8 Days in Israel
Cosmopolitan cafes lining beautiful white sand beaches, the giant golden dome of a local shrine rising over homes clad in Jerusalem stone, an oasis in the middle of a vast desert of sand... these 8 days in Israel bring us into the middle of a region of fascinating contradictions. At any given time you may find yourself 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, hike around the clifftop fortress of Masada, cover ourselves in the nutrient-rich mud of the Dead Sea, explore the winding alleys of one of the most historically significant cities in the world among many more unforgettable experiences.
The relatively small size of the country means travel distances are 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 streets of Jerusalem overflowing with history to the white sand beaches of the Mediterranean Sea, your days here are sure to be unforgettable.
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. Our time together will end on the morning of the 8th day as the 11-day travelers continue on to the remainder of their itinerary in Jordan. You're welcome to book departing flights out of Israel at any time on the 8th day.
We don't like staying in smelly shacks on our vacations, and we're pretty sure you don't either! After working hard for your trip, you deserve an enjoyable, comfortable place to wind down at the end of your day. We put a LOT of time into finding the perfect accommodation for your trip so after sniffing around, fluffing pillows, and testing showers we have narrowed down our favorite properties that won't disappoint. Check out our approved accommodation to get an idea of the types of places you can expect to lay your head during your DETOURS Israel trip.
JERUSALEM - Arthur Hotel
Why we love this property:
• Located in the best part of the cultural core
• Full of colonial character and charm
• Great breakfasts, and a happy hour
TEL AVIV - ArtPlus Hotel
Why we love this property:
• Art design concept
• 2 blocks to the beach, in the middle of everything
• Friendly and helpful staff
DEAD SEA - Leonardo Plaza Hotel
Why we love this property:
• Located beachfront at the Dead Sea
• Great spa facilities using local Dead Sea products
• Indoor and outdoor swimming 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. 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.
LGBT rights here 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 and treated with 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.
At the time of writing, 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 Israel. If you are coming from a country other than these please just contact us for more info.
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 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. We suggest starting with bringing 1000 ILS (Israeli Shekels). 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.
Tipping isn’t a native custom in either Israel, however, it is always appreciated by local service staff and has lately been turning into more of something that's expected in tourist areas. We suggest tipping for any services that go above and beyond expectations in a similar way to what is done in North America (10-15% for average service, 20% for exceptional service). 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 really, really well. 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, 8 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 11-day trip option continues on after these 8 days to visit some incredible sites in Jordan - check it out!
Our Detours groups are run with a minimum of 4 travelers and up to 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! Don’t worry, lots 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.
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.
What's included? • All taxes • All land transportation within Israel • Accommodations for your 8-day Detours experience • All full breakfasts • Guided visit to Masada • Welcome dinner and drinks • Walking tours with local gay guide in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv • Dead Sea swim • 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 • Optional gratuities •
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.
Our travelers love us, and you will too.
David L. - USA
November 16, 2018
Recently returned from the inaugural Israel & Jordan trip, and highly recommend it! Two incredible places to see, and all excellently coordinated by Detours! Everything was amazing, especially Petra! This was our third trip with Detours, and we look forward to the next one. Thanks Miles! David & Thom
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