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10 Days in Israel & Jordan

CORONAVIRUS: OUR UPDATES AND TRAVEL POLICIES

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 10 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: Our June trips are our 'Pride edition'.  These trips spend Tel Aviv Pride weekend in Tel Aviv.

Days 1, 2, and 3 - JERUSALEM

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!

Included Activities: Full day walking tour of old city Jerusalem 

Optional Activties: West Bank tour • Yad Vashem • Israel Museum • City of David and Western Wall

Day 4 - DEAD SEA and MASADA

On day 4 our local guide will join us as we 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. First, 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.  After our time at Masada, we'll drive across the international border into Jordan and find ourselves at our waterfront hotel hotel right on the Dead Sea where we can lather ourselves up with nutrient-rich mud and float the afternoon away in the famous Dead Sea!

This day is all about exploring then relaxing, hiking then soaking, getting active then reaping the rewards. Travel distances on this day are quite short, but the variety of landscape is pretty incredible!

Days 5 and 6 - PETRA and WADI RUM

This morning, after only a 3-hour drive through Jordan, we'll arrive 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).  It's not just the treasury, which you've surely seen on countless magazine covers and screensavers, it's also the impressive hilltop monastery and many lesser know (but no less stunning) carvings. Our night here is spent just outside the gates of Petra, in the little town of Wadi Musa. 

Jordan has no shortage of unique sites to soak in, so we'll continue the following day to the vast 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 trucks and camels together with a local Jordanian guide, spending our 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!

Included Activities: Sunset Camel Tour • 4X4 tour of Wadi Rum • Tour of Petra

Days 7, 8, 9 and 10 - TEL AVIV

On our 7th day we head back across the border to Israel and take a quick 1-hour flight to Tel Aviv (included) 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 some other parts of the region, 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.

You're welcome to book your departing flights out of Tel Aviv at any time on the 10th day of the trip - but you don't need to! If you've got a flexible schedule consider staying to experience other parts of the region. 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.

Included Activities: 3-hour walking tour of Tel Aviv

Optional Activites: Beit Hatfutsot • Tel Aviv bike tour • Hilton Beach • Neve Tzedek • Northern Israel tour

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.

DEAD SEA: Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea

Three palm-fringed, heated pools link the Dead Sea with the sand-colored hotel, making this a water lover's paradise. Watch the horizon from the infinity pool or sip a cocktail at Dive Inn Bar. Swim out to Jacuzzi island and forget the outside world – or stay in touch using complimentary, high-speed Wi-Fi. Luxurious massages and facial treatments in Shape Up spa use natural Dead Sea products and two restaurants on site if you get hungry. Each room has 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.

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.

*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.

The Climate

Weather on this trip can vary quite dramatically as we move from inland areas, to the desert, to the seaside.  Just like most places around the world, different times of the year also bring different climates.  This region in the summer is known for hot and dry days, while winters can get pretty chilly.  To help you set your expectations, here are some historical average temperatures at the different places we visit on this itinerary:

  • Jerusalem 
    • March - average high 61F / 16C, average low 45F / 7C
    • June - average high 81F / 27C, average low 61F / 16C
    • October - average high 75F / 24C, average low 57F / 14C
  • Dead Sea 
    • All months - average high 93F / 34 C, average low 63F / 17C
  • Tel Aviv
    • March - average high 68F / 20C, average low 50F / 10C
    • June - average high 84F / 29C, average low 64F  18C
    • October - average high 82F / 29C, average low 63F / 17C
  • Petra
    • March - average high 63F / 17C, average low 43F / 6C
    • June - average high 84F / 29C, average low 57F / 14C
    • October - average high 75F / 24C, average low 52F / 11C
The People and LGBTQ+ Community

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, LGBTQ+ 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. LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ travelers and engage in the same mutual respect that the locals expect of travelers too.

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.

Meals

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.

What to Bring

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.

Visas

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 30 JOD (around 40 USD) when exiting Jordan.

Money

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.

Tipping

Those working in the tourism industry all over the world have come to expect gratuities when providing good service.  This extends to local guides, restaurant wait staff, bus drivers, and your Detours trip leader.  Of course the actual amount is left up to your discretion, if you've been provided excellent service we suggest leaving around 15% for restaurant/wait staff as well as the local equivalent of a few dollars to bus drivers and luggage porters, as well as around $10-15 USD per day for local guides and your Detours trip leader.

Accommodation

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! 

Trip Leaders

All Detours trips are led by one of our own Detours trip leaders.  They're there with you every day and 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 & Jordan for.  Consider them like a friendly concierge that's traveling along with you.  All of our trip leaders are gay and all are well-traveled and experienced in the destination they're leading in, so they'll be a great part of your experience! 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.

Alarm Clocks

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.

Your Group

Our Detours groups are run with a maximum of 16 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.

Solo Travelers

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. 

Communicating with Home

There is WiFi at every hotel we stay at and most restaurants that we eat in. Alternatively, if your mobile phone is "unlocked" you can pick up a local SIM card which is quite affordable.

Electrical Outlets

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 group transport between itinerary destinations • Accommodations for your 10-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-friendly guide in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv • Welcome dinner and drinks • 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 (30 Jordanian Dinars as of July 2022) • Israel exit tax (101 Israeli Shekels as of July 2022) • Arrival/departure airport transfers • 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 and 100 Jordanian Dinars.



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Trip Reviews

Andy H. - USA

May 21, 2020

I have taken 8 trips with Detours and will take more. They provide excellent service before, during and after any booking. The individual trip leaders are all very professional as well as personable. They treat you like royalty in all situations. The accommodations are always first rate and the destinations are epic. Being a small group tour gives each traveler a sense of personal attention not found in the other types of tours. Well done Detours!

Joe F. - USA

May 21, 2020

I took my first trip with Detours in November 2018 to Israel and Jordan. It was one of the best trips of my life, aside from a great destination, the guys I met were great and in a few instances I have maintained ongoing friendships. So it was a no brainer when I learned one of my friends from that trip booked Greece for this June. Unfortunately the universe had other plans and the worldwide Covid pandemic forced Detours to cancel our trip. During this time of total uncertainty on every level, general communication to the public has not been great. Miles and Detours are the exception, even as I know they are dealing with business related issues far beyond the impact to their customers, Miles somehow manages to find time to put out weekly detailed updates. His updates are factual and sympathetic to his clients when we are only losing a vacation (for now). This is amazing considering he is fighting to maintain his livelihood. He also finds time to answer individual emails in very detailed responses when I’m sure at times he wants to toss his laptop against the wall and walk away! It’s a true measure of who Miles and the entire Detours group are and why anyone should feel confident working with them. While the current pandemic has forced that trip to be cancelled, I did not hesitate to rebook a new trip next April to Egypt with Detours. They can't control the pandemic or the consequences of it but they can control how they react to it and they have reacted in the best way possible. I can't wait to join them in April for Egypt and eventually I will get to Greece, with Detours of course!

Tom R. - USA

May 20, 2020

I've been on two trips with Detours, and both have been outstanding (Israel/Jordan in particular)! I often travel solo, planning my own way, so was initially hesitant about group travel. But Detours was perfect -- small groups, with plenty of free time built in to do your own thing. I've met great guys on both trips, who I keep in touch with. Group leaders have also been wonderful -- friendly, knowledgable, helpful with problem solving, and enthusiastic. I'm looking forward to my next adventure with Detours, this time to Egypt.

David J. - USA

March 16, 2020

This was my first tour with Detours and first group tour in more than 20 years.  The experience was excellent.  Everything was incredibly well organized.  Brandon in the office responded quickly to all of my questions and concerns.  Dan, our group leader, was the best.  He was friendly and outgoing, but more importantly, well organized.  We were traveling during the Covid 19 outbreak.  The borders to Israel closed while we were in Jordan.  Dan got this information from his local sources before it was announced.  Because of this, we were able to rebook our return flights out of Jordan without too much problem.  Detours booked a hotel for us in Amman for the last night.  Detours - Dan handled it all calmly and without any drama.  The guests did not have to do a thing.  We completed our tour as planned.  What separates a great tour operator from a good one is how they react during a problem.  Detours handled it all.  

The hotels, other than one, were all good to excellent.  The hotel at the Dead Sea was fine, but a throwback to 1980.  Hotels in Petra & Wadi Rum were particularly good.  The local guides were all excellent. The private vans were comfortable.

The suggested additional budget of $750 - $1200 is too low.  I don't think I splurged, but spent $2,200.  I did not buy any expensive gifts-souvenirs, I maybe spent $200, max.  I did go to more expensive dinners a few times - $200.  The 3 extra day tours cost $400.  Tipping for guides, drivers & leader was $300 for the 10 days.  Transfer from airport to hotel $100.  Other lunches, dinners & drinks all add up.  

If I travel solo again, I would look into what trips Detours is offering.

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