Visit Palestine with Saleem & Kristel in 2023

 

13 – 24 March 2023

12 – 23 June 2023

9 – 20 October 2023

Let us introduce ourselves

We are Saleem and Kristel, together we studied the tour guide program at the Bethlehem Bible College during the Covid pandemic. We both have a great passion for putting Palestine on the tourism map. There is so much to share about Palestine’s history, heritage and there are so many beautiful places to visit. In the same time we are fully aware of the political reality of colonization and military occupation. We both live it every day.

Saleem is a Palestinian from Abud. He was born and raised in Palestine. He is married and has three beautiful daughters. He has worked for several local organizations and has experience with media and receiving international guests.

Kristel is from the Netherlands and she is married to a Palestinian, the owner of Singer Cafe and Al Jisser bar in Beit Sahour where we will spend a total of 7 nights. Kristel and Tariq have a daughter and a son. Kristel studied and worked as a tour guide and history teacher in the Netherlands before coming to Palestine where she has lived for a good 10 years. She produces Stories from Palestine podcast.

The aim of our program

We offer a unique program that will give participants the opportunity to experience something very different than the usual pilgrimage programs, existing political tours and olive harvest programs. We offer a variety of activities and trips to share different aspects of the land and the life in Palestine. We also will include one day of olive picking because it is a wonderful experience of an important part of the Palestinian heritage and economy.

It is important for us that you get a chance to meet locals. But we also value the participants in the group and their personal stories. We know that many of the people who are interested to join this program are of Palestinian descent. They have their own ties to the land and the people. We imagine that this group will be very diverse, younger and older people of different cultural and religious backgrounds. But what will all unite us is our interest in learning more about Palestine, about its history, its people and the political reality of today.

Number of participants

The program will take place with a minimum of six and a maximum of ten people.

We assume that if you decide to take part in a group tour, that you will adapt to being a member of a group. That means that you respect others, that you respect the time and that you join with an open heart and open mind. If there is anything you don’t feel comfortable about during the program, we can discuss and try to find a solution. There will be free time in the evenings and there are some optional activities so that you can find time for yourself if you need it.

More detailed information and how to sign up

When you are seriously considering to join, please contact us by e-mail : kristel@storiesfrompalestine.info

We will send you a document with more detailed information on how we work and what to expect. If our program fits your needs and our way of working also works for you then you can sign up.

Before booking your flight check with us if there is still space (max 10) After we give you the okay, you can book and send us the flight details, a copy of your ID and 250 dollars registration fee through PayPal or bank transfer to a European bank account. Then your participation is confirmed.

Program

This is the tentative program. This program may still change. We will keep you informed if there are major changes. Palestine is a country where you have to be very flexible. Things are often not clear until the last moment. And things can change due to the political reality and circumstances. When you ask us to send you more details we will also send you a more detailed version of this program.

Day 1: Arrival & Introduction in the afternoon / evening

Day 2: On the first day we will take you on a bus tour around Bethlehem to discover the very fertile valley of Artas and see the Roman aqueduct system at the Solomon’s pools. We are excited to take you to the agricultural village of Battir. Battir is UNESCO world heritage site and famous for its irrigated terraces and of course for the ‘Betenjan Battiri’ the eggplant from Battir. We will have a traditional Palestinian lunch at Dar Abu Hassan before we go on a hike in the Mahkrour valley. At the end of the day you can enjoy the sunset view from Shams el Aseel restaurant.

Day 3: Let’s explore Bethlehem a bit more!  We will walk around the old city, visit the Church of Nativity, visit the heritage museum and eat falafel and humus. Depending on his availability at that time we will visit Deheisheh refugee camp with Palestinian artists Ayed Arafah and learn more about the Palestinian refugee issue. At the Museum of Natural History we can learn more about the importance of biodiversity and heritage. This is the place where many species are preserved.

Day 4: We will go early to Al Quds, Jerusalem and start with a visit to the Muslim holy site ‘Haram al Sharif’ with the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa mosque. After a cup of Arabic coffee or mint tea there is plenty of time to discover the important sites in the different quarters of the old city including the Holy Sepulcher Church and to try some of the typical Jerusalem tastes such as ka’ek and sesame seed bars with nuts and honey.

Day 5: On our way to Jericho we will drive through the Jerusalem desert where in the 5th and 6th century many monks retreated from the city to live as hermits. Two of the monasteries that were established in the desert in that time are still functioning today. They are built in the rock of the mountain. You will be surprised by the beauty of Marsaba monastery and Saint George Monastery.

Also on our way is the shrine for prophet Moses, Maqam Nabi Musa, where we can have a quick stop.

In Jericho we will take you to Hisham’s Palace to admire the newly renovated mosaics and share the rich history of the Umayyads in Palestine who are famous for the desert palaces.

Jericho is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the archaeological site of Tel el Sultan is a must visit. Close to the oldest part of the oldest city in the world we will have our overnight stay in Auberg Inn guesthouse. The Auberg Inn has a big garden where they grow aubergines (eggplant), hence the name of the guesthouse! We will eat traditional zarb, vegetables and chicken from a rock oven.

Day 6: In the morning you can visit the monastery on Mount of Temptations with cable car, this is optional. You can also decide to have an easy morning. We drive to the lowest point in the world, where the water is so salty that there is no life in it, that’s why it is called the Dead Sea. And because of the high salinity of the water it is impossible to swim, but you can experience floating on the Dead Sea!

We will continue to Abud village where we will meet with Palestinian host families for an overnight stay.

Day 7:  For the October program this will be the day that you will join the olive harvest. Saleem’s family welcomes you for a day of olive picking on their land. You can climb the trees, or stay on the ground, take it easy or work hard. It’s all about the experience. We will teach you the fine techniques of olive harvesting and you will harvest like a pro. Of course you will eat traditional Palestinian food for lunch on the field and you will spend another night at your host family.

For March and June we will adapt the program to include a hike and sightseeing in the area or possibly a visit to Ramallah.

Day 8: On our way to Nablus we will stop in Taybeh. Taybeh is a Christian town with a beautiful Byzantine mosque and a pretty old city. There are lovely views from the mountain top.  Here we can eat the traditional Palestinian musakhan for lunch and then visit the Taybeh beer brewery, the first beer brewery established in Palestine.

When we arrive to Nablus there will be time for a stroll in the old city and dinner from a restaurant on the hill overlooking the city.

Day 9: Nablus old city needs several hours to explore the beautiful old center. We will definitely eat knefeh! We will visit the famous spices shop in the old city where you will have time to smell, see, feel and taste the aromas and spices. And of course you can do your shopping here.  On our way back to Bethlehem we visit the Samaritan community on Mount Gerizim. The Samaritans claim to be the true descendants of the Jewish people who never left the land and according to their narrative the main Jewish Temple was on Mount Gerizim.

Day 10: FREE DAY.

Day 11:  Jaffa is called the Bride of the Sea. Jaffa is beautiful. Situated on the Mediterranean sea. It was a thriving Palestinian city with several theaters and cinemas and an important port from where the famous Jaffa oranges were exported. The city was depopulated in 1948. The remaining Palestinians were all driven into one quarter. The rest of the city was inhabited with new Jewish immigrants. After exploring Jaffa and lunch you can spend some time on the beach or even swimming depending on the season and the weather!

And this evening we say goodbye during our goodbye evening with traditional Palestinian music. It’s the end of our stay together. But the beginning of new friendships! You will take all these experiences home with you and your enthusiasm will bring more and more people to come to Palestine. Palestine deserves tourism.

We want to put Palestine back on the tourism map!