Israel vacations, small group tour

“Eight days to explore fascinating Israel, from buzzing Tel Aviv to its important historical and religious sites, with a float on the Dead Sea, too.”

Highlights

Tel Aviv | Caesarea | Megiddo |Haifa | Acre | Tabgha | Capernaum | Banias spring and waterfall | Nazareth | Beit Shean | Jerusalem, Old City and New City | Qumran | Masada |Dead Sea

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21 Oct 2018
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Israel vacations, small group tour

Environment

How our company is making a difference:
We know that making the positive difference we aim to achieve will not be an easy task. However, our enthusiasm and commitment towards our travel responsibility mission is far stronger than any obstacles. We believe that in order to achieve any objective, the company has to have accurate policies and procedures for the employees and the guests to follow in order to reach our goal.

We have decided that the environment is a major component of any local community and any negative effect on the environment would directly have an impact on the lives of the inhabitants of the local community. Therefore, we have drawn up a strict environmental protection policy that all our employees and travelers have to abide by. For example, we recycle empty ink cartridges. A company collects them and disposes of them in the correct manner.

Israel is a country which prides itself with some of the most significant holy sites in the world. Our tour guides and tour leaders instruct and encourage travelers to not pick off relics or elements of remembrance. We also encourage them to stay within the paths that were set out for visitors to walk on in order to sustain the environments surrounding the holy sites.

For us, Responsible Travel is the only way to travel

Community

Throughout our long tourism business journey, exceeding 15 years of travel operation in the Middle East, we have succeeded in establishing strong links with the communities we are dealing with in the host destinations.

We believe that the Responsible Travel concept has to be a two-way strategy with both the travelers and the local community gaining benefits. We benefit the local communities we visit using a wide scope of activities that have a positive impact on the local economy, directly by donating money to charity organizations, financially supporting some local communities and by recruiting employees who belong to the local community. We encourage our guests to buy local products and make use of services that people in local communities offer. We help indirectly through capacity building projects we implement with our employees and through the experiences and cultural exchanges that take place between the locals and our travelers during our tours.

We promise to support the local community in Israel. We will do this by employing local guides, using local handicraft shops and recommend shops to our travelers so that their vacation spending contributes to the people of Israel. Furthermore, we provide each traveler with a tipping guide. By doing this we set a concept of tipping and gratuity for every person who will offer a form of service to the traveler.

We have also considered the social aspect of the local community and how to respect the customs and traditions of the inhabitants helping us operate our tours. We always provide our guests with all the information needed to understand the community they are visiting and we create valuable opportunities for the travelers and the locals to mingle and exchange ideas and thoughts.

The first objective is to operate our tours in the most perfect way possible. Our second objective, but not second in importance, is to benefit the local community, protect the environment, and have a positive social impact on the inhabitants living in Israel. One of the ways of doing this is to inform and educate our travelers on the cultures of the destinations. By doing this we aim to create a form of respect between the travelers and the local citizens who they will face along their tours.

We educate all our staff on the real life situations of each destination. Sales consultants will use this information to inform potential travelers of the correct information and threats that they may face. By creating long lasting relationships with our local ground handlers, we are able to establish what needs the community has and through their information we can inform our travelers what they can contribute to the local community from their home countries.

In Israel, travelers are encouraged not to tempt children or any locals with food and sweets. The culture has to be respected at all times. Travelers are encouraged to always take care of any racial and religious comments. Israel has been in political conflict with a number of countries and people may get themselves into troublesome situations if they make any racial or religious comments.

7 Reviews of Israel vacations, small group tour

4 out of 5 stars
SHOW
1
5
1
0
0

Reviewed on 22 Mar 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


I felt we saw practically everything that Israel had to offer with a very competent guide. Every day was packed with sights and experiences but the outstanding event was visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, but I felt we needed longer at this sight.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


The hotel choices were poor, especially the hotel in Jerusalam. The days were long and there is a lot of walking. By the time the tour finished everyday you were in a rush to get ready for dinner, before they finished serving, typically around 8-8.30. The weather was very warm in March, later in the year this trip would be a challenge.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Not especially.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


I work in the travel industry and was working away when my husband selected this vacation. I wish I had paid more attention to the details because on the basis of the hotels chosen I would not have selected this vacation. I would prefer to pay more and have the standard of hotel improved. In Jerusalem only one other couple and us were allocated the hotel, the rest of our group were put into a far superior hotel. It was a great trip but room for improvement.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you very much for your review.

Im pleased to see that you felt you were able to rate this tour 4-star overall and that you enjoyed the services of the guide and the places visited on the tour. Our Biblical Israel is a busy tour which covers what we would consider the main highlights of Israel within a week with a little more consideration paid to the Biblical places than on our Classic Israel tour.

I am sorry that you werent happy with the hotels chosen for the tour. I can see that you were placed in the hotels described within our trip notes and on our website are locally rated 4-star hotels in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, though we describe the Jerusalem hotel as 3-star. The Kibbutz hotel we also rate at the 3-star level. On our Israel tours we do offer an on request hotel upgrade option which is mentioned on the Responsible Travel tour page and within our trip notes, so its normally the case that well have passengers staying in the standard hotels and others in upgraded hotels if they have requested and paid for this option. On this particular tour we offer the option of upgrading all hotels to a better 4-star level and then a superior upgrade to 5-star hotels.

In Israel we do try to benefit the local people and economy by only employing local guides, using local handicraft shops and recommending shops to our travelers so that their vacation spending contributes to the people of Israel.

I do hope that you have returned from Israel with happy memories and that youll consider another of our tours in the future.

Reviewed on 11 Feb 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Jerusalem

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Read the old testament bible stories so that you understand the religious significance of many of the sites on the tour.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Only stopping to shop in a Palestinian Christian run shop in Bethlehem.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


I was really disappointed to learn that my tour wasn't an tour set up by our tour operator at all but an amalgamated tour with at least 3 other travel companies who had then sub-contracted out the tour. This led to people staying in 3-4 different hotels which meant pickups and drop-offs in Jerusalem; people joining the tour- in Jerusalem the group went from 16-21. I also found out that all the other participants had been offered a range of accommodation which I was not. I also found out that more than half the group 12/16 had requested a rededication ceremony at the baptism site which I had not even been offered when I had booked. All included meals were buffets - twice a day was too much.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for your feedback on the tour. Weve responded directly to you in more detail, but Ive added some notes below too. As you have noted, we do sometimes share this particular tour with other operators. The reason for this is that arranging escorted guided tours in Israel is very expensive when compared to the surrounding countries, and it is just not possible to do for very low numbers without a big hike in the price. We do try to be transparent and explain in our website Tour Notes that we run the tour this way, though I accept that all this extra information is not currently visible on the Responsible Travel website.

On average our group departures tend to have a minimum of around 10 passengers, though we only need 2 passengers to book for a departure to be guaranteed. The maximum capacity of this tour is 45. We share this tour with a small number of other operators so you may join with travelers booking with different companies.

Im glad that you were happy with the hotels that you stayed in which were at the 4-star level. We do also offer some hotel upgrade options ourselves too, and these are mentioned in the Extras section of Day 1 on the Responsible Travel itinerary. Weve expanded on these options in the Tour Notes on our own website, but Im sorry they were not specifically offered to you while you were booking. Offering these hotel upgrades does mean that there can be more than one hotel pick up & drop off at the start/end of each day. However, these are arranged around the sightseeing so the tours are planned first, with the pick up timings then added on to either end. This should ensure that the actual amount of touring you do is not affected or restricted at all.

In the evenings, the hotels do arrange buffet dinners, as well as buffet breakfasts which are standard in most hotels. These dinners are included in the tour price, and as is the case in many countries in the region, the rates the hotels charge us for half board rather than just breakfast are pretty similar, meaning it makes sense for us to include them for you. You do always have the choice of heading out and eating independently though, and the guide should make clear this is an option at the start of the trip.

Finally, Im sorry that you were not offered the option of the rededication / baptism ceremony at Yardenit. Weve done some training with our reservation staff and updated our itinerary so that this option is clearly available in future.

Reviewed on 11 Apr 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The most exciting for me was learning about the history of the Jewish people and seeing Jerusalem, the old city.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be prepared for long days that are very tiring. It was very warm whilst we were there, April but doing all the sight seeing would have been hard work in 40c !

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We stayed in a Kibbutz hotel so that would have helped and most of our tour group bought lots of souvenirs so that would have helped too.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


I really enjoyed the vacation, it packed a lot in within the week.

Reviewed on 19 Dec 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


No one part. Whole thing amazing.Having never visited Israel before we had little idea of what to expect, our impressions being mainly informed, if that is the
right word, by the tragic scenes of conflict so often projected in our home media. However, since of late there seemed to be a bit of a lull in this strife we saw
this as a suitable window of opportunity to get some first hand insights. And for this purpose we could have faired no better than to have had Aharon as our
guide. A trained archaeologist with scholarly knowledge of the bible, a passionate love of his people and country, and a wonderful gift for story-telling, he kept
us enthralled for a week of incredible sights and experiences. His audience for the minibus tour was mainly Americans with just a couple of Brits. To meet the
busy schedule we did have to pick up our feet and maintain a brisk pace but the rewards were plenty as one breathtaking sight after another rolled by and
snapshots of thousands of years of world-shaping history were vividly revealed. Looking back at the checklist it seems incredible that we packed it all in -
Caeserea, Megiddo, Haifa, Akko, Tiberias, Capernaum, Ceasarea Phillipi, Nazareth, Beit Shean, Jerusalem Old and Now, Bethlehem, Qumran, Masada and
muddy finish in the Dead Sea. I for one have never taken so many photos on a single overseas trip, let alone just a one week tour.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Travel light using layered clothes. In winter you need a lightweight windproof jacket, comfortable shoes obviously and an umbrella if possible. Worth having
a basic first aid kit. Elderly member of our party cut head in fall. Don't forget your phone and camera chargers. Strangely for us bottled water is not supplied in the bus so take one with you every day and top it up as you go along. Practically all shops take US dollars. Take property security seriously even in your hotel. My wife's perfume vanished from our room.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Certainly benefitted local drivers, guides, shops, cafes etc. Where the vacation did score was in helping us get a better understanding of the effects of climate
change, and some man-made contributions, at desert floor level.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Unforgettable. I know I'm banging on about Aharon but he made it come alive, coping manfully with a battery of questions. He always ensured his answers
were fully made and were forensically accurate. Where accepted tradition and either written evidence or science were in conflict he would clearly explain
each side of the argument so we could be our own judge. The quality of his input made the tour an exceptionally interesting and sometimes thought
provoking experience. Of course it was always going to have a profound effect on us all but when on occasion he suggested that we would be changed by what
we saw and heard I think he hit the nail on the head. It was a very special tour.

Reviewed on 13 Apr 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


No one thing stands out because it was all good.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be prepared to do plenty of walking. Get Israeli currency before leaving home.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


No.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent. The only downside was the Rent-a-Guide Mercedes bus which was cramped, noisy and lacking in shock absorbers.

Reviewed on 04 Mar 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Masada & Ben Shean

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


See if you can have Hilik as a guide

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Benefited local people, yes.
Environmental impact, probably neutral at best, but any travel is bad!
Supported conservation, yes as with out visitors they won't conserve, that is clear.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Very, very, very good.

Regarding the stars below, I am not sure about reborn, or the best I have ever been on, but it is one that I would definitely not wanted to have missed and I will recommend it to friends.

Reviewed on 09 May 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


There were lots of memorable moments. We visited many sites spanning about 5000 years of history. Our guide was very knowledgable and aimed to bring history to life with clear explanations without getting bogged down with minutiae. He was able to answer questions for those who wanted more information. I liked the varied mix of people in the group with eight different countries represented. Just picking out a few hightlights: the boat journey on the Sea of Galilee on a beautiful warm and sunny Spring morning listening to Amazing Grace on the music system. Staying at a kibbutz also very interesting as was watching/taking part in baptisms at the River Jordan.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


This was a very busy tour visiting many sights. It's very much a 'taster' of what Israel has to offer rather than an in-depth study. Be prepared for some long days with a lot of traveling. A sun hat is essential and drink lots of water. At some of the religious sites it's necessary to have knees and shoulders covered and no low cut tops. This applies to men and women. In some places men need to wear head covering. Most places in the main tourist areas would accept US dollars as well as shekles.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


The tour was provided by an Israeli company using jewish, palastinian and arabic guides and drivers so presumably the money stayed within the country. We had opportunities to shop in local shops and the suk and eat in local cafes and restaurants. Where possible we were encouraged to stay on designated paths to avoid excess damage to surrounding areas.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


This was a comprehensive tour with a predominately christian bias. There was much to see and experience. My only real critisism is that it tries to pack too much into too little time. I would have liked longer at many of the sites. I think the tour would benefit from being a few days longer which could possibly give the opportunity to visit a synagogue and a mosque.

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