Israel and Jordan May 5, 2022 Trip Report

We returned from this fabulous tour May 18. The trip was comprehensive and fascinating. Our outstanding Tauck TD was very experienced and knew a lot about both Israel and Jordan. The local guides were also excellent. As past travelers have stated, there is a lot of walking on this tour, so good walking shoes are essential. I chose this date because Ramadan, Passover and Easter week had concluded, hoping to reduce the likelihood of incidents in the Old City of Jerusalem which would disrupt sightseeing. The timing worked out well. We were able to see everything (partly timing, and partly luck). Also, the weather was very good, with the exception of one very hot day in Jordan.

Arrival day: We arrived one day early. We were required to test for COVID before departing and upon landing in Tel Aviv. The latter requirement has since been abolished. We were greeted at the jetway by an expediter, who quickly guided us through the kiosk where you obtain your visa card, passport control and the COVID testing. We arrived at the hotel at around 7:00 p.m. and were required to stay in the room until we received the test results. No problem - we enjoyed the fruit, nuts and chocolates that were in the room, and retired early. (Our test results arrived by email at 9:00 and 10:00 p.m.).

Day 1 Tel Aviv: This day was Independence Day in Israel. We walked South along the water, observing the locals jockeying for good spots to settle in for the air show which was to commence late morning. We walked to the port area of Jaffa and then up through that area. We then bought chicken shawarma sandwiches to go, and enjoyed them while watching the air show. Later, we walked through Carmel Market and then North along the beachfront promenade. That evening, we met our fellow travelers at the cocktail party and dinner. There were 13 in our group.

Day 2 Tel Aviv: After a morning briefing and Hebrew lesson, we left by bus for Old Jaffa, and toured the area, including a visit to St. Peter's Monastery and walking through the flea market. After lunch at Dallal restaurant, we visited Rothschild Boulevard and then the Itzhak Rabin Memorial. That night, dinner was on our own. We walked down to the old train station area, fairly close to the hotel, and went to an outside wine bar restaurant called Vicky Christina, where we enjoyed small plates (we split a salad and an order of fish tacos). I thought the Israeli wines were excellent.

Day 3: In the morning, we left Tel Aviv and headed for Caesarea, which consists of Roman, Byzantine and Crusader ruins. Fascinating. We had lunch at Helena restaurant and then headed to Haifa. In Haifa, we toured the Baha'i gardens by walking down many steps. They are beautiful. We then visited the Stella Maris Church.

Day 4 Haifa: In the morning, we headed for Nazareth, where we visited the Church of the Annunciation. Then, we went to a Kibbutz near the town of Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee, where we were shown around by one of the residents. Very interesting. After lunch at the Scots Hotel in Tiberias, we visited a museum which houses a wooden fishing boat from the 1st century AD. Then, we had a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, which was a lot of fun. Dinner was on our own that night. We walked to an Asian restaurant, Giraffe, where we enjoyed an excellent meal and some wine.

Day 5: In the morning, we headed for the Old City of Akko, which has, among other things, Crusader ruins. We toured the Knights' Hall and the Al-Jazzar Mosque. We had lunch at Uri Buri - excellent. Then we drove to Jerusalem. The Waldorf Astoria Hotel is located just outside the Old City, not far from the Jaffa Gate. That evening we walked into the Old City and had a falafel sandwich for dinner. (We were given the choice of dinner at the hotel one of three nights. We did not choose this night, as we had a very satisfying lunch).

Day 6 Jerusalem: A great day of touring. We visited the Tower of David - lovely views of the Old City - and then had a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter, including a visit to a synagogue. Then, lunch at the Quarter Cafe. After lunch, we walked to and visited the Western Wall (not crowded). We then drove to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum, for a very essential and somber visit. There is a small Children's Memorial outside the main building, which should not be missed. That night, we had the included dinner at the hotel.

To be continued in a separate post.



  • Lotusgirl,

    What an excellent and well written commentary of your experiences! I look forward to the next segment.

  • Lotusgirl, Very thorough trip report. I was on the April 28-May 11 tour, and it was nearly identical to what you described. However, because it was the end of Ramadan, we were unable to go to the Temple Mount. Being in Israel for 3 of its major holidays (Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel’s Memorial Day, and Israel’s Independence Day) was a unique experience. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, we were in Tel Aviv. At 11:00am, a siren sounds, and everything comes to a standstill; all over the country, people stop whatever they are doing and stand at attention for 2 minutes. On the highway, cars stop and people get out of their cars. The same thing occurs on Israel’s Memorial Day. It is quite impressive. We also had outstanding weather and fantastic guides and TD. Your group was not much bigger than ours—we had 10, although 2 succumbed to Covid on days 4 and 5, had to quarantine and leave the tour. It put a bit of additional stress on the other 8 of us as we had to test every day with uncertainty if we were going to lose any other members of our group. Fortunately the 8 of us were able to complete the tour.

  • Lotusgirl,

    Reading about your experiences makes me want to return to Israel. I was last there as a young woman as part of an interfaith trek (for lack of a better word) that was in no way structured as your tour. Although I am no longer a young woman, at 78 I am in excellent health and fit.

    Can you tell me what the average temperatures were? You mentioned one hot day. How hot?

    This does seem to be an extremely active tour. Early starts are no problem but long, arduous walking days might be, especially in hot weather. How strenuous was each day?

    The sites, hotels and food seem so glorious. Thank you so much for such an insightful and authentic review.

  • Nice review and beautifully formatted ;) !

  • Jan - fortunately, we did not have COVID issues. I think it helped that a lot of activities and some meals were outside. In addition, my husband and I were very diligent about masking on planes, buses and indoors.

  • Lotusgirl, the same for us. Not sure how or where the 2 were exposed as all of us tested negative upon arrival. Just one of those things. We were very grateful that we were able to complete this exceptional tour and go home as scheduled.

  • kfnknfzk - the weather on the coast was upper 70s, Jerusalem slightly warmer (80ish), lower 80s upon arrival at the Dead Sea, over 100 the full day there, back to 80ish at Petra. These are daytime temps. Cooler at night.
    I did not find the days too arduous, except for the hot day. And there was always some time to relax before dinner. We did have one gentleman on the tour who had serious mobility problems. It was tough for him, and he was not able to handle all of the walking.

  • Kfnkntzk, I did this tour in mid October of 2018 and the weather is cooler- mostly low 70’s and started many mornings with a sweater. It’s a beautiful tour. I hope you go.
    Thanks Lotus girl for your review, brings back great memories.

  • We did this tour the first year it was offered. Fabulous trip! My sister has lived in Jerusalem since 1976 so I asked for input about the time of year to go. (I had been all around Israel numerous times but my husband had not so this was a good way for him to see the country.) She suggested the tour that began on May 6. The weather "should have" been perfect but as it turned out there was a heat wave and it was hot. And I mean HOT! All you can do is try your best to choose the right time. Sometimes it works out -- sometimes not so much! Lotusgirl -- was Mark your tour director?

  • edited May 2022

    We had Mark for our Warsaw. Prague. Vienna, Budapest tour and it was his enthusiasm about the Israel tour and the fact that he conducted the tours made us book it. We booked it for 2020. Now going next April

  • edited October 2022

    Our TD, who was excellent, was Stephen. Very knowledgeable, personable and interesting. Among other tours, he also leads tours of Germany. A lot of expertise on that country too.

  • edited May 2022

    Funny -- we had Mark for Israel and Jordan and his enthusiasm about Essence of South America led 5 of us to taking that tour with him. Fabulous. I know Stephen too. A friend is actually on the Germany tour with him right now. She had taken the Warsaw to Prague with him in 2008. Total coincidence that he is her tour director again.

  • Thank you so much for your responses, Lotusgirl and franlovestravel.

  • Stephen is one of the best tour guides we've experienced, and we've been with many. His knowledge is encyclopedic. This is one of our favorite tours, too. aren't we lucky people to see the world?

  • ^^^ I agree. I had Mark on the I/J tour and Stephen on the Central Europe tour. The TD I recently had for my Hawaii, Peter, was the same caliber of excellence as these two guys (and has been with Tauck since 1989!) He's currently training in Israel and Jordan for tours there.

  • We had Jaime as our TD for I/J and she was terrific. Very knowledgeable, and very compassionate especially with our two guests who came down with Covid. She also does Yellowstone, and I believe she will be doing some Bridges tours this summer.

  • edited May 2022

    Stephen turned some people off, but I found him to be incredibly knowledgeable and extremely passionate about his topics. We had him in 2017 on Romantic Germany and ran into him at the J&E hotel in Petra where I believe he was just finishing I&J. He was talking with our TD at breakfast and I believe sporting a beard.

  • Lotusgirl, thank you so much for the detailed and informative report. I am scheduled for this tour September 4-17. Relative to security, did you feel safe on your tour? Would you say this trip was more physically challenging than other Tauck trips? Sounds like the tour guides are excellent.

  • People have commented in the past that this is one of the most vigorous tours that Tauck does, you walk miles.

  • Chitraveler - yes, there was more walking on this tour than others we have taken. And it was made more challenging because of hills, steps, sand, uneven stones. Fortunately, I do not have knee problems, but did remind myself to keep picking up my feet.
    Yes - local guides and our tour director were excellent. As I think about the trip, I am reminded of our TD talking about the life of Lawrence of Arabia as we were driving to Petra, and through an area in which he had been active. We were even driving through a sand storm - I really visualized the movie!
    I never felt insecure. There is a very strong police presence in Old Jerusalem. In addition, we had an armed security guard on the bus for the drive from the Dead Sea to Petra and from Petra to Amman.

  • Lotusgirl: First I would like to thank you for your wonderful review. It is truly amazing the attention to detail and my husband and I greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness. We are 82 and 83 and we have a concern about the walking, most especially the hills and steps. Could you please elaborate on these two items. Are there many hills and are they steep? Are there lots of steps up and down or just up OR down. Is it necessary to climb the steps to get to a destination. We booked this trip in 2019 and with the onset of COVID and the restrictions we are deconditioned.

  • Most reports from this tour emphasize there is a great deal of walking. You might want to start or ramp up your walking until you go. I’m assuming you are talking about an early spring trip next year. Because right now it’s going to be very hot. Our original tour was supposed tp be 2020 but we are now booked for March 2023.
    We walk almost every day four miles or so to keep in shape and swim every day from late Spring to fall, even so, I’m not too good in the heat, so going at a cooler time of year was essentially for us.

  • edited June 2022

    There are a lot of steps, both up and down. I'm not sure why this tour isn't rated a four because we walked 3-5 miles a day on rough terrain as Lotusgirl described. You can skip some parts of it with a lot of steps like climbing the Tower of David, although you will miss the view and going down the 600 steps at the Baha'i Garden.

  • We are scheduled to go in the fall of this year when the weather is cooler. I guess we will just have to keep walking and see if indeed we can improve the deconditioning. My main concern was the hills and steps as I also suffer from COPD. I might just have to cancel this trip and see if there might be another option. Thanks to everyone for their comments, we sincerely appreciate the input.

  • Gerald, before you cancel see if you can go to a mall and walk up and down stairs. There are a lot of hills everywhere and the stairs at the Baha’i Gardens are one way, down. The bus meets you at the bottom should you decide not to walk them. The gardens are so beautiful, would be sad to miss.
    Classic Italy is more rigorous than Israel. And it’s rated a 3 also.

  • franlovestravel: Thank you we will do as you suggested. Thank you so very much for commenting is so appreciated. Going down steps might not be too difficult, but it is the up that really concerns me. We appreciate about the steps going down to the Baha'i gardens, that might be do able if we get conditioned. We love gardens and would not want to miss this. Knowledge is powerful and definitely a motivator.

  • GeraldC - Hope you can do it. here's a pic of the garden from the top. Steps start beyond the gate:

  • Gerald, I would also speak to your doctor for some honest advice from them.
    If you do make the tour, please report back for others

  • It looks like there are multiple tiers of steps with handrails. Is that correct, BKMD? Beautiful gardens!

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