Cosmos

Tour: 5325 - 2013 (5325) - 2013 / 2014


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Itinerary

Day 1Arrive in Tel Aviv, Israel

Welcome to Israel! Check into your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. This evening, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers.

Day 2Tel Aviv–Jaffa–Caesarea–Megiddo–Muhraqa–Haifa

Enjoy a full day exploring some of the ancient biblical and modern sights of this fascinating land. Leave Tel Aviv and drive to the old port of Jaffa, believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Set around a picturesque natural harbor, this atmospheric town is mentioned in the Bible as the place from which Jonah set sail before he was swallowed by a whale. Sightseeing continues at Caesarea, an ancient port turned stunning archaeological zone. Built by Herod the Great in the 1st century BC, the city was one of the most splendid in ancient Palestine and its capital for over 600 years. Admire what remains of Herod’s grandiose building works, including the restored 3,500-seat Roman theater, the aqueduct, harbor, and the crumbled moat and towers from the 12th-century Crusader fortress. From here, travel to the archaeological site of Megiddo—an age-old fortified town—and admire the ruins. Next, visit Muhraqa on Mount Carmel. Here, a 17th-century monastery marks where, according to the Bible, the prophet Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal. Overnight in Haifa, a city with a long history that dates back to biblical times. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 3Haifa–Mount of Beatitudes–Capernaum–Sea of Galilee–Tabgha–Nazareth

Today, travel to the Sea of Galilee, stopping en route to visit the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered his sermon on the mount. Next, Capernaum, home to the apostles Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew. While here, see its ancient synagogue and the House of St. Peter, then head for Tabgha, where Jesus is said to have fed the 5,000 with two fish and five loaves. View the church commemorating the miracle and stop at the baptismal site on the Jordan River. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 4Nazareth. Excursion to Cana of Galilee and Bet She'an

This morning, visit the Church of the Annunciation, where the Angel Gabriel told Mary she would conceive and give birth to Jesus, the Son of God, and also see St. Joseph's Church. Then, head for Cana of Galilee, the reputed site of Jesus’ first miracle, where he turned water into wine at a wedding feast. In the afternoon, stop at Gideon’s Spring, where Gideon tested his army so he could decide who would join him in battle against the Midianites. Then, visit Bet She’an, one of the world’s best-preserved Roman cities. Ongoing excavations at this UNESCO World Heritage Site have revealed time-worn colonnaded streets, bathhouses, and theaters. (Breakfast)

Day 5Nazareth–Bethlehem–Jerusalem

Drive through the Jordan Valley to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus and King David. Visit one of Christianity’s holiest places, the Church of the Nativity, built over the cave traditionally regarded as the spot where Jesus was born. Reach Jerusalem in the late afternoon. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 6Jerusalem

A fascinating day awaits as you set off on a walking tour of Jerusalem’s Old Town. From the Mount of Olives, take in memorable views over the city’s domes, walls, and rooftops before strolling in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed on the night before his arrest. Your guide will then lead you into the Jewish quarter, pointing out the Wailing Wall with its prayer notes tucked between the stones, and the Dome of the Rock, the gold-topped mosque on Temple Mount. Next, walk the famous Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross), following in Jesus’ footsteps as he bore the cross to Calvary for his crucifixion, where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre now stands. (Breakfast)

Day 7Jerusalem. Optional Excursion to Masada & The Dead Sea

Today is free to relax, explore Jerusalem at leisure, or join an exciting optional excursion to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth. Travel through the mountainous Judean Desert; pass the Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered; and then ride the cable car up to the magnificent Masada rock fortress. The fortification, perched high on a cliff-top plateau above the Dead Sea, was built by Herod the Great and was the site where 960 Jewish zealots committed mass suicide to evade capture by the Romans in 73 AD. Later, head for the shores of the Dead Sea, where you’ll have plenty of time to float in the famously buoyant waters that are almost nine times saltier than the ocean—an unforgettable experience. Toward the end of the afternoon, return to Jerusalem. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 8Jerusalem–Tel Aviv

This morning, enjoy more free time to take in everything that makes Jerusalem such a captivating place. Late this afternoon, head back to Tel Aviv for a final overnight. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 9Tel Aviv-Amman

Transfer to Amman. (Dinner)

Day 10Amman. Excursion to Jerash, Ajloun & Um Qais

With its sun-baked hilltop temples, Greco-Roman theater, and colonnade-lined streets, Jerash is a well-preserved Roman city, buried for centuries under the timeless desert sands. Savor the beauty of this “Pompeii of the Middle East” before journeying among lush pine forests and olive groves to the medieval hilltop fortress of Ajloun, a rich blend of Arabic and Islamic architecture. Later, travel to the charming cultural center of Um Qais, overlooking the Golan Heights and the tranquil Sea of Galilee. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 11Amman

Set in a gloriously verdant valley on the ancient site of Roman Philadelphia, Amman is Jordan’s bustling capital and a vibrant mix of ancient treasures and modern marvels. Included city sightseeing takes in the magnificent Roman Citadel, Amphitheater, and the atmospheric souks before heading out to the splendid “Desert Castles” for fascinating examples of early Islamic art and architecture. Also visit Qasr Kharaneh, which predates the 8th century and is one of the best preserved Umayyad castles; the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Qasr Amra, renowned for its 8th-century wall frescoes and floor mosaics; and Qasr Azraq a black basalt castle used by Lawrence of Arabia as his headquarters during the Arab revolt. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 12Amman. Excursion to Madaba

Follow the ancient route of the King’s Highway to Madaba, the fascinating “City of Mosaics” and home to the incredible Madaba Map. Admire the beautiful, tiled mosaic of the Holy Land, dating back to the 6th century. Next, visit Mount Nebo, the revered holy site from where Moses first viewed the Holy Land and which is believed to be his burial place. Continue through the stunning landscapes of the Jordan Rift Valley to the remarkable Dead Sea, where you’ll have a chance to “float” on the world-famous waters, abundantly rich in natural salts and minerals. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 13Amman–Kerak–Petra

Back on the King’s Highway, venture to Kerak and its magnificent Crusader citadel and fortress, perched on a hilltop overlooking the surrounding valley and hills. Built in 1142, this imposing castle is a fascinating example of Crusader military architecture, constructed on the site of previous Iron Age and Byzantine citadels. Time to explore the labyrinthine stone walkways, vaulted corridors, and sandstone courtyards. Later, travel to Petra for an overnight. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 14Petra

One of the marvels of the ancient world, spectacular “Rose Red” Petra, is an incredible 2,000-year-old Nabatean city carved into the rugged Sharah Mountains, now recognized as both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Experience the majesty of Petra as you enter via the narrow Siq, a winding and imposing chasm sliced between the surround cliffs, which opens to reveal Petra’s breathtaking dusky pink Treasury, Monastery, and Roman-style theater, each cut directly into the sandstone rock. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 15Petra–Wadi Rum–Amman

Travel to the spectacular, lunar-style Wadi Rum, a vast and timeless swathe of rocky desert and monolithic stone pillars sculpted over centuries by the desert winds. Experience an exhilarating Bedouin jeep ride across its rocky landscape, marvel at the outstanding desertscape of mountains and dunes, and admire the centuries-old paintings on the rocky outcrops before returning to Amman for an overnight. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 16Amman

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)

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As recommended by Budget Travel