Mighty Crusader Castles, labyrinthine medieval souks and jewel-like Damascene houses are only some of the treats on offer in Syria. Visit the ancient UNESCO Heritage Sites of Damascus, Aleppo and Palmyra. Cross the border to Jordan to discover the magical ancient city of Petra. Israel - the crusaders have hung up their swords, the prophets are dwindling, but you'll soon discover why travelers are still going in droves to this very special holy land.
- Economy class airfares ex Auckland
- Accommodation and sightseeing, including entrance fees as specified
- Meals as indicated
- Transfers and touring
AUCKLAND TO DUBAI
We depart this evening on our overnight flight to Dubai.
DUBAI - DAMASCUS
Once in Dubai we make our way to our connecting flight. On arrival in Damascus we transfer to our hotel. Legend has it that on a journey from Mecca, the Prophet Mohammed cast his gaze from the mountainside onto Damascus but refused to enter the city because he wanted to enter paradise only once - when he died. In a place that vies for the title of the world's oldest continually inhabited city, this is but one of thousands of stories.
We enjoy a full days sightseeing including the National Museum, marvel at the architectural magnificence that is the Umayyad Mosque, one of Islam's most important buildings. We continue to Azem Palace and haggle for bargains in Straight Street before heading to the Chapel of St Ananias, the Window of St Paul and for a stroll in the souk Hamidie. This evening we head to the top of Qassioun Mountain for a panoramic view of this coveted capital.
DAMASCUS - CRAC DES CHEVALIERS
Drive to Sednaya to visit the convent before continuing onto Maaloula where we tour their convent and the monastery of Mar Takla. We end the day in Crac des Chevaliers.
CRAC DES CHEVALIERS - ALEPPO
We visit Crac Des Chevaliers this morning. TE Lawrence simply called it 'the finest castle in the world'. Impervious to the onslaught of time, Crac des Chevaliers is one of Syria's must-see sights. Built by the Crusader Knights around the middle of the 12th Century it has been described as the epitome of the dream castle of childhood fantasies. After our visit we transfer to Aphamea to visit Ebla, a site of important and recent archaeological discoveries before continuing onto Aleppo.
Aleppo today retains that air of an Arabian Bazaar city. Our touring includes Aleppo Museum, the Citadel, the Great Mosque, Khan El Wazir, Khan Es Sabun and a stroll in the famous souks where we can haggle beside the locals in arguably the most vibrant and authentic souks in the Middle East. This afternoon we visit the Sanctuary at St Simeon.
ALEPPO - PALMYRA
We drive to Palmyra stopping along the way to visit Serjilla voted by Lonely Planet as the most eerie and evocative of the Dead Cities of Northern Syria. En route we also visit the attractive town of Hama to see the ancient wooden groaning water wheels. This evening in Palmyra we will head to the top of the Citadel for a sunset view of the city.
Our sightseeing today of one of the world's most splendid historical sights includes the Temple of Bel, the Arch of Triumph, the Great Colonnade, the Theatre and the Agora. Palmyra's intriguing history renders most visitors speechless.
PALMYRA - DAMASCUS
En route back to Damascus we view the convent at Sednaya. This evening enjoy a traditional Darwish Dance.
DAMASCUS - JERASH
We say goodbye to Syria today as we cross the border to Jordan and onto Jerash, one of the best preserved ancient Roman cities in the Middle East.
JERASH - PETRA
Our journey today takes us to Madaba, Mt Nebo, to stand on the site where Moses looked out over the Promised Land and Kerak before we arrive in the Rose Red city of Petra.
Petra is definitely a sight not to be missed. Feel the excitement build as we ride on horseback through the Siq, the long dramatic chasm that links the ancient city with the outside world. Stare in awe at the Treasury, Al-Khazneh, as it's locally known - arguably Petra's most spectacular and most photographed sight. Explore the towering Royal Tombs, offering great views of the old city centre and hike steps up to the Monastery, perched surreally on a mountain top, and just as impressive as the Treasury.
PETRA - DEAD SEA
We head south today to the Araba border into Israel and turn north towards the Dead Sea. At an elevation of 400m below sea level, the Dead Sea shoreline is the lowest bit of dry real estate in the world, we will of course enjoy a swim here!
DEAD SEA - JERUSALEM
Our drive today takes us via Massad where we ascend by cable car to the tour the ancient fortress before continuing onto Ein Gedi, an oasis fed by four springs. Drive through the Judean Desert to Jerusalem for our 3 night stay.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
People have been writing about Jerusalem for the better part of its 3000-year history, but still today your first glimpse inside the ancient walled city will leave you speechless. Our full day sightseeing will include the tomb of King David and the room of the Last Supper on Mt Zion before we enter the walled city and walk in the Jewish Quarter. Visit the Roman Cardo, the Herodian Quarter and continue to the Western Wall to see Judaism's holiest place. We walk along the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre before continuing to Mount Scopus and onto the Mount of Olives for a magnificent panoramic view of the Old City.
We begin our day with a visit to Bethlehem to see the Church of the Nativity and Manger Square. Returning back to Jerusalem we continuing our sightseeing of this ancient city with a visit to the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are kept. Continue to Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.
JERUSALEM - TEL AVIV
Enjoy a morning at leisure in Jerusalem before our afternoon drive to the lively city of Tel Aviv where we visit the ancient seaport of Jaffa.
TEL AVIV - NIR EZION
We head to Ceasarea, the great Roman port city and one of the largest archaeological digs in Israel. We continue to Zichron Yaacov, the landmark in the history of the Jewish settlement of Israel.
NIR EZION - TIBERIUS
Drive via Haifa and the Bahai Gardens to the vibrant city of Nazareth to visit the Church of Annunciation. Our accommodation for the next 2 nights will be on a kibbutz.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Our sightseeing around the Sea of Galilee will include Capernaum to see the ruins of the 2nd Century synagogue, Tabgha, the site of the 'Miracle of Fish and Loaves' and a visit to the Church of the Multiplication with it's 4th Century mosaic floor. Continue to Mount of Beatitudes, the place where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount.
TIBERIUS - AMMAN - DUBAI
We cross the border back into Jordan and enjoy an Amman city tour before transferring to the airport for our flight to Dubai.
DUBAI - AUCKLAND
We leave Dubai this morning on our flight home.
Arrive back into Auckland around midday.
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