Middle East Tours & Trips 2020
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Group Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Tour Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ship Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Guided Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Self Guided / Independent Tour A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ship Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.
Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.
Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.
Activities & Interests
Attractions & Cities Visited
Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.
Rivers & Seas Visitied
Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.
Flight & Transport Inclusions
Impacted by Climate Change
Stride Gives Back Stride Gives Back This trip visits a destination impacted by climate change. When you opt in to the Travelstride Gives Back program, we will donate 10% of our net revenue to organizations that help mitigate climate change in these destinations and across the globe. Learn more
- Under the eye of a local tour guide, feel like you've travelled back to the Middle Ages in the labyrinthine medina of Fes.
- Stay in a traditional Berber homestay high in the Atlas Mountains, to better understand the culture and tradition of an indigenous population who have stood the test of time.
- Take the opportunity to trek through the dramatic red dunes of the Sahara on a camel, experiencing an unforgettable sunset experience.
- Kick back in the coastal town of Essaouira and discover at your own pace, enjoying a fresh seafood barbecue on the waterfront.
- Marrakech’s Djemaa el-Fna is a city within a city. Explore one of the world’s largest meeting places, joining the night’s carnival atmosphere of fortune-tellers, dancers, and medicine men.
- Visit the grand Mosque of Hassan II in Casablanca, one of the most impressive temples in Morocco, before exploring the sights of the country's first imperial city of Meknes.
- Feel like you've travelled back to the Middle Ages in the labyrinthine medina of Fes, under the eye of a local tour guide.
- Go behind the scenes of Game of Thrones and Gladiator in Ait Benhaddou. This fortified red city was once an important stop on the caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech – now it's a film-maker's heaven.
- Take a guided tour through Marrakech's lively medina and join the nightly carnival of fortune-tellers, dancers, and medicine men in Djemaa el-Fna square.
- Stay in a traditional Berber homestay to understand the culture and tradition of an indigenous population who have stood the test of time.
- Discover the dramatic red dunes of the Sahara Desert and spend the night camping under North African stars.
- Admire Morocco’s changing landscapes from the comfortable seat of a private, air-conditioned minivan.
- Challenge your perspective in Jerusalem: walk the ‘Way of the Cross’, meet a local Rabbi and dine with a Palestinian family.
- Learn the stories behind some of the most challenging and poignant works of graffiti that decorate the barrier wall in Bethlehem during a walking tour.
- Access the glowing blue grottoes of Rosh Hanikra by cable car, then enjoy views over the Mediterranean Coast of Western Galilee.
- Go underground to explore the excavated dungeon, crypt and halls that were used by the Knights of St John over 700 years ago in Acre.
- Visit the remains of the clifftop fortress of Masada, the site of the famed siege at the end of the first Jewish–Roman War.
- Summit the highest peak in North Africa, Mt Toubkal, and enjoy morning views over the Atlas Mountains and rural Morocco.
- Hike through the rugged mountains with spectacular scenery at every turn and a trusty pack of mules heading up your crew.
- Experience life in an Amazigh (Berber) village during a stay in an Atlas Mountains village, complete with accommodation in a gite.
- Embrace the vibrant souqs, sights, sounds and smells of Marrakech on a guided walking tour of the Medina and visit to Bahia Palace.
- Plenty of free time and optional extras in Marrakech mean you can explore this vibrant city at your own pace.
- Take a guided hike through the High Atlas Mountains and spend a night with an Amazigh (Berber) family in the traditional village of Aroumd.
- Travel through the Sahara Desert in a camel convoy and spend the night in a Bedouin camp, listening to tales by the campfire.
- Recharge with two days in seaside Essaouira and explore the whitewashed houses, lively port, and tiny alleyways.
- Explore Ait Benhaddou, a World Heritage site with a grand history and a long list of film and TV credits including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones, and Gladiator.
- Duck in and out of souqs and haggle with traders as your local leader helps you to navigate the 16th-century walled city of Taroudant.
- Discover the wide world of bread that forms an essential part of every Moroccan meal, hollowed out khobz filled with boiled eggs will be your new favourite breakfast!
- Get a real insight into Moroccan food with a home-cooked dinner in the Blue City, Chefchaouen. Prepared with seasonal ingredients – enjoy a dish that’s bursting with flavour and made with love.
- Soak up what could be the quintessential smell of Morocco as you watch ras el hanout, a rich and complex blend of delicious spices, being freshly ground in a Marrakech souk.
- Indulge in mechoui (slow roasted lamb), that’s deliciously falling-apart after being cooked in a pit beneath the floor – all while looking over market stalls in the incredible Djemma el Fna.
- Take a guided 'tasting trail' through Fes and enjoy a cooking demonstration – learn how to create one of the city's signature dishes, bastilla, a salty and sweet pastry parcel.
- Experience local hospitality at a homestay with a charming local family in Moulay Idriss – if you’re lucky, you might even get an invite to a cooking demonstration.
- Relive a glorious medieval past in Fes city. While many tourists get lost in the labyrinthine streets of the medina, you'll have a local guide to show you the way.
- See for yourself the vivid blue hues of Chefchaouen while you explore the houses and laneways of this surreal city.
- Need a break from your wanders around the narrow streets of Meknes? Replenish your energy with the camel burger cooked right in front of you at a restaurant in the medina.
- Where else would you find drummers, dancers, fortune tellers, jugglers, street food vendors, and old medicine men in one place? Why, in Marrakech, exploring the acclaimed Djemaa el Fna.
- Get an on-site ancient history lesson when visiting some of the world's premier historic sites – the Pyramids, Sphinx and the Valley of the Kings – with an expert local guide.
- There are so many chances to interact with the locals and experience their culture. Lose yourself in Cairo's colourful Khan al-Khalili bazaar and dine with village folk along your way.
- Your felucca sailing trip not only lets you experience some excellent Nubian hospitality, but is perhaps the perfect way to see the Nile and its gorgeous surrounds at any time of day.
- Admire Karnak Temple – the Cult temple dedicated to Amun, Mut and Khonsu with your small group, and feel the ancient royalty when discovering the mighty Valley of the Kings.
- With plenty of free time to choose your own Egyptian adventure, you’ll have the power to possibly fit in an Abu Simbel escapade, head on a camel ride, or just chill out at a local teahouse.
- Cairo is a place like no other; a rambling metropolis of sand-beaten colours and ancient wonder. You'll have plenty of time to explore the acclaimed sites and lose yourself in bustle of this fascinating city.
- Bask in the unique atmosphere of Aswan and experience not only the warmth and charm of Nubian hospitality, but also some delicious traditional cuisine on a local homestay.
- Set sail on one of the world’s most iconic rivers with an included felucca trip down the Nile. Relax and soak up the landscapes, as scenes of everyday Egyptian life pass you by.
- Unwind in the vibrant beach resort of Hurghada, perhaps exploring the extraordinary ecosystem and coral reefs off Giftun Island deep in the dazzling Red Sea.
- Uncover one of the greatest cities in antiquity, Alexandria, reborn as Egypt’s alternative capital, and pay your respects at El Alamein – an important World War II battle site.
- Immerse yourself in the communist past and vibrant present of Bucharest, a city often underrated by travellers
- Travel through the scenic Rila Mountains in Bulgaria, mingling with monks at the 10th-century Rila Monastery
- The village of Gorno Draglishte is home to a rich cultural heritage and a delightful community of welcoming locals. Experience the best of both worlds during a family home-stay (delicious home-cooked dinner included)
- The ancient Roman theatre in Plovdiv’s city centre was only discovered when a landslide uncovered it in the 1970s. Explore the amphitheatre and Plovdiv's other significant sights on a guided walking tour
- Be awed by the towering, windswept rock formations at Wadi Rum, and witness how the colours change as the sun makes its way across the sky.
- Meet Bedouin locals, learn about their ways, and sleep under the stars in a desert camp in the far-out destination of Wadi Rum.
- You never forget your first glimpse of The Treasury in Petra, often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Spend a day taking in the majesty and mystery of this unforgettable place.
- Experience the unique sensation of floating in the super-salty waters of the Dead Sea, then cover yourself in the mineral-rich mud for a spa treatment like no other.
- Relax in the seaside town of Aqaba on the shores of the Red Sea relax around its untouched reefs and transparent waters.
- Discover an Iran beyond the media portrayals of a repressive and dour regime – this is a country full of warm, lively and friendly people.
- Explore the rich history told in the ancient ruins that lie across the country, many of which sit in remote and isolated landscapes that only add to their magic.
- Experience the wondrous remains of the ancient capital of Persepolis – the scale and grandeur will leave you in no doubt that this was once the centre of the known world.
- Immerse yourself in rural nomadic life with a remote homestay with the Qashqai people in Fars Province, enjoying meals, stories and songs.
- Slip into the heeled-sandals of a Silk Road merchant with an overnight stay in a classic 16th-century caravanserai, located in the vast salt desert of Zein-o-din.
- Get a taste of incredible Istanbul and its bustling backstreets with your local leader.
- Hike the valleys of Cappadocia and picnic among surreal fairy chimneys that dot the landscape.
- Visit Ephesus’s astounding Roman ruins, where the Greco-Roman world still feels very much alive.
- A kayak trip over a sunken city is the perfect way to experience the lush blue waters of the Mediterranean.
- Hike the famous Lycian Way with breathtaking views of the Turquoise Coast.
- Get a feel for life in ancient times by exploring the beautifully preserved city of Ephesus. Your local guide will walk you through the remarkable ruins and bring its colourful 1500-year history to life.
- Relax in the coastal town of Antalya – marvel at the Roman relics of the Old City or take a dip in the crystal blue gulf and soak up views of the surrounding mountains.
- Get a birds-eye view of Cappadocia’s caves, fairy chimneys and honeycomb terrain with an optional balloon ride over this other-worldly landscape.
- Indulge in a local lunch while sailing the Kekova islands – spot underwater cities, explore the quaint village of Ucagiz, then spend the afternoon snorkelling.
- Enjoy a walking tour with a twist (or two!) as you explore the Underground City of Derinkuyum – an ancient metropolis made up of subterranean labyrinths and dwellings.
- Feast on classic dishes in Israel’s legendary local eateries, from a hearty shakshuka and fresh sabiach to an institution in Jerusalem’s Old Town acclaimed for its silky hummus.
- In between snacks, don’t miss any of the sights and sounds of this diverse country. Take a dip in the famously salty Dead Sea, discover the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and explore the Negev Desert.
- Pay a visit to Zichron Yaakov and stop in at one of Israel's finest wineries. Enjoy a wine tasting and perhaps make some purchases to complement a picnic brunch in the nearby Rothschild Gardens.
- Learn some age-old kitchen secrets while cooking up a storm with Druze villagers, and discover the country’s ‘Slow Food’ network at an insightful cooking class with Palestinian women.
- Embark on a full-day guided tour of Jerusalem, visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, passing pilgrims at the Western Wall and ending at the Machane Yehuda market for you to choose your own food adventure.
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Top Middle East Experiences
Exploring the Pyramids of Giza and Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt.
Visiting the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace, both stunning examples of Ottoman architecture in Istanbul, Turkey.
Seeing the ancient city of Petra in Jordan.
Bargaining for exotic souvenirs like hand-painted tagines or leather handicrafts in the souks of Marrakech, Morocco
Taking a Nile River Cruise and exploring the surrounding areas.
Riding a camel and camping in a Bedouin tent in the Sahara Desert of Tunisia.
Hiking North Africa’s highest peak, Jebel Toubkal, Morocco’s High Atlas, and along the way meeting the Berber people along the way.
Scuba diving in Ras Mohammed National Park off the coast of Egypt.
Touring the Old City of Jerusalem, where multiple histories, religions, and cultures intersect
Visiting Shiraz, the City of Roses, known for its poetry and vineyards, and the close by ancient city ruins of Persepolis in Iran.
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