Skyline of Old City at Western Wall and Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Israel

Itinerary: Journey Through the Holy Lands

13 April to 27 April 2018

Your Journey will astonish with examples of works of one of the greatest builders of the ancient world, Herod the Great (37–4 BC). Christianity brought a new wave of construction after Emperor Constantine and his mother, St Helena, consecrated the sites associated with Jesus of Nazareth in the fourth century AD. The final monotheistic religion to arrive was Islam when in 637 AD Caliph Omar conquered Jerusalem. The Crusaders instigated another burst of building activity: European Romanesque and Gothic churches and castles tempered by local techniques punctuate the landscape. Mamluks and Ottomans trampled and rebuilt. Jerusalem arguably remains as the most extraordinary city in the world

Biblical names on road signs demonstrate the closeness of the distant past and where history, politics and religion are impossible to separate. It is not a pilgrimage tour as sites are selected for intrinsic aesthetic or historical merit rather than religious association. Finally there are a few days in Cyprus, that ‘ethereal and blessed land’ that stands apart, serene and sacred with an irresistible fascination. Here you will encounter a paradise full of natural beauty, history and culture, all set in the azure Mediterranean seas. Throughout the Journey there’s plenty to witness in the local life of the bazaars and ancient villages or indulge your interests in streets and courtyards festooned with colourful carpets, textiles, pottery and handicrafts.

On this Journey you will:

• Discover ancient Roman, Islamic, and Crusader civilizations in Jordan
• Gaze in awe at the ‘rose-red city half as old as time’ in the candlelight
• Float in the Jordanian Dead Sea and have a therapeutic ‘mud’ bath
• Encounter the splendours of Judaism, Christianity and Islamic civilization
• Experience the Bible coming to life in Bethlehem, Jericho, Caesarea, Galilee, Capernaum, Jerusalem, and much more
• Visit UNESCO World Heritage sites in Cyprus’ Troodos Mountains
• Enjoy local wines and foods in ancient village settings

Our Hotels:

We understand that travel isn't all about a fleeting glimpse of popular mass tourist spots, or staying at luxury hotels, but is also about time, space, privacy and those special destinations and moments that turn your holiday into a truly magical experience. Journey through the Holy Lands is a tour for everyone wanting to see the ‘Middle East’ on roads less travelled and explore new horizons rarely encountered. We have chosen hotels rich with atmospheric heritage which are generally of a 3 1/2 - 5 star standard.

Participants should note that the order of visits and activities described may be modified to accommodate changes in flight schedules, special access to museums and craftspeople, the pathways chosen by our experienced and knowledgeable local guides, local road conditions and unexpected contingencies such as festivals, street processions or religious ceremonies.

Meals:

Daily breakfasts are provided in your hotels. Dinners are provided in your hotels or at a local restaurant. In this part of the world lunches are taken at local restaurants and not included in the tour price. (2 Lunches included in Cyprus). The standard offering in Jordan and Palestine is USD 5 for a lunch of Middle Eastern salads, dips, bread and the like, or if you wish, you can upgrade to USD 10 for a meal including the above but usually with kebabs or other grilled meat. In travelling to these destinations researching the tour in 2016, I found the meats to be most unnecessary.

View on marina with yachts and ancient walls of harbor in Acre, Israel

Itinerary:

Day 1: 13 April 2018

Depart Adelaide (or your home city) with Emirates Airlines at 21:50.

Day 2: 14 April 2018, Amman

Arrive in Dubai at 05:30 and transfer to your onward flight at 07:25 to arrive in Queen Aliya International Airport, Jordan at 09:45. (Based on the 2017 timetable and subject to change).

After meeting our guide we drive north through red earthen hills punctuated with olive groves and Aleppo pine forests to Jerash, ancient Gerasa. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD Jerash was very prosperous and is one of the best-preserved and most beautiful of ruined Roman cities in the ancient world. We then continue to visit Ajloun Castle and drive to our Amman Hotel.

Overnight Stay: Star Plaza Hotel 4 star (all hotels are currently confirmed but subject to change)

Day 3: 15 April 2018, Amman – City Tour – Desert Castle – Amman

After Breakfast, we begin our discovery of Amman, with a visit to the citadel which was the religious and political centre of the ancient city. Here are the remains of the Temple of Hercules and the Umayyad Palace. Among the more spectacular remains are a triumphal arch, an oval piazza, the Cardo with its flanking colonnades, a food market, hippodrome, theatres, magnificent temples of Zeus and Artemis and several early Christian churches. After a lunch break we head into the desert to see remarkable survivals from the Umayyad Caliphs, the first dynasty of Islam – early 8th-century small pleasure palaces and hunting lodges. The fortress-like desert complex of Qasr Kharana; the fort of Azraq, originally Roman, rebuilt in the 13th century and used by T.E. Lawrence as his Head Quarters 1917–18, before continuing to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Qasr Amra, whose unique and exceptionally beautiful wall paintings are currently being restored in a project coordinated by the World Monuments Fund.

Day 4: 16 April 2018, Amman – Madaba – Mount Nebo – Kerak – Petra

After Breakfast, drive along the Biblical Kingsway to visit Madaba, renowned for its 6th-century mosaic map of the Holy Land in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. The Archaeological Park here preserves the mosaic-rich Church of the Virgin Mary and artefacts from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic eras. Northwest, the biblical hill of Mount Nebo overlooks the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. On to the 12th century Crusader castle of Karak, modified by the Mamluks in the 13th century, and encounter an impressive example of mediaeval military architecture.

We arrive in Petra in the late afternoon. British explorer, Rose Macaulay, wrote in 1953: ‘If ever a dead city held romance it is Petra … hewn out of ruddy rock in the midst of a mountain wilderness … this lost caravan city staggers even the most experienced traveller’. After dinner an experience never to be forgotten. A gentle walk through the narrow Siq. The gorge with its Nabataean carvings and hydraulic system would itself merit a trip in itself, but it’s just the prelude to one of the most astonishing archaeological sites in the Middle East, if not in the ancient world. Leaving the Siq you will be awed by thousands of candles lighting the ancient city, and be entertained by Bedouin music and songs.

Al Khazneh, ancient city of Petra at night, Jordan known as The Treasury UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 5: 17 April 2018, Petra

Return to Petra this morning whereupon emerging from the Siq, the visitor is confronted in daylight by the temple-like façade of the ‘Treasury’, vast in scale, both oriental and classical in vocabulary, Hellenistic in inspiration but uniquely Nabataean – supreme among Petra’s wealth of sculptured monuments and those that follow on the ‘Street of Façades’. These are mainly tombs, created in the living rock. There are also impressive remains in the heart of the city, from grand temples, public buildings and churchesto houses. Many of its finest monuments are hewn from the living rock, brilliantly coloured sandstone striated with rose, ochres and blue-greys. After lunch, return to the hotel or climb, via the Soldier Tomb complex, up to the High Place of Sacrifice (around 800 steps) where the cultic installations are still clearly visible. A spectacular view awaits.

Rocks of Petra and the Al Khazneh (The Treasury) at Petra, Jordan. Petra is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. UNESCO World Heritage Site

Day 6: 18 April 2018, Petra – Little Petra – Dead Sea

After Breakfast, drive to Little Petra, a narrow gorge with three natural widenings, is interpreted as a commercial centre with carved façades and chambers and a fragment of naturalistic Nabataean painting. A spectacular descent through rugged and ragged sandstone leads to Wadi Araba, part of the Jordanian section of the Great Rift Valley. Drive through the ‘Lowest Place on Earth’ and Reach the hotel on the Dead Sea shore mid-afternoon to relax and swim.

Camels in the desert

Floating in the water of the Dead Sea

Overnight stay: Dead Sea Spa 5 star

Day 7: 19 April 2018, Allenby - Jericho

Cross the Allenby Bridge and meet with our guide and drive to the occupied Palestinian Territories and arrive in Jericho, the palm-shaded oasis which is the world’s most low-lying town and perhaps its oldest continuously inhabited one; the Tell as-Sultan dating back 10,000 years. Visit Hisham’s Palace and view the Mount of Temptations. Then continue to Qumran, the site of the settlement of the Essenes, a Jewish sect which spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Here is the secret site where the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ were found.

Depending on your arrival time in Bethlehem we visit the 4th/6th-century Church of the Nativity one of the greatest buildings of its era, and probably the oldest church in continuous use for Christian worship. Time permitting we may visit Saint Catherine’s Church and Saint Jerome’s Cave where the bible was translated. Continue to the Milk Grotto and then visit the Shepherd’s Field.

Overnight stay: Manger Square Hotel

Jericho and Qumran caves in Qumran National Park, Israel

Overnight stay at the Kutch Safari Lodge or Kutch Wilderness Camp in air-conditioned cottages

Day 8: 20 April 2018, Caesarea - Akko - Tiberias

After breakfast, we drive beside the Mount Carmel range to Caesarea, founded by Herod the Great and capital of Judaea for over 600 years. Once the largest city of the eastern Mediterranean, remains include the Herodian theatre, Byzantine residential quarters and a Crusader church. Proceed to Akko, (Acre) the principal city of the Crusaders, and wander in awe though the vaulted halls surviving from that period which lie below an enthralling maze of narrow streets, Ottoman khans and modern souqs.

Overnight stay: Ron Beach Hotel 4 star

Ruins of antique Caesarea, Israel

Akko (Acre), Underground Citadel and prison museum, Israel

Day 9: 21 April 2018, Galilee

After breakfast, we ascend the Galilean highlands to the mediaeval synagogues and cobbled streets of the town of Tzefat. On the journey we stop at the archaeological site of Tell Hazor, and then return to explore the remains of the fishing village of Capernaum, Jesus’ most permanent residence and site of a 5th-century synagogue. Back to our hotel for dinner and overnight in Tiberius.

Day 10: 22 April 2018, Jerusalem

This morning we drive to Jerusalem; arguably the most extraordinary city in the world. Within the walls is a vibrant, authentic Middle Eastern city, but one with sharply distinct communities and largely composed of ancient and mediaeval buildings. You will encounter an incomparable mix of ages and cultures from the time of King David to the present day.

Our exploration of this fascinating city begins with a reminder of past events; the Holocaust Museum and the Shrine of the Book. Then we take a walking tour of Jerusalem, entering the Old City through Bab al-Magheri, and visit the Haram ash-sharif, alias, the Temple Mount. Here Herod’s great retaining wall supports a platform upon which stand some of Islam’s finest and earliest buildings - the 7th century Dome of the Rock standing majestically in the vast complex, complete with Umayyad and Mamluk buildings, and the El-Aqsa Mosque, (external view only), all on the site of Solomon’s Temple. Leave through the Suq al Qattanin (Cotton Merchants’ Market) and return to the Jewish Quarter. We have chosen a hotel right inside the walls, (and near the Holy Sepulchre) so you can wander the streets in the evenings or your free time and explore. 5 star location.

Overnight stay: Gloria Hotel 3 1/2 star

Mousque of Al-aqsa (Dome of the Rock), Old Town, Jerusalem, Israel, Praying Jew

Day 11: 23 April 2018, Jerusalem

A full day tour begins with a stunning panoramic view of belfries, domes, minarets, and the old city wall the from the Mount of Olives, then we walk down the ‘Palm Sunday Road’, past the church Dominus Flevit to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of all Nations. From here meet the bus again and drive to the Jaffa Gate and visit the Christian Quarter and take a Rampart Walk, from the Jaffa to the Damascus Gate. After lunch we walk to the Ecce Homo Convent, a portion of the Hadrianic Arch and subterranean structures, then on to the Church of St Anne and the Bethesda Pools. A highlight of a visit to Jerusalem is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The site is identified as both the place of the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth and has long been a major centre of pilgrimage. Golgotha, ‘the place of the skull’ has been identified as an area of stone quarries just outside the city walls of the time. Some 10 years later another wall was built that enclosed the area of execution and burial and this accounts for the location of the Holy Sepulchre inside the walls today. From the Holy Sepulchre you are free to explore the maze of alleyways and shops or return to the hotel.

Church exterior, interior and holy cross, Jaffa, Israel

Day 12: 24 April 2018, Jaffa - Tel Aviv

Visit Old Jaffa, an 8000 year old port city and visit the ancient ruins and walk along the restored artists' quarter. Continue to Tel Aviv to the historic train station complex, where the former Ottoman Station and other buildings have been transformed into shops, restaurants and cafés. From there you will walk through the neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, which was the first area settled by a Jewish community outside Jaffa. From there, time permitting, continue through the Rothschild Boulevard, which is at the heart of Tel Aviv and is known as the 'White City'. The whole area is now a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, to the Hall of Independence where the Israeli Prime Minster Ben Gurion declared the state of Israel. Transfer in the mid-afternoon to the airport for the flight to Cyprus. Transfer to the hotel for dinner and overnight.

Old port town Jaffa and modern skyline of Tel Aviv city, Israel

Overnight stay: Mediterranean Beach Hotel, Limassol 4 1/2 star

Day 13: 25 April 2018

Wake this morning in Cyprus, an island of distinctive aura and charm where the whole spectrum of Christianity’s historical and cultural development can be seen, from its inception to the present day, a place of beauty where according to Greek epics the goddess Aphrodite (Venus) was born from the waves and the first place to receive the message of Christianity.

Nestled in the Troodos Mountains is a real Byzantine treasure trove that reveals the island’s spiritual heritage at the crossroads of the Eastern Mediterranean. Visit the 11th century Monastery of Kykkos: the richest and most lavish of the monasteries of Cyprus. It is situated on a mountain peak, at an altitude of 1318m and possesses one of three icons attributed to Agios Loukas (St Luke) the Evangelist. Then it’s on to St. John Lambadistis Monastery in a central area of the Troodos mountain range. In 1985 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. There is also an outstanding Icon Museum next to the 11th century church. We travel over high pine clad mountain ranges to Omodos Village, one of the most beautiful villages in Cyprus nestled in the southern foothills. Omodos is in the centre of the famous wine making region (we will taste the local wine of course) and is built around the Monastery of the Holy Cross which, according to records, dates back to the arrival of Saint Helena in Cyprus (A.D.337).

11th century Monastery of Kykkos, Cyprus

Day 14: 26 April 2018

Today we explore the glorious rocky coastline and immerse ourselves in the archaeological sites filled with historical intrigue. The whole town of Paphos is an UNESCO World Heritage site and we begin our discovery at the Ancient City of Kourion: one of the most spectacular archaeological sites on the island. Noted particularly for its magnificent Greco - Roman Theatre, Kourion is also proud home to stately villas with exquisite mosaic floors and an early Christian Basilica among other treasures.

With so much magic in the air its little wonder that Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty is famed to have risen from the waters here at Petra Tou Romiou. This interesting geological formation of huge rocks in the azure coastal waters forms one of the most impressive natural sites of Cyprus associated with Aphrodite. According to legend, this strikingly beautiful spot is where Aphrodite rose from the waves and the foaming sea and was then escorted on a shell at the rocks known as the ‘Rock of Aphrodite’ or ‘Petra tou Romiou’ in Greek. On to the Paphos UNESCO World Heritage Site Archaeological Site, Kato Pafos which includes sites and monuments from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages, while most remains date to the Roman period. The marvellous mosaic floors of four Roman villas form the impressive epicentre of the finds.

We stop at the hub of activity of the old port town and mediaeval castle right over the waters where you may choose from amongst dozens of local restaurants for lunch (not included). Return to Limassol where the rest of the day is free for your own relaxation by the sea or exploring the old town.

Kyrenia Castle, Northern Cyprus, Emerald green sea water with rock arch, Cyprus

Day 15: 27 April 2018

A full day touring the island to Lefkara, a picturesque village on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains and famous for its local lace known as a “Lefkaritika” and for its silverware. Take the chance to walk through the cobbled streets of the village, where the architecture is unique. Drive on to The city of Lefkosia (Nicosia) the island’s capital, which combines both old and new in a busy modern commercial and business centre and a centuries-old culture. The centre of the city is its old quarter surrounded by a Venetian sandstone fortress wall with a moat and heart-shaped bastions. Nicosia it’s also the last divided capital in the world, for the Greek side of the island as well as for the Turkish side. Mosques and palm trees give an oriental atmosphere to the old city. Wander round Laiki Geitonia, narrow streets with overhanging balconies and the beautifully restored pedestrian precinct with craft shops, cafes and taverns. A stop will be made for a traditional lunch (included) and at St John’s Cathedral with its marvellous frescoes, as well as the stunning Byzantine Museum. This museum contains the richest and most representative collection of Byzantine art on Cyprus. Over 200 icons dating from the 9th century as well as ecclesiastical vessels, robes and manuscripts can be seen. The6th century mosaics rescued from the church of Panagia Kanakaria in Lythragkomi are the most impressive of all the exhibits.

Journey through the Holy Lands ends with a departure from Larnaca with Emirates Airways at 2005, arriving in Dubai on Saturday 28 April at 0100. Change planes and leave for Adelaide (or your home city) at 0250, arriving on Day 16 at 2005. (Based on the 2017 timetable and subject to change).

Pricing:

Anticipated price per person twin share (Land only): AUD 5100.00 (based on 2017 prices)
Single Supplement: AUD 936.00
Airfares from Australia (February 2017): from AUD 1595.00 (Economy Saver Fare)

Economy Saver seats are quite limited and will sell out quickly. Should you wish to join this tour and take advantage of the lowest airfares, we need to issue tickets as soon as they become available; about 11 months prior to departure. These seats incur a AUD 200.00 cancellation fee, limited ability to choose your own seat and not flexible in dates. If you are considering joining this Journey, please send us and email with your passport scan and Booking Form as per the conditions below so I can be ready on your behalf. Other seat classifications will he higher in price.

Airfare from Tel Aviv to Larnaca:

There are low cost carriers operating this route. In 2016 the cost was USD 60.00 excluding baggage allowance, which cost an additional USD 65.00. By 2018 things may well have changed.

COST INCLUSIONS:

• Transfers from and to international airports (not including Australia)
• Accommodation in double/twin share occupancy with breakfast and dinner
• 2 lunches in traditional Cypriot taverns including 1 soft drink or 1 beer or 1 glass of wine
• Sightseeing in modern air conditioned private vehicles
• English speaking licensed guide
• Entrance fees to places mentioned in the program
• Hotel Portage
• Jordanian Border taxes

COST EXCLUSIONS:

• Air Fares from your capital city
• Tips (approx. USD 130 per person) to be disbursed by the tour leader
• Travel Insurance (compulsory)
• Personal expenditure such as drinks with meals (included with 2 lunches in Cyprus)
• Lunches except where otherwise indicated

Prices may fluctuate due to changes in charges, taxes and currency. Prices and flights are correct at time of preparing this program and are subject to availability at time of booking. Special conditions and seasonal surcharges to airfares and package prices may apply depending on date of travel. Flight times are subject to change by the airline. Please visit http://www.smartraveller.gov.au or ring 1300 139 281 for information on current Government traveladvice.

CANCELLATION POLICY:

On International Flight tickets

• Please refer to the Emirates Fare conditions on the fare class you have purchased

On Land package cost

• Any time prior to departure, loss of deposit
• Any time prior to departure, cancellation fee imposed by your flight ticket terms and conditions
• Between 64-31 Days: 65 % of land cost
• Between 30-16 Days: 75 % of land cost
• Between 15-2 Days: 90 % of land cost
• Within 1 day-No show: 100% of land cost

For further information, don’t hesitate to contact Zen Oriental Journeys by emailing Lee Grafton or ring 0401 123 347

FULLY BOOKED - SOLD OUT

Bookings will be processed in order of receipt. Any bookings after this date will be accepted subject to visa processing, flight availability, land content and room availability. Such booking must be paid in full after confirmation of your acceptance in the tour. Special conditions and additional charges to airfares and package prices may apply depending on date of booking.

Costs associated with the Asia In-Country Study Tours can be tax deductible. Educators may be able to claim their study tour expenses under a number of tax deduction categories which include: self-education expenses; excursions, school trips and camps if these trips have an educational benefit and are related to the curriculum or extra-curriculum activities of the school; acquisition of teaching aids used for curriculum development and teaching programs. Participants must contact their tax advisor or visit the Australian Tax Office website to confirm eligibility.

 
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