Explore with activists, artists and women from all walks of life
Uncover diverse perspectives in Israel and the Palestinian Territories on this eight-day Women’s Expedition. With local female leaders and guides from Israeli, Palestinian and Bedouin backgrounds this tour will immerse you in some of the different cultures of the region through the eyes of incredible women. Meet Palestinian peace activists, break bread with Bedouin women and learn about Israeli women working to secure the right to pray at the Western Wall. Travelling in an all-female group means you can access spaces that are off-limits to mixed-gender groups and be part of cultural and religious discussions in an entirely new way.
- Visit female artists in Arad where the local community has developed a social tourism project that highlights what life is like on the edge of the Judaean Desert.
- Take a tour with a local peace activist as she shows you the West Bank city of Ramallah. Then enjoy a home-cooked meal and discussion with activists from the Women Wage Peace organisation.
- Immerse yourself in Bedouin culture and discover the secret art of henna, then enjoy lunch and discussion with Bedouin women involved in grassroots activities creating opportunities in tourism and agriculture.
- Explore historical sites of Jerusalem on a unique dual-narrative tour, with female guides – one Israeli and one Palestinian – giving their perspectives on life in the city.
- Check out the graffiti at the Separation Barrier to see how street artists have responded to the wall, and visit Banksy’s controversial Walled Off Hotel.
Day 1: Tel Aviv
Your Women’s Expedition through Israel and the Palestinian Territories begins in Tel Aviv, a modern city that truly never stops. With its lively cafe culture, relaxed Mediterranean beach scene and diverse nightlife, Tel Aviv is a great place to start your exploration. Your tour officially begins with a welcome meeting at your hotel, which is located close to the beach and the Carmel Market – both great places to start exploring on your own if you arrive with time to spare.
Day 2: Ramallah
Rise and shine for breakfast with your leader and fellow travellers. Get to know each other a little better over a coffee, then head out to begin exploring Tel Aviv. Visit Jaffa, now a vision of modernity but said to be one of the oldest port towns in the world. While in Jaffa visit the eclectic Ilana Goor Museum, a privately-owned collection of curious and unusual art. Illana is an Israeli self-taught artist and lifelong collector, who long dreamed of establishing her own museum to showcase her art collection.
Later, continue on a short journey to Ramallah via Nablus. Once an important trade route city, Nablus has been settled since before the Roman era. Take a walking tour through the Old City. This is a great place to shop for local spices and olive oil soap, and if you’ve got a sweet tooth we also recommend sampling a slice of kunafa – a combination of flavours of cheesecake, pizza and orange blossom – trust us, it works. Continue to Ramallah and check in to your hotel. (B, D)
Day 3: Ramallah
Founded in the 16th century (allegedly by a father who wanted to extricate his daughter from an arranged marriage) Ramallah today is a cultural and economic hub of the West Bank. Head out on a tour of this vibrant city with a local peace activist as your guide. Visit the Dar Zahran Heritage Building, Nelson Mandela Square and Arafat’s Tomb while your guide shares stories about growing up as a Palestinian woman on the West Bank. Enjoy a home-cooked meal and some discussion on the peace process from a woman’s perspective. After dinner, members of Women Wage Peace will speak about the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and their activism work, which is based on pillars of non-violence and respect. (B, L, D)
Day 4: Arad
Embrace an early start this morning and depart Ramallah for a full day of travel to Arad, a town at the edge of the Judean Desert, with some incredible stops en route. First up is Masada, the spectacular cliff-top fortress built by King Herod around 35 BC, which we will reach via cable car. The fortress is of particular significance to Jewish people around the world because of a battle that is said to have occurred here during the First Jewish–Roman War. Continue to the Dead Sea Valley. Grab lunch and learn about local efforts to restore the regional environment to its former glory. Visit the Dead Sea and enjoy some free time during which you can take a float in the super-salty waters which are 423 metres (1388 feet) below sea level. Continue to your camp in Arad and check in. (B, L, D)
Day 5: Jerusalem
After breakfast head to Arad City. Visit a social tourism project called Halonot La Midba (Windows to the Desert), and meet the artists for an informal chat about life in the desert and their community. Then continue to Rahat and join some Bedouin women to share a traditional lunch while discussing their involvement with a grassroots Bedouin–Jewish organisation that empowers young women. Learn how to make and apply henna and perhaps discover how local spices have been used in traditional medicine for generations. Munch on dishes like maqluba (upside-down rice), mansaf (lamb and yoghurt) and pickled vegies while you learn about what life is like for local Bedouin women. Continue to Jerusalem, where you will arrive in the late afternoon. Pay a visit to Sunbula, a fair-trade organisation where marginalised women are supported through traditional Palestinian crafts. (B, L)
Day 6: Jerusalem
This morning, travel into Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity as well as Manger Square, which is the place where Jesus is said to have been born. Afterwards, discover a different side to Bethlehem on a graffiti tour at the Separation Barrier. Pass Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel, which is home to Banksy-themed rooms, local artists’ work and a museum. Return to Jerusalem and drive to the Mount of Olives, which looks over the Old City, and visit the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations – also known as the Basilica of the Agony. Pay a visit to the holocaust museum Yad Vashem in the afternoon and discover the history of the holocaust from a women’s persepctive. The rest of your day is free for you to do what you please. (B)
Day 7: Jerusalem
Take a full-day tour of the Old City’s Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holy sites with two guides – one Palestinian and one Israeli. During this dual-narrative tour you will visit the Dome of the Rock courtyard and the Aqsa Mosque/Temple Mount. Continue to the Western Wall to learn about how it became a place of worship and a source of debate, with input from a representative of Women of the Wall, a local organisation that wants to secure for women the right to pray at this holy site. After lunch, walk part of the Via Dolorosa toward the Holy Sepulchre, where you will learn about the ancient church, the history of disputes and ownership claims and the modern Christian community in Jerusalem. In the evening, meet with a Jewish Haredi woman for a Hafrashat Challah ceremony and get a hands-on lesson in this tradition. The mitzvah of separating challah is one of the three mitzvahs which are uniquely given over to women to perform – the other two are lighting the Shabbos candles, and Taharas Hamishpacha. (B)
Day 8: Jerusalem
Your Women’s Expedition comes to an end today after breakfast. (B)
- Meals: 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
- Transport: Minibus
- Accommodation: Hotel (6 nights) Eco Lodge (1 night)
Images courtesy of IntrepidGroup