Visit Palestine with Saleem & Kristel

3 October – 14 October 2022

1350 dollar (half board, flight not included)

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 when we reach a minimum of ten people and we can accept a maximum of sixteen 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 16) 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. 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.

Monday 3 October: Arrival & Introduction

Tuesday 4 October: 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 and the Heirloom seed library of Vivien Sansour. 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 Makrhour valley. At the end of the day you can enjoy the sunset view from Shams el Aseel restaurant.

Wednesday 5 October: On the second day of your visit we will go to Al Quds, Jerusalem. We will start at the Muslim holy site ‘Haram al Sharif’ with the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa mosque. After a cup of Arabic coffee, mint tea or a glass of pomegranate juice (October is the pomegranate season!) there is plenty of time to discover the important sites in the different quarters of the old city and to try some of the typical Jerusalem tastes such as ka’ek and sesame seed bars with nuts and honey.

Thursday 6 October: Let’s explore Bethlehem a bit more! One of the must sees is the Bethlehem Walled Off Hotel that was established by graffiti artist Banksy. Inside the hotel lobby you can see his art work and upstairs in the gallery there is impressive art by local Palestinian artists. One of the local artists is Ayed Arafah who grew up in Deheishe refugee camp. His experience had great influence on his work. We will visit the refugee camp with him 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. The Museum has  wonderful garden with a lot of local indigenous plants, trees and animals.

(On this day we offer an optional biking tour with e-bikes in Bethlehem)

Friday 7 October: 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! In the lovely garden we will eat traditional zarb, vegetables and chicken from a rock oven.

Saturday 8 October: 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! Before we drive to Abud village where we will meet with Palestinian host families, we will visit a date farm where you can learn about the date plantations in the Jordan valley and try (and buy) some traditional Palestinian dates. At your host family in Abud you will have traditional Palestinian food.

Sunday 9 October: The joy of October is the olive harvest when families go out together to harvest their trees. 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

Monday 10 October: The next morning you can join a hike with Saleem in the surroundings of Abud. We will have Palestinian food for lunch in the village before we continue to Taybeh. Taybeh is famous for its local beer brewery and the Saint George church, both of which we will visit. It is beautifully situated on a hill between the olive groves. In the end of the day we will continue to Nablus for an overnight stay.

Tuesday 11 October: 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.

Wednesday 12 October: Wednesday is a free day. We do offer the option to go on the Sacred Cuisine Food Tour in the old city of Jerusalem in the morning. Izzeldin Bukhari will take you on a tour to explore the richness of the Palestinian food culture focusing on the stories behind the products that create an important part of the Palestinian heritage.

Thursday 13 October:  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. We will focus on the history of Jaffa and talk to some of the Palestinian families that still live in Jaffa.

And this evening we say goodbye during our goodbye party because 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.

Friday 14 October: Breakfast and departure.