Gay Group Travel: 11 Days in Israel & Jordan
Cosmopolitan cafes lining beautiful white sand beaches, the giant golden dome of a local shrine rising over homes clad in Jerusalem stone, a 5th century masterpiece rising out of the Jordanian desert... these 11 days in Israel & Jordan bring us into the middle of a region of fascinating contradictions. At any given time you may find yourself on camelback riding through the desert, reading a newspaper while you float weightlessly in the Dead Sea, sprawled out under the sun at the gay beach full of locals, exploring one of countless world-class museums, or taking in the unique culture and traditions on display through the streets of this Middle Eastern region. As gay travelers, this trip gives us the ability to take in the Middle East while enjoying the comfort of a relatively gay welcoming community. We'll immerse ourselves into the thriving LGBT scene, sleep under the stars in a remote desert camp (don't worry, you'll have private en-suite bathrooms and all amenities too!), hike around the clifftop fortress of Masada among many more unforgettable experiences.
The relatively small size of the countries means travel distances are mostly very short, allowing us to maximize our time spent exploring, adventuring, and experiencing this complex and unique part of the world! From the lowest point on Earth at the Dead Sea to the vast deserts of Jordan, and the streets of Jerusalem overflowing with history your days here are sure to be unforgettable.
NOTE: The peak days of Tel Aviv Pride 2020 are June 11, 12 and 13. Our first June group will be in Tel Aviv for all of these days to be a part of it. Our second June group travelers can choose to arrive early if they would like to experience TLV Pride!
The largest city, capital city, and central hub of culture and history in Israel, and one of the world's oldest and holiest cities. We'll have a fantastic local guide join us through the city to ensure we really make the most of our time at its historically significant sites and learn about its tumultuous history. Our group hotel in Jerusalem is where we all come together to start our adventure at 4:00pm on day 1! If you're flying into Israel on this day just try to arrive in time to get to our group hotel... or if you'd prefer to arrive a day (or more!) early and you'd like some assistance with setting up any extra nights in our group hotel just let us know, we'd be happy to help. Keep in mind that Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are only 45 minutes apart by road so if you'd like to spend extra nights in Tel Aviv before meeting the group in Jerusalem on day 1 we can assist with that too!
On day 4 we'll head down to the lowest point on Earth, the famous Dead Sea, known for its unbelievably buoyant waters, the healing effects of its minerals, and the beauty of the surrounding landscape. On the way there we'll stop to explore the clifftop fortress of Masada high atop a plateau overlooking the Dead Sea where the ruins on King Herod's Palace (built around 30 B.C.) are found. Our time in this area is all about exploring then relaxing, hiking then soaking, getting active then reaping the rewards. Travel time on the road is less than 2 hours, but the variety of landscape is pretty incredible!
Less than 2 hours on the road yet it seems a world away as we arrive to the cosmopolitan beachfront city of Tel Aviv! Known for its liberal attitudes, beautiful beaches (including a very popular gay beach), and nightlife it couldn't seem more different than Jerusalem, giving it the nickname of "Mediterranean's Manhattan". Take this time to soak in some sun at the beach, explore some incredible museums (Israel has the most museums per capita in the world), wander the streets of Jaffa, grab some drinks on Rothschild Boulevard, or feel free to take a day trip up the coast to Haifa, there are plenty of options to keep ourselves entertained here! We make sure to spend the weekend in Tel Aviv to maximize opportunities for those who like the vibrant city life.
A short 1-hour flight (included) takes us to the southern tip of Israel where we start our unforgettable Jordanian experience. The first stop is the desert of Wadi Rum, famous for its dramatic sandstone mountains, deep caverns and Mars-like landscape - in fact many movies have used this area to film their Mars scenes! We'll be exploring this region using Jeeps and camels together with a local Jordanian guide, spending our 8th evening of the trip at a remote camp in the desert under a sky full of billions of stars. Don't worry - your tent has all the comforts of a hotel room including an en-suite bathroom and A/C, but you won't be spending much time in there when a spectacular desert is literally on your doorstep!
Our next day we'll continue on the 90-minute journey to the world famous site of Petra, the former capital of the Nabatean Kingdom, built around 300 B.C. Accessed via a narrow canyon the tombs and temples are carved into pink sandstone cliffs, giving an incredibly surreal background to your now drool-worthy social media posts! It's one of those rare moments in life that you'll always remember (and gush about). Our 9th night together will be spent right there in the little Jordanian town of Petra.
On our 10th day together we'll head back across the border into Israel and fly back up to Tel Aviv for our final night. We'll share one last dinner all together in Tel Aviv undoubtedly reminiscing about the adventures we've just taken part in over the past days.
You're welcome to book your departing flights out of Tel Aviv at any time on this day - but you don't need to! If you've got a flexible schedule consider staying through the following weekend in Tel Aviv, or maybe staying down in the seaside town of Eilat before the rest of us head back up to Tel Aviv. We're happy to help you plan any additional activities or provide a bunch of options if you end up taking a later flight out of Tel Aviv.
We don't like staying in smelly shacks on our vacations and we're pretty sure you don't either! You work hard to go on vacation and we believe you deserve an enjoyable, comfortable place to wind down at the end of each day. We put a LOT of time into finding the perfect accommodation for your trip. After rigorous wifi signal testing, fluffing pillows, and taking a shower or two, we've narrowed down our favorite properties. Check out our approved accommodation to see where we've stayed in the past and where we'll likely be staying on your trip.
JERUSALEM: Arthur Hotel
Set in the bustling Ben Yehuda district, this relaxed hotel is just over 1 mile (2 km) from both the iconic 7th-century Dome of the Rock Islamic shrine and the Western Wall, a Jewish pilgrimage site. Located in the best part of the cultural core, you'll find his hotel is bursting with colonial character and charm. Featuring vintage decor, the chic rooms feature free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, minifridges and safes, as well as tea and coffeemakers
TEL AVIV: Fabric Hotel
Set on a lively street in Tel Aviv, this trendy hotel is a 5-minute walk from the vibrant Carmel Market, and 2 km from both the Bauhaus buildings in White City. Stylish rooms with wood accent walls create a relaxing atmosphere to escape from the bustle of the city. The hotel provides free Wi-Fi, smart TVs, safes and minifridges, plus tea and coffeemakers.
WADI RUM: UFO Camp
Wadi Rum UFO is a unique experience at the desert of Wadi Rum for those who would like to spend the night under the stars. Each of the domes features fully-functional bathrooms, air-conditioning, a fridge, an outdoor hammock.
PETRA: Old Village Resort
Set in a stone building, this homey hotel is 3 km from the archaeological site of Petra. The cozy, relaxed rooms come with free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs, plus room service, minibars, and tea and coffeemakers. Other amenities include an indoor pool, a sauna, a terrace and a business center, plus barbecue facilities.
DEAD SEA: Leonardo Plaza Hotel
The Leonardo Plaza Hotel offers breathtaking sea views and includes flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, minibars and safes, plus tea and coffeemaking facilities. Other amenities include 3 outdoor pools, a kids’ pool, a synagogue and a gym. A spa offers saltwater and sulfur pools.
*Please note that due to availability, these exact hotels may not all be available during all Detours trips. However, we will always replace these with similar hotels, and will never downgrade.
Don’t worry about getting chilly, our trips are scheduled in the warmer months ensuring maximum warmth and sunshine! Temperatures will vary from warm to hot throughout the trip depending on the landscape but you can expect temperatures in the high 70’s and 80’s Fahrenheit (high 20’s Celsius) during the day. Even in the Jordanian desert days are predictably warm/hot in the daytime all through the year, then around 65F/18C at the lower end at night. That said, weather can sometimes be unpredictable so it's always good to pack a “just in case” outfit for the odd rainy day.
The people of Israel have been through a particularly tumultuous history of conflict and have remained a strong and proud group of people. Their struggles have been some of the most well known of any group of people and their resilience and perseverance will be evident in our interactions with them as well as in their many fantastic museums. Their two official languages are Hebrew, which is spoken by around 9 million people worldwide, and Arabic, although English is very widely spoken and you won't have trouble finding English speakers through the trip.
Jordanians are known to be respectful, honest people with strong traditional and religious ties that form their culture. It's important to be aware that modesty is socially important here, in terms of dress, public displays of affection and social respect. As visitors to unique cultures, respecting local customs is important in all places visited and that courtesy will go both ways resulting in a warm welcoming experience.
In Israel, LGBT rights are the most advanced and progressive in the Middle East as well as some of the most progressive and accepting in their continent of Asia. LGBT people can serve openly in the military, couples can adopt children, and the annual pride parade in Tel Aviv is one of the world's most well known. While liberal and conservative views will vary depending on the region of the country due to several factors, we'll be quite welcomed as LGBT travelers across Israel. Jordan, despite being a Muslim country, is actually one of the only Muslim countries which does not criminalize homosexuality though it's still not regarded as a progressive and liberal country due to the influence of their religion. We ensure that all of our local guides, accommodation, and transportation providers are aware that our groups are LGBT travelers and engage in the same mutual respect that the locals expect of travelers too.
Israeli food tends to be similar to other Mediterranean diets with an influence of local products and traditional Jewish food preparation techniques. Dishes such as Baba Ghanoush, falafel, hummus, and shawarma will be very common in addition to tahini, schnitzel, and a breakfast of shakshooka. There will also be plenty of more "American" options for those who have "less adventurous" palates. Detours doesn't believe in limiting your choices by including all of your meals at pre-decided restaurants as part of the trip package. Instead, we include all of your breakfasts to start your day off, then we explore all of the different restaurant options available for lunch and dinner. This way we can eat when we want, where we want, and spend what we want! Your trip leader definitely has their favorite spots so if you'd like some advice on the best in each location, just check with them.
Our advice is simple. Pack your bag, then take half of those things out and leave them back home. It’s common to hear people wishing they’d packed less stuff, but we’ve never heard anyone complain that they didn’t bring enough. Even if you realize you forget to pack some crucial item you can always pick up a replacement once you arrive in Israel. We'll include some trip-specific packing advice based on expected weather as part of our update email to you, sent 60 days prior to your trip.
Citizens of USA, Canada, Australia, New Zelanad, and United Kingdom (among many others) do not need to arrange any visas in advance of your visit to either Israel or Jordan. If you are coming from a country other than these please just contact us for more info. Please note your departure fees from each country are not included and you should be prepared to pay at the border upon exiting Israel 101 NIS (around 30 USD) and 10 JOD (around 15 USD) when exiting Jordan.
These days it seems that banks find every opportunity to ding us with fees from home and at each ATM we use. That's why we suggest using a credit card with no international fee, and bring some Israeli Shekels and a few Jordanian Dinar with you. Many places will also accept US Dollars here, but to avoid their awful exchange rates it's in your best interest to use Shekeles and Dinar. We suggest starting with bringing 1000 ILS (Israeli Shekels) as well as 60 JOD (Jordanian Dinar) You still may need to use an ATM along the way, but it's best to try to minimize the number of visits. Travelers checks are a thing of the past so we don’t recommend them any more.
Similar to North America, tipping for good service is customary in the service industry in Israel and Jordan. It is always appreciated by local service staff. We suggest tipping your restaurant staff (10% for average service, 20% for exceptional service), local tour guides, and porters. That extra bit on top of your dinner bill is very appreciated by the service staff.
We have pretty high standards when it comes to choosing our accommodations, and trust us, we’ve done plenty of room-sniffing, pillow-patting, bed-jumping and bathroom inspections to make sure we stay at quality spots. To be approved as a Detours accommodations provider, a hotel/guesthouse must: be locally owned (to support the local community), be in an amazing location (close to the beach or other hot spots), AND be gay-owned or gay-friendly. We won't be staying in 5-star Ritz-Carltons but we also won't subject you to anything we wouldn't want to stay in ourselves. Clean, comfortable, well-located spots that'll put a smile on your face, you can count on that!
All of our trip leaders are gay, and all certified leaders must undergo a rigorous training routine that includes deep-fried cricket eating, and impromptu dancing tests. Apart from these vital skills, we require our leaders to know their stuff too. Underneath their fun and quirky facades, our leaders are experts and passionate about what they do. Don’t hesitate to ask them about a random statue you might see along the way. Their job is to help ensure that this is your trip of a lifetime by taking the hassle out of your trip and enabling you to experience everything you came to Israel for. We'll also be joined by local guides at several points during this trip which will be a great way to get more in depth with your local experience.
We do absolutely everything possible to avoid needing such a mundane awakening. A world without alarm clocks is one we want to be part of, and your “rise and shine” while in Israel and Jordan should come from the sound of a call to prayer or camels spitting in the distance. We don't anticipate any early mornings on this trip as all travel days are quite flexible.
For many people, 11 days in this part of the world just isn’t enough time. If you’re lucky enough to be able to stay longer, or if you decide to quit your job and travel the world for the rest of your life, we’d be happy to help you extend (or cancel!) your return flight. We’ve spent time in several parts of the region, so don’t think twice about asking where to go or what to do after your Detours trip is complete.
Our Detours groups are run with a maximum of 15 travelers. Ages of group members vary but around 90% of our travelers are in their 30's, 40's, and 50's. Whatever the age of the guys on our trips everyone's already got something in common, an exciting new experience in a new country! Each group is led by a Detours trip leader who is there to ensure everything goes off without a hitch, allowing you to focus on having the time of your life! We welcome both men and women onto our trips although it’s important to know that most groups are 100% gay men.
At different points of this trip we'll be in very liberal places home to very vibrant LGBT communities, as well as much more conservative areas which value modesty. Your trip leader will be sure to advise you on what to expect during each part of the trip but in many places public displays of affection are not common here for the gays or the straights so as some respect for the locals we just suggest that you keep your affection for your partner to more private areas - such as your hotel. :)
No problem! At least half of our travelers come solo and our trip will provide plenty of chances to meet great people both inside and outside of our group, including other solo travelers. As far as your accommodations go, you’ve got two choices. We can either pair you up with another solo group member in a two-bed room for no extra charge, or you can have your own room for a reasonable surcharge.
Relax – we won’t keep you from updating your Facebook status the whole trip. There is WiFi all over the place and available at every hotel we stay at. If you’re more the “E.T.” type and would just rather call home, feel free to pick up a calling card at a corner store and make use of the many local payphones. Alternatively, if your mobile phone is "unlocked" you can pick up a local SIM card which is quite affordable.
Israel uses a "type C", "Type H" and "type M" plugs, with a unique 3-pronged "Type H" being the most common. The voltage is 230V with 50 Hz frequency. These days, the majority of items that are plugged into an outlet are built to handle varying voltage and frequency levels, but just to be sure, we suggest checking your item for its accetable range. Adapters are widely available to be purchased while in Israel, but you may wish to bring your own from home. Jordan uses a variety of different plug types (up to 6 different types can be expected!) so we suggest bringing or purchasing a multi-use adapter to be prepared.
What's included? • All Taxes • All land transportation within Israel and Jordan • Accommodations for your 11-day Detours experience • All full breakfasts • Roundtrip domestic flight between Tel Aviv and Eilat (Southern Israel) • Guided visit to the ancient ruins of Petra • Camel ride through the desert in southern Jordan • Guided visit to Masada • 4 hour 4X4 Jeep desert exploring • Walking tours with local gay guide in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv • Welcome dinner and drinks • Group travel within Israel and Jordan • Knowledgeable and fun Detours trip leader •
What isn't included? • Meals and drinks outside of those listed above • Activities outside of the those listed above • International Airfare • Jordanian visa-on-arrival (40 Jordanian Dinars as of January 2019) • Israel exit tax (101 Israeli Shekels as of January 2019) •
Additional spending budget? Your big-ticket items are included through the trip, but you'll want to budget for additional spending such as additional meals, drinks, shopping, activities, etc. These costs can vary dramatically with differing personal habits but we suggest expecting to spend an additional $750 USD at the lower end for the more budget-conscious and $1200 USD at the higher end for the splurgers. We suggest arriving to Israel with approximately 1,000 local Israeli Shekels and 100 Jordanian Dinars.
Our travelers love us, and you will too.
Rob D. - Canada
November 8, 2019
Just completed my first tour with Detours to Israel and Jordan. It was the trip of a lifetime and was amazing every step of the way. Miles and Brandon took amazing care of all of us and ensured we all had the time of our lives. A huge selling point is you are not obligated to do anything you don’t feel like doing. If you make friends on your own in destination and want bow out of dinner for an evening, all good! The tour was incredibly well planned and the local tour guides they hire are 5 star all the way. Highly recommend! I’m already thinking about where I’d like to go next!
Jason S. - Canada
June 23, 2019
Just got back from the Israel & Jordan trip and what a blast! Detours takes care of its travellers- small groups so everyone gets to meet each other and bond over amazing journeys around the world. Prices are bang on compared to other gay travel groups, single travellers are welcome and easy to add and the formula they use on trip planning is stellar. Can’t wait to book our next trip!!
David C. - Canada
June 22, 2019
A lot of people have that "Bucket List" spot or "Dream Vacation" they've always wanted to do but sometimes the planning and logistics can get overwhelming and it remains just that...a dream. When we booked with Detours they took care of all the hard stuff and we were able to just relax and take in the beauty and energy of where we were. (and maybe take an epic selfie or two. haha) We just returned from the June Pride trip to Israel/Jordan with Miles and it blew my mind. It really is a special place on this Earth and Miles made sure we were all well taken care of and able to do all the activities we wanted. It didn't take long to bond with the fellow guys in the group and by the end it felt like you were travelling with friends you have known for years. I can't wait to go again.
Jonathan C. - USA
December 1, 2018
Amazing tour operated by passionate pro's who love what they do. Aside from a great group, there was also great planning in maximizing the stops in the region to get the most out of the time there. I would go on another in a heartbeat and plan on doing so!
Joseph F. - USA
December 1, 2018
My husband and I just returned from 11 days in Israel and Jordan. We were hesitant at first about going with a small intimate group of strangers but after talking to Miles decided to book it. What a great decision! The group was amazing and we have lots of new friends. The itinerary was the perfect mix of active and down time. I wanted to go to Bethlehem which was not on the itinerary but Miles made it happen for me. Then, when the wait to see the birthplace of Christ was longer then people were willing to wait, Miles got me to the front of the line! Every step of the way, Detours makes each individual feel important without sacrificing the overall groups needs. After a few days in Jerusalem the perfect relaxation was provided. We spent an afternoon floating in the Dead Sea. Next it was off to the amazing beaches and nightlife of Tel Aviv, so much fun. The experience in the Wadi Rum desert is like nothing I can describe, best I can do is; "out of this world". Petra is a must see for all and who can turn down a camel ride experience! Although we were privileged to have Miles as our tour leader, Dan also joined us. What a great guy Dan is, I wouldn't hesitate to book a trip lead by him. In fact, I'd have no hesitation to book any trip with Detours. Now that we are home, we are already considering our next trip with Detours.
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