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Israel's Ancient Kingdoms

Study Leader to be announced

September 30 - October 13, 2013

The lands of the Eastern Mediterranean were the cradle of our civilization. Here Christianity, Judaism and Islam were born and some of the world’s greatest empires rose and fell.  The people of Israel trace their origin back to Abraham and long ago prophets and modern-day travelers have journeyed here throughout the ages.

Far Horizons proudly presents a 14-day tour of Israel that includes all the complexities – civilizations, cultures, history, traditions, religions and the arts – that are so intricately entangled throughout this enthralling area of the world. During the trip, visit six UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Megiddo, identified as the site of Armageddon; Acre, or Akko, an historic walled port-city with continuous settlement from the Phoenician period and where the head archaeologist will take us into areas closed to the public; Tel Be'er Sheva, believed to be the remains of the biblical town of Beersheba; Mamshit, an important station on the Incense Road connecting Yemen and Oman; and Tel Aviv’s White City with its Bauhaus architecture. And finally enjoy three full days in the lovely walled city of Jerusalem.


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Tour Itinerary

(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner

Day 1: Depart USA for Israel.

Day 2: Arrive Tel Aviv and transfer to the Hotel Dan Panorama Tel Aviv, overlooking the beach and Mediterranean Sea beyond, our home for the next two nights.

Day 3: Tel Aviv’s White City, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was constructed from the early 1930s until the 1950s and reflects modern organic planning principles. The buildings were designed by architects who created an outstanding architectural ensemble of the Modern Movement in a new cultural context. We will visit this outstanding example of the innovative town-planning ideas before continuing to Old Jaffa, one of the ancient port cities on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The city sits upon a cliff, with the ancient port stretching out below. Jaffa has, in recent years, been restored with the old narrow streets and courtyards becoming another highly desirable part of Tel Aviv’s urban tapestry. (B/L/D)

Day 4: Caesarea, founded by the Greeks, was enlarged and strengthened under the Romans to become an important sea port. It was conquered by the Crusaders in the 11th century and fortified by the French Louis IX in 1251.  In time, these high walls were not strong enough to stop Sultan Baibars who ordered his troops in 1265 to destroy the city. Visit the excavations of the ancient city, the Roman theatre and aqueduct. Then it’s off to Megiddo, identified as the site of Armageddon, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Excavations indicate a long period of settlement, and include a well-preserved Iron Age underground water-collecting system, created to serve dense urban communities. Our final stop will be at Beit She’arim, a Jewish town and an ancient cemetery with a large number of ancient rock-cut tombs. Overnight for two nights in the Dan Panorama Hotel in Haifa. (B/L/D)

Day 5: Acre, or Akko, is an historic walled port-city with continuous settlement from the Phoenician period. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was an important deep-water harbor and the maritime capital of the Crusaders.  After the city was conquered by the Crusaders in 1104, a sophisticated system of fortifications unlike any previously built was created. The remains of the sea walls, the mighty ramparts and deep moat separating the city from the mainland still are visible. Excavations over the past decade have uncovered remarkable, remains including the headquarters of the Order of the Hospitallers, and provide an exceptional picture of the layout and structures of the capital of the medieval Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem. We have arranged a private tour of the Akko excavations by one of the archaeologists, including a walk through the water tunnels to the sea wall. Return to Haifa and view the city’s most striking landmark, the Baha’i Temple and Gardens, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Throughout the central city you can see the beautiful golden dome of the Temple, which sits at the top of nineteen terraced gardens extending all the way up the northern slope of Mount Carmel. Dinner is on our own to discover one of Haifa’s excellent restaurants. (B/L)

Day 6: Begin the day in Marj Rabba, or Har ha-Sha'avi. This Chalcolithic site dating back 5,000 years is located in Israel's Galilee region. The new research is designed to examine the dramatic changes in the relationship of villages, ritual sites and mortuary practices during this poorly understood period. Then it’s on to Tel Dan, one of the most important sites in ancient Israel, represented the northern border of the biblical kingdom of Israel. It was here, 2,900 years ago, that King Hazael of Damascus punctuated his invasion of Israelite territory with the erection of the famous House of David inscription, the oldest document to mention the historical King David. Continue on to Tiberias and overnight at the elegant Hotel Scots Tiberias for two nights.  Overlooking the Sea of Galilee, the hotel was established by the Scottish Church in 2004 within the historical compound of 19th century basalt buildings of the former Scottish Hospital. (B/L/D)

Day 7: At the crossroads of two major ancient roads, the once great city of Sepphoris, known as Zippori in Hebrew, was the capital city of Galilee throughout many periods. Excavations at Sepphoris have uncovered streets, houses, public buildings, bathhouses, a market, two churches, a synagogue, a Roman theatre, aqueducts, a huge elongated water reservoir and more than 40 mosaic floors. A crusader fortress, built on the remains of an earlier structure, dominates the upper part of the tell (prehistoric settlement mound) and now houses a museum. A short drive away, Beit Alpha is a sixth century synagogue where excavations have exposed exquisite mosaic floors that lay hidden for more than 1,500 years. Beit She’an was first populated more than 6,000 years ago during the Chalcolithic Period, making it one of the oldest cities in Israel. Visible today is the Roman city with several buildings, an avenue of ancient columns, a theatre, a public bathhouse, a temple and a large basilica, along with portions of the wall that once surrounded the city. (B/L/D)

Day 8: Begin the day at Jacob’s Ford, or Vadum Iacob, built to protect the crossing of the ancient road of the Via Maris with the Jordan River. Our specially arranged lunch will be within the gardens of a Golan Heights winery with an opportunity to taste some of Israel’s best wines.  Continue on to Belvoir Fortress, the best preserved Crusader fortress in Israel erected in 1168 AD. This citadel was protected by a still-visible moat more than 60 feet deep and is a perfect example of a concentric castle. Overnight at the Hotel Kibbutz Hagoshrim, located in the Golan Heights. (B/L/D)

Day 9: Drive to the city of Qumran, an ancient village on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, in what is now the West Bank. It is famous for its caves, in some of which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Here, we will visit the visitor’s center and cave. Then drive along the shores of the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, to Masada. Built by Herod the Great atop an isolated rock cliff at the western end of the Judean Desert, the fortress was captured in 70AD by a group of Jewish extremists revolting against the Roman rule. In 72AD the Romans besieged Masada and succeeded in reaching the top of the steep fortified walls after constructing a huge earthen ramp on its western side. The Jewish Zealots living in the stronghold chose to commit suicide rather than fall into the hands of the Romans alive. Located in the Palestinian territories, Jericho is considered one of the oldest cities in the world. The modern town includes the ancient mound known as Tell es-Sultan, the accumulated remains of towns that have existed on this site for almost 10,000 years. Khirbet al-Mafjar, or Hisham's Palace, is one of the most important of the ‘desert castles’ of the early Islamic period. Excavations in the 1950s revealed a palace and great bath, both of which were intensively decorated with fine mosaics and elaborate stucco figures, as well as stone sculpture and frescoes, placing Mafjar as one of the most important monuments in the history of Islamic archaeology.  Overnight at the Isrotel Dead Sea. (B/L/D)

Day 10: In the Nabataean period, Mamshit was an important station on the Incense Road connecting Yemen and Oman on the Arabian Peninsula, via the Nabataean capital city Petra, to the port cities on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea.  The site became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, as part of the Incense route and the desert cities in the Negev. Continue to Tel Be'er Sheva, believed to be the remains of the biblical town of Beersheba. This UNESCO World Heritage Site contains the ruins of a walled city that dates back to the Israelite Monarchic period.  Overnight for three nights at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem, housed in a former palace of a pasha and his four wives. Dinner is on our own to enjoy the various restaurants in Jerusalem. (B/L)


Day 11: Today we begin with a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum, was created shortly after the birth of the new state of Israel. Established to honor the memory of Holocaust victims, it documents the history of the Jewish people during the Holocaust so that it will be remembered by future generations.  On the Mount of Olives, we will see the Church of the Ascension, containing what is traditionally thought to be the last footprint of Jesus before he ascended into heaven. Our final stop will be at the Israel Museum, the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and is ranked among the world's leading art and archaeology museums. A part of the Israel Museum is the Shrine of the Book, with its distinctive onion-shaped top. Housed inside are the Dead Sea Scrolls, along with the Psalms Scroll, the War Scroll, the Temple Scroll, the Manual of Discipline, and the 10th century Aleppo Codex, which is not one of the Dead Sea Scrolls but the oldest complete Bible in Hebrew. Enjoy dinner on our own. (B/L)

Day 12: Today we explore the many sites in Jerusalem. The Old City is encircled by a tall wall punctuated by seven gates. As we walk these ramparts, we gain an appreciation of the life of the city. Visit the Tower of David, an ancient citadel located near the Jaffa Gate now housing a museum. During the period of the Latin Kingdom craftsmen and retailers worked in streets specializing in their trades, and the Crusader cooks worked on the Street of Bad Cooking (which hints at the quality of their cuisine). Our wandering takes us along this street, and along the Cardo, once a double-columned main thoroughfare that starts at what is today the Damascus Gate in the north, traversing the city southwards up to today’s Zion Gate. We will enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, purported to stand on the site where Jesus was crucified and the tomb where he was buried, and drive up Mt. Scopus for an overview of the fortifications and Jerusalem. The City of Jerusalem was originally settled because of the natural water source at the Gihon Springs. Recent controversial excavations under the Temple Mount by Israeli archaeologists have exposed what they believe to be the City of David. We will tour these excavations, and if desired, walk the tunnel cut by King Hezekiah in 710BC to provide water to people on the other side of the ridge of the city and to ensure the city had water when the Assyrians invaded Judah and Jerusalem. Gather this evening for our gala final dinner (with wine included) in a charming Jerusalem restaurant. (B/L/D)

Day 13: Our explorations today begin in the heart of Jerusalem. The Temple Mount, called the Noble Sanctuary, or Al-Haram al-Sharif by the Muslims, encloses over thirty-five acres of fountains, gardens, buildings and domes. At its southernmost end is Al-Aqsa Mosque, a vast sanctuary that can accommodate as many as 5,000 worshipers. In the center is the Dome of the Rock, holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. It was the site of the first and second temple in ancient Jewish times, where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, and where Muslims believe that the Prophet Mohamed ascended to heaven to receive instructions from God. Today the western wall of the mount, or the Wailing Wall, is a focus of Jewish worship. It is believed by the devout to be the wall of the Second Temple, although Arabs say that it is part of the structure of Al Aqsa Mosque. Transfer back to Tel Aviv and overnight at an airport hotel. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)

Day 14: Transfer to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv for our flight back to the USA. (B)


Tour Leader

To be announced


Tour Dates

September 30 - October 13, 2013

Tour Cost

$9,995.00 (per person, double occupancy) includes international roundtrip airfare from New York; all hotels; ground transportation; entry fees; and meals as noted in the itinerary.

Cost Does Not Include: The separate donation check for $150 (to be designated); passport or visa fees; gratuities to guides and drivers; food, alcohol, and other beverages not included with meals; telephone and fax charges; laundry, personal tips; or other items of a personal nature.

Single Supplement: $1,295.00. Should a roommate be requested and one is not available, the single supplement must be charged.

Fuel Surcharges: Far Horizons must pass on price increaseswhen additional fuel charges are levied.

Donation Checks: The cost of the trip does not include the separate donation check for $150.00. As a tour company that benefits from the historical, cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to scholars, archaeological and cultural projects, and museums in each of our destinations. This has created a bond with the academic community that allows you to gain an ‘insider’s view’ of work being done in each country. We ask that each participant write a check to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person and is made by check directly to the donation project. The donation is required as part of your registration and a donation project for this trip will be assigned shortly.



A deposit of $500.00 per person along with your registration is required to secure a reservation. Final payment is due 75 days before departure.Upon receipt of your deposit and completed registration form, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information. Prior to the trip, we will send links to various websites of pertinent interest to the trip. Click here to download our Registration Form.


Cancellations and Refunds

Cancellations received in writing at least 75 days before departure will result in an administrative fee of $250.00 per person. Cancellations received less than 75 days before departure will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the tour, we will not reimburse any fees. Registrants are strongly advised to buy travel insurance that includes trip cancellation.


Air Ticketing

If you do not fly on the group flight, you are responsible for all flight arrangements and transportation (including airport transfers) to join the group. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. If you issue your own international flight, please send the complete schedule as soon as you have it.


Private Tours of Archaeological Sites

The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be onsite when our groups arrive due to other commitments, or that the date or time of our visit to their project must be changed.


Note About Itinerary Changes

Changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation schedules may occur. A good book to read as well as a flexible attitude and a sense of humor are essential.