Lebanon & Syria Trip Notes

Lebanon & Syria

Last Modified: 05 Oct 2012
Lebanon & Syria
Trip code: EESGC
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2012
Step into ancient lands rich in culture, heritage and history, and feel the buzz of modern cities on this exotic journey through Lebanon and Syria. From the sophisticated cafes, lively bars and vibrant arts scene of Beirut to the ancient desert ruins of Palmyra and the cobblestone alleyways of Damascus and Aleppo, there are many contrasts in this intriguing part of the world. Be amazed by one of the grandest castles on the planet, feast on delicious Middle Eastern fare, relax in quaint seaside towns and admire ornate architecture on this enriching adventure through Lebanon and Syria.
Warning - this is a new trip for us!
While we have thoroughly researched this area to put together this trip, it still must be remembered that this is a relatively new trip for us. To be frank, we expect some things to go wrong. When we head to new destinations, we usually find there are more pleasant surprises in store than unpleasant ones, but the warning is sincere. If it concerns you then we recommend that you wait for a year until we get any bugs ironed out.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxEmergency funds
ThemesImportant notesVisas
MapGroup sizeIssues on your trip
ItineraryYour fellow travellersWhat to take
Also available to purchaseSingle travellersHealth
We also recommendAccommodationSafety
Itinerary disclaimerMeals introductionTravel insurance
Culture shock rating MealsResponsible Travel
Physical ratingTransportA couple of rules
Included activitiesGroup leaderThe Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point Carbon offset
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsFeedback
Spending moneyFinish point
TippingEmergency contact
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Lebanon & Syria
Day 1 Beirut
Ahlan Wa Sahlan! Welcome to Lebanon.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
After the meeting, there is the option of joining your fellow travellers for dinner.
Check-in time at our joining point hotel is after 2:00pm. Early check-in is not guaranteed, however if you arrive early, luggage storage is available. Speak to the hotel reception on arrival.
Heaving Beirut was once a playground for the rich and famous, and is still one of the eastern Mediterranean's great cities. There is a wealth of stylish art galleries, bars, cafes, restaurants and museums to explore. The city is an epicurean's delight, so make sure to feast on the best of traditional Lebanese cuisine.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Zahle
We travel via the once major Phoenician trading port of Sidon to pause and take in the fresh Mediterranean air. There will also be time to visit the renovated khans and the souks of the old city.
Next stop is Beit ed-Dine where you can wander the 19th-century Ottoman palace with its mosaics and heritage museum.
We visit the oldest winery in Lebanon - Ksara. Once the site of a medievel fortress, today the chalky soil results in award-winning red and white wine.
We stay the night in the predominantly Greek Catholic, elevated, trendy resort town of Zahle, home to many ornate Ottoman-era houses.
Included Activities
  • Ksara Winery
  • Walking tour, Sidon
Optional Activities
  • Sidon Sea Castle - USD4
  • Beiteddine - USD5
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Baalbek
In the morning we make a trip to the Anjar ruins, a rare example of Umayyad-period ruins in Lebanon. This ancient inland commercial hub was a strategic point on trade routes to Damascus, Homs and Baalbeck and the now fragile columns are a ghostly remnant of ancient life.
Next we explore the vast sea of fallen marble and porphyry columns of the magnificent Roman temples of Baalbek, a Phoenician city at the foot of the Anti-Lebanon mountains. Highlights include the Temple of Bacchus and Venus, and the monumental colonnade of the Temple of Jupiter.
Included Activities
  • Anjar
  • Baalbek
  • Baalbek guide
Pension (1 nt)
Days 4-5 Bcharre
After a 3-hour journey over the Lebanon mountain range, we take a walk through the nature reserve of Tannourine. Discover the local flora and fauna and the famous cedar trees, treasured for their durable, sweet-scented wood.
This activity subject to weather conditions, as this route can close during the winter due to snow.
Continuing on we arrive in Bcharre, a great base to explore the beautiful Qadisha Valley.
Explore the churches and monasteries or perhaps visit the Gibran Museum, housing a collection of works from one of Lebanon's most famous literary figures, Khalil Gibran.
One of the best ways to see the Qadisha Valley is on foot, and we will set off on a day hike during our stay.
Included Activities
  • Hike, Qadisha Valley
Optional Activities
  • Cedar forest walk - USD3
Pension (2 nts)
Day 6 Byblos
A journey of 2 hours takes us back to the coast. Discover the rich history and wonderful setting of the town of Byblos. Watch the fishing boats bob in the harbour, framed by a backdrop of Crusader fortifications. Alternatively, visit the Cathedral of Harissa and enjoy panoramic views over the bay of Jounieh.
Optional Activities
  • Byblos Ruins - USD5
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 7 Beirut
Take a van from Byblos to Beirut (approx 1 hr).
After a short drive we stop at Jeita Grotto enroute to Beirut. There is time to explore this amazing series of caverns, which stretch back into the mountains almost 6km.
Later we return to Beirut. Why not take a stroll with the locals along the corniche, have a coffee or enjoy a narghileh water pipe overlooking Pigeon Rocks.
Optional Activities
  • Jeita Grotto - USD12
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 8-9 Damascus
The Persians, Greeks and Romans all played their part in the history of Damascus, called ash-Sham by the Arabs, until the Muslims and Mongols took over, only to give way to the Ottomans and finally the French, before Syria finally gained independence in 1946.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
After the meeting, there is the option of joining your fellow travellers for dinner.
Check-in time at our joining point hotel is after 2pm. Early check-in is not guaranteed, however if you arrive early, luggage storage is available. Speak to the hotel reception on arrival.
We take a walk through the ancient alleyways and bustling bazaars of the capital's old city, including the beautiful Umayyad Mosque and the Souq al-Hamidiyya. Spend the rest of your time in the old city, which is easily explored on foot. Catch-up on the story behind the greatest Arabic hero ever, Saladin, and visit his mausoleum. You'll find other important Islamic figures buried in places nearby, and by the end of your visit you may appreciate a different perspective on the Crusades.
Included Activities
  • Umayyad Mosque
Optional Activities
  • Azem Palace - SYP150
  • National Museum of Damascus - SYP150
  • Army Museum - SYP5
  • Beit Nizam - Free
  • Dahdah Palace - Free
  • Historical Museum of Damascus - SYP75
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 10 Krak des Chevaliers
We make the short journey to visit the impressive ruins of Bosra. Mentioned in Egyptian records as far back as 1300BC, Bosra is famous for its unique black basalt stone and well-preserved Roman theatre.
We then continue on to what is considered to be one of the greatest fortress in the world - Krak des Chevaliers (Castle of the Knights). In fact, Lawrence of Arabia called it 'the finest castle in the world'.
Little has changed in the 800 years since the Crusader knights built Krak des Chevaliers. Reaching the dizzying height of 700 metres above sea level, it commands a view over the valley between Homs and Tripoli. A perfect model of medieval fortification, this castle was never besieged successfully and seemed impenetrable to attack. Held by the Knights Hospitaller, it only fell to the Mamluks in the 13th century when Sultan Baibars tricked the knights into surrendering the castle. Krak des Chevaliers is one of the world's most impressive Crusader castles and we explore it with the help of a local guide.
Included Activities
  • Bosra
  • Bosra local guide
  • Krak des Chevaliers
  • Krak des Chevaliers local guide
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 11-12 Aleppo
Transfer by van from Krak to Syria's second-largest city, Aleppo (approx 3.5 hrs).
Architecturally diverse Aleppo, is called Halab (meaning 'milk') by the locals, originating from the ancient story that Abraham gave out milk to travellers as they journeyed through the region. The fabulous and vibrant covered souq is Aleppo's main attraction. Parts of the Souq date back to the 13th Century and little seems to have changed, it is still very much the centre of local commerce, yet to be displaced by tourists. Check out the Al-Jamaa al-Kebir, the younger sibling of the great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus or wander through the Christian quarter, admiring the 15th-century houses and equally old churches.
Optional Activities
  • National Museum of Aleppo - SYP150
  • Citadel of Aleppo - SYP150
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 13 Palmyra
Take a van from Aleppo to Palmyra (approx 4 hrs).
The oasis city of Palmyra ranks as one of the world's greatest historic sites. Settled in Neolithic times, the ruined city dates to the 1st century AD, when it flourished as an Assyrian caravan route, then became a Greek trading post before being annexed by the Romans. Home to Queen Zenobia, who set her armies against the Roman Empire in the 3rd century and conquered Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt, before being captured and taken hostage by Emperor Aurelian, Palmyra means 'the city of palm trees' and is still known locally by its pre-Semitic name, Tadmor.
Explore the splendour of these remote and extensive ruins. The Temple of Bel is the main orientation point inside the ruins, although there is a rather poorly marked museum nearby if you want to 'do it all'.
Depending on arrival time there may be an opportunity for you to take an optional trip to view the sunset from Arab Castle.
Included Activities
  • Palmyra tour
  • Palmyra local guide
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 14-15 Damascus
Take a van from Palmyra to Damascus (approx 3 hrs).
We have free time to explore more of this fascinating city. Perhaps relax with a local brew in a coffee house, peruse shops or take in panoramic views from Mount Qasioun.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Hotel (1 nt)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • EESGC Single supplement (EESGC)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Explore Syria (EESS)
  • Syria & Jordan (EESKC)
  • Syria & Jordan (EESKC)
  • Syria & Jordan (EESKC)
Itinerary disclaimer
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Culture shock rating

Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
The Middle East is a region which may be very different to anything you have experienced before. Heat, pollution, poverty and the crowds can result in initial culture shock but should be seen as an exciting new challenge. During our time here we have come to love this wonderfully different region but we know that we should always expect to encounter some difficulties along the way. You will come across very different attitudes to time keeping, public cleanliness, privacy and service. If you are able to travel with a lot of patience and a sense of humour, then we know that you - like all of us - will be captivated by the fabulous Middle East.
Physical rating

Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
Included activities
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
Optional activities
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
Money Exchange
The official currency of Lebanon is the Lebanese lira (LL), also called the Lebanese pound.
US dollars are widely accepted, and often you'll find prices for more expensive goods quoted in US currency. For this reason, it's a good idea to carry a mix of local and US dollars. Please note that travellers cheques (in any currency) are not widely accepted. The best way to access cash is via ATM, which you'll find in all the major towns. ATMs accept credit cards or co-branded home banking cards (though check with your local bank before you go that yours will be accepted in Lebanon) and dispense cash in both Lebanese lira and US dollars.
There's no black market in Lebanon, but there are plenty of moneychangers that sometime offer better rates than the banks. Check commission, which can range from 3% to 5%, and shop around.
The official currency of Syria is Syrian Pound (SYP).
ATMs are not common in Syria, but available in the main cities such as Damascus & Aleppo. Please note that Mastercard and Maestro cards are unreliable in Syria. It is recommended you carry extra foreign currency to exchange in Syria.
Spending money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
The Middle East is often misjudged as being an inexpensive destination. With tourism booming and the influx of cheap flights from Europe, prices for some items are becoming more equivalent to prices you would be used to at home. Eating in local restaurants, roadside stalls and from markets can be inexpensive, but for nights out at tourist-friendly restaurants you can expect to pay much more. Budgets are a personal choice but please bear in mind that you shouldn't expect the Middle East to always be a budget destination.
Known as 'baksheesh' in the Middle East, tipping is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry. If you are satisfied with the services provided, a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate and always appreciated. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels.
We recommend that any group tips are collected in a envelope and handed directly to the intended recipient as a collective 'thank you' by the group. The below amounts are suggested figures in USD for ease of calculating budgets, but should always be offered in local currency.
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - leave the loose change. More up-market restaurants, we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1-2 per person per day for local guides.
Drivers: You may have a range of private drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however US$1-2 per person per day is generally appropriate.
Public toilet attendants: When using public toilets there will most likely be an attendant that will expect a tip. 20-50 cents is appropriate.
Felucca captains: If you are travelling in Upper Egypt many of our itineraries spend a night on a felucca. US$1-2 per person per day for felucca captains is appropriate.
Desert Camp hosts: If you have a night camping included on your itinerary, US$2-3 is appropriate for the camp hosts.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$3-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
Departure tax
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Important notes
In 2014, the important month of Ramadan will be in progress from 27 June through until 27 July, and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan, business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it's a period of national holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be affected.
Group size
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
Single travellers
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Hotel (11 nts), Pension (3 nts)
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Electrical supply is notoriously poor and unreliable throughout Lebanon. Expect daily power cuts lasting around 3 hours in Beirut. In rural areas the supply is even more unreliable and cuts occur frequently and at any time.
Some Syrian hotels charge an extra YTL5 for air-conditioning however fans can be provided free of charge.
Meals introduction
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
No meals included
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
USD 400.00
Van, Public bus, Bus, Minibus, Taxi
Group leader
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Joining point
Port View Hotel
Gemmayzeh ( Rue Gouraud ) Facing the Electricity of Lebanon
Arrival complications
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Finish point
Hotel Afamia
Omar Bin Abi Rabiea St (behind the main Post Office)
Phone: +963 112229152
Fax: +963 112214683
Emergency contact
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local Cairo-based ground representative for the Middle East can be reached on Tel: +2 01096811067. For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: Yes - on arrival
Belgium: Yes - on arrival
Canada: Yes - on arrival
Germany: Yes - on arrival
Ireland: Yes - on arrival
Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
South Africa: Yes - on arrival
Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
USA: Yes - on arrival
All nationalities require a visa to enter Lebanon. Currently, visas are free and are issued for 1 month on arrival.
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
Only when there is no Syrian embassy or consulate in the passport holder's country may an entry visa be issued at the border, such as New Zealand & Dutch passport holders. Depending on your nationality getting a visa at the border is often difficult and problematic.
Please note that it won't be possible to attain a visa or enter Syria with Israeli stamps in your passport.
You may need to provide the following information when applying for a visa:
~ point of exit from Lebanon is Masnaa
~ point of entry to Syria is Masnaa
~ mode of transport is bus
~ Name of Hotel in Syria: Hotel Afamia, Jamwhoriya Street, Damascus. Tel: +963 (0) 11 2228963
You may also be required to supply your trips itinerary.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
Please note that as a desert region, the Middle East can have extreme weather!
Winter (approx. December to February) can be very cold. Consider bringing a sleeping bag, thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket for travel in this period. Summer (approx. June to August) can be very hot. Although typically hotels do have air conditioning it is not guaranteed that functioning air conditioning will always be available.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about 3 litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
Responsible Travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative and you should dress accordingly. To respect the local culture and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. As a guideline, shoulders and knees at the minimum (and everything in between including midriff and cleavage) should be covered at all times. Wearing shorts and singlet tops is not appropriate and may well restrict your entry into sites of a religious nature, family homes, and will limit your local interaction opportunities in general. Loose, lightweight, long clothing (3/4 trousers that come to the calf is fine) is both respectful and cool in the predominantly warm climate.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 488.00 kgs per pax.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.