Egypt, Jordan, and Israel: Final Itinerary

posted in: Middle East 2023, Plans | 3

I leave in about three weeks for my next big adventure: six weeks in Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. I’ve received my final documents from Overseas Adventure Travel, so I can now share all the details of my trip.

I’m taking two back-to-back OAT tours. The first is Egypt and the Eternal Nile; the second is Israel: The Holy Land and Timeless Cultures. This tour includes an optional pre-trip extension to Jordan and a post-trip extension to Palestine.

About OAT

I’ve written about OAT before. These two trips are my third and fourth tours with OAT. I previously went with them to Argentina and Chile and to Peru and Ecuador.

There are a few things I really like about OAT. First off, there’s no single supplement. I can get a single room without paying extra. That’s makes a big difference; Rick Steves, for example, charges about 20% extra for a single supplement, and I’ve seen some tour companies that charge even more. Charter Club Tours, a local company in Ajijic, where I live, charges close to 50%, a ridiculous penalty in my opinion.

OAT tours are run in small groups, no larger than 16. This makes things happen more speedily and efficiently, and it makes it easy to get to know people on the tour. For the Egypt trip, there are 12 participants. For Israel, there are 15, of whom 8 are doing the Jordan pre-trip extension and 11 are doing the Palestine post-trip.

I’ve also really appreciated the pace of the OAT tours I’ve taken. I really don’t like one-night stays, and with OAT there are very few.

One of my favorite things about OAT tours is their special activities. These include “A Day in the Life,” where we get to spend time interacting with a local family, and “Controversial Topics,” where we meet with people who can talk to us about national or local issues that are of serious concern. Plus there are several occasions on each trip for home-hosted meals.

My Itineraries


You can hover over the numbers on the map to see what is where. And use the + and — buttons to zoom in and out.

Sept 24Fly Guadalajara (GDL) to Mexico City (MEX)
Volaris flight 221; depart 16:32, arrive 18:05
en route
Sept 25Fly Mexico City to Istanbul (IST)
Turkish Airlines flight 189; depart 03:45
en route
Sept 26Arrive Istanbul 04:45
Fly Istanbul to Cairo (CAI)
Turkish Airlines flight 690; depart 6:50, arrive 9:05
Cairo Marriott
Sept 27Welcome briefing at hotel
Egyptian Museum
Cairo Marriott
Sept 28Pyramids of Giza and Great Sphinx
“Controversial Topic”: Women’s rights in Egypt
Cairo Marriott
Sept 29Fly to Luxor
Karnak Temple
Home-hosted dinner with local family
Sofitel Winter Palace
Sept 30Valley of the Kings
Luxor Temple
Sofitel Winter Palace
Oct 1Hot air balloon ride (optional)
Drive to Esna
Temple of Khnum
Board yacht Asiya Dehabeya
Cruise (four hours) to Higz
Asiya Dehabeya
Oct 2Cruise (five hours) to Edfu
Temple of Horus
Cruise (one hour) to Fauaza
Asiya Dehabeya
Oct 3Cruise to Besaw Island
“A Day in the Life”: visit with farmer and his family
Cruise to Gebel el-Silsila
Asiya Dehabeya
Oct 4Fares Island
Cruise to Kom Ombo
Kom Ombo Temple
Asiya Dehabeya
Oct 5Daraw livestock market
Cruise to Aswan
Asiya Dehabeya
Oct 6Disembark
Drive to Abu Simbel
Great Temple and Small Temple
Seti Abu Simbel
Oct 7Drive to Aswan
Aswan High Dam
Walking tour of Aswan spice market and bazaar
Sofitel Old Cataract
Oct 8Philae
Temple of Isis
Trajan’s Kiosk
Sofitel Old Cataract
Oct 9Fly to CairoCairo Marriott
Oct 10Transfer to Airport

Cruising the Nile

The yacht, Asiya Dehabeya, accommodates just 16 passengers and has a crew of 15. With our group size of just 12, the crew will outnumber the guests! Dehabeya (also spelled dehabiya, dahabeah, and all sorts of other ways) is Arabic for “golden one.” Asiya is the name of our boat. A dehabeya is a passenger boat, typically flat-bottomed like a barge and with two or more sails. 

Here’s what OAT says about our vessel:

This is not your typical large river ship, packed with travelers, chugging up and down the Nile (we’re content to let those big boats pass us by). Instead, you’ll experience a gentler, more gracious era in travel. As we glide quietly across the Nile’s timeless waters, guided by the gentle winds and whims of the currents, our small motorized tender is there to nudge us along when we require assistance. The intimate size of our vessel also allows us to visit ancient temples at quiet times, and gives us access to the smaller islands and riverside villages that travelers on the big river ships can only dream about. And at night, we’ll be far away from the bright lights and lines of the noisy tourist steamers. Quietly moored in secluded locales, we can spend peaceful evenings relaxing on deck, gazing out at the Nile to imagine a time when Cleopatra and Julius Caesar drifted past these very same waters aboard the Egyptian queen’s gilded barge.


Somewhere along the way in my education, I must have learned something about ancient Egyptian history. But I’m sad to have to admit that I remember almost nothing. I should probably do some reading in advance of the trip so I’m not a complete ignoramus about what we’re seeing.

Of course we’ll have guides to provide context, but still, it’s nice to start with an understanding about the ancient culture (or cultures) that created so many temples and tombs and left behind so many artifacts.


The OAT tour in Jordan doesn’t actually start until October 12, so that gives me two days on my own. I’ve made arrangements for a driver to pick me up at the airport in Amman and drive me to Wadi Rum, where I’ll spend two nights in a Bedouin camp. Then the driver will pick me up and bring me back to Amman to join the tour.

Map courtesy of Wanderlog, the best trip planner app on iOS and Android
Oct 10Fly Cairo to Amman (AMM)
Royal Jordanian flight 504: depart 14:05, arrive 15:30
Transport (private driver) to Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Desert Adventures
Oct 11All-day jeep tourWadi Rum Desert Adventures
Oct 12Transport (private driver) to AmmanGrand Hyatt Amman
Oct 13Welcome briefing at hotel
Amman city tour
Grand Hyatt Amman
Oct 14Jerash
Home-hosted dinner with local family
Grand Hyatt Amman
Oct 15Drive to Petra
Stops at Mount Nebo and Madaba
Petra Boutique Hotel
Oct 16All-day Petra walking tourPetra Boutique Hotel
Oct 17Transfer to Haifa

About Wadi Rum

My visit to Wadi Rum might be the part of this trip I’m most excited about. 

As you can see from the map above, it’s a long way from Amman, and it’s going to take probably at least 4 hours to get there. Since my flight doesn’t arrive until 3:30 in the afternoon, it’s going to be probably close to 9pm before I arrive at the camp where I’m staying. I was in touch with the owner of the camp, Mhareb, and he said there’s no problem with the late arrival, and that he would even hold dinner for me.

There are a lot of highly rated camps in Wadi Rum, and it was hard to pick, but Mhareb tipped the scales in his favor. Here’s what he says on the website for the camp.

Hi, my name is Mhareb, local tour operator and owner of Wadi Rum Desert Adventures.

Being a local means I am in love with the desert and I know the best spots of Wadi Rum – that’s why my camp is located in a special area, far from the other camps.

My passion is to share this special place in the most local way possible with individual travellers or small groups.

Our team is comprised of local Bedouins who are all born and raised in Wadi Rum. During your stay with us, you’ll have time to experience real local culture. From discussing life in the desert to sharing stories around the campfire after seeing the day’s sights, you’re bound to learn about Wadi Rum’s history and the current way of life with us.
This is where I’ll be staying!

I’ll plan to write more about Wadi Rum after I’ve been there, but if you Google it and look at the pictures, you should get a good idea about why I’m so excited to go there.

Which is not to say I’m anything but excited about this entire trip! 

Israel and Palestine

This map was made with Wanderlog, a travel planner on iOS and Android
Oct 17Arrive HaifaGolden Crowne
Oct 18Welcome briefing at hotel
Caesarea National Park
Wadi Nisnas
Baha’i Gardens
Golden Crowne
Oct 19Akko
Rosh HaNikra
Golden Crowne
Oct 20Drive to Golan Heights
Stop in Nazareth
Peace Vista Country Lodge
Oct 21Ein Zivan
Off-road Jeep excursion
Valley of Tears Memorial
“Controversial Topic”: ethnic tensions
Peace Vista Country Lodge
Oct 22Drive to Jerusalem
Stops at Capernaum and Sea of Galilee
Dan Panorama
Oct 23Western Wall
Jerusalem Old City walking tour
Mount Zion
Mount of Olives
Dan Panorama
Oct 24“A Day in the Life”: Abu Ghosh
Pantry Packers (Grand Circle Foundation Partner)
Dan Panorama
Oct 25Yad Vashem
Machane Yehuda
Home-hosted dinner with local family
Dan Panorama
Oct 26Optional tour to Ein Karem and Herodium
Or free day in Jerusalem
Dan Panorama
Oct 27Masada National Park
Dead Sea
Dan Panorama
Oct 28Israel Museum
Drive to Tel Aviv
Royal Beach
Oct 29Jaffa
Ilana Goor Museum
Jaffa Flea Market
Royal Beach
Oct 30Tel Aviv walking tour
White City
Neve Tzedek
Royal Beach
Oct 31Drive to Bethlehem
Stop at Mar Saba monastery
Tour of Bethlehem
Ambassador City Hotel
Nov 1Hebron
Tomb of the Patriarchs
Ma’ale Amos
“Controversial Topic”: Israeli settlements
Ambassador City Hotel
Nov 2Drive to Jericho
Stop in Ramallah for walking tour
Home-hosted lunch in Jericho
Jericho tour
Jericho Resort Village
Nov 3Optional tour to Mount of Temptation and Bethany
Or free day in Jericho
Jericho Resort Village
Nov 4Nablus
Jericho Resort Village
Nov 5Transfer to Tel Aviv Airport
Fly Tel Aviv (TLV) to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines flight 837; depart 18:00, arrive 21:30
Istanbul Airport
Nov 6Fly Istanbul to Mexico City
Turkish Airlines flight 181; depart 02:25, arrive 08:15
Fly Mexico City to Guadalajara
Volaris flight 250: depart 10:27, arrive 12:05
en route

Controversial Topics in Israel and Palestine

The two “controversial topics” we will explore during our visit to Israel and Palestine are issues I’ve thought a lot about. As a more-or-less secular Jew growing up, I attended Hebrew school, had a Bar Mitzvah, and readily accepted the version of history about Israel that they taught us. That included Israel’s biblical legacy and their acquisition of the Golan Heights and lands west of the Jordan River in the 1967 Six-Day War. 

It took me a long time to rethink my views about Israel’s right to exist and their treatment of Palestinians. I have come to believe that the Bible should never have been used to justify the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East. I’m also in favor of the “Two-State Solution,” creating an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank.

So I’m eager to hear from people who live in these disputed (or occupied) territories.

In the Golan Heights we will have a conversation with a retired captain of the Israel Defense Forces. Then we will have lunch at a restaurant run by a Druze family and will meet with members of the Druze community in the village of Majdal Shams.

During the post-trip extension in Palestine, we will visit a Jewish settlement near Bethlehem to hear their perspective of Israeli-Arab relations.

Curiously, OAT doesn’t actually refer to either of these experiences as “Controversial Topics.” I suspect they are treading lightly here. I will be curious to talk with our tour leader and with other travelers on the trip to see what range of opinions exist. Controversial topics can be sensitive for a lot of people. I wonder if others will share my views. And I wonder if (or how) my views will evolve during this trip.

3 Responses

  1. Abby Bergman

    Hi Lane,
    This trip looks FABULOUS!!! We’ve done Egypt and Israel (several times because Rose’s family is there) but only to Petra in Jordan. This looks SO EXCITING. The only things I would try to squeeze, if time permits, is Beit Sha’an IMHO has far superior ROman ruins than does Caesaria. Also the other thing that we loved was “Dig for a Day” (, yes it’s very touristy, but great fun and they allow you to excavate (after a brief introduction) minor sites. We all loved it. We were there about a year ago, last August, and it was beastly hot! Our prior trip was in March and it was HOT then. There was a Hamseem (a hot wind from the desert). In Egypt, we never got to the Aswan Dam. In terms of entertaining movies that do provide a decent historical perspective, I’d recommend “The Beauty Queen on Jerusalem,” “The Syrian Bride,” “Out in the Dark,” and “Sandstorm” and of course “Shtisel!”
    As a music officianado, you might also enjoy the youtubes about the East-West Divan Orchestra.
    While in Israel and Egypt we spoke freely about the then current situation (Netanyahu is a completely different situation! Ugh!) and particularly amond Druze Arabs, we were able to have some common understandings. Another easy place for conversations will be Abu Gosh (one of the Arab towns whose people supported the Israeli’s during the War of Independence. I found many Israeli’s defensive (except our relatives who are very liberal and open) and almost discounting my right to have an opinon!
    Your trip is SO AMAZING and I can’t wait to read your impessions and see your photos.

    • Lane

      Abby, thanks so much for your input. I doubt there is any opportunity to see anything that is not on the itinerary, but I will ask the trip leader if there’s time to stop in Beit She’an. (It appears it’s on the way from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem.) And a big thanks for the video recommendations!

  2. Mardee Sherman

    Lane, thanks for the updated info. It looks absolutely wonderful and I’m really looking forward to hearing more about your travels! Also thanks for the link to the Wadi Rum camp — I’m hoping to be able to do that, too, although I still need to talk to OAT about the logistics of that. I’m not sure I can wait until January 2025 to go on my tour! 

    Have an incredible and safe journey!

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