Duration: 2 Days / 8 hours (Approx.) | Offered in: English
DAY 1: Judean Desert Monasteries and Jericho
We meet at Bethlehem 300 Checkpoint if you are coming from Jerusalem: Checkpoint 300 is about 30 minutes from Damascus Gate by bus.
Women should dress modestly and bring a scarf to ensure admission to St. George’s Monastery.
Relax in air-conditioned comfort as you drive for around 45 minutes to St. George’s Monastery in Wadi Qelt. Along the way, you’ll pass by various religious sites: St. Theodosius’ Monastery, where some believe the wise men hid from Herod the Great after they visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem, and al-Eizariya, which many believe to be Lazarus’ Bethany village.
Stroll a short way down Qelt Valley to reach the monastery, which dates back to the fourth century, when monks first settled in the desert. They believed the site was where the Prophet Elijah was fed by ravens.
Continue driving to visit Jericho, the lowest and the oldest city on earth, your first stop will be taking the cable car up to Mount of Temptation, to the Monastery of the Temptation (Closed on Fridays), where Jesus was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:8). The cave inside the monastery is where Jesus has fasted and meditated for forty days and nights (Matthew 4:2). From the cable car, you will be able to see the ancient Jericho archaeological site.
Visit Hisham’s Palace, one of the main archeological sites in Jericho. Built-in the 8th century during the Umayyad period as a hunting lodge and winter resort, its name is associated with the Umayyad Caliph El Hisham Ibn Abd Al-Malik. The uncovered excavation shows the remains of the magnificent winter palace that was destroyed by an earthquake in 747 AD, shortly after construction. The site contains royal buildings, a mosque, water fountains, and spectacular mosaic floors.
Visit Zacchaeus Sycamore, where according to tradition, it’s the place where Zacchaeus, the tax collector, climbed a tree to get a better look at Jesus and where Jesus spoke with him (Luke c.19).
Visit the largest monastery in the Jerusalem Wilderness, Mar Saba Monastery dates back to the fifth century AD and perches amid the southern cliffs of the Kidron Creek. Founded by Saint Sabas (Mar Saba in Arabic), it’s been extensively expanded and fortified over the years. Please note: women are not allowed to enter the monastery. Everyone will enjoy a panoramic view of the site, but only men will be allowed to go inside and tour the monastery.
DAY 2: Bethlehem and Herodion
Visit the Old City of Bethlehem. Walk the narrow streets of the old city and enjoy the old architects of the buildings from the Ottoman period. Stop by Bethlehem Icon Center, which used to be a local house and today it’s a center teaching Byzantine Iconography. Walk the Star Street— the way that Joseph and Mary took when they came to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. Walk onward through the old city and stop at the main old entrance of the city then to Hosh Al Syrian Quarter, see the building from inside and stop for a cup of tea or Arabic coffee. Visit an old Olive Press museum and learn about olive harvest and olive oil production, the building which houses the museum dates back as far as the 19th century. It houses many ethnographic and archaeological artifacts featuring the entire process of oil production. Furthermore, the exhibit also shows the many uses for oil such as lamps, medicine, food, soap, and even cosmetics.
You will have a nice lunch break at Afteem Restaurant for Falafel, Hummus, and typical Salad lunch. (own expense). After you purchase your lunch, continue to Manger Square and visit the Nativity Church, the birthplace of Jesus and the oldest church in the world.
Drive to the Shepherd’s Field where the angel Gabriel appeared to the shepherds, and see the ruins that go back to the Byzantine time and the current church. Take a short drive to Herodion National Park, the palace of Herod the Great from the roman period 1st century BC. From the top of the mountain, enjoy a panorama view of the landscape of the area and from there you can see the Jordan mountains and the Dead Sea.
Finally, visit Banksy Graffiti arts in Bethlehem, The Walled Off Hotel of Banksy, and the separation wall.
End of the tour.
✓ Private driver-guide
✓ Private tour
✓ 2 Days Private tour
✓ Pickup and drop off at Checkpoint 300 for less than 4 people
✓ Pickup and drop off from your hotel in Jerusalem for more than 5 people
✗ Hotel pick up and drop off outside of Bethlehem City
✗ Entrance fees (where applicable)
✗ Gratuities (optional)
Departure & Return
- If you are coming from Jerusalem, you will meet your guide at Bethlehem 300 Checkpoint (known also as Rachels’ Tomb Crossing). It’s about 30 minutes drive from Damascus Gate by bus.
- Your guide will meet you after you cross to Bethlehem’s side.
- If you are staying in Bethlehem then a hotel pick-up is available.
- If you are more than 5 people, pick up and drop off from your hotel in Jerusalem is included.
Returns to the original departure point.
- A current valid passport is required on the day of travel.
- Saint Saba Monastery closed on Wednesdays and Fridays
- Women are not allowed inside Saint Saba Monastery
- Modest clothing is required
- Confirmation will be received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability
- Not wheelchair accessible
- If you cancel your tour within (10 days) prior to the date of the tour, the deposit amount is non-refundable.
- If you cancel your tour before (11 days or more) prior to the date of the tour, a full refund of the deposit will apply.
- If you cancel a requested multi-day tour at any time, the deposit amount will be non-refundable.
- If you cancel a requested customized tour that requires arranging/booking any non-recoverable out-of-pocket costs incurred on your behalf such as booking a separate driver, car rentals, admissions, hotel reservations, tickets etc. in less than (10 days) prior to the date of the tour, the amount for any non-recoverable out-of-pocket costs will be non-refundable in addition to the deposit amount.