Palestine, People to People

Israel & Palestine

Overview

Length: 11 Days
Dates:
Apr 10 – 20, 2016

Level: Moderate
Walking / Light hiking

Price: From $2,495

Day 1– Tel Aviv, Jerusalem
Day 2– Nablus
Day 3– Awarta to Duma
Day 4– Jerico, Dead Sea, Bethlehem
Day 5– Bethlehem
Day 6– Battir & Tent of Nations
Day 7– Walk to Bedouin camp
Day 8– Desert Walk, Hebron
Day 9– Hebron
Day 10– Jerusalem
Day 11– Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport


Summary

People to People Connections in the Holy Land. Meaningful Trips believes in peace and that this region’s issues and complexities must be witnessed to be understood. Tour, with expert local guides, some of the world’s most famous holy sites in Jerusalem. Stand at the co-mingling of three monotheistic faiths. Visit Bethlehem – birthplace of Jesus. Float in the Dead Sea. Walk from village to village and experience simple desert beauty, amazing cuisine and the warmth and hospitality of the Palestinian people. Visit the Tent of Nations – a center for people from different countries to come together and build bridges of trust, understanding and hope. Our fall departure coincides with the exciting olive harvest.

Responsible Travel – Making it Meaningful

Provide opportunities for travelers to interact with local people through people to people connections as well as experiencing cultural events, unique accommodation, amazing cuisine and renowned hospitality. Challenge preconceptions. Get a first-hand experience and a rare opportunity to go beyond the news headlines and stereotypes.

Founders Message

This region is fraught with differing opinions, views and frameworks. Meaningful Trip believes in peace and compassionate listening and that this region must be witnessed to truly be understood. This is what the term ‘bearing witness’ means. Our trip allows us to see first-hand and learn about the complexities of this region. There will be ample individual and group discussion and question-and-answer sessions pre-trip to make sure this trip is a good fit.

Your safety and health is our paramount concern. Local guides take care of you every step of the way. Persons best-suited for this trip have flexibility, patience, open minds, and open hearts.

Despite all of the above, this is one of the most fascinating regions in the world to visit. A concentration of the three largest monotheistic religions… the most famous holy sites in the world… an area of simple desert beauty… of amazing cuisine… people to people connections… and some of the warmest and hospitable people on the planet.

Meaningful Trip absolutely believes that meaningful, socially responsible tourism fosters peace and global understanding. It starts with you… join us.

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Itinerary

Note: Day 1 is the day you arrive and meet the group. This may require departing your hometown a day in advance or on an overnight flight.

Note: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Day 1 – Jerusalem

Arrival into Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport. Meet your transfer guide upon arrival and check into your hotel in Jerusalem. Take a short orientation walk. We will visit Jerusalem more than once during the trip and some major sites we’ll visit include: Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock, Holy Sepulchre Church, the Wailing Wall and Mount of Olives.

Visit Old-city Jerusalem where three of the world’s religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) all converge on one serene spot and visit Dome of the Rock mosque, one of Old-city Jerusalem’s most recognized symbols.

Mount of Olives is filled with churches and pilgrims and is the world’s oldest continuously used cemetery. The Holy Sepulchre church is one of the holiest Christian sites in the world; where, it is said, Jesus was nailed to the cross, died, and rose from the dead.

Our first dinner will be an introduction to the incredible cuisine of this region. We will discuss our trip ahead and exchange views on the many issues facing this region, and its peoples. Throughout the journey, there are numerous opportunities for us to learn about the people and the land through people to people connections, social experiences, cultural events, accommodations, food and the most gracious hospitality on the planet!

Day 2 – Nablus

After breakfast, drive to Nablus – one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back some 9,000 years. Visit a traditional soap factory and a Samaritan community – the smallest ethnic and religious community on earth. Visit Jacob’s Well and Tel Balata – where Abraham first arrived to Canaan.

Conditions permitting, we may visit Balata refugee camp to meet with a representative and learn about refugee issues. At some point today, we’ll try a taste of Nablus’s famous Konafeh. Still feeling a bit jet-lagged… a soak in a traditional Turkish Bath will do just the trick. Overnight in Al-Yasmeen Hotel.

Days 3 – Walking from Awarta to Duma

Drive a short distance to our walk start point. Walk first to Mount Urma to enjoy traditional tea made on the fire and observe an ancient archeological site. Proceed to Aqraba for a long lunch break and time spent with the local women’s committee.

In the afternoon, walk another 3 hours to Duma. Dine with local families, enjoy an outdoor fire and hena for the female guests. (6 hours total walking for the day)

Day 4 – Jericho and Dead Sea, to Bethlehem

Drive to St. George Monastery, and walk to Jericho (1hour). Jericho is the oldest continuously inhabited town on earth, dating back 10,000 years. It enjoys a tropical climate and has rich plantations which grow beautiful tropical fruits and fresh vegetables. Visit the Old City, Shrine of Moses, and Tel Jericho (Jerico’s Tower). Visit Hisham’s Palace – a most exquisite example of the beauty of early Islamic art and architecture.

After lunch, visit the Dead Sea, which, at 1,388 feet below sea level, is the lowest point on earth. The water here is ten times saltier than sea water. Enjoy a float in the warm, mineral-rich waters. Drive to Bethlehem, where we will check into the Shepherds Hotel for the next two nights.

Day 5 – Bethlehem

Visit the Church of the Nativity – birthplace of Jesus, the Milk Grotto and an olive-wood carving workshop. Walk along and learn about the segregation wall and its graffiti murals.

Day 6 – Battir and Tent of Nations

In the morning we will drive to Battir to meet local farmers and help them in olive harvest, after lunch with the farmers in the olive groves we will walk for 2 -3 hours. As we walk, we will see water springs, caves, archaeological sites, and other features, all immersed in a dense texture of terraces cultivated with olives, vines, almonds, fruit trees and vegetables, including the famous Battiri aubergine.

We end at the Tent of Nations – a center for people from different countries to come together and build bridges of trust and hope. It is located on an organic farm and vineyard in the hills south west of Bethlehem. In the evening sit around the campfire and count stars in the clear desert sky. Overnight in the Tent of Nations.

Day 7 – Walk to Bedouin camp

Drive 30-minutes to start our walk. Traverse a deep valley amid stunning rocky terrain. After a few hours, we arrive at our Bedouin tent in the desert, and enjoy a most special evening of dinner, Bedouin music and dancing around the camp-fire, with a star-filled sky above. Overnight in the large, comfortable tent.

Day 8 – Desert Walk. Then, Hebron

Catch the morning sunrise over the Jordanian mountains and watch the procession of camels as they leave to their grazing areas. Walk through the desert in Jerusalem wildness toward an observation point over the Dead Sea. Drive to Hebron, dinner and overnight with local families. (4 hours of walking)

Day 9 – Hebron

Visit the Ibrahimi Mosque, the Tomb of Patriarchs and open-air market (souq). Meet with Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) and learn about their work on the critical issue of settlers encroaching into the heart of the old city. We will also meet the Christian Peace Maker Team (CPT) and learning about their important efforts. Overnight with local families in Hebron.

Day 10 – Jerusalem

Take a more in depth Old City Tour: Visit Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock, Holy Sepulchre Church and Mount of Olives.

Day 11 – Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport

After breakfast, transfer to Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport (we always recommend arriving to airport a minimum or 3-hours prior to your return flights).

Note on Itinerary

Although we do our best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control. This itinerary will have a very flexible schedule throughout and all participants are asked to have patience and tolerance.

Trip Details

Departures:
Apr 10 – 20, 2016

Group Size: 4 – 12 persons
Minimum Age: 16 (see below)
7 – 12 persons: $2,495
4 – 6 persons: $2,595

International Airfare not included
Per Person, Double occupancy
Own Room: $250 (see below)
Only for 5 nights total in: Jerusalem (2), Nablus (1), Bethlehem (2)

What’s Included

  • Airport transfers on first and last day
  • Expert local guides
  • Accommodations, meals, sights, entrance fees as noted in itinerary
  • Ground transportation
  • In-country support team
  • Contribution to one or more global NGO, nonprofit or organization we partner with.
  • Contribution to Global Giving. (Meaningful Trip is proud to partner with nonprofit, Global Giving, specifically to support hunger and poverty needs in the USA.)

What’s Not Included

  • International airfare
  • Any hotel costs while en route prior to Day 1
  • Meals not noted on itinerary
  • Insurance
  • Tip for your guide (optional)
  • Excess baggage charges; airport taxes
  • Cost of medical immunizations
  • Cost of obtaining a passport
  • Cost of tourist visa
  • Items of a personal nature (sodas, alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.)

Visa Information

A free 90-day tourist visa is issued upon arrival for US citizens. You must have a valid passport. Passport must be valid for 6 months from the date you enter Israel (start your trip). We ask that all passengers read and familiarize themselves with traveling to Israel guidelines listed in the US Department of State website:
www.travel.state.gov

Air Travel

International airfare is not included. This trip starts in Bogota and ends in Tel Aviv, Israel. Please always check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to verify your arrival and departure schedule and to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate. Contact your local travel agent, airline, or preferred on-line booking service for airfare needs.

Tier Pricing

Meaningful travel works best with a small group of people and some trips have tier pricing. We initially invoice you at the highest tier level price (the smallest group size we can operate). If the price drops due to an increase in group size, your final invoice will reflect the lower price. Note: trips are priced according to the number of full-price passengers on the trip. (Meaningful Trip staff, travel writers and other discounted travelers are excluded from the count for this purpose.)

Single Travelers

If you specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the full single supplement noted above. If you wish to share accommodations, we will assign you a same-gender roommate if one is available. If a roommate cannot be found, you will be asked to pay a reduced single fee which is half of the full single supplement. There are only a limited number of single rooms available on most departures.

Single supplement is ONLY for hotel nights in Jerusalem, Nablus and Bethlehem (5 nights total). There are no requested single accommodations in the homestays.

Customized Private Groups

Family reunions, corporate groups, wedding parties, student groups, church groups, and any groups interested in a customized departure are welcome to contact us.

Private Group Discounts

For private groups with ten full-paying passengers, each person gets $100 off. (international airfare not included).

Payment & Cancellation Policy

Deposit
$500 due at time of reservation. The final balance is due 90 days prior to trip departure.

Cancellation
If you cancel prior to departure (we need written notice), cancellation fees are:

  • 91 or more days… $0
  • 61 to 90 days… $500
  • 31 to 60 days… 50% of Trip Cost
  • 0 to 30 days… 100% of Trip Cost

Insurance

Meaningful Trip requires purchase of travel insurance. Our preferred travel insurance provider is World Nomads.  Their ‘Standard’ policy starts at $69 and covers Medical, Trip Cancellation, Baggage, and Emergency Evacuation.   Links can be found on our Deposit, Sign-up, and ‘Travel Resources’ pages.

Trip Level and Qualifications

Easy to Moderate
Fit travelers with a sense of adventure are welcome. Travel at a relaxed pace. Activity: easy walking and light hiking from 2 – 5 hours, at low elevation. Travel to Palestine requires a certain flexibility and sense of adventure. Delays can be expected at various checkpoints.

Minimum Age: 16
As most all of our travelers are adults, our minimum age on all trips is 16 years old (unless on a specifically-designated ‘Family Trips’ or ‘Private Trips’). Ages 16 – 20, must be accompanied by an adult.

Weather

The spring and fall are the two best times to visit Palestine, with sunny days, and low to no rainfall. Much of the West Bank sits at 2,500-foot elevation. In the spring (April, May), daytime temperatures are in the 70’s and evenings in the low-50’s. In the fall (September, October), days are typically sunny and clear with daytime temperatures in the high 70’s and nighttime temperature in around 60.

Food in Palestine

Ask anyone that has been to Palestine about the food and watch their eyes glaze over in rapture. The dishes have influences of Arab, Persian, and Turkish cuisine. Typical breakfasts include: eggs, fresh breads, cheeses, yogurt and olive oil. Tasty salads are popular at lunch.

General Information

This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the Meaningful Trips Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully. Additional pre-departure information including a Packing List, Medical Form and Liability Release Form is emailed upon sign-up.

Signing up is Easy!

A no risk $500 deposit reserves your spot and is 100% fully refundable if you change your mind for any reason at all, more than 90-days out! Call or click today. Reserve your spot. Then leave the rest to us.

Your meaningful trip awaits. Space is limited. Reserve today.

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Make it Meaningful in Palestine

What We Believe

At our core, we believe that meaningful and responsible tourism is a conduit for peace and global understanding. Way beyond tourism… we gain insight, discover new perspectives, develop lifelong memories, we become change agents for creating a better world.

Making Your Trip to Palestine Meaningful

Bear witness to the issues and complexities of this region. Go beyond the news headlines and stereotypes. Come to know and understand this region, its cultures, its land and its people through meaningful and enriching people to people connections.

Your trip costs will help support various causes including the Children of Peace Foundation, Global Giving projects, and several NGO’s and refugee efforts that we encounter throughout our journey.

The Children of Peace Foundation

The Children of Peace Foundation is dedicated to supporting Children and families, regardless of race, religion or cultural background, who have been traumatized by war, conflict, or abuse.

We will support one or more Global Giving Projects such as:

Make Palestine Meaningful

1st Birthing Center in the Jordan River Valley
Support helps provide equipment & training to provide 10,000 mothers and children family-centered birthing assistance, and pre and post-natal care.

Help Feed Traumatized Children in Bethlehem
Support children and families who have been traumatized by war or abuse. Children in the area suffer from vitamin and iron deficiencies resulting in vision problems and anemia. Support helps provide hot meals for all the children for one year and nutritional training/support for their families.

Our Pledge

All our tours support environmental, economic and social endeavors in the areas we visit. We hire locally. We choose hotels based on their efforts toward sustainability. We promote women’s employment, education and empowerment with all our partners. We support local livelihoods on every element of our tours.

MeaningfulTrip’s Triple Give

In addition to all of the above, we:

  • Make contributions to selected global projects, NGO’s, or causes in countries we visit.
  • Make a contribution to Global Giving, a non-profit that connects donors with grassroots projects around the world. MeaningfulTrips is proud to partner with Global Giving and we will specifically target projects that support hunger and poverty needs in the USA.
  • Pledge 1% of our end-of-year net profits to a MeaningfulTrip Trust.

Lodging & Amenities

Loding in Palestine

Hotels are selected for their comfort, service and staff friendliness. Rooms will have single or double beds with heat, full toilet bathrooms and other amenities.

Homestays are simple and basic, but you will be well taken care of. It is typical to have 4 persons share each room. Some homestays will have a couple of beds, other homestays will only have sleeping mattress pads to sleep on. All guests are encouraged to bring their own sleeping sheet and a towel.

Food in Palestine

Ask anyone that has been to Palestine about the food and watch their eyes glaze over in rapture. The dishes have influences of Arab, Persian, and Turkish cuisine. Typical breakfasts include: eggs, fresh breads, cheeses, yogurt and olive oil. Tasty salads are popular at lunch.

Some popular dinner dishes:

Taboon bread
A staple of Middle East cuisine, is stuffed with hummus, falafel or meat.

Kafta (kofta)
Grilled minced meat on skewers.

Mansaf (a Bedouin classic)
Lamb platter, cooked with yogurt, rice and nuts.

Musakhan
A common rural-village recipe, chicken baked with onions, sumac, allspice, and saffron.

Kedra
Chicken with parsley, saffron, olive oil, onions and blanched almonds.

Maqloobeh (‘upside down’)
Lamb, fried eggplant, allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, onions and potatoes.

Embassies

US embassies abroad
Foreign embassies located in USA

Passports

US State Department (passports) – Everything you need to know about passports.

Visas Link

US State Department (visas) – Visa and entry & exit requirements

Visa Services

Zierer Visa Services – ZVS has offices in San Francisco, New York, Houston, Miami, Washington DC, and Florida

Destination Information

Geographia – This site contains concise profiles of major countries in Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, and Latin America. Provides information on: geography, climate, culture, people, history.

World Time

TheTimeNow.com – Find out what time it is, anywhere in the world.

Money Matters

Currency Converter

Health Information

Information on vaccines and advice on how to stay healthy while traveling.

Center for Disease Control – Travel health information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Includes reference material and recommendations by geographic region.

High Altitude Issues

ISMM, International Society for Mountain Medicine – Comprehensive information on Acclimatization and Acute Mountain Sickness, including prevention, recognition, and treatment of altitude illness.

Weather

Intellicast Weather Site – This site gives current weather all over the world, as well as historic average temperatures and rainfall, and sunrise/sunset, moonrise/moonset, and the phases of the moon.

Clothing & Gear

Meaningful Trip’s recommended outdoor retailers specializing in adventure and responsible travel.

Altrec – The number one source for all your favorite outdoor adventure brands including Mountain Hardwear, Arc’Teryx, Mountainsmith, Oakley, Marmot and many more! A true leader in online shopping.

Columbia Sportswear – “Trying stuff takes us to places we never imagined”

Dana Design – At Dana Design, we seek comfort for those who travel far. It’s why serious trekkers aren’t just partial to Dana Design. They’re devoted.

EagleCreek – Eagle Creek offers the most comprehensive selection of packs, wheeled luggage, duffels, packing, and travel accessories.

ExOfficio – Ex Officio’s adventure travel and urban travel clothing collections are designed to play an active role in your comfort when traveling. The perfect blend of function, low maintenance and multi-climate comfort for everything from hiking, rafting, safaris and cultural tours.

Kelty – Manufacturer of quality outdoor apparel, backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, travel gear and child carriers.

The NorthFace – The North Face provides an extensive line of performance clothing, equipment and footwear.

Patagonia – Patagonia is world famous for its quality clothing and gear. MeaningfulTrip loves Patagonia for their environmentalism and their 1% for the planet program.

Salomon – Find out why their boots are the best in the business.

Teva Footwear – Teva Footwear. Buy your Tevas direct from Teva.com. Select from over 100 models.

Books & Maps

Lonely Planet – With content sections labeled The Thorn Tree, World Guide, On the Road, and The Scoop, you know Lonely Planet’s site is much more than just their terrific guidebooks.

Maps – An online World Atlas which covers 7 continents, 12 regions, 190 countries, and 50 US States.
Activity Levels and Qualifications

Activity Levels

Easy
All welcome. Travel at a relaxed pace. May include driving of 3 – 4 hours on some days. Activity: easy walking and light hiking, 1 – 3 hours, at low elevation. May include less demanding, half-day trips that may include: bicycling, sea kayaking, or rafting (Class I-II rapids), and these activities are optional. Minimum Age: 16* (see note below).

Moderate
Recommended for fit travelers with a spirit of adventure. Travel at a moderate pace. Activity: moderate walking and hiking, 3 – 4 hours daily, at elevations which may range from 5,000 – 10,000 feet. May include less demanding half-day or day-trips that may include: bicycling, sea kayaking, or rafting (Class I-II rapids), and these activities are optional. May include driving of 3 – 4 hours on some days.

Minimum Age: 16* (see below).

Vigorous
Recommended for fit travelers. Moderate hiking experience and conditioning are required. Activity: 5 – 8 hours trekking daily at high elevation, while carrying your own small daypack (water, essentials and warm layers). Surfaces: mountainous, exposed terrain with steep ascents/descents and uneven trails. Elevations: will range from 6,000 – 14,000 feet. It is important that you read our information about Altitude Mountain Sickness. A doctor’s release is required for persons age 60 or older. Minimum Age: 16 (see below).

Strenuous
Designed for very fit travelers. Typically, for extended high-altitude trekking or mountaineering. Activity: 8+ hours/day. Distances: Trek 10 – 12 miles most days. Elevation change: up to 4,000 ft/day. Altitude: may exceed 15,000 ft. Surfaces: remote, mountainous, exposed terrain with steep ascents/descents, uneven trails with loose features. Experience and conditioning required. A doctor’s release is required for all participants. Minimum age: 18.

Minimum Age

As most of our travelers are adults, our minimum age on all trips is 16 years old (unless on a specifically-designated ‘Private Group Departure’ or ‘Family Departure’). Ages 16 – 20, must be accompanied by an adult.

Map of Palestine