Springtime in the Holyland
Please note: All prices at this stage include flights ex Sydney, Brisbane, or Melbourne (for prices for other departure points, please enquire), HOWEVER we at Heart With Wings are transitioning to pricing that does not include flights, with flight arrangement and booking being an optional extra. If in the meantime this is your preference, let us know and we’ll happily work out quote/s for you.
COVID update: Sadly, both of our Middle Eastern tours have been cancelled for 2023, so this tour is scheduled to next depart March 2024.
If you don't necessarily have the 'bucket-list' desire to spend Christmas in Bethlehem but still wish to experience the many wonders of our ‘Christmas in Bethlehem’ tour, with the bonus of a beautiful Middle Eastern Spring, this might be the trip for you.
Whilst it’s true that Christmas in Bethlehem is an extraordinary, culturally rich, colourful, truly unique experience, it’s equally true that that time of year in that part of the world is coooooold (though that cold does have a beauty of its own, especially when it snows in Bethlehem ... and indeed one might reasonably argue that this adds to the traditional 'Christmassy feel').
Springtime is a wonderful time to be in this region, with mild climate and beautiful clear skies, ideal for travel and sightseeing; most famously so in Jordan where large swathes of countryside which are arid for most of the year burst into colour and life with the blooming of wildflowers (including but certainly not limited to Jordan's famous Black Irises) - a surprising and moving sight for the eyes and soul in a country where most people might not expect such lush and colourful flora.
Following essentially the same itinerary as the 'Christmas in Bethlehem' tour, this is a specialised, small-group package (or private bespoke) tour specialising in religious history (scholarly, respectfully secular approach), culture, places and traditions. We tour through traditional sacred sites, historical and/or claimed scriptural story locations, historic and simply beautiful places, throughout Palestine, Israel, and Jordan. Along with a maximum five other people (therefore a far more relaxed, personal, potentially bespoke experience than mass tour-bus tours), you will be accompanied by two passionate guides, each with university degrees in Studies in Religion (and further tertiary qualifications between them including Arabic Language, Peace and Conflict Studies, Mediation and Conflict Resolution, Facilitative Mediation, and Education) to talk with you about the history, mythologies, stories, and traditions associated with the places you visit.
Your tour leader has extensive experience on-the-ground in each of the places that we will visit, giving you safety, local knowledge, passion for the locations, and the special expertise that comes with first-hand lived experience.
Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee, Jerusalem, the Mount of Beatitudes, Garden of Gesthemane, Jordan River, and so many more …. even to non-religious people, or non-literalist holders of faith, so many places in the 'Holy Land' have a breathtaking ring of legend about them. They are, so to speak, 'in our blood', enshrined in our collective memories. Here at Heart With Wings, in our experience many people are captivated by the idea of visiting these places and understanding the mythologies associated with them, but shy away from being told that stories are necessarily literally/historically 'true', or truer/better than other beliefs and interpretations …. OR on the other hand being told in a dismissive or pejorative sense that that they are ‘untrue’. Other specialist tours that focus on religious histories/scriptural stories tend to blur the lines between history and faith, 'telling' you that this happened in that place, as if these traditions and stories are necessarily 'facts', or on the other hand dismissing and diminishing them as ‘just made up’. Our tour guide and tour leader have the passion and extensive respectfully secular academic knowledge to engage with you about the fascinating mythologies surrounding these places, without any insistence on them being literally/historically 'true/untrue' or 'historically accurate/inaccurate'. Indeed, we help you to be excited about different interpretations, different reasons for differing locations, differences in stories about places, etc. Far from delivering our academic standpoint in such a way that it detracts from the importance of these places or the beauty of the stories, we get excited about the power of mythology and the beauty of scriptural storytelling, from an academic standpoint without any dogma nor literalism.
We will visit some places where certain aspects of great religious stories possibly/probably/likely/certainly happened, others that likely inspired a myth tradition but are unlikely to be 'accurate' locations, others that were more likely mythological associations that most likely didn't 'happen' at all, and we have the respect, passion, expertise and education to be able to distinguish and engage with-and-between each.
See itinerary below for full details of places visited.
Prices are all-inclusive. Flights* (ex Sydney, Brisbane, or Melbourne. For prices for other departure points, please enquire), specialist travel insurance (many other policies that you might otherwise take out might not cover some areas that we are visiting, nor several possible scenarios that may occur), all accommodation, entry into all sites, all breakfasts.
* We at Heart With Wings are transitioning to pricing that does not include flights, with flight arrangement and booking being an optional extra. If in the meantime this is your preference, let us know and we’ll happily work out quote/s for you.
One adult: Single booking for 6 person (max) tour . Price per person, TWIN SHARE
For 5 or more
Two adults booked at once for 6 person (max) tour . Per person TWIN SHARE
For 5 or more
Three adults booked at once for 6 person (max) tour . Per person TWIN SHARE
For 5 or more
Four adults booked at once for 6 person (max) tour . Per person TWIN SHARE
For 5 or more
Five or six adults booked at once for 6 person (max) tour . Price per person, TWIN SHARE
For 5 or more
PRIVATE TOUR: One person alone
PRIVATE TOUR: Two people. Price per person.
PRIVATE TOUR: Three people. Price per person.
PRIVATE TOUR: Four people, price per person.
PRIVATE TOUR, five people. Price per person.
PRIVATE TOUR: Six people, price per person.
What is included
Starting Point: 11:30 am at Brisbane QLD, Australia
Day 1: 7/3/2021 Fly
A very exciting day as your adventure begins! Take your included* flight from your nearest major city to Tel Aviv, Israel. Listed prices are based on flying from Sydney, Brisbane, or Melbourne, but Heart With Wings will happily arrange flights from any major airport and adjust your price accordingly. Just let us know at time of booking or enquiry, and we'll make the arrangements.
Those flying from Brisbane will be met at Brisbane airport and accompanied by your Tour Guide. All others will be met in Israel.
* Please note: All prices at this stage include flights ex Sydney, Brisbane, or Melbourne (for prices for other departure points, please enquire), HOWEVER we at Heart With Wings are transitioning to pricing that does not include flights, with flight arrangement and booking being an optional extra. If in the meantime this is your preference, let us know and we’ll happily work out quote/s for you.
Day 2: 8/3/2021 Arrive Tel Aviv
Welcome to beautiful Israel! We love it here, and we know that you will too.
Upon arrival at Ben Gurion International airport, you will be met at arrivals and transferred in comfort to the luxurious Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv city.
After that, there is nothing on today's itinerary other than your own relaxation. We at Heart With Wings know how it feels to have to hit the ground running after a very long flight and in the midst of jetlag, so we'd never do that to you :) We want you to have a happy and wonderful experience on the tour, not an exhausted and weary one. So we give you this first day and night after the flight to just relax, rest, have a wander, a swim, indulge in the hotel's luxury facilities, a good night's sleep, and recover from your jetlag so that you are bright and refreshed for the great adventure that's about to begin!
Day 3: 9/3/2021 Bethlehem and Mar Saba
No matter how many times we at Heart With Wings visit, arriving in Bethlehem is always a deeply moving experience.
This morning, we we travel in comfort by private transfer from Tel Aviv, crossing the checkpoint/s into the Palestinian Territory of the West Bank to Bethlehem.
We check into the beautiful Casa Nova Pilgrim House.
Your tour leader, Geoffrey, calls this his favourite accommodation anywhere in the world, and that's saying something, as he's lost count of the number of places he's laid his hat! A gorgeous old building, actually attached to the Church of the Nativity and backing onto Saint Catherine's cathedral, you literally could not be closer to the focal points of Bethlehem without actually sleeping in the church! Your room will either overlook beautiful Manger Square, or the famous courtyard at the entrance of St Catherine's, or the rooftop of the Nativity Church itself! Right at the centre of it all, yet quiet and peaceful and welcoming.
Settle in, we'll have lunch, a walk in Manger Square and walk the cobbled streets of the Old City.
Cave of Saint Jerome
Day 4: 10/3/2021 Bethlehem
Security Wall and Banksy Art
Visit a local Palestinian carpenter and his family - a great opportunity to buy some handmade souvenirs and experience local life.
Hebron - Tomb of the Patriarchs
Day 5: 11/3/21 Bethlehem
Shepherds' Fields (three different locations where various denominations consider the appearance of the angels to the Shepherds to have taken place), the Fields of Boaz / Fields of Ruth, Lazarus' Tomb, with your guide discussing the history and significance.
We visit the breathtaking Mar Saba monastery
Day 6: 12/3/21 Oh, Jerusalem!
Again, no matter how many times we at Heart with Wings visit here, that first glimpse of the walls of the old city of Jerusalem / Al Quds coming into view takes our breath away every time.
Today, we travel back through the checkpoint/s into Israel, to the Old City of Jerusalem.
And then...we pass through Damascus gate and ...Oh, Jerusalem! There is no place in the world quite like it.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Garden of Golgotha / Tomb Garden
Temple Mount / Dome of the Rock
Western Wall (the 'wailing wall')
Last Supper rooms (Cenacle and Syrian Orthodox Church of St Mark)
The Via Dolorosa
Overnight in Bethlehem
Day 7: 13/3/21 Jerusalem / Al Quds
Today we walk through the Old City of Jerusalem, taking in its beautiful cobbled streets, the markets and thriving buzzing sidetreets and alleyways of the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Quarters.
Then we walk out through out through Lion's gate to the Garden of Gesthemene, the Church of All Nations, and Mary’s Tomb. Then on to the Mount of Olives with its famous churches, sites, and spectacular views over the Old City.
Dome of the Ascension
Overnight in Bethlehem
Day 8: 14/3/21 Ain Karem
The road trip begins.
After breakfast and one more walk in the Old City, we say goodbye to beautiful Bethlehem and cross the checkpoint back into Israel, where we pick up our private van and head to Ain Karem, a stunningly picturesque and peaceful town, with plenty of history and significance to discuss with your expert guides.
Here, we check into another very special place of accommodation, again actually within / attached to the historical building at the centre of Ain Karem's significance:
Day 9: 15/3/2021 Jericho, Qumran and more
Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls)
- Ancient City
- Mount of Temptation and Monastary of Qarantul
- Zaccheus’ sycamore tree
St Euthymius Church, traditional 'location' of the Good Samaritan parable on the Road to Jericho
Traditional location of the 'Valley of the Shadows'
Wadi Qelt and the spectacular St George's monastery
Night in Ain Karem
Day 10: 16/3/21 Megeddio, to Mount Tabor
Megeddio (Ar Meggedio, i.e. 'Armageddon') National Park and UNESCO world heritage centre
Mt. Tabor. (considered deeply sacred for thousands of years, included but not limited to being the traditional place of the 'Transfiguration of Jesus')
Yet again, we stay in a magnificent old building that is actually part of the church of most significance upon Mount Tabor itself:
Day 11: 17/3/21 Nazareth and surrounds
- Church of the Annunciation
- Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation
- Church of St Joseph
- Mary’s well
- The Synagogue Church
- Nazareth Village
- Marie de Nazareth
Cana wedding church (water into wine)
Stay Casa Nova Mount Tabor
Day 12: 18/3/21 Masada and Tiberias
Breathtakingly spectacular Masada UNESCO World Heritage site and National Park
Lake Tiberias / 'Sea' of Galilee
Stay at Casa Nova Tiberias
Day 13: 19/3/21 'Sea' of Galilee and surrounds, Safed
- Mount of the Beatitudes
- Peter’s church
- Church of the multiplication (Tabagh)
House of Love and Peace for Shabbat
Day 14: 20/3/21 Caeaserea
Caeserea UNESCO world heritage site and National Park
Back to our old 'home' at Ain Karem
Afternoon options: Afternoon to yourself in Jerusalem (we'll drop you off and pick you up) or a quiet afternoon at 'home' in Ain Karem
Day 15: 21/3/21 Marhaba, Jordan!
We bid a fond farewell to beautiful Israel, travelling by private bus, crossing at the Jordan River border crossing into Jordan, to Irbid, where we pick up our Jordanian private van and drive through the beautiful north to our home for the night; the beautiful, peaceful Jordan Ecopark:
Day 16: 22/3/21 Gadara / Umm Qais, Jordan Valley, Pella, Dead Sea
We drive to the far north of Jordan to Umm Qais, with its moving views of Jordan, West Bank, Israel, Golon Heights, and Syria.
Gadara UNESCO World Heritage site and Ancient Gadara (extensive historical, traditional, and scriptural significance including traditional site of Jesus expelling the demons).
Then, the awesome experience of travelling the length of the Jordan Valley, so rich with ancient, traditional, as well as modern significance.
We visit Ancient Pella.
We arrive in our breathtaking chalets at Mujib National Park on the banks of the Dead Sea, with private Dead Sea beach. Float in the Dead Sea as the sun sets behind the Hills of the Judean Wilderness, Israel, and West Bank.
Day 17: 23/3/21 Baptism site, Madaba, Mukawir
Bethany upon the Jordan / Al Maghtas Unesco World Heritage Site: Traditional site of the baptism of Jesus of Nazareth by John the Baptist.
Mount Nebo: Tradition holds that this is the place where God shoed Moses the 'Promised Land' after 40 years in the Wilderness. We discuss this story tradition while looking out over breathtaking views of that very wilderness in one direction, and across the Jordan River and Dead Sea to that 'Promised' land in the other.
Madaba, with its stunning mosaics, including the ancient mosaic map of the Holy Land (the oldest known geographical floor mosaic in existence).
Mukawir; Rising spectacularly above the surrounding desert wilderness, ethereally beautiful, and the location of Herod's Palace where according to the biblical story where John the Baptist was executed. You can almost see Salome dancing.
Dead Sea Museum
Night at Mujib chalets
Day 18: 24/3/21 Petra
We drive through beautiful countryside from Mujib to Wadi Musa, where we check in to the wonderful Petra Guest House Hotel, four star comfort right at the entrance to the ancient city of Petra.
Have your bucket list handy and be ready to tick of what should be an item on everyone's list - the indescribably awesome ancient city of Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Breathtaking, extraordinary and surreally beautiful.
Your entrance to Petra is included for two days, as is a donkey ride to the Monastery
Extra option if you choose: 'Petra by Night' candlelight experience.
Day 19: 25/3/21 Petra, Siq Al Barid (option), Wadi Musa
A second day in Petra (not overkill, trust us!)
Included option: For anyone who prefers a visit to Siq Al Barid Nabatean archaeological site ('Little Petra') to a second day in Petra-proper, we will include a side-trip there while the others further explore Petra.
Extra options if you choose: Local Bedouin guide, horse riding in Petra.
Drive to Wadi Rum: The other-worldly beauty of the Wadi Rum Desert is simply indescribable - it must be seen and experienced to be believed. We arrive at the Wadi Rum National Park in time to watch the famously magnificent Wadi Rum sunset, then spend the night in comfort under the equally-famously magnificent Wadi Rum stars, in a ecologically sound locally-operated luxury Bedouin camp.
Day 20: 26/3/21 Wadi Rum, Dana Biosphere
Ride a camel through the magnificent desert of Wadi Rum, led by a local Bedouin camel driver and guide.
Visit the haunts of 'Lawrence of Arabia', including Lawrence's Spring.
Then to the extraordinarily beautiful Dana Biosphere reserve National Park:
Day 21: 27/3/21
We drive the extraordinarily picturesque KIng's Highway through the day, following a route that has been an important trade and travel route for over 5000 years.
Umm Ar Rases: Ancient city archaeological site, more mosaics, and according to traditions/theories possibly the biblical Mephaat of the Old Testament / Tanakh.
Then on to Amman: Your tour leader loves Amman, considering it his second home, calling it 'wattan qalbee' or 'home of my heart' , and we know that his passion for this vibrant city will rub off on you.
We check in to our home in Amman, the lovely 'The Y Hotel', perfectly situated on Jabal Amman, close to the wonderful neighborhoods of First Circle (Rainbow Street), Second Circle, and Wast Al Bald ('Downtown').
Day 22: 28/3/21
- The Citadel
- Roman Amphitheatre (Philadelphia)
Practicalities (Post office, sim cards, etc.)
Souqs (markets), sights and sounds of Amman
First and second circles, Rainbow Street, Wasat Al Balad
Day 23: 29/3/21 Amman
More sights, sounds, experiences, locations, views, souqs, restaurants, stalls etc. in Amman
Your tour leader takes you to his pick of the best and most genuine markets and street vendors and stores for your souvenir shopping,
Unless you have booked extra days*, this is your last day with us, so tonight, or the next day, depending on your flight time, we take you to Queen Alia Airport and bid you fond farewell as you board your flight home.
If you want to see any of Jordan's beautiful locations and amazing historical sites that are not among the many that are many included on our itinerary (e.g. Jerash, Ajloun, the desert castles, Ma'in Springs), book extra days for the end of the tour. Our tour guide will personally take you to any location you wish to see. All transport, accommodation, entry fees, and breakfasts included. See 'add ons' option below