A holiday to the Middle East can at first sound like a misnomer. However, the curious and vigilant traveller can visit extraordinary legacies from the distant past, geographical treats and glamour the scale of which only an oil-rich nation could turn on. Read more...
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Alexandria Day Trip 2015-16Middle East
Day 1 AlexandriaAlexander never slept in, and neither will you today as we seize the diem and make for the great man's favourite of his 20 self-titled cities. Think of today as an archaeological roller coaster, as we take in nearly two and a half thousand years of history, including Roman catacombs, ancient libraries, Arab forts and a pillar. And lunch. After all Alexander wouldn't have made it past his front door on an empty stomach, let alone to the fringes of the known world.
DepartingFrom 09/05/2015 to 30/04/2016
Dubai Stopover (3 Day) 2015Middle East
Day 1 Dubai, UAEGet picked up at the airport today and whisked to your hotel. Aren't you the rock star? Welcome to Dubai!Day 2 DubaiLet's all go on a desert safari! After a morning to do as you like we head to the desert mid-afternoon for a some dune bashing and a spot of high tea as the sun sets over the desert. Then following a BBQ dinner and a whirl of belly dancing under a star-filled sky, it's back to the hotel.Day 3 DubaiGot some time between breakfast and check out today for any last-minute shopping. Transfer back to the airport is ready when you are.
DepartingFrom 23/05/2015 to 27/12/2015
Dubai Stopover (4 Day) 2015Middle East
Day 1 Dubai, UAEGet picked up at the airport today and whisked to your hotel. Aren't you the rock star? Welcome to Dubai!Day 2 DubaiTake on Dubai with our city tour today. We've got gold and spice souks, saltwater creeks, mosques and museums, manmade islands and beaches.Day 3 DubaiLet's all go on a desert safari! After a morning to do as you like we head to the desert mid-afternoon for a some dune bashing and a spot of high tea as the sun sets over the desert. Then following a BBQ dinner and a whirl of belly dancing under a star-filled sky, it's back to the hotel.Day 4 DubaiGot some time between breakfast and check out today for any last-minute shopping. Transfer back to the airport is ready when you are.
DepartingFrom 23/05/2015 to 28/12/2015
Dubai Stopover - 4 DaysDubai
Day 1, Arrive DubaiArrive at Dubai international airport where you will be met outside the terminal and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to relax or explore the city.No meals included.Day 2, City TourEnjoy a half day city tour taking in the iconic sights of Dubai, starting with a photo opportunity of what is possibly Dubai’s most well known structure, the Burj Al Arab hotel. Continue to the Jumeirah Mosque for photo opportunities at what is considered to be the most striking mosque in Dubai. Then proceed to Bastakia, the oldest part of the city and home to the Dubai museum situated in the Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest existing building in Dubai. Continue your tour with a visit to some of the local markets before taking a water taxi across The Creek to the spice markets and gold souks where jewellery is on display ranging from traditional to the modern, prepare to be dazzled. 1 breakfast, no lunch, no dinner included.Day 3, Desert SafariSpend the morning at leisure before embarking on a exciting desert safari. Hop on board your 4 wheel drive for an adventure into the desert. Your experienced driver will take you across the rolling sand dunes on an exhilarating drive. A stop will be made to watch the sun setting over the desert before heading over to a traditional Bedouin camp where you will be greeted with a delicious spiced Arabic coffee and even have the opportunity to ride a camel. Then settle down to enjoy dinner cooked on an open fire right in front of you. Then to truly top off your desert experience a belly dancer will entertain you to traditional music. A magic night!1 breakfast, no lunch, 1 dinner included.Day 4, Goodbye DubaiTour arrangements come to an end after breakfast, with an onward transfer to the airport.1 breakfast, no lunch, no dinner included.
Egypt Express 2015-16Middle East
Day 1 CairoPulsating traffic and the heady scent of incense, combined with pyramids jutting from the skyline and a thousand spice sellers will send your senses into overdrive. Cairo, Umm al-Dunya (‘the mother of the world’) as Egyptians call it, will embrace you like a steaming hot cup of mint tea, laced with copious amounts of sugar. Drink it in. On arrival at Cairo International Airport you will be met by a Topdeck representative. You will then be transferred from the airport to the hotel.Day 2 Cairo to AswanThe Egyptian Museum is like a One Direction fan’s bedroom, housing a shrine of memorabilia from King Tutankhamen’s tomb. Also: Mummies. Get the grand tour with an Egyptologist then stand at the foot at what was once a blinding beacon of light that could have been seen from space. (The Great Pyramid was covered in polished limestone!) (B)Day 3 AswanWake up in Aswan with a free day ahead, or opt to visit the Philae Temple. The shrine to the goddess Isis had to be moved and reassembled like a jigsaw puzzle in the ‘70s due to the rising Nile… kinda similar to how Isis reassembled her brother/husband’s body parts and conceived their son Horus. #truestory (B)Day 4 Aswan to FeluccaKanye may think he’s a god and have a wife that #breakstheinternet, but Pharaoh Ramesses II had way more swag in ancient Egypt. His four statues flanking the entrance to Abu Simbel mean he’ll be remembered long after Yeezus. And the Temple of Hathor proves his wife, Queen Nefertari, didn’t have to keep up with anyone. After doing the rounds, fling your gear onto a felucca for the next life-changing chapter. (B,L,D)Day 5 Felucca JourneyImagine: the sun on your back, the wind in your cotton sails and the best people you could ever hope to meet sharing stories, food and music in one cushion-strewn love-in. Sail like a Nubian into the sunset after a full day of doing not much at all. (B,L,D)Day 6 Felucca to LuxorWe’re back on land in Luxor, aka the world’s largest open-air museum. The split personality of Kom Ombo temple is dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek and falcon god Horus. Who do you reckon would win in a fight? From tombs to obelisks, colossal pillars to colourful hieroglyphic-splashed walls and mummified crocodiles (yep, really), this ancient city knows how to impress. (B)Day 7 Luxor to CairoUnwrapped, the bandages of a mummy could stretch for 1.6 kilometres. Wouldn’t want to have to roll that up again! Get inside the Valley of the Kings then give a silent high five to Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled ancient Egypt for 20 years, before this show rolls on back to Cairo tonight. (B)Day 8 CairoKhan el Khalili market not only drips with silver lanterns, scarab pendants and incense, it’s cloaked in ancient history. The site was originally a mausoleum dating back to 970AD known as the Saffron Tomb. Some of the people playing backgammon at Fishawi's could very well have been in the same spot since then.Day 9 CairoAs a 3,000-year old mummy would say, that’s a wrap! But as the ancient Egyptians claimed to have invented the calendar and the clock, time is on your side. So why not stick around a little longer? There’s so much more to explore! (B)
DepartingFrom 16/05/2015 to 08/05/2016
Drunk on Wadi RumJordan
Day 1: AmmanOn landing in Amman, make a beeline for Rainbow Street for a falafel and a sheesha. It's what the locals would want. After said snack and pipe rendezvous with your new Geckos crew for a team catch-up. It may or may not be at the local pub.Meals IncludedBreakfastlunchdinnerDay 2: Amman - AqabaHop on a JETT bus for a four-hour journey down the Desert Highway to Aqaba. Keep your eyes peeled for camels at around the 230km mark. Out to the left. No, the other left.Meals IncludedBreakfastlunchdinnerDay 3: Aqaba - Wadi Rum - PetraBefore kicking on to Wadi Rum, consider donning a mask and flippers and snorkeling the Red Sea. If beautiful waters aren’t really your thing, just hold tight - you’ll be exploring the desert moonscapes with the crazy young local Bedouin this afternoon. Remember to buckle up in the rickety jeeps. Snuggle up in Petra overnight.Meals IncludedBreakfastlunchdinnerDay 4: PetraWhen confronted with the stunning facade of the Treasury in Petra, you might scratch your head and wonder why it looks so familiar. Unless you haven't seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, then you might not recognise it at all (and you will probably be the butt of a few jokes - go and watch it immediately). Wander the Siq, tombs, temples and rock-hewn amphitheatre before perhaps chillaxing in a Turkish bath. Happy days.Meals IncludedBreakfastlunchdinnerDay 5: Petra - AmmanKick on to Dana and explore the ancient village, visit the Greek Orthodox Church of St George and check out the 6th century mosaic map of Jerusalem. Gee whiz, their scale was way off…Meals IncludedBreakfastlunchdinnerDay 6: Amman - Dead Sea - Jerash - AmmanDo your best Biggus Dickus impersonation (Monty Python, c’mon!) in Jerash's main street, then take an optional excursion to the Dead Sea where you can get that photo of you reading a paper while floating in the water - just like the ten billion visitors before you. It’ll be worth it though, classic shot.Meals IncludedBreakfastlunchdinnerDay 7: AmmanThe tour ends in Amman after breakfast (sorry). You can (and probably should) kick around in Amman for longer if you want. There's heaps more to do, just ask your tour leader for pointers.Meals IncludedBreakfastlunchdinner
DepartingFrom 11-Jun-2015 to 22-Jun-2016
Sinai Horizons 2015-16Middle East
Day 1 CairoPulsating traffic and the heady scent of incense, combined with pyramids jutting from the skyline and a thousand spice sellers will send your senses into overdrive. Cairo, Umm al-Dunya (‘the mother of the world’) as Egyptians call it, will embrace you like a steaming hot cup of mint tea, laced with copious amounts of sugar. Drink it in. On arrival at Cairo International Airport you will be met by a Topdeck representative. You will then be transferred from the airport to the hotel.Day 2 Cairo to DahabDahab, meaning gold in Arabic, is a blissful little hippie outpost bridging Africa and Asia. The bedouin fishing-village-turned-dive-mecca is your home for the next five nights. Let the Instagramming begin! (B)Day 3 DahabDiving or snorkelling the Red Sea is not just bucket list material, it’s more lusted after than a new iPhone release. Plunge yourself into the underwater wonderland of Ras Mohammed National Park or go back to WWII days, diving the SS Thistlegorm – considered one of the best wreck dives in the world. With over 200 species of soft and hard coral and 1200 species of fish making you feel you’re in the world’s greatest aquarium, the Red Sea’s inclusion in the Seven Wonders of the Underwater World is a no brainer. (B)Day 4 DahabMore landlubber than Scuba Steve? There are over 160 words for ‘camel’ in the Arabic language but only one way to ride ‘em. Saddle up for a camel ride or sate your inner Indiana Jones exploring the desert by a more mechanical steed (aka quad bike). (B)Day 5 DahabIf you’re up for an early start, a climb up Mt Sinai for a sunrise of Biblical proportions is a great way to inject some spiritualism in your life. Check out 17 centuries of history at St Catherine’s Monastery and its collection of ancient books second in size only to the Vatican. (B)Day 6 DahabShould you ever need a reprieve from sun, swimming and desert storming, chill out at one of the cushion-filled cafes that line the sand, order a cup of karkade (hibiscus tea) and try beating the Bedouins at backgammon. (B)Day 7 Dahab to CairoCommit the scene of Dahab to your memory bank as we carry your salt-soaked bones back to Cairo. Tonight, get down and Dervish on a dinner cruise to watch the hypnotic traditional whirlers. (B)Day 8 CairoThe Egyptian Museum is like a One Direction fan’s bedroom, housing a shrine of memorabilia from King Tutankhamen’s tomb. Also: Mummies. Get the grand tour with an Egyptologist then stand at the foot at what was once a blinding beacon of light that could have been seen from space. (The Great Pyramid was covered in polished limestone!) (B)Day 9 CairoAs a 3,000-year old mummy would say, that’s a wrap! But as the ancient Egyptians claimed to have invented the calendar and the clock, time is on your side. So why not stick around a little longer? There’s so much more to explore! (B)
DepartingFrom 20/06/2015 to 01/05/2016
Essential Egypt 2015-16Middle East
Day 1 CairoPulsating traffic and the heady scent of incense, combined with pyramids jutting from the skyline and a thousand spice sellers will send your senses into overdrive. Cairo, Umm al-Dunya (‘the mother of the world’) as Egyptians call it, will embrace you like a steaming hot cup of mint tea, laced with copious amounts of sugar. Drink it in. On arrival at Cairo International Airport you will be met by a Topdeck representative. You will then be transferred from the airport to the hotel.Day 2 Cairo to AswanHow do you use an ancient Egyptian doorbell? Toot-and-come-in! Yeah, we went there. Check out King Tutankhamen's treasures (amongst 160,000 relics and mummified remains) at the Egyptian Museum. Then, witness the last survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - the Great Pyramid of Giza - and take a Sphinx selfie before anyone else thinks of it. (B)Day 3 AswanJulius Caesar, Cleopatra, Lord Byron... They’ve all done it. Go low tech with a ride down the world’s longest river on a gorgeous old felucca, the breeze in its cotton sails, and a chance to get up close and personal with the Nubians who have called this place home for thousands of years. (B)Day 4 AswanKanye may lyricise that he is a god, but the great Pharaoh Ramesses II apparently bedded 1000 woman and fathered 90 children in his time. His four colossal statues at Abu Simbel are probably what Kanye has in mind when he looks in the mirror each morning. Yeezus! Visit the Temple of Hathor – built in honour of his wife, Queen Nefertari – then drink in the magic of the Nile at sunset. (B)Day 5 Aswan to LuxorEgypt’s former capital is Luxor by name, luxurious by nature. The 200-acre sprawl of ruins, sacred lakes and chapels of Karnak and Luxor Temples collectively makes up the largest open-air museums in the world. (B)Day 6 Luxor to CairoTomb raiders before Angelina’s time may have helped themselves to all the treasure, but the Valley of the Kings is still rich in history. Get down and deity on a guided tour through the valley where anyone who was anyone was wrapped and packed for all eternity, including King Tut. Back to Cairo tonight. (B)Day 7 CairoKhan el Khalili market not only drips with silver lanterns, scarab pendants and incense, it’s cloaked in ancient history. The site was originally a mausoleum dating back to 970AD known as the Saffron Tomb. Some of the people playing backgammon at Fishawi's could very well have been in the same spot since then. Grab a mint tea and fall under the spell of whirling Dervish dance on an optional dinner cruise. (B)Day 8 CairoAs a 3,000-year old mummy would say, that’s a wrap! But as the ancient Egyptians claimed to have invented the calendar and the clock, time is on your side. So why not stick around a little longer? There’s so much more to explore! (B)
DepartingFrom 17/05/2015 to 01/05/2016
Passage to Petra - 2 for 1, 6 DaysJordan
Day 1 Amman. Sunday. Welcome to Jordan and the start of an amazing adventure. Arrive Amman, included transfer to our hotel and overnight. Day 2 Amman - Mt Nebo - Umm ar Rasas - Petra. Mt Nebo & the Promised Lands. After a quick visit to the Citadel and Archaeological Museum, we'll walk through the bustling local souk to enjoy typical Jordanian street treats of felafal and hummous at the country's most popular local street stand. As the pictures on the wall will prove, the unglamorous food stand was a great favorite of the late King Hussein. Leaving Amman, we'll stop first at Mt. Nebo, the site from which Moses saw the Promised Land. This amazing panorama includes the Jordan River Valley, the Dead Sea, Jericho and the spires and domes of the Mt. of Olives and Bethlehem on the Judean hills just across the wide valley. Our next port of call is Um ar-Rasas, one of Jordan's World Heritage sites and once an important stop on the busy caravan routes. The impressive mosaic floor of the St. Stephen Church features medallions commemorating all the early Christian pilgrimage sites of the region, and the extensive ruins also include one of the area's earliest Stylite towers, where a Byzantine hermit lived atop the tower and preached to the pilgrimage visitors. You'll make a late afternoon stop at the Shobak Crusader Castle (Mont Real) en route to Petra for the night. Consider doing a Petra by Night excursion (payable locally) for a tantalizing candlelight stroll through Petra's Siq a romantic preview of things to come. Day 3 Petra. Begin the day with a walk through the mysterious mile-long Siq, the narrow gorge with towering sandstone walls which leads into the ancient capital city of the Nabatean TRADING empire. Explore the Khazneh (the temple of Indiana Jones fame), Theater, Colonnaded Street and Museum. After lunch, climb to ad-Deir (the Monastery), Petra's largest carved facade. In the evening, why not try your hand at our Petra Kitchen Bolt-On to join fellow travelers for a cuisine course at the Petra Kitchen, where you'll help prepare a memorable Jordanian feast. Petra Kitchen bolt-on. Day 4 Petra - Wadi Rum. This morning we have the opportunity to join our guide for a return to Petra along the "secret way" of al-Madras, with visits to the High Place of Sacrifice and Wadi Farasa. At lunchtime we stop in the Wadi Musa souk to pick up delicious shawarma sandwiches or fruit and veggie snacks from the local produce souk before making the scenic drive to Wadi Rum. We make a late afternoon jeep tour of this moonscape desert terrain, arriving to our remote camp site deep in the heart of the Wadi Rum. We enjoy a magical evening under the brilliant stars of the desert night sky, including a scrumptious traditional Jordanian dinner. Day 5 Wadi Rum - Karak - Dead Sea - Madaba. The Dead Sea & Karak Crusader Castle. After breakfast at the campsite, we head north along the Desert Highway. Taking a drive through the busy MARKET town of Karak under the towering shadows of the Karak Crusader Castle, descending some 1300 meters to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the earth's surface. More than 500 meters below sea level, the mineral-rich Dead Sea is the world's original health and beauty spa. Drift out and bob in the waters and slap on some of the famous black Dead Sea mud to give your skin an invigorating boost. After the experience, you'll enjoy a buffet lunch before heading up to Madaba, home to the world's largest collection of ancient mosaics. We'll have a lavish Jordanian feast a Haret Jdoudna, the restaurant in Madaba's city center offering the best of Jordanian cuisine in a setting created from some of the city's traditional 19th-century homes. Day 6 Madaba - Amman. Friday. Madaba - Amman Airport. Explore Madaba your way, before hotel check-out and included onward departure transfer to Amman's Queen Alia airport. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.
Departing from 7 June 2015 - 30 August 2015.
Tel Aviv & Jerusalem - 4 DaysIsrael
Day 1, Tel AvivWelcome to Israel! Upon arrival you will be met at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and transferred to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.No meals included.Day 2, JerusalemTel Aviv - breakfast. Today enjoy a full day coach tour to UNESCO Listed Jerusalem, one of the world's oldest and most holy cities. First stop is the holy Mount of Olives where there are amazing panoramic views of the Old City. Continuing on, take a walking tour of the atmospheric Old City; wander through the Armenian and Jewish quarters to the Cardo (ancient Roman road). We continue on through the Old City and the Christian quarter, visiting the famous Wailing Wall. The Western Wall (better known as the Wailing Wall) attracts thousands of Jewish worshippers each day, who come to pray, write notes to God and place them between the ancient stones of the Wall because they believe that the presence of God resides there. Retrace the final laboured steps of Jesus, burdened under the weight of the cross, along the Via Dolorosa to the hallowed Church of the Sepulchre. The Holy Sepulcre is considered one of the holiest places in Christian Religion as it believed to be the site of Jesus’ Crucifixion and burial. Inside the church is a rocky outcropping which is the traditional place where the cross was placed. Inside the lavishly decorated church is the opulent marble tomb (Sepulcre) of Jesus, where you will find many pilgrims in prayer and paying homage. In the afternoon visit Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial (closed on Saturdays and holidays) which is located at the foot of Mount Herzl on the Mount of Remembrance. The Yad Vashem Archive, has the largest and most comprehensive Holocaust collection in the world. Explore the complex which includes the Holocaust History Museum, memorial sites, the Museum of Holocaust Art, sculptures and outdoor commemorative sites such as the Valley of the Communities. After visiting Yad Vashem, return to Tel Aviv and spend the evening at leisure. Please note: The tour price above is based upon a Jerusalem coach tour, guided in two languages (including English). Should you wish to have a private tour of Jerusalem this can be arranged at an additional cost.No meals included.Day 3, Tel Aviv your wayStretched along the beautiful Mediterranean coastline, Tel Aviv - Israel's largest city, provides an enticing blend of beach and urban life. There is plenty to entertain in this thriving metropolis, with its golden beaches and sea front sky scrapers, chic shops and exotic markets. Not to mention the city's wonderful restaurants, museums, galleries, theatres and a lively nightlife! Enjoy a free day exploring Tel Aviv, often called 'the city that never stops'. Sunbathe on the wide stretch of beach, stroll along the promenade, visit many of the cities cultural attractions or perhaps indulge in a spot of retail therapy!1 breakfast, no lunch, no dinner included.Day 4, A lazy morningAfter breakfast, spend the morning at leisure or maybe opt for one last swim in the Meditteranean. Hotel check out at noon and onward departure to the airport1 breakfast, no lunch, no dinner included.
Ancient lands full of modern surprises
Depending upon interpretation, there are around 15 countries in the region including Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Within this historic region there are grand cities of history - the facades in Jordan's Petra are a must see - and thriving metropolises of religious and cultural significance such as Jerusalem and Damascus to name a few.
In addition to the character-laden urban settlements, Middle Eastern landscapes harbour seas of dunes, palm-fringed oases and sociable seaside resorts. The bright waters of the Dead Sea will see you floating dreamily due to its high levels of salinity. Conversely, the Red Sea provides excellent opportunities for diving. If diving into the high life is more your style, don't miss Dubai – the flashiest of the United Arab Emirates. The UAE's low-key capital, Abu Dhabi, is worthy of exploration even if only for comparative reasons.