Cosmopolitan cafes lining beautiful white sand beaches, the giant golden dome of a local shrine rising over homes clad in Jerusalem stone, a candle-lit 5th century masterpiece rising out of the dark of night in the Jordanian desert... these 11 days in Israel & Jordan bring us into the middle of a region of fascinating contradictions. At any given time you may find yourself on camelback riding through the desert, reading a newspaper while you float weightlessly in the Dead Sea, sprawled out under the sun at the gay beach full of locals, exploring one of countless world-class museums, or taking in the unique culture and traditions on display through the streets of this Middle Eastern region.
As gay travelers, this trip gives us the ability to take in the Middle East while enjoying the comfort of a relatively gay welcoming community. We'll immerse ourselves into the thriving LGBT scene, sleep under the stars in a Bedouin 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 country 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.
Our 11-day Israel & Jordan trips include many of the "big ticket" items of your experience, including your domestic flights, ground transportation, breakfasts and even a guided visit to Petra and camel riding through the desert!
• All Taxes
• All accommodation in hotels/guesthouses
• Domestic roundtrip airfare between Tel Aviv and Eilat (southern Israel)
• All ground transfers between remaining destinations
• Camel ride in Wadi Rum
• 4 hour desert exploring experience by Jeep
• Daytime visit exploring Petra ruins with local guide
• Nighttime candlelight visit to Petra ruins
• 3 days with local Jordanian guide (as per Jordanian group travel laws)
• Bedouin style lunch and dinner at Wadi Rum Bedouin camp
• 3 hour Jerusalem city tour with local guide
• Masada fortress tour with local guide
• 3 hour Tel Aviv city tour with local guide
• Welcome dinner
• All full breakfasts
• All entrance fees to listed sites (Masada, Petra, Wadi Rum, Dead Sea)
• Jordanian entry visa
• Knowledgeable and fun Detours trip leader
• Detours pre-trip guidebook
• Group travel within Israel & Jordan
• Over a decade of trip leading experience
** - Trip prices based on twin share. Traveling solo? We'll match you up with another traveler at no extra charge, or just pay a $990 single supplement for your own room!
• Lunches and dinners not noted above
• Activities not noted above
• Optional tips for drivers/guides
• International Airfare to/from your country/Israel
• Israeli departure fee, 101 NIS (approx 30 USD)
• Jordanian departure fee, 10 JOD (approx 15 USD)
Our 11-day trip through Israel & Jordan ticks off an amazing number of bucket list items, from floating weightlessly in the Dead Sea, to riding camelback through the desert, to gazing up at the famous buildings of Petra carved into the cliffs.
Days 1, 2 and 3
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!
One of the world's great historically significant cities, Jerusalem remains an incredibly important place of pilgrimage and worship for many of the world's largest religions. Few places in the world sit in the center of so many conflicting beliefs and cultures, and that's exactly what makes this city such a fascinating place to experience. Even for non-believers the streets of Jerusalem are lined with engaging history at every turn, and just walking them provides a glimpse into the lives of millions who put so much importance on these very streets.
Our group trip starts here in Jerusalem, the perfect place to build a foundation of our Middle Eastern experience that we'll be experiencing together for the next 11 days. We'll have some time walking and learning with a local gay guide, then plenty of time to choose from many different unique activities such a visit to the world famous Holocaust Museum (Yad Vashem), the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall, or explore the markets of the Old City. For the more adventurous ask about current advice for visiting Bethlehem, or Jericho, the world’s oldest city, both located in the Palestinian West Bank.
One of the things you'll notice right away is the beauty of the Jerusalem stone-clad buildings, a pale limestone that is used extensively around the city giving it the beauty of symmetrical-looking architecture in both new and old construction. Rising over the city are centuries-old towers and domes, and hidden in side streets are local markets full of food, trinkets, and souvenirs. This time in Jerusalem gives us the background and historical knowledge of this Middle East region before heading off into the relaxing waters of the Dead Sea and beyond...
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!
Imagine being at the lowest point on Earth, surrounded by the beauty of the Negev Desert, and you're on your back floating weightlessly in the mineral-rich waters of the famous Dead Sea. It's incredibly relaxing and one of those memorable bucket-list items that we're excited to check off with you! Spa treatments using the natural Dead Sea minerals are very popular here, as is taking a bunch of photos covered in Dead Sea mud or floating effortlessly in the sea. Don't worry about sea monsters here either - no sea life lives in these salty waters!
Before we reach the Dead Sea, on our short trip from Jerusalem, we'll be stopping at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Masada. Perched high atop the rocky cliffs overlooking the Dead Sea with the mountains of Jordan to the east and the desert stretching to the south sits the ruins of an ancient fortress and home to the remains of King Herod's Palace, built in 30 B.C. There's plenty of stories to be told of this last stronghold against a Roman invasion, most dramatically its demise as 960 inhabitants committed a mass suicide as it fell to the Romans. Today it's an incredibly impressive site with visible remains of palaces, a Roman-style bathhouse and plenty of mosaic floors.
Our time at the Dead Sea is our chance to unwind, explore, and take in the natural beauty before we head off to spend the weekend in vibrant Tel Aviv...
Days 5, 6 and 7
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 opportunies for those who like the vibrant city life.
Although it's not the largest city in Israel (Jerusalem is #1) Tel Aviv is known around the world in the gay community as a super hot destination for gorgeous beaches, vibrant nightlife, and impossibly handsome locals. It's a city that has completely embraced the gay community with one of the world's favorite pride festivals in June, a year-round gay beach on the beautiful bank of the Mediterranean Sea, and a lively social scene. This is why we ensure that our trips spend the weekend here in Tel Aviv, to maximize our ability to enjoy the gay hotspots whether that's the cafes, the beach, or the bars.
While it's definitely got lots to keep us entertained, it's not just known for its hedonism, it also has plenty of museums, street markets and history here too. We'll spend a few hours with a local gay guide who will take us on a walk through the Jaffa district and along Rothschild Boulevard telling stories and pointing out important sites along the way. The beachfront promenade is one of our many favorite places for getting some sunshine but if you're looking for something a bit further afield you may want to take a day trip up to the iconic immaculately landscaped terraces of the Bahá'í Gardens at the spiritual and administrative center of the Bahá'í faith.
We'll soak up the sun and fun here in Tel Aviv before jetting down to our Jordanian adventure, starting with in desert of Wadi Rum...
Days 8, 9 and 10
A short 1-hour flight (included) takes us to the southern tip of Israel where we start our unforgettable Jordanian experience. The first stop is the desert of Wadi Rum, famous for its dramatic sandstone mountains, deep caverns and Mars-like landscape - in fact many movies have used this area to film their Mars scenes! We'll be exploring this region using Jeeps and camels together with a local Jordanian guide, spending our evenings with traditional food at a Bedouin camp then sleeping in a tented 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!
The best way to describe the Wadi Rum (Arabic for "sand valley") landscape is Mars-like. It played the part of Mars in many movies, and also set the backdrop for Lawrence of Arabia in addition to Star Wars and many other movies. It's such a surreal landscape, with red rock formations and sand deserts as far as the eye can see and is also home to the Zalabia Bedouin who will be our hosts here in the desert for a night under the stars at a Bedouin camp. During our time here we'll explore this beautiful and unique area by camelback and 4X4 Jeep, stopping to visit ancient temples, amazing vistas, and the occasional selfie of course. Our home for the night is a perfect spot to take in a star-filled sky, void of any local light pollution to disrupt it.
Spending this time with the local Bedouins in their desert camp is one of those unique experiences you'll remember forever. It's only disrupted the next day by yet another bucket-list item, the ancient ruins of Petra...
Our next day we'll continue on the 90-minute journey to the world famous site of Petra, the former capital of the Nabatean Kingdom, built around 300 B.C. Accessed via a narrow canyon the tombs and temples are carved into pink sandstone cliffs, giving an incredibly surreal background to your now drool-worthy social media posts! If that's not enough, we'll come back again after dark to the sight of the the canyon and ancient kingdom illuminated by 1500 lit candles. It's one of those rare moments in life that you'll always remember (and gush about).
The site that likely needs no introduction, as its world famous ruins have been on every traveler's list of "must visit" spots - and for good reason! Deep in the Jordanian desert, set in a steep canyon, and carved into the sides of the red rock is the ancient capital of the Nabatean Kingdom. Tombs and temples can be found hidden in the crevices and caves through the canyon, with the most famous of all of its structures being the 147 ft (45 meter) Al Khazneh, an ornate facade known as "The Treasury". Established as early as the 4th century BC, the Nabataeans built an impressive community of 20,000 who were able to survive in the harsh desert conditions until the Romans forced the locals to surrender in 106 A.D. then an earthquake left the area deserted.
We'll be staying just 1 minute from the entrance to these impressive ruins and will be heading into the canyon during the day to take in the impressive structures and unique sites, but our return after night has fallen is the cherry on top. Thousands of lit candles will light our path and illuminate the carvings and awe-inspiring structures of the canyon in front of us. As far as unforgettable moments of a traveler go, both our daytime and nighttime visits to this famous site will be firmly etched into our minds. Petra makes a great last stop of our time together in the region before we make our way back to Tel Aviv for our final night together.
On our 10th day together we'll head back across the border into Israel and fly back up to Tel Aviv for our final night. We'll share one last dinner all together in Tel Aviv undoubtedly reminiscing about the adventures we've just taken part in over the past days.
You're welcome to book your departing flights out of Tel Aviv at any time on this day - but you don't need to! If you've got a flexible schedule consider staying through the following weekend in Tel Aviv, or maybe staying down in the seaside town of Eilat before the rest of us head back up to Tel Aviv. We're happy to help you plan any additional activities or provide a bunch of options if you end up taking a later flight out of Tel Aviv.
*Note that the order of stops and duration at each location are subject to change.
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 & Jordan trip.
Arthur - an Atlas Boutique 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
• 4.5 star TripAdvisor rating
Leonardo Plaza Hotel Dead Sea
Why we love this property:
• Located beachfront at the Dead Sea
• Great spa facilities using local Dead Sea products
• Indoor and outdoor swimming pools
• Great service
ArtPlus - an Atlas Boutique Hotel
Why we love this property:
• Art design concept
• 2 blocks to the beach, in the middle of everything
• Friendly and helpful staff
• 4.5 star TripAdvisor rating
Sun City Camp (Royal Tent)
Why we love this property:
• Surreal Mars-like landscape at your doorstep
• Unique Bedouin cuisine and hospitality
• All the amenities of a hotel room (yes, ensuite bathrooms too)
• Sleep under a sky jam-packed with stars
Petra Moon Hotel
Why we love this property:
• One minute walk to the ancient ruins of Petra
• Gorgeous rooftop view over Jordan
• Beautiful swimming pool area
• 4.5 star TripAdvisor rating
• Perfect spot to relax before/after visits to the ruins
*Please note that due to availability, these exact hotels may not all be available during all Detours trips. However, we will always replace these with similar hotels, and will never downgrade.
Don’t worry about getting chilly, our trips are scheduled in the warmer months ensuring maximum warmth and sunshine! Temperatures will vary from warm to hot throughout the trip depending on the landscape but you can expect temperatures in the high 70’s and 80’s Fahrenheit (high 20’s Celsius) during the day. Even in the Jordanian desert days are predictably warm/hot in the daytime all through the year, then around 65F/18C at the lower end at night. That said, weather can sometimes be unpredictable so it's always good to pack a “just in case” outfit for the odd rainy day.
The People and LGBT 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, LGBT rights are the most advanced and progressive in the Middle East as well as some of the most progressive and accepting in their continent of Asia. LGBT people can serve openly in the military, couples can adopt children, and the annual pride parade in Tel Aviv is one of the world's most well known. While liberal and conservative views will vary depending on the region of the country due to several factors, we'll be quite welcomed as LGBT travelers across Israel. Jordan, despite being a Muslim country, is actually one of the only Muslim countries which does not criminalize homosexuality though it's still not regarded as a progressive and liberal country due to the influence of their religion. We ensure that all of our local guides, accommodation, and transportation providers are aware that our groups are LGBT travelers and engage in the same mutual respect that the locals expect of travelers too.
Israeli food tends to be similar to other Mediterranean diets with an influence of local products and traditional Jewish food preparation techniques. Dishes such as Baba Ghanoush, falafel, hummus, and shawarma will be very common in addition to tahini, schnitzel, and a breakfast of shakshooka. There will also be plenty of more "American" options for those who have "less adventurous" palates. Detours doesn't believe in limiting your choices by including all of your meals at pre-decided restaurants as part of the trip package. Instead, we include all of your breakfasts to start your day off, then we explore all of the different restaurant options available for lunch and dinner. This way we can eat when we want, where we want, and spend what we want! Your trip leader definitely has their favorite spots so if you'd like some advice on the best in each location, just check with them.
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. More packing information including a suggested packing list is included in your "Pre-trip Guidebook".
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. Your visa-on-arrival fee for Jordan is included in your trip cost. Please note your departure fees from each country are not included and you should be prepared to pay at the border upon exiting Israel 101 NIS (around 30 USD) and 10 JOD (around 15 USD) when exiting Jordan.
These days it seems that banks find every opportunity to ding us with fees from home and at each ATM we use. That's why we suggest using a credit card with no international fee, and bring some Israeli Shekels and a few Jordanian Dinar with you. Many places will also accept US Dollars here, but to avoid their awful exchange rates it's in your best interest to use Shekeles and Dinar. We suggest starting with bringing 1000 ILS (Israeli Shekels) as well as 60 JOD (Jordanian Dinar) You still may need to use an ATM along the way, but it's best to try to minimize the number of visits. Travelers checks are a thing of the past so we don’t recommend them any more.
Tipping isn’t a native custom in either Israel or Jordan, 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% 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.
Extending Your Trip
For many people, 11 days in this part of the world just isn’t enough time. If you’re lucky enough to be able to stay longer, or if you decide to quit your job and travel the world for the rest of your life, we’d be happy to help you extend (or cancel!) your return flight. We’ve spent time in several parts of the region, so don’t think twice about asking where to go or what to do after your Detours trip is complete.
Our Detours groups are run with a 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.
A Little Bit About Modesty
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.
Communicating with Home
Relax – we won’t keep you from updating your Facebook status the whole trip. There is WiFi all over the place and available at every hotel we stay at. If you’re more the “E.T.” type and would just rather call home, feel free to pick up a calling card at a corner store and make use of the many local payphones. Alternatively, if your mobile phone is "unlocked" you can pick up a local SIM card which is quite affordable.
Israel uses a "type C", "Type H" and "type M" plugs, with a unique 3-pronged "Type H" being the most common. The voltage is 230V with 50 Hz frequency. These days, the majority of items that are plugged into an outlet are built to handle varying voltage and frequency levels, but just to be sure, we suggest checking your item for its accetable range. Adapters are widely available to be purchased while in Israel, but you may wish to bring your own from home. Jordan uses a variety of different plug types (up to 6 different types can be expected!) so we suggest bringing or purchasing a multi-use adapter to be prepared.
Further information can be found in your "Trip Preparations" guidebook which is available to you after your trip signup. However, if you have any further questions about your Israel & Jordan experience please visit our FAQ page or contact us.