I felt that the tour company is a little disorganized in picking people up and getting them on the correct busses. Other than that I had a wonderful time. Accommodations were very nice. Tour guides were knowledgeable and very nice and very accommodating to each person.
Really enjoyed our trip to Israel with this tour,
A few notes:
1) the hotel that we were initially placed with in Jerusalem (Seven Arches) was not very good so we asked them to switch us to Prima Park. That hotel was great since it is near the light rail and the central bus station.
2) the itinerary that we actually followed was different from the standard one given from the web site. They rearranged the order of viewing the attractions to have the Dead Sea tour coincide with the Shabbat holiday (many things in Jerusalem are closed on that day).
3) the local operator never had anyone explain the adjusted itinerary to us. So from day to day we were never quite sure which tour we were taking.
Good trip overall. It depends on the guide you get as to the level of information and the clarity. Like most organized trips, they waste a lot of time picking up people and at over priced gift shops. The restaraunts they take you to for lunch also vary in quality. The one is Bethlehem was all you can eat but in Akko was a rip off. Prices average $15-20 per person. BE AWARE on this trip..there is duplication on the Jerusalem days. You will see a lot of the same things in the morning between the Jerusalem new/old and the Jerusalem city of David, so you might get bored as we did.
Firstly, the 5 guides (especially Amir, Eyal and Rami) were very good. It is deceptive to advertise this as a 5 day tour - it is 5 individual 1 day tours (different guides, drivers and tourists every day).
There was no continuity and much repetition. Dual language tours wasted more time. The result was very limited time at many Holy City sights, particularly in the Christian, Armenian and Muslim Quarters. Everything listed on the itinerary was "seen" (but in a fly-by manner, or only from a distance). If transport issues were resolved, more time would be available for these amazing sites.
Our advice - get your own guide and driver to avoid the logistical issues apparently common in this tour.
Expect a total of 4-5 hours wasted daily in transit before and/or after the actual guided tours (tours ended on time at app 4PM regardless of time wastage on unnecessarily long lunches etc). Expect a 30-45 minute late pickup (4 days out of 5), numerous stops to pick up/drop off other tourists for their tours (different to yours), meeting at bus checkpoints to transfer everybody between buses.
The order in the itinerary advertised in Viator was changed. A call after the first day's travel to the Bein Harem office resulted in an email with our revised itinerary (not previously provided). Prior to the call, we had no idea of our collection times, nor did the guide of the day. However, the staff in the Bien Harem office were very helpful.
The accommodation in Prima Park Hotel was good ( and we learnt later that compared to others, we should be grateful to be here). The restaurant in the hotel was the only viable option for dinner and was good, as was their breakfast. The Nof Tavor Hotel was basic - no restaurant and no eating options within walking distance, bar snacks (6-8 options) only. The breakfast was acceptable.
This was unlike any Viator "tour" that we have previously experienced. We have done many throughout Europe but this one was most disappointing.
Pros: tour guides give good history of the area. You get to see many historical and religious sites, once in a lifetime experience.
Cons: could be much better if every tour didn't waste time at a sales shop like jewelry etc. Also alot of time is spent shuffling people around to rendezvous points. The hotel for the nazaerth trip is really really bad, outside of town and had ants in the bed. Heard there were ants in every room, but they had good wi-fi (Nof Tavor). Hotel in Jerusalem was good but really non-existent wi-fi at the scottish guest house.
One thing i wish it included was the Dome of the Rock, you Do Not get to go this.
Make sure you bring a towel and bathing suit to both the Jordan River baptism tour and the Dead Sea tour, things they do not explain in advance.
Incredible place to visit - sites and people were lovely so I highly recommend the locations and sites this tour visits. Unfortunately the tour itself is badly organised by the local operator and we had a couple of very frustrating situations and a particularly unpleasant guide on our trip to Masada. We had to contact the local operator on several occasions (which cost us a lot in roaming charges on our mobile) as we were not provided any information on pick up times or on our itinerary which they changed as they pleased from what Viator has on its website. If you book this trip expect to stay very far from town in average hotels and have at least 30mins-1 hour a day waiting to be collected for your tour and 2 hours a day driving around to collect other passengers joining the day tours. It felt like a lot of wasted time for us when we could have been exploring our beautiful surroundings in Israel and if I had known this would be the case I would have booked with another provider who does it as a group tour rather than day tours.
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