Just returned from Oct 3 to Israel/Jordan

I am putting this in the Forum section, as I can't figure how to get into the reviews section. You might make the review section a bit more transparent.

The middle east is TOTALLY religion and history. (About 2/3rds were Jewish and the rest of us were a mix of everything.) Don't go unless history and religion are what you want. Mark G., tour director., was fantastic, and is a walking encyclopedia. Always choose tour company that uses local guides, especially if ones chosen by Tauck, rather than traveling only, say, with a religion professor from US institution. The guides were fantastic, VERY informed, and pretty balanced on their political views, both Israeli and Arab. Much appreciated. There was political unrest at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, and itinerary was changed on that day, and we did not go there. NO other itinerary changes during entire trip. And, every inch of old Jerusalem is never to be forgotten. We both want to return.

This is an active tour. Lots of walking, plus the regular tour buses that are like sitting in United economy but that's what it is. Fortunately, there are few days when the ride is too long. 3 hours hours each way to Jerash (Jordan) but it's worth it. Hotels are Tauck superb. Dead Sea was oppressively hot, at least for me. Ron went into the water, but I passed it.

Petra is extraordinary but certainly would NOT want to be there when when a 3,000 passenger ship was ferrying passengers from Aquaba. I would imagine that summer would be WAY too crowded and way too hot. On our Petra day, the weather cooperated and I walked the whole way ( 2- to 2.5 miles) to the surprisingly modern Crown Plaza restaurant which is to heck and gone into Petra proper. The Road of the Facades was fantastic. We rode camels back, one very bouncy mile to the Treasury, where we either continued by walking back to Movenpick Hotel (fantastic hotel) or continued on one of those little horse carts. Remember to insist on a donkey from restaurant to Treasury if you do NOT want the camel. It is an option, but you may have to push for it. Two of our group, older guests, did, although they said that the driver really pushed them for a tip at the end. All camel tips were prepaid (double, said Tauck) - the usual Tauck way. Oh, the bedouin dinner in the bedouin tent on the last night was fantastic. Mark was there in his sheikh splendor!!

Top memories - Jerusalem, Masada, Jerash, Petra, Bethlehem, Nazareth. And, I loved the barren landscapes and rugged mountains of rural Jordan. Just imagine what it must have been like for the historic tribes.  

We are both 76 and could keep up daily, especially my gym-fit husband.

Comments

  • Thank you so much for taking the time to do this detailed report! I am taking this tour, leaving in a few days, and this information from someone who's been "on the ground" there is INVALUABLE.

    I have been concerned about the ongoing tensions. Not so much from a security standpoint....as I know Tauck would be extra-cautious about where they take people and when (and their day-to-day intelligence is excellent). But more from the perspective of not wanting to be restricted in terms of where we go. i.e. I don't want to miss the western wall when I'm spending a substantial amount of money on what could very likely be a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

    Did you feel deprived/upset/disappointed about not going to the Dome of the Rock? Any chance you could have gone another day?

  • Thank you to Wise Woman!

    Thank you so much for your post/review of the Israel/Jordan trip. I did read it while I was on the trip that left on October 27 and it helped me in knowing what was to come. It was definitely more strenuous than I anticipated - not so much with the walking but with all the steps especially in Jerusalem.

    Even though there is tension in the region, my husband and I felt quite safe throughout the tour and it was definitely a very memorable experience!
  • we are going on this trip this August. My wife is concerned about dress customs. Any tips? Excellent review; appreciate the input and look forward to your response.
    wise woman wrote:
    I am putting this in the Forum section, as I can't figure how to get into the reviews section. You might make the review section a bit more transparent.

    The middle east is TOTALLY religion and history. (About 2/3rds were Jewish and the rest of us were a mix of everything.) Don't go unless history and religion are what you want. Mark G., tour director., was fantastic, and is a walking encyclopedia. Always choose tour company that uses local guides, especially if ones chosen by Tauck, rather than traveling only, say, with a religion professor from US institution. The guides were fantastic, VERY informed, and pretty balanced on their political views, both Israeli and Arab. Much appreciated. There was political unrest at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, and itinerary was changed on that day, and we did not go there. NO other itinerary changes during entire trip. And, every inch of old Jerusalem is never to be forgotten. We both want to return.

    This is an active tour. Lots of walking, plus the regular tour buses that are like sitting in United economy but that's what it is. Fortunately, there are few days when the ride is too long. 3 hours hours each way to Jerash (Jordan) but it's worth it. Hotels are Tauck superb. Dead Sea was oppressively hot, at least for me. Ron went into the water, but I passed it.

    Petra is extraordinary but certainly would NOT want to be there when when a 3,000 passenger ship was ferrying passengers from Aquaba. I would imagine that summer would be WAY too crowded and way too hot. On our Petra day, the weather cooperated and I walked the whole way ( 2- to 2.5 miles) to the surprisingly modern Crown Plaza restaurant which is to heck and gone into Petra proper. The Road of the Facades was fantastic. We rode camels back, one very bouncy mile to the Treasury, where we either continued by walking back to Movenpick Hotel (fantastic hotel) or continued on one of those little horse carts. Remember to insist on a donkey from restaurant to Treasury if you do NOT want the camel. It is an option, but you may have to push for it. Two of our group, older guests, did, although they said that the driver really pushed them for a tip at the end. All camel tips were prepaid (double, said Tauck) - the usual Tauck way. Oh, the bedouin dinner in the bedouin tent on the last night was fantastic. Mark was there in his sheikh splendor!!

    Top memories - Jerusalem, Masada, Jerash, Petra, Bethlehem, Nazareth. And, I loved the barren landscapes and rugged mountains of rural Jordan. Just imagine what it must have been like for the historic tribes.  

    We are both 76 and could keep up daily, especially my gym-fit husband.
  • We are taking this trip in August and would appreciate any tips/advice on dress requirements, particularly for the ladies. We know from past travel that certain clothing must be worn in certain places and am sure there are similar customs in the Middle East. Can you shed some light on this subject?

    Finally, for men, are shorts appropriate attire?

    Many thanks.
  • My husband and I did this trip in April 2017. FANTASTIC! Highly recommend. We learned so much historically, culturally and religiously. We felt very safe and did everything on the Tauck itinerary. I would go back to Jerusalem tomorrow. This trip is a must do. Just remember - if there is something you really want to do that would make it extra special for you, ask your tour director. In my experience the tour director will go all out to make it happen if at all possible.

    Regarding dress - this is VERY important to get right. We followed the Tauck guidelines that came in the pre-trip booklet you get a month or so in advance. For many religious places you need to cover your knees (that means pants for men!) and women need shoulders covered. Sometimes women also need a scarf to cover their head. They will "lend" you one at some places, but you are much better off wearing your own, so tuck one in your purse. For Dome of the Rock the rules seemed to really tighten up. For women - no ankles showing (no capris or ankle pants), no clavicle showing, no religious jewelry of any kind, no WHITE tops or pants. I was scraping my suitcase to come up with something to wear. Oh, and men and women CANNOT touch at the Dome of the Rock. No holding hands or putting your arms around each other for pictures. They will yell at you if you forget. Jordan actually had much less restrictive clothing requirements than Israel. There are some places where men can wear shorts - Tel Aviv is one, plus Caesarea in Israel plus all places in Jordan. Your guide will do a great job of reviewing the next day's dress requirements at the end of each day, so don't stress this.
  • Noelledc wrote:
    Thank you so much for taking the time to do this detailed report! I am taking this tour, leaving in a few days, and this information from someone who's been "on the ground" there is INVALUABLE.

    I have been concerned about the ongoing tensions. Not so much from a security standpoint....as I know Tauck would be extra-cautious about where they take people and when (and their day-to-day intelligence is excellent). But more from the perspective of not wanting to be restricted in terms of where we go. i.e. I don't want to miss the western wall when I'm spending a substantial amount of money on what could very likely be a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

    Did you feel deprived/upset/disappointed about not going to the Dome of the Rock? Any chance you could have gone another day?
    My husband and I are booked on this tour in April, 2018. Would love to get some feedback from recent travellers to the area if there is any concern from security standpoint. Some friends of ours traveled recently to the area with a cruise line and they said their tour bus was just plain white and the driver put a Canadian flag in front. Did you get to go to the Dome of the Rock? Thank you in advance for any reply or feedback,
  • When we went in April 2017, we did go up on the Temple Mount where the Dome of the Rock is located. Of course, you are not allowed in the Dome of the Rock, nor can you go into the Al Aksa mosque which is also on the Temple Mount. Only muslims may enter the Dome of the Rock. On the Temple Mount you may take pictures and the guides will share good information. You are maybe there for an hour or so. The Temple Mount is open for limited hours (maybe 4 hours/day) Monday-Thursday to tours. Tauck will take you early to make sure you get in as lines can get long. Israel controls security for the site and you pass through Israeli security before entering the Temple Mount. Once on the Temple Mount, the Jordanian Waqf controls everything (entry/access/etc). Trust Tauck. At no time on our tour did I ever feel unsafe.
  • I was on this tour last March. When we were in Jerusalem, during our free time, I took the Western Wall tunnel tour. It was absolutely fascinating. The guided tour runs about and hour for a charge, which is about $10. You need to book in advance which the concierge at the hotel can handle.
  • Thank you Catlover8 and Golly Gee. We got concern about the security only after the announcement regarding moving of US embassy to Jerusalem. Wonder if there are recent travellers to the region that can give us an idea of what security measures are added. Appreciate any in put.
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