11 days Cycling - Palestine - Israel - Jordan

2017
 
29th March - 8th April 

 25th October - 4th November
from  $2,250
per person
includes accommodations, most meals, group leader, local guides

Highlights:
Jerusalem Desert • Jericho • Jordan Valley • Jerash • Dead Sea • Petra


This tour is not about cycling as many kilometers as possible each day. It’s about feeling the land, meeting the people, and enjoying the camaraderie and hospitality of the road. The trip also includes learning about the complex realities of today’s Middle East, especially the dynamic between Israel, Palestine and Jordan.

Fred Schlomka - Summer 2016 - Jordan Valley
There will also be visits to sites of historical, religious, and ecological importance, which will complement the cultural and political aspects.

This tour does not require any prior experience in cycle touring. Any reasonably fit person in good health will be able to manage. Obviously if you train a little before the tour then you will be better equipped to enjoy the experience. Each morning and evening the group will stretch out together to help maintain good bodily fitness.

The group leader is Green Olive CEO, Fred Schlomka (63 years old), who favours adventurous cycle tours, often touring solo in exotic places. You can read about his recent adventures at this link. Fred will be accompanied by one or two Green Olive guides on the inaugural tour in March.

This tour is semi-supported and adventurous, so expect the unexpected. Each cyclist will carry their own clothing, personal items, water, snacks on the bike. Some days we may be packing lunch also, and on others we'll stop in a village.  A list of suggested items to bring can be found on the registration form, and will be emailed to you after registration. If you do not bring your own bike, helmet, or panniers, these will be provided. The entire tour will be on paved roads.

The group as a whole will also carry extra tires, inner tubes, tools and other items for repair and maintenance on the road. These items will be provided by Green Olive for the rental bikes. If you bring your own bike then please bring your own maintenance supplies. In the event of an emergency, or the complete meltdown of a bike, a support vehicle can reach the group in 2-3 hours.

Accommodations will be varied, from camping, dorm rooms, home hosting, to a 5-star resort. Let us know if you have any special needs or absolutely have to have a private room. We’ll do our best to oblige.

Day 1 - Jerusalem - Jericho - Auja - 62 km (39 miles)
Judean Desert
The group meets the evening before the tour begins, in Jerusalem, for introductions, a communal dinner, and a briefing. Early next morning the bikes are checked and loaded very early. Then coffee and a brief orientation, and we’re off out of Jerusalem along the main road, making a brief pause at the Separation Wall at the Palestinian town of Anata on the edge of the city. Anata is essentially a Third World suburban enclave of Jerusalem where the residents have to pass a heavily fortified checkpoint to enter the city - and only if they have a permit.

Depending on the situation on the ground, we’ll either pass through the checkpoint and cycle through Anata, or go around the town and through the settlement suburb of Pizgat Ze'ev.

Anata is behind the 8-meter (24 feet) high concrete wall. It is like entering another world after the modern conveniences of Jerusalem, and the abrupt transition is quite shocking. We'll likely attract much attention if we bike through Anata.

The view at breakfast
After exiting Anata to the east, the group will continue into the Judean Desert, emerging eventually onto Route 1, a four-lane highway leading from Jerusalem to Jericho. It’s mostly downhill, plunging 258 metres (846 ft) below sea level by the time we reach Jericho.

We'll peel off the main highway and head over to St. George's Monastery in Wadi Qelt. Founded in the 5th century CE, the facility hangs off the size of a cliff overlooking the wadi. We'll have breakfast overlooking this spectacular landmark. Then we'll take the back roads to Jericho stopping to take in the views of the Jordan Valley as we descend.

In Jericho we’ll ascend to the Mount of Temptation, and take a look at Hisham’s Palace with a local guide before having lunch. Then north along route 90 to the Auja Environmental Center, located at the edge of a village of 4,500 Arab residents. Friends of the Earth run the facility which includes the guest house where the group will have dinner and spend the night. The visit includes a presentation about their work, and a tour of the grounds.
Dinner & overnight - Auja Environmental Center

Day 2 - Jericho - Jiftlik - 25 km (15.5 miles)
Volunteers rebuilding a Juftlik Bedouin home
demolished by the Israeli authorities.
Today we’ll have a leisurely breakfast and a short ride to the Bedouin village of Jiftlik.
Stopping at the Israeli settlement of Yafit to learn about their pioneering efforts and the expropriation of Palestinian lands.

On arrival in Jiftlik the group will settle in to the accommodations and have lunch. Then a tour of the village for an overview of the situation there and the volunteer opportunities.
Dinner & overnight Jiftlik Visitors Center

Day 3 - Service Day in village of Jiftlik
Today will be spent working in the village on a priority project determined by local residents. There will likely be an option of tutoring in English or hands-on work in the fields or constructing mud-brick buildings.
Dinner & overnight Jiftlik Visitors Center

Day 4 - north to Beit Shean - 75 km (47 miles)
Today is a longer ride up the Jordan Valley through some of the most arid areas of the country, which then morphs into irrigated and developed rural and suburban Israeli communities. In the afternoon we’ll cross the border back into Israel and the final stretch will be a more developed area leading to Beit Shean.
Overnight in Beit Shean hostel/Guest house

Day 5 - Beit Shean - Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark - 30 km (19 miles)
We’ll be up early for a quick visit to the Beit Shean National Park which includes the best preserved Roman theatre of ancient Samaria, as well as a hippodrome, a cardo and other trademarks of the Roman influence.

Then off to the Jordanian border and over the Sheikh Hussein Bridge. It’s not possible to cycle across the border, so we have arranged for special transport for the bikes.

Once through the formalities, we’ll take a short ride to the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark. There's some good off-road biking in the area and you'll have some free time to explore on your own.
Dinner & overnight - Friends of the Earth Eco Park

Day 6 - EcoPark - Jdeita/Orjan area - 30 km (19 miles)
Today’s ride will involve some steep hills, although the distance is not too far. There will be some spectacular views and interesting villages
Dinner and overnight with a local family in Orjan Village.

Day 7 - Jdeita/Orjan area to Jerash - 34 km (21 miles)
Jerash Amphitheatre
The ride to day will be mostly downhill so we will arrive at Jerash for lunch. Jerash is another classic Roman site in a remarkable state of preservation.

Jerash has been Inhabited since the Bronze Age and known for the ruins of the walled Greco-Roman settlement of Gerasa just outside the modern city. These include the 2nd-century Hadrian’s Arch, the Corinthian columns of the Temple of Artemis and the huge Forum’s oval colonnade. The Jerash Archaeological Museum displays artifacts excavated from the site.

We will have a local guide to take us through these marvels. At the end of the afternoon we’ll transfer by van to to the village of Aljoun, through pine forests and olive groves.
dinner and overnight in family homes in Aljoun.

Day 8 - Aljoun - Jordan Valley - 50 km (31 miles)
Today we’ll cruise mostly downhill back to the Jordan Valley and continue south to a campsite that will be set up for us at a surprising location.
Dinner & overnight at campsite

Day 9 - Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea - 30 km (19 miles)
We’ll continue south to one of the lowest places on the planet — the Dead Sea. This will be an easy ride downhill to our destination which is about 400 meters below sea level.

Then you'll enjoy some well-deserved relaxation at a luxurious resort with swimming pools, spa, and fine amenities. You'll have the afternoon and evening to enjoy the pampering and ambience.
Dinner & Overnight at Crowne Plaza Dead Sea Resort

Day 10 - Dead Sea - Petra  (by van or bus)
Today the group will leave the bikes at the hotel and travel for an hour by private motor transport to the ancient site of Petra. You’ll take a ride on horseback through the famous 'sik' a narrow gorge that is the only access. You’ll see the famous Treasury building and the Monastery, Petra's largest monument which dates from the 1st century BC. The origins of Petra date back over 3,500 years, with countless invaders occupying and expanding the site since then.
Dinner & Overnight at Crowne Plaza Dead Sea Resort

Day 11 - Dead Sea - King Hussein Bridge 28 km (17.5 miles) - van to Jerusalem
We’ll bike to the King Hussein border crossing (Allenby Bridge) and transfer by van to the Palestine/Israel side of the bridge where a van will pick us up for transfer back to Jerusalem. You’ll be dropped off back at our starting point.

Those of you who have opted for additional touring by van in Jordan, will be picked up from the Allenby Bridge. Those of you who have booked additional tours in Israel or Palestine will continue the following day from Jerusalem. 

  • Nablus Day Tour
    Visit the Samaritans and their holy temple on Mount Grizim. Hold a discussion with the Director of a youth organization in Balata Refugee camp. Explore the sights and sounds of the Old City of Nablus
  • Masada, Dead Sea & Southern West Bank
    An overview of the southern West Bank, the ancient Roman complex at Masada, a drive along the entire length of the Dead Sea, and an opportunity to dip in the healing sea waters.
  • Taybeh Village
    Come and explore Christian Palestine through the beautiful village of Taybeh located between Jerusalem, Ramallah and Jericho.
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