-old city situated on the southern outskirts of downtown Tel Aviv that may well be the world's oldest seaport. Our Trip Leader will take us on a walk through Old Jaffa, followed by a visit to the Ilana Goor Museum, housed in the private home of this renowned Israeli artist, designer, and sculptor, where artifacts from Israel's past and artworks from its present stand side by side. From there, we'll venture to the colorful Jaffa Flea Market (closed on Saturdays) and have the chance to browse the vendors' extensive selection of antiques. Then we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before we continue on to Tel Aviv.

    Upon arrival, we'll have the afternoon to make our own discoveries. Consider visiting the Carmel Market (closed on Saturdays); commonly referred to as a shuk (Hebrew for an open-air market), this bustling bazaar is the oldest model for food shopping in the Holy Land, where you can discover a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, spices, nuts, and even clothing and housewares. It's an authentic and invigorating whirl of activity that reveals Israel's incredible diversity.

    Afterwards, we depart for the city of Bnei Brak outside Tel Aviv, where we meet with a local family for a Home-Hosted Dinner.

    Please note: Both the Jaffa Flea Market and the Carmel Market are closed on Saturdays. If Day 3 of your itinerary falls on a Saturday, you may have the chance to visit them on Day 15. Groups staying in Tel Aviv on a Friday, Saturday, or holiday will enjoy dinner with a family in Jerusalem on Day 11.

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    Discover the Roman ruins at Caesarea

    Today we travel north along the coast, stopping first at Caesarea, where Herod the Great built a remarkable artificial port—an engineering marvel in its time. Here we'll explore Roman ruins, many of which were transformed into a walled Crusader's city in later times, and have some free time for lunch on our own.

    Then we'll proceed to Haifa, Israel's third-largest city. This ancient seaport on the slopes of Mount Carmel is, in some senses, Israel's model city, rich with history, replete with a stew of cultures and religions working side by side, and evolving rapidly into the modern world. After checking in to our hotel and taking some time to settle into our rooms, we'll head to Mount Carmel. Here, we'll enjoy a panoramic view of the terraced Baha'i Gardens as they flow down its slopes toward the busy harbor, then continue on to Nazareth. We'll also stop at an olive farm for a tasting, followed by dinner.

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    Explore the ancient walled city of Akko

    Today is yours to enjoy at leisure in Nazareth, perhaps to explore the Old Quarter, or to visit the quaint church built on the site of Joseph's home and workshop.

    Or you may join a full-day optional tour that begins with a visit to the ancient walled city of Akko, once known by the Crusaders as the city of Acre. Our walking tour includes a visit to the Knights' Halls, a series of vaulted halls below street level; the Al-Jazzar Mosque; and the spice market, the Old City's main marketplace.

    Then, after an included lunch at a local restaurant, we continue to Rosh HaNikra, where we witness a wondrous series of cavernous tunnels formed by the pounding of the sea on the white chalk cliffs.

    Dinner is on your own this evening.

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    After breakfast we'll take a short drive to Nazareth where we'll visit the Church of the Annunciation, built on the site where Mary is said to have received word from the angel Gabriel that she would bear the son of God. Then we set off for a light morning walk in the Gamla Nature Reserve. We'll take in the history and archaeology in this beautiful area that was once an ancient fortress captured by the Romans, the name of which comes from the Hebrew word for camel—gamal—because the ancient fortress was on a mountain shaped remarkably like a camel's hump.

    We continue on to a Druze village, where we enjoy a Home-Hosted Lunch with a Druze family and learn about their unique culture and traditions. The Druze are an Arab religious community that opted out of mainstream Arab nationalism, and whose members have served in the Israeli Defense Forces. In the past, the Druze have seemed radical for their belief in equality between men and women, the abolition of slavery, and separation of church and state.

    Next, we stop at Kibbutz El Rom, located next to the battleground of the Valley of Tears, one of the defining moments of the Yom Kippur War. At the Kibbutz El Rom we'll learn about the struggle of the Israelis against the Syrian Army during the tank battle there in 1973. We then pause at the Valley of Tears Memorial, which overlooks the battleground.

    Then we travel to Kibbutz Kfar Haruv in Golan Heights, the plateau region bordered by the Sea of Galilee and Mt. Hermon. We check into our hotel, the Peace Vista Lodge (located next to the kibbutz) and enjoy time at leisure before dinner in the lodge’s restaurant.

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    Encounter a unique culture and traditions in a Druze village

    After breakfast is delivered to our cabins, we set off for A Day in the Life of Kibbutz Kfar Haruv. For more than a century, kibbutzim have played and continue to play a very important part in the development of modern Israel. The communal-living collectives, originally established on farms, support themselves with a mixture of agriculture and other business. Kfar Haruv was founded in 1973 and reflects that blend, with its operating dairy farm and hydraulics plant. 400 residents live here, including some of the children from the first generation of settlers.

    Our visit begins with an informal discussion with a kibbutz member, who will warmly welcome us and answer any preliminary questions we may have. We'll then stop by the community’s kindergarten, where we'll meet its youngest residents. For lunch, we will work together to prepare a meal in the communal dining room and then dine with members of the kibbutz, which affords us a wonderful opportunity to learn more about their lives and experiences in this setting. After a short guided walk of Kfar Haruv—featuring an enlightening sojourn within its dairy farm—we'll bid farewell. By the end of our visit, we'll come away with a richer understanding of the kibbutz tradition.

    Afterward, we return to our lodge, where the remainder of the day is at leisure and dinner is on your own.

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    View the Sea of Galilee during a tour of Israel

    This morning, we leave the Golan Heights, making our first stop at Capernaum (formerly Kfar Nahum), an ancient Roman fishing village whose church was founded on the traditional site of St. Peter’s home. While there, we’ll also visit the modern Church of the Beatitudes—which was built near the site of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount—before boarding a boat to sail across Lake Kinneret, better known as the Sea of Galilee.

    First, we’ll cruise to Kibbutz Genosar to view the “Jesus Boat,” the restored skeletal remains of a fishing vessel discovered on the muddy shores of Lake Kinneret in 1986 that dates back to the first century AD—the time of Jesus’ ministry. We’ll then stop for lunch at a local restaurant by the sea. Afterwards, some travelers may wish to join the Christian pilgrims who gather here to renew their baptism vows by immersing themselves in the same waters where Jesus was baptized.

    In addition to its historical importance, Lake Kinneret is the only sweetwater lake in Israel, and it is considered by many to be a national asset. Visitors take the history and religious importance to heart, but to modern Israelis, the lake’s ability to store and supply scarce water for drinking, for agriculture, and for industry is nearly as important.

    From here, we travel to Jerusalem. We arrive in the early evening, settle into our hotel, and enjoy dinner on our own tonight.

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    See the Western Wall and Old Jerusalem during a walking tour

    After breakfast at our hotel, we enter the maze of chambers and cisterns underneath the Western Wall, part of the ancient city wall that is of great spiritual significance in the Jewish and Islamic traditions, revered by Jews as the last standing remnant of ancient Jerusalem's Second Temple.

    This site is also known as the Wailing Wall for Jews' mourning of the destruction of the temple by the Romans in AD 70. Although the wall is nearly 1,600 feet in length, only about 230 feet are visible above ground. The remainder was hidden when King Herod raised the landscape surrounding the Temple Mount in the year 19 BC. We'll see portions of the wall that have been perfectly preserved, and head underground to explore the parts that were sealed off until excavations began in 1967, and had been hidden for almost 2,000 years.

    Then we spend the day getting to know Jerusalem, as we explore its Old City on foot. Though it occupies an area of less than one square mile, this ancient enclave's history and spiritual significance to Christians, Jews, and Muslims is immense. We begin our comprehensive walking tour in the area around the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter, which is adjacent to the site of Solomon's First Temple and the Second Temple. From here, we have an admirable view of the Islamic Dome of the Rock, perched on the Temple Mount, and a different perspective on the Western Wall. Our walk then takes us to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built around what is believed to be the site of Christ's burial and resurrection, and along the Via Dolorosa—the ancient “Way of the Sorrows,” where it is traditionally held that Christ walked to his crucifixion.

    After strolling the winding streets of Jerusalem's Arab and Christian quarters, we'll enjoy lunch at a restaurant in the Old City. Then we visit Mount Zion, the traditional Christian site of the Last Supper, and the Mount of Olives, site of Christ's betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane. At the summit we'll enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the Dome of the Rock and the Old City. From there, we'll return to our hotel and enjoy dinner on our own this evening.

    Please note: The exact date and/or time of our visit to the Western Wall is subject to change.

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    View the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem

    Today we travel to Yad Vashem, the stirring “everlasting memorial” to the more than six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. With the world's largest archives of material relating to the Holocaust—more than 50 million documents and artifacts—this museum and memorial complex, while built on the Mount of Remembrance, aims not only to remember, but to educate. We'll spend the morning at this solemn site, where we'll hear a moving first-person account of the horrors of Hitler's “Final Solution” from a Holocaust survivor.

    Then we explore the bustling produce market at Machaneh Yehuda, one of Jerusalem's oldest Jewish neighborhoods, where we'll also have free time for lunch on our own. Then we'll return to our hotel and have the balance of the day at leisure. Tonight, we'll enjoy dinner in a local restaurant. 

    Please note: The exact date and/or time of our visit to Yad Vashem is subject to change.

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    This morning begins with a discussion with a Palestinian journalist who will share her perspective on living in Israel. Then we visit the City of David, an archaeological park whose ruins shed light on the establishment of Israel under King David in 1004 BCE and the history of the Jews during Biblical times. A highlight of the site is an ancient 1500-foot-long water tunnel built by King Hezekiah in 701 BCE to protect Jerusalem’s water source from invading Assyrians. Our tour concludes at The Davidson Center, where we view a virtual reality reconstruction of the Herodian Temple Mount as it stood prior to its destruction.

    Explore Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity

    The rest of the day is at leisure, or you may join an optional tour to Bethlehem, which features the Church of the Nativity. Built over the grotto where Mary is believed to have given birth to Jesus, the church was one of the world’s most coveted holy sites for centuries, and was both captured and defended by a succession of armies. The tour also includes a visit to Shepherds' Field, where an angel is said to have announced Christ’s birth.

    Dinner is on our own this evening.

    Please note: If this day falls on a Friday during your trip, this evening we’ll return to the Western Wall and have the opportunity to hear prayers on the eve of Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath). Also, if your visit to Tel Aviv on Day 3 fell on a Friday or Saturday, you will enjoy dinner with an Orthodox family in Jerusalem tonight.

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    Today is at leisure in Jerusalem, or you may choose to join an optional tour that begins in Herodion, a hilltop fortified palace built by Herod the Great in the desert south of Bethlehem that is also thought to be Herod’s mausoleum. The tour continues to Mar Elias Monastery, a Greek Orthodox monastery originally built in the sixth century AD, then rebuilt in the twelfth century. There are usually views of both Jerusalem and Bethlehem from the hilltop. We’ll have lunch in the monastery’s restaurant before returning to Jerusalem, with a stop on the way to visit Ein Karem.

    Explore Herodion and Ein Karem on a guided tour

    Nestled in the hills to the southwest of Jerusalem, Ein Karem is notable as the birthplace of St. John the Baptist. Our visit takes us to two churches connected to the life of the biblical figure: the Church of St. John the Baptist and the Church of the Visitation. Although both structures are relatively new, both are constructed over the remains of much older buildings that marked two important sites for early Christians—the site of St. John’s birth and the site of the visit from St. Mary to St. John’s mother, St. Elizabeth.

    Dinner is on your own this evening.

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    We start our morning with a visit to the Israel Museum. Here, we'll see the expansive model of Jerusalem from the Second Temple period. We'll also take a close look at the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are housed in a wing called "the Shrine of the Book"; the top of the shrine was designed to look like the clay pot in which the scrolls were originally found. 

    Then we'll set off for the Dead Sea, where the afternoon will be yours to enjoy. At more than 1,300 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea is considered to be the lowest point on earth, and because it contains an unusually high concentration of salt, it is surprisingly easy to float within its mineral-rich waters.

    During your free time, perhaps you'll walk or take the hotel's complimentary shuttle to the shore of the Dead Sea, where you can test your buoyancy. (The sheer sense of weightlessness has to be experienced to be understood.) Or, you may take advantage of the hotel's amenities, such as the spa (featuring an authentic Turkish hammam), indoor and outdoor pools, and grounds where you may linger in a hammock beneath date palm trees.

    This evening, we'll enjoy dinner at our hotel.

    Please note: The exact date and/or time of our visit to the Israel Museum is subject to change.

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    Explore the Judean Desert on an off road adventure

    This morning, we embark upon an off-road adventure in the Judean Desert. We’ll ride 4x4 vehicles among stunning canyons, erosion craters, and dry riverbeds and experience the landscape up close. We’ll break for a picnic lunch in the desert.

    In the afternoon, we head to Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, where we’ll visit its lush oasis and embark on a short hike. This evening we'll enjoy dinner together at our hotel.

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    Our day begins with a visit to Masada, where we’ll ascend by cable car to walk among the powerful, 20-acre ruins of this isolated hilltop fortress, where from AD 70-73, Jewish defenders made the last stand of the Judean revolt against Rome.

    Explore the 20 acre ruins of Masada during a tour of Israel

    En route to Tel Aviv, we stop at the Qumran Caves in the Dead Sea Rift Valley to see the archaeological site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.

    Enjoy some free time this afternoon to relax or explore Tel Aviv independently before gathering for a Farewell Dinner in a local restaurant.

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    • Meals included:

    We rise very early this morning and transfer to the airport to board our flight to the U.S., or begin your optional Palestinian Discovery post-trip extension. Please note: The order of activities during your trip may vary depending on the day of the week. Many sites in Israel are closed from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, and other temporary closures can occur due to religious observances, festivals, or safety considerations. Due to crowds, the visit to the Western Wall tunnels may change in day and/or time and even fall late at night or very early in the morning.


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Questions and Answers

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Questions and Answers

Want to know more about one of our adventures? Now, when you post a question, travelers who have been on that trip can provide you with an honest, unbiased answer based on their experience—providing you with a true insider’s perspective.

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Weather & Regional

Before you travel, we encourage you to learn about the region of the world you'll discover on this trip. From weather and currency information to details on population, geography, and local history, you'll find a comprehensive introduction to your destinations below.

Visit our “What to Know” page to find information about the level of activity to expect, vaccination information resources, and visa requirements specific to this vacation.

Currency Cheat Sheet: Submit

What to Know

For more detailed information about this trip, download our Travel Handbook below. This document covers a wide range of information on specific areas of your trip, from passport, visa, and medical requirements; to the currencies of the countries you’ll visit and the types of electrical outlets you’ll encounter. This handbook is written expressly for this itinerary. For your convenience, we've highlighted our travelers' most common areas of interest on this page.

Download the Travel Handbook

What to Expect


  • 6 locations in 15 days with one 1-night stay
  • There are several overland 3-hour drives, including an off-road excursion by Jeep into the Judean Desert along canyons and dry riverbeds

Physical requirements

  • Not appropriate for travelers using wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids
  • There are a large number of steps to negotiate at the Western Wall tunnels and at other archaeological sites; expect 6-8 hours of physical activities and sightseeing on some days
  • You will need to access vehicles by stairs without aid


  • The weather in Israel is often compared to the temperate climate of Florida or southern California, with warm summers and mild, balmy winters


  • We’ll travel over several city streets, hike along rugged paths and trails, and walk up and down many stairs at various sites in Israel. There are also walks along sandy beaches and desert terrain


  • We travel via air-conditioned 30-passenger bus (no toilet onboard), Jeep, by wooden boat for a lake crossing, and by cable car to reach Masada

Accommodations & Facilities

  • Hotel rooms are smaller than U.S. and offer simple amenities
  • All accommodations feature private baths

Travel Documents


Your passport should meet these requirements for this itinerary:

  • It should be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return to the U.S.
  • It should have the recommended number of blank pages (refer to the handbook for details).
  • The blank pages must be labeled “Visas” at the top. Pages labeled “Amendments and Endorsements” are not acceptable.


U.S. citizens will need a visa (or visas) for this trip. In addition, there may be other entry requirements that also need to be met. For your convenience, we’ve included a quick reference list, organized by country:

  • Israel: No visa required.
  • Jordan (optional pre-trip extension only): Visa required.
  • Palestine (optional post-trip extension only): No visa required.

Travelers who are booked on this adventure will be sent a complete Visa Packet— with instructions, applications, and a list of visa fees—approximately 100 days prior to their departure. (Because many countries limit the validity of their visa from the date it is issued, or have a specific time window for when you can apply, we do not recommend applying too early.)

If you are not a U.S. citizen, do not travel with a U.S. passport, or will be traveling independently before/after this trip, then your entry requirements may be different. Please check with the appropriate embassy or a visa servicing company. To contact our recommended visa servicing company, PVS International, call toll-free at 1-800-556-9990.

Vaccinations Information

For a detailed and up-to-date list of vaccinations that are recommended for this trip, please visit the CDC’s “Traveler’s Health” website. You can also refer to the handbook for details.

Before Your Trip

Before you leave on your adventure, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:

Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)

What to Bring

In an effort to help you bring less, we have included checklists within the handbook, which have been compiled from suggestions by Trip Leaders and former travelers. The lists are only jumping-off points—they offer recommendations based on experience, but not requirements. You might also want to refer to the climate charts in the handbook or online weather forecasts before you pack. Refer to the handbook for details.

Insider Tips


Main Trip

  • Art Plus Hotel

    Tel Aviv, Israel

    The Art Plus is a boutique-style hotel dedicated to Israeli art, located just steps away from the beaches of Tel Aviv and art galleries of Gordon Street. The Art Plus has 62 air-conditioned guest rooms, each with fridge, safe, free wi-fi Internet, telephone, cable TV, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and private bath with hair dryer.

  • Bay Club Hotel

    Haifa, Israel

    The Bay Club Hotel is located in the city center between Haifa Bay and Mount Carmel. Beautiful gardens span the grounds surrounding this 55-room hotel which features an on-site restaurant. 

  • Peace Vista Lodge

    Golan Heights, Israel

    Set on a basalt cliff overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Mount Hermon, and the Jordan Valley, the Peace Vista Lodge complements the natural beauty of its surroundings. We stay in simple but modern air-conditioned, Finnish-style pine cabins with wooden balconies. Each of the 50 cabins has a bedroom; a furnished living area with satellite TV; a kitchen with refrigerator, microwave, utensils, and coffee- and tea-making facilities; and a full private bath with whirlpool. Peace Vista is operated by the Kfar Haruv kibbutz, whose members provide complimentary Golan wines in your cabin at sunset.

  • Dan Boutique Hotel

    Jerusalem, Israel

    The Dan Boutique, situated on a small hilltop facing Mount Zion and Jerusalem’s Old City, features a bar and restaurant, along with a fitness center and large sun deck. There are 129 air-conditioned rooms at the hotel, each with safe, telephone, satellite TV, refrigerator, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and private bath with hair dryer.

  • Oasis Dead Sea Hotel

    Dead Sea, Israel

    The Oasis Dead Sea Hotel is situated along the shores of the Dead Sea, near Masada National Park and the Botanical Gardens. Hotel amenities include a restaurant, lobby lounge, café, spa, rooftop solarium, outdoor pool, and private beach. There are 142 rooms at the Oasis Dead Sea, each with air-conditioning, satellite TV, mini-fridge, wireless Internet (additional charge), and private bath with tub.


  • Amman Cham Palace

    Amman, Jordan

    Nestled between the desert and the Jordan Valley, the Amman Cham Palace is conveniently located in the heart of bustling Amman. The hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, restaurant, and 141 guest rooms, each with individual climate control, refrigerator, minibar, telephone, satellite TV, and wireless Internet access.

  • Petra Moon Hotel

    Petra, Jordan

    This contemporary hotel rises 300 feet above the gateway to ancient Petra, offering sweeping views of the surrounding Petra Mountains. Amenities include a rooftop swimming pool (open from April 1st through November 1st), an on-site restaurant, and soundproofed, air-conditioned rooms with wireless Internet access.

  • Manger Square Hotel

    Bethlehem, Israel

    This 220-room hotel is conveniently located in Bethlehem's center, a short walk from the Church of the Nativity. Each room is air-conditioned, and features amenities like complimentary coffee and tea, a hair dryer, and mini-bar. Onsite, you'll find a bar and restaurant.

  • Jericho Resort Village Hotel

    Jericho, Palestinian Authority

    The Jericho Resort Village Hotel is a modern hotel and resort complex situated on the outskirts of Jericho featuring several swimming pools and sports facilities. There are 58 hotel rooms at the resort, each with individually controlled climate control, satellite TV, minibar, and private bath.

Flight Information

Flight Options to Personalize Your Trip

Whether you choose to take just a base trip or add an optional pre- and post-trip extension, you have many options when it comes to personalizing your air—and creating the OAT adventure that’s right for you:

Personalized Air Routing

  • Work with our expert Air Travel Consultants to select the airline and routing you prefer
  • Upgrade to business or premium economy class
  • Customize your trip by staying overnight in a connecting city, arriving at your destination a few days early, or spending additional time in a nearby city on your own
  • Combine your choice of OAT adventures to maximize your value

Your Own Air Routing

  • Make your own international flight arrangements directly with the airline
  • Purchase optional airport transfers to and from your hotel
  • Extend your Land Tour-only Travel Protection Plan coverage and protect the air arrangements you make on your own—including your frequent flyer miles

OR, leave your air routing up to us and your airfare (as well as airport transfers) will be included in your final trip cost.

Partner since: 2010
Total donated: $1,076,596

A Day in the Life: Kibbutz Kfar Haruv

OAT was founded upon the principle that travel needs to be about more than just sightseeing if it's going to change people's lives—which is why most OAT adventures feature a day of in-depth cultural exchange through Grand Circle Foundation’s A Day in the Life program. By continuing to expand our worldview through exposure to other cultures, we are learning and growing throughout our lives—and the more we engage ourselves in the daily lives of the villages we visit, the more valuable our learning becomes.

"The interaction with people made this trip a wonder. I feel privileged to have met the settlers at the Kibbutz Kfar Haruv, and to have experienced a day in the life of their world..."

Mary Lou D'Altorio
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Meet the People of Kibbutz Kfar Haruv

This Day in the Life experience will bring us to the Golan Heights, where we'll visit the Kibbutz of Kfar Haruv. For more than a century, kibbutzim have played a very important part in the development of modern Israel. These communal-living collectives, originally established on farms, support themselves with a mixture of agriculture and other business. Kfar Haruv was founded in 1973, and today, 400 residents live here, including some of the children from the first generation of settlers.

Our visit begins with an informal discussion with a kibbutz member, who will give us a richer understanding of the kibbutz tradition, and answer any questions we may have. Afterward, we'll visit the community’s kindergarten, where we’ll have the chance to join students in the classroom and converse with their teachers.

For lunch, we'll work together to prepare a meal in the kibbutz's communal dining room. Here, we'll dine with members of the kibbutz, which will afford us a wonderful opportunity to learn more about their lives and experiences in this setting. Before we check into the adjacent Peace Lodge Hotel (which is operated by the Kfar Haruv kibbutz), we'll take a short guided walk of the surroundings grounds which contain a hydraulics plant and dairy farm.

By the end of your Day in the Life, you'll have experienced something that most visitors can rarely say they've seen: an honest look at another culture that isn't dressed up for the sake of tourism. As responsible travelers and true world citizens, we feel it's just as important—if not more so—than monuments, wildlife, or scenery. We like to think of it as bridging the gaps between cultures … one Day in the Life at a time.

Alan and Harriet Lewis founded Grand Circle Foundation in 1992 as a means of giving back to the world we travel. Because they donate an annually determined amount of revenue from our trips, we consider each one of our travelers as a partner in the Foundation’s work around the world. To date, the Foundation has pledged or donated more than $97 million in support of 300 different organizations—including 60 villages and nearly 100 schools that lie in the paths of our journeys.

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Solo Traveler Stories

Why Travel Solo on Israel: The Holy Land & Timeless Cultures

We're proud to offer the best value for solo travelers in the industry, guaranteed, with FREE Single Supplements on your base trip and all extensions. Travel with the leader in solo-friendly travel on Israel: The Holy Land & Timeless Culturesand save up to $2260 per person versus the competition.

Our small group size and expert, resident Trip Leaders help solo travelers make personal connections and ensure peace of mind. Here are some thoughts from solo travelers about why this adventure was right for them.

"This was one of the best trips I've taken, and if you have Hedva Ma'ane as a guide, you are very lucky indeed … Jerusalem's old city is fascinating … people are very friendly and helpful … OAT tries hard to include different viewpoints, and the various speakers we had were very informative."

Margaret Allen, 9-time traveler
Austin, Texas

Israel: A Treasured Surprise

Carol Hull, 9-time traveler, Bonita Springs, Florida

I’ve been traveling on my own for almost ten years. Prior to my husband’s passing, he and I didn’t do much exploring. He did a lot of traveling for work, so the two of us just didn’t do much of it in our spare time. When I became a widow, I decided it was time for me to get out there and explore the world. Since my friends don’t share my travel interests, I decided to venture out on my own. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

You see, I’m not nervous about visiting a new place as a solo traveler. Traveling this way allows me to meet a lot of people—which is one of my favorite things about travel. I’ve even had women from my group traveling with their husbands approach me to say, “You know, I wish I was doing what you were doing.” Sometimes it’s nice to have the flexibility of exploring at your own pace, and learning about things that are of particular interest to you.

I chose to travel to Israel and the pre-trip extension to Jordan for many reasons. I’ve read about this area of the world my entire life. I believe that travel is so expansive in our understanding of the world and its history, and I’m fascinated by the culmination of religions in this region. I wanted to get there while I still could: I’m 75 years old and I wanted to be able to experience these amazing countries—including walking on the cobblestone streets—while my body still allowed me to.

Before I leave for any of my trips, I customarily study the sites and history on the itinerary and try to travel with knowledgeable anticipation—and this is exactly what I did before my trip to Jordan and Israel. But nothing could have prepared me for the magnitude of experiences we encountered.

We saw so many sites in this Holy Land: the historic Tel Megiddo; the ruins of Crusader forts in Acre and Caesarea, Israel and Shobak, Jordan; the Christian sites in Madaba, Jordan, Nazareth, Galilee, and Bethlehem; the Dead Sea from the shores of both Jordan and Israel; and especially the “Golden City” of Jerusalem, a bustling mixture of so many styles of buildings from Jewish, Muslim, and Byzantine Christian history and culture.

But the people we met in Israel and Jordan were a treasured surprise. We ate alongside a Druse family in their home in the shadow of Mount Hermon, watched locals shop in a Jerusalem market before the Sabbath, listened to our driver describe his experiences in the Valley of Tears, joined families enjoying a day of rest at Caesarea, exchanged pictures with young soldiers on leave, listened to gracious members of a kibbutz in the Golan Heights, watched schoolchildren walk up to the top of Masada while we effortlessly floated overhead in our gondola, and were lunch guests of Druse women trying to make a difference for women and children in their Bedouin desert culture.

I was completely fascinated by everything I discovered on my Israel: The Holy Land & Timeless Cultures adventure. Before leaving for my trip, many of my friends and family asked, “Why do you want to go there?” My answer: “Why not?” I’m so thankful that I can still explore such wonderful cultures and histories, which I’ll continue to do until I can’t do it anymore. I don’t ever want to look back on my life and say, “I wish I had done that.”

Private Adventures—New for 2015

How do you arrange a Private Adventure?

It’s simple: You choose the people you travel with. You choose the departure date. You choose the size of your group. OAT does the rest.

Your lifelong memories are only a phone call away: Call us toll-free at

Group Size Additional Cost
4-6 $2000 per person
7-9 $900 per person

Now you can reserve an EXCLUSIVE departure of Israel: The Holy Land & Timeless Cultures with just 8 travelers. Enjoy a truly special adventure—starting from only $900 per person more than our published trip price.

The benefits of your Private Adventure …

  • Travel in an exclusive group of friends or family members
  • Work with your Trip Leader to create unique experiences and special memories
  • Tailor the pacing of activities—spending more time doing what interests your group most at the speed that fits your comfort level
  • Enjoy the security of knowing we have regional offices nearby

This program is available on new reservations in 2015 only, and cannot be combined with any offer within 60 days to departure or with our Group Travel program. The additional cost of a Private Departure is per person, on top of the departure price and varies by trip. Private Departures do not include any changes or additions to our standard itineraries. Age restrictions may apply to some itineraries and must be at least 13 years old to travel with Overseas Adventure Travel. Ask your Group Sales Team for details. Additional taxes and fees will apply. Standard Terms & Conditions apply. Every effort has been made to present this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors.

Jerusalem: A Living Mosaic

How Israel’s capital became a cultural composite

by Sukie Reyes

Together they make the whole picture. That is Jerusalem—a mosaic of people.

OAT Trip Leader Khalil Shreim, a slender man with a gentle smile and sparkling eyes, knows that his home town is complex. That’s why he likes to show visitors some of the preserved Byzantine mosaics in Jerusalem. “‘Look at the stones,’ I say. ‘See how they are made of different colors and materials, yet together they make the whole picture. That is Jerusalem—a mosaic of people.’”

Time and tile

It is fitting that Khalil uses mosaics for a metaphor. Among the greatest treasures of the Middle East are mosaics which have survived intact for as long as 1,600 years under the successive Byzantine and Islamic Umayyad empires. As bloody conflicts played out on the region thereafter, many of these mosaics were lost, but those that remain reveal a glimpse of an era of artistry.

Interestingly, the mosaic most associated with Jerusalem was actually found in Jordan, covering the floor of an ancient church in Medaba. Known as the “Medaba Map,” this sixth-century mosaic is a detailed city map as seen from above. The oldest remaining floor map on earth, it showed the location of Jerusalem city highlights that had been referenced in the Bible and Jewish oral tradition, but which had not yet been verified by the 19th century. One of its most tantalizing details was an image of a broad thoroughfare, the Cardo Maximus, running through the center of Jerusalem—a road of which there was no remaining evidence. Because working city streets and Jewish Quarter neighborhoods existed atop the location where the Cardo appears on the map, Israel was reluctant to dig there, even for archaeological study.

But in 1975, while the Israel Antiquities Authority was working on the infrastructure of the busy King David thoroughfare, excavators discovered the ancient Cardo some 15-20 feet below the current street. Large flagstones, each more than a yard long—laid side by side and end to end—stretched across the center of the city, providing evidence of a route that once bustled with pilgrims, traders, and citizens. Today, you can stroll and shop along that route, some of it above ground and some below. To walk across these ancient flagstones today feels like time travel.

Beyond “old”

While the era of those mosaic artists seems long ago—especially if your country is less than 300 years old—Jerusalem was already several thousand years old by then. It was a tiny settlement at first, a few blocks surrounded by forests, almond trees, and olive groves, but it beckoned travelers, seekers, and kings alike. By the dawn of the Common Era, Jerusalem had already been occupied in succession by the Babylonians and the Greeks. A cavalcade of occupiers followed: Romans, Arab Muslims, Crusaders, Sunni Muslim Abuyyids, Germans, Tatars, Mamluk sultans, Ottomans, and finally the British—the last foreign power to try to claim the land for itself. With so many eras leaving competing cultural legacies, the city remains an assemblage of disparate influences.

One city, many faiths

For many, the most important of these influences are spiritual. For Jews, the Western Wall and Temple Mount, where the First and Second Temples were located, are the holiest sites of their faith—in synagogues all over the world, Arks of the Covenant are positioned to face this sacred city.

For Christians, the last night of Christ’s life is said to have been spent here, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives, and then making the final walk up the Via Dolorosa to Golgotha Hill, where he was crucified.

And for Muslims, the Dome of the Rock encompasses not only the story of Ibrahim and the near-sacrifice of his son but the night the prophet Mohammed left earth for heaven.

Spiritual diversity is so profound here that more days of the week than not are considered holy to at least one faith: The Druze Sabbath begins on Thursday night, while Muslims celebrate Friday as their day of rest, with Jewish Sabbath following from Friday sundown till Saturday sundown, and Christians ending the week with their holy day on Sunday.

Where cultures meet

With its dominant religious traditions cherished by more than half of the world’s population, Jerusalem was—and continues to be—a magnet for travelers. For Khalil, this determined the course of his life. “I was born and raised in Jerusalem’s Old City, so when I went from home to school, I met travelers. When I was 9, a couple from Sao Paolo asked me where the Via Dolorosa was. I said, ‘I know that street. I’ll show you.’ I led them around, talking in a mix of Hebrew, English, and Arabic, and they were so happy with me that when a 20-year-old tour guide tried to take over, they said, ‘No!’ They just wanted me.”

They paid Khalil handsomely, though he at first refused and had to be convinced to take the money, a transaction observed by the local priest. When his parents saw the money, they did not believe that he had come by it honestly, and it was only when Khalil dragged his father to the priest—who confirmed the story—that his father believed him. Khalil has been showing people around his beloved city ever since.

That story reveals something important about Jerusalem. That a Christian priest calmed down the Palestinian father of a boy leading tours in the holiest city of the Jewish faith reveals the truth of Khalil’s earlier comment: Jerusalem is a mosaic of people.

A city for our time

Khalil has watched Jerusalem change, from the cozy walled Old City of his childhood to a sprawling metropolis, and he knows his own children will witness even more evolutions. The father of four can’t guess precisely what the future will look like for them in the fascinating mosaic they call home, but he is certain of one thing: The city’s appeal will never dim. “It is Jerusalem,” he says fondly, smiling. “Everybody comes here eventually.”