Exploring Antiquity

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Israel portrays antiquity. The archaeological dig at Zippori has exposed a Roman city full of mosaics and aqueducts, as bright today as they were centuries ago. In Megiddo (Armageddon) modern excavations reveal a city that thrived more than 4,000 years ago. Here, archaeologists have excavated one of King Solomon’s palaces. The sites of Jesus’ ministry on the shores of the Sea of Galilee will captivate those seeking the roots of Christianity—and the mountaintop ruins of Masada, built by Herod the Great, clearly show why the fortress was held against Roman legions by a rather small number of Jews.

history-laden tours Travel agents, in turn, will find no dearth of tour companies offering excellent packages to Egypt, Israel and Jordan.

One of the most comprehensive and attractive packages is offered by Travcoa.

According to Jerre Fuqua, Travcoa’s president, “To me, places of antiquity like Egypt, Israel and Jordan, offer world travelers a unique perspective to go back in time and relive what they once read about in their ancient history textbooks.… Most everyone who has read about the pyramids, temples and religious sites of this region has added these iconic places to their ‘bucket list.’”

Travcoa offers a tempting 12-day land tour of Egypt that calls at the most significant Egyptian antiquity destinations including Cairo, Memphis, Sakkara, Aswan, Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. Expert Egyptologists lead the tour that includes four days of cruising the Nile on board the MS Sonesta St. George I. The tour begins in Cairo where travelers are housed in the Four Seasons at the First Residence on the west bank of the Nile.

In Israel, Travcoa has unveiled a comprehensive 10-day ($5,995 land only) tour that would rank at the top in any history lover’s heart. Accommodations are in top-of-the-line hotels like the Dan Tel Aviv and the King David in Jerusalem. Called Mystical Israel, the tour meanders through Haifa, Roman Caesarea, cruises the Sea of Galilee, visits kibbutzim, explores Bethlehem and Nazareth and allows time for a recuperative stop at opulent Dead Sea spas before calling on the hilltop fortress of Masada. Other stops include the Golan Heights, Gumran, the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, Mt. Zion and the tomb of King David, the Mount of Olives and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Travcoa offers an equally appealing luxurious independent journey to Jordan (six days from $3,195 land only) that calls on the most alluring spots of the kingdom.

Goway Travel, meanwhile, is made for independent travelers who like to move around in small groups led by expert and erudite guides.

Antiquity travelers will find Goway’s signature 22-day escorted Middle East Treasures (from about $9,179 to $12,218, depending on the season) to fit the bill of those who delight in exploring places where human history was shaped. The tour visits Egypt, Israel and Jordan, providing a unique and in-depth perspective of the magic of the ancient civilizations that once thrived there.

According to Moira Smith, general manager for Africa and the Middle East, this Goway tour proved so successful that, “We have increased the schedule from four to eight departures for the 2011-2012 season.”

Highlights in the Egyptian phase of the tour include a visit to the pyramids, explanatory lectures at the Cairo Museum, a 5-day Nile cruise, a stop in Abu Simbel and a visit to the Sinai Peninsula that includes a stop at the ancient St. Catherine Monastery before crossing the border into Jordan. In Jordan, the tour features a Jeep tour of Wadi Rum, a full day in Petra, and stops in Amman, the Dead Sea and the ancient Roman site at Jerash.

Smith adds, “In response to demand, Goway has also expanded its foreign independent offerings in Jordan to include shorter modular trips and extension ideas that can be combined to create a customized experience.”

sailing through ancient civilizations Voyages to Antiquity is a company that was created, its brochure says, “…to offer sophisticated travelers an unparalleled destination immersion and educational experience combining the very best in cultural travel in a tranquil, informal atmosphere.” And that it does on two cruise-tour packages scheduled for this fall—the 16-day Limassol to Cairo program that includes a 1-night post-cruise stay in Luxor and a 2-night post-cruise stay in Cairo, as well as a 16-day Amman to Cairo program that includes a 2-night stay in Amman and two nights in Petra pre-cruise and two nights post-cruise in Cairo.