We enjoyed the holiday but that was because of the spectacular/historic/biblical sites and great travelling companions and NOT the efforts of Exodus.
Effectively all Exodus provided was transport between sites and generally poor hotels, (except the Dead Sea but particularly the grubby SeaNet in Tel Aviv where we endured 2 extra nights at the end of the tour), albeit the hotels were in good locations. The bus in Jordan was not fit for purpose, or Health & Safety compliant, as luggage didn’t fit in (some initially had to go by taxi) and was balanced above the heads of the back row and in the aisle when rearranged and ‘fitted’. Sitting over wheel arches in a full cramped bus is not comfortable on long journeys or good for posture.
Inexperienced, disorganised, uninformative and slow moving guide in Jordan and just a ‘day guide’ in Israel, who provided better information but with limited time on the Tower Mount spent too long talking, such that the guards started emptying the site before we fully enjoyed it. Fortunately we had the next full day to explore Jerusalem on our own.
Petra and Wadi Rum were spectacular but need to start Petra early, not later with the crowds. If relatively fit it is possible to walk to both the monastery and the high sacrifice but is a full day, which meant us missing out on the meal with a local family that had only been suggested that morning. Wadi Rum camp was basic but fun with good food, but it doesn’t give sunset or sunrise views. The guide suggested it was too far to walk to see sunset, though we saw other groups heading back on foot later, and that we could see sunrise by walking round the corner. We walked several corners the next morning but the cliffs were too high, so a walk out towards the centre could have provided both.
The Dead Sea is an unusual experience and the only good hotel on the tour but the Group had to push to get there early enough to enjoy any meaningful time.
The Israel part of the tour started badly as we were waiting over an hour standing at the border control before the bus/guide turned up and then had to wait further as he had 3 additional names on his tour list. We explained they weren’t part of the group and couldn’t have fitted on the Jordan bus but clearly he needed to check with the office.
Jerusalem and Bethlehem are clearly must sees, but we should not have gone back for another night to Jerusalem after Bethlehem but headed North to Nazareth and Sea of Galilee (we went on a day trip from Tel Aviv and worth the trip). The long journey to Haifa was pointless and hardly a ‘visit’ as was just a view of the port and the Bahai Gardens from over/through the railings and gave insufficient time in Jaffa/Tel Aviv.
In summary great places to visit but can’t recommend this Exodus tour with its current format, guides, transport and hotels, though Exodus failings likely helped the bonding of the group. It was nothing like the experience and support we expected having had a fantastic guide and great time with Exodus in Sri Lanka.