Discover the rich, earthy flavours of the Middle East

Discover the rich history and richer flavours of Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories on this 14-day Real Food Adventure. Here, the sweeping deserts of Wadi Rum offer themselves to roast Bedouin feasts underground, the Dead Sea grants its salt as a world-class garnish and the region’s climate has allowed olives to thrive for over 6000 years. Savour shakshuka in Tel Aviv, learn the tricks of tahini from the Samaritans of Nablus, break bread with Druze folk in Buq’ata and sample mouth-watering knafeh in Amman. In between these delicious diversions, float on the Dead Sea, see the holy sights of Jerusalem and explore rock-hewn Petra. Brimming with charismatic culture and lively dishes, this is an epicurean odyssey to remember.


Start
Tel Aviv, Israel
Finish
Amman, Jordan
Destinations
Israel, Jordan
Style
Original
Theme
Food
Code
EUZJC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Feast on classic dishes in Israel’s legendary local eateries, from shakshouka to a beloved hummus institution in the Old City of Jerusalem.

  • Sit down with locals for a hearty serving of mansaf – delicious lamb with fermented and dried yoghurt sauce – in Jordan's remarkable ‘Rose City' of Petra.

  • Learn some age-old kitchen secrets cooking up a storm with Druze villagers in Golan Heights and Palestinian slow-food experts in Nablus.

  • Uncover secret traditions and flavours with a Jordanian shepherd over breakfast. Drink fire-warmed sheep’s milk, then scoop bread into a pot of rich Galayah Bandoora.

  • Savour the smells and tastes of a freshly prepared Bedouin zarb – slow roasted vegetables and juicy spiced meats cooked to perfection in an underground barbecue.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip aims to give you an exciting, diverse and well-rounded experience of a region’s cuisine. While we endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements (if warned in advance), some meals and food activities may be difficult to adjust.

  • The desert camp in Wadi Rum is basic but incredibly memorable. There are tents and shared western bathroom facilities. Please be aware that while the desert may be very hot during the day, it will still be cool at night and warm clothes and a sleeping bag are highly recommended when travelling outside of the summer months.

  • The West Bank is full of welcoming people, markets and food. It's also one of separation and hardship, however, so crossing through the area can be confronting. This is a politically sensitive region, and we do our best to provide a balanced overview. We ask that travellers keep an open mind when they visit.

  • As the days get warmer, temperatures can start to soar. From April to October, to avoid the midday heat, we start some days as early as 6 am. Though we try to make things as comfortable for you as possible, please be prepared for these conditions. It’s not all hot desert days however, as the winter months (December to February) can be quite cold. Temperatures in northern parts of the country can drop to freezing overnight. Snowfall around these areas is also common. Be sure to pack clothes that will prepare you for varying temperatures especially during these months.

  • There is quite a bit of walking involved in visiting historic sites, especially in Petra and Wadi Rum, so a reasonable level of fitness is required. Most of the time there is no shade so remember to bring a hat, sun protection, and sturdy, comfortable walking shoes.

  • 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 is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels.

  • Israel and the Palestinian Territories is by no means a cheap destination and you should budget accordingly. The good news is that your expert local leader is on hand to help you uncover the best deals!

  • As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group will change on day 9 in Amman.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020.
View the 2019 itinerary
Welcome to Israel and the Palestinian Territories – a region steeped in spirituality, and a rich tapestry of the many cultures, religions and nationalities that call it home, be that Palestinian Muslims and Christians, Sephardic Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, Armenian Christians, Ethiopian Copts or Greek Orthodox monks. Your Real Food Adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. After this briefing, take a short taxi ride to the Jaffa area and get to know your fellow travellers over dinner, sampling sabiach – a delicious vegetable and pita dish boasting fresh Mediterranean flavours with Middle Eastern roots.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tel Aviv - Welcome Dinner
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Pay a brief visit to Jaffa, then continue through Zichron Yaakov and stop in at one of Israel's finest wineries. Enjoy a wine tasting and perhaps make some purchases to complement a picnic brunch in the nearby Rothschild Gardens. Continue up to Akko to visit the Old Town and explore the Templar Tunnels built during the Crusades. By late afternoon, you’ll have reached Haifa, and if you’re up for it, catch a glimpse of the Bahai Gardens, containing ornate works of landscaped art. Retire to your hotel afterwards for a well-earned rest. Dinner is free this evening and your leader can make the best local restaurant recommendations!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Haifa - Baha'i Gardens
  • Zichron Ya'acov - Winery visit
  • Akko - Old Town Walk, including Templar Tunnels
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
You will arrive in Haifa by mid-late afternoon; however, please note that the Bahai Gardens close by 5 pm. If the group arrives in Haifa too late to enter today, your leader will endeavour to arrange a visit tomorrow morning.
This morning, take a drive up to Golan Heights to visit a Druze village called Buq’ata. Historically, the Druze have been an agricultural people, tending olive groves and fruit orchards, and growing mostly apples and cherries. Many families also grow their own vegetables, bake their own bread and live on a largely vegetarian diet. Here, you will be greeted by a lovely host family, and be invited in for a cooking demonstration, where you’ll share local culinary secrets and a delicious Druze lunch. Afterwards, head to Tiberius for a stroll along the famous Sea of Galilee – Israel's largest freshwater lake. Afterwards, travel to Nazareth and settle into your hotel for the evening.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Golan Heights - Druze Cooking Demonstration and Home-cooked Meal
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
After breakfast, visit the Church of the Annunciation and Mary’s Well – two of the most significant sights in Nazareth. Continue on to Nablus – one of the West Bank's largest cities – most famous for the Arabic sweet knafeh. Start at Mount Jerazim and meet some local Samaritans – a Jewish minority group living in Nablus, who are the only group to hold Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian passports, to learn about their culture. Visit a tahini factory to see how the sesame seeds are crushed and turned into the finished product! Also, you’ll visit the local chapter of Israel’s 'Slow Food' network for a cooking class. Join a local chef and head to the kasbah to collect ingredients for a class, focusing on some classics of Palestinian cooking. Enjoy your creations over lunch and discover what life is like for women in this small, Palestinian town. After lunch, visit a knafeh maker for insight into local sweet making, and of course to taste! Drive to Jericho for your night's stay.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Nazareth - Visit to Church of Annuniciation & Mary's Well
  • Bait Al-Karama - cooking class
  • Nablus - Samaritan & Tahini Factory visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
This morning, visit the old Tel in Jericho, also known as the ancient Jericho, then continue to the Dead Sea – the lowest-altitude place on earth! You will have the chance to experience what it's like to float in the world's saltiest body of water. This relaxed West Bank town is considered by some to be the longest inhabited city in the world. On the way, make a stop in Bethany, known biblically as the site of the resurrection of Lazarus, to visit a local family for a home-cooked meal. Today you’ll feast on maqluba – an 'upside-down' style dish consisting of chicken and vegetables. Afterwards, drive to Jerusalem via the famous Mount of Olives – an important pilgrimage site and home of the Garden of Gethsemane.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jericho - Maqlubeh Dinner
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Enjoy a full day tour of Jerusalem, starting with a walking tour of Via Dolorosa (the Way of the Cross) in the Old City. Stop at one of the city's favourite eateries and watch a master prepare mutabbaq – a stuffed pancake of Yemeni origin. Continue to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to visit the Golgotha – where Jesus was crucified – and then down to the Tomb where he was buried. Walk through the spice market to the Jewish Quarter and witness the pilgrims at the Western Wall. For lunch today, sample the local hummus and falafel at one of the most famous places in the Old City. Afterwards, continue to Nachlaut for a tour of one of the oldest neighbourhoods in West Jerusalem, finishing at the renowned Machane Yehuda food market. The best way to tackle these wondrous food stalls is with a Machane Yehuda Bites Card – where you’ll be able to sample a broad selection of foods while you wander. Alternatively, this area is ideal to just pull up a chair and grab an early dinner at one of the nearby restaurants, perhaps with some shakshuka – a North African dish served in a pan, consisting of eggs poached in a sautéed tomato, chilli and vegetable sauce.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jerusalem - Guided tour of Old City
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
The Machane Yehuda Bites Card is NIS 105 and available for purchase at the market or online.
After breakfast, head south into the Negev Desert to meet some food producers. Your first stop is a goat cheese farm. Next, be welcomed into the home of a Jewish resident of the Negev. Here we will gain insight into the life and food traditions of an Israeli in the desert. Lunch will be a feast of vegetarian dishes. After lunch, drive up to visit the Tomb of David Ben Gurion – the first prime minister of Israel and one of its founders. Before the drive back to Jerusalem, visit an ancient winery that dates back to the Nabatean era. In recent years, an Israeli couple replanted the winery along with other fruit trees, producing an interesting selection of wines and jams that are only sold in that farm. Arrive back in Jerusalem by evening for a well-deserved rest.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Negev Desert - Desert Producers Tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Enjoy breakfast in one of the Old City’s most beloved hummus restaurants. Take a short drive to World Heritage-listed Battir, where villagers continue to practice ancient agricultural methods. The village is surrounded by an impressive Roman-era system of stone-walled terraces and a unique irrigation system fed by seven springs. Continue on to the holy city of Bethlehem, and along the way, pass through a gap in the controversial separation wall that separates Israel from the West Bank. Once arrived and settled in, take a leader-led walking tour of this acclaimed city, passing Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity. This evening, join your group at an included barbecue dinner in town, where you’ll try your hand at mincing your own meat the authentic way – with two huge cleavers! Take your food coma back to Jerusalem and settle in for the night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Battir - Guided Village Walk
  • Bethlehem - Church of the Nativity & Shepherds' Field
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Ahlan wa sahlan! Welcome to Amman, capital of Jordan. Amman is known for sharing a mix of both young and old culture. Begin at the hotel with a 6 pm welcome meeting. Following that, tonight’s taste of Jordanian cuisine starts at the Hashem Restaurant – a place with a bragging rights for being a favourite of royals, diplomats and celebrities travelling through Amman. Dinner will consist of their famous Jordanian stuffed falafel, which is fresh and crunchy on the outside while fluffy on the inside. There’s also the chance to dip bread through smooth creamy hummus and moutabel; similar to hummus but with yoghurt, lemon juice and Arabic salad. After a filling meal, head on to the decades old Habibah Sweets shop for a slice of warm knafeh – delicious buttery cheese pastry soaked in sweet, sugar syrup.
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Keep an eye out this morning for people stuffing their faces with hot sesame bread sandwiches – most of these will be pouring out of the Salaheddin bakery, today’s breakfast joint and a favourite among locals. Walk in, choose a hot, fresh loaf and fill it with baked eggs, cheese, spices or anything else you want from the counter. After filling up on arguably the best bread in town, board a bus and head through Madaba before reaching the Dead Sea (approximately 45 minutes drive). This body of water is famously salty – 9.6 times saltier than the ocean as a matter of fact. As a result, it’s believed to have healing properties that can be tested first hand during an optional swim. After drying off, prepare for a traditional picnic lunch, mezze style. Mezze consists of setting up a series of small appetisers with a group of friends, then scooping them up with bread. Kibbeh (fried meat with wheat), manakish (flatbread with za’tar and olive oil), spinach bread and cheeses are all served, followed by a cup of shaneeneh (an aged goat milk yoghurt drink) and a serving of hareeseh (a sweet, syrupy pudding) for desert. Continue to Petra for dinner (approximately 3 hours). Learn from a local family how to prepare mansaf, delicious lamb with fermented, dried yoghurt sauce. After a hearty meal and a few shared stories from the family, arrive at La Maison Hotel near the ancient ruins of Petra.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today we explore ancient Petra, known as one of the new ‘seven wonders of the world’. This archaeological city sits within 80-metre-high cliff walls – the iconic treasury, carved into the face of one of these cliffs, is definitely the highlight of this visit. The site is expansive and to explore it all requires quite a bit of walking and a basic level of fitness will enhance your experience. With a free afternoon to proceed at your own pace there’s ample time to see the museum, the roman amphitheatre, the palace and other places – just head to the visitor centre for a map and a few suggestions as to where to go. Once the day is done, head back to your hotel for a free evening.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Rise early for a mezze-style breakfast of breads, garnishes and sheep's milk with a local shepherd. This is the perfect setting learn about the life and culture of a Petran local. Continue to Wadi Rum (approximately 3 hour), a place often referred to as ‘The Valley of the Moon’. Explore the red dunes, steep craggy mountains and legendary ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ rock formation on a 4-hour jeep ride. Afterwards, head to a Wadi Rum campsite for a traditional Bedouin barbecue known as ‘zarb’. One of the staples of Bedouin culture, zarb involves digging a large hole in the ground and stoking a coal fire underneath it before cooking meat and vegetables in the pit. Spend the evening in this magic setting. 
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Spend the night in a permanent tented camp with shared bathroom facilities. Please be aware that while the desert may be very hot during the day, it will still be cool at night and warm clothes and a sleeping bag is highly recommended when travelling outside of the summer months.
Start the morning with a delicious Bedouin breakfast – not to be confused with bed and breakfast! This typically consists of labneh (strained yoghurt, usually served with olive oil), zait (olives), za’tar, jebneh (cheese pastry) and tomatoes. You may get the chance to wash it all down with a cup of Bedouin whiskey; it’s non-alcoholic and consists of tea with sugar and sage, so don’t worry about getting tipsy before lunch. Following breakfast, take a walking tour through the desert of Wadi Rum. The sand dunes shift in colour as the day passes by and the colossal mountains sit steep and sharp, adding to a sense that these ancient lands were forgotten by time long ago. After the walking tour wraps up, take a 3.5-hour drive back to Amman and stop for a delicious falafel sandwich along the way. Tonight, enjoy a self-prepared dinner at the Beit Sitti cooking school, known as one of the most innovative developments in Jordan’s dining scene. Visitors to the school get to cook (and eat) an authentic meal under supervision, with tonight’s dish being maqluba. Literally translating to ‘upside down’, maqluba is a casserole with rice, vegetables and chicken which is cooked, flipped, then served with either yoghurt or an Arab salad with tahina sauce.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Your Real Food Adventure comes to an end after breakfast, with no further activities planned. If you are spending more time in Amman we can help you to book additional nights accommodation just contact your sales agent. 
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

12 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 6 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle, 4WD Vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (12 nights), 1 Night (Desert Camp)

Included activities

  • Tel Aviv - Welcome Dinner
  • Haifa - Baha'i Gardens
  • Zichron Ya'acov - Winery visit
  • Akko - Old Town Walk, including Templar Tunnels
  • Golan Heights - Druze Cooking Demonstration and Home-cooked Meal
  • Nazareth - Visit to Church of Annuniciation & Mary's Well
  • Bait Al-Karama - cooking class
  • Nablus - Samaritan & Tahini Factory visit
  • Jericho - Maqlubeh Dinner
  • Jerusalem - Guided tour of Old City
  • Negev Desert - Desert Producers Tour
  • Battir - Guided Village Walk
  • Bethlehem - Church of the Nativity & Shepherds' Field

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip with exception of Day 12 (Wadi Rum Desert Camp)

2. Following recent safety incidents we recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest information on travelling in Israel before your departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas of your itinerary. We have links to prominent government travel advisories and regular updates on issues affecting this trip on our Travel Alerts page - www.intrepidtravel.com/au/travel-alerts

3. As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group will change on Day 9 (Amman).

Essential trip information

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