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We started in Bethlehem where a guided boarded our bus and took us to one souvenir shop where we stayed too long which delayed our start time at the Church of the Nativity. Which our tour left early to avoid that! Then our guide tried to convince us to leave before seeing the star! Our whole reason for going to Bethlehem! He provided the bare minimum of information and then almost demanded tips. We barely saw anything of the church!! The rest of the tour was with a driver not a guide. Loved the Dead Sea! Make sure to take your suit and a towel. The forced restaurant in Jericho was not good at all and expensive but also our only choice toward the end of a long day. If you want to enjoy Bethlehem this tour is not for you!!
The tour company that sub-contracted this tour had to be an arab company because of the location of these biblical sites. The company that provided the transportation did their best but at each location they pick up a local guide that they hand us off to. What I liked about the company that provided the transportation, Happy Tours, the driver made lots of attempts at kindness, e.g. he bought local products and offered them to the group, he bought cold water and distributed to the group. At first no one took him up on any of his offers because if you've been there you know that 'nothing is a gif' or 'free'. But this was the first time it actually was...he never asked for a tip. This tour will visit the Church of Beit Sahour which is nice but when you get to the 'gem' of this tour, the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, it goes downhill. The Church of the Nativity is clothed almost entirely in scaffolding and you cannot see anything. They close a lot and so by the time you get there, there's a 4 hour wait to see the cave of the nativity. There's no organization so the different tours are jockeying, there's a good bit of local corruption trying to move your group up and you end up sweating in close confines with a mass of people for nothing. Our tour ended up just leaving and we didn't accomplish anything. We went to Jericho and the site of ancient Jericho but there's not enough ruins to cobble together anything to see. The interesting three sites you'll see in Jericho are the Spring where Elijah healed the waters with a touch of salt, a view of the Mount of Temptation from the foot of the mount and a large almost dead looking sycamore which is the traditional site where Jesus called out to Zacchaeus to climb down from. Just watch out for the street sellers who will 'gift' you with things then ask for donations for orphans.
We journeyed to Qumran to see the Dead Sea Scroll caves but I didn't realize we'd be looking up at them from the base. Lunch here was decent but there's a charge to go to the front of the facility to lookup. We didn't realize there was a cost and the caretakers and money collectors got ugly about it and started yelling at the group. When the driver came up and tried to calm them down, they got kinda personal with him. It just seemed like they were looking for someone to fight with. From there we finished at the Dead Sea which was great and had a fresh pool for the children and easy access to the dead sea mineral mud and dead sea for the adults to experience.
If your main purpose is see the Church of the Nativity, avoid this part of the Bethlehem tours until they finish all renovations.
Terrible guides, they didn't explain anything. We were taken to various locations without any explanations as to where we were, what we were seeing, where to go etc, except of course at the gift shops where they obviously received commission or kickbacks.
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