Desert Jeep Tour From Jerusalem: Mar Saba Monastery And Wadi Qelt

Overview

Discover cliff-clinging monasteries and sacred sights aplenty on a jeep tour through the Judean Desert. After leaving Jerusalem, travel by 7-seater jeep through sandy plains to enjoy photos stops at Mt Azazel and the impressive, yet little-known, Mar Saba Monastery or St. George Monastery. Hear about the Greek Orthodox monks who live there, and learn about the areas history from a local guide. In the afternoon stop at Ein Prat nature reserve to admire the Wadi Qelt springs and swim or hike.

Details about this tour

Board your jeep in the morning, and travel out of Jerusalem into the Judean Desert. As the city traffic gives way to the smooth blond landscape of sand dunes, listen to your guide talk about the places visited on your itinerary.

Your first stop is at the lofty heights of Mt Azazel, a sacred spot where a mountain goat or in this case, a scapegoat was cast off the cliffs each year to carry away the sins of the people. Soak up the views over the desert, and then carefully travel down into the valley. The terrain is truly off-road here a place inhabited by nomads and Bedouin tribes. Look out for their tents and animals, and visit an ancient water hole thats still in use by desert farmers today.

Continue to Mar Saba Monastery or St. George Monastary, both tucked-away treasures that overlooks a deep ravine. Flanked by rock caves, the Greek Orthodox monasteries have the history to match theirimpressive looks; founded some 1,500 years ago, they arebelieved to be some of the oldest inhabited monasteries in the world.

Stop for around 20 minutes to view Mar Saba or St. George Monastery before continuing through the desert. Pass Nabi Musa, an ancient structure believed by Muslims to be the tomb of Moses. After a brief stop to purchase lunch from a shop along the way, travel onward to Ein Prat to enjoy the rest of your afternoon. The nature reserve is made up of several springs and natural pools, which spawn rich vegetation and flowers to an otherwise unflinching desert landscape.

Pay your entrance fee, and then use your time here for a dip in the water or, if the weather is cooler, follow your guide on a valley hike. Trails meander alongside streams and dip between cliffs, allowing for rewarding views over the reserve.

Before leaving, enjoy a coffee with your guide and gaze out at Wadi Qelt, the largest spring inside Ein Prat. From here, make your journey back to Jerusalem to end your tour at the start point.

Inclusions

  • Transport by jeep
  • Professional local guide

Exclusions

  • Entrance to Ein Prat (approx. 29 shekels)
  • Food and drinks
  • Drinks
  • Gratuities

Additional Info

Confirmation will be received at time of booking

A current valid passport is required on the day of travel

Most travelers can participate

Operates in all weather conditions, please dress appropriately

A current valid passport is required on the day of travel

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Cancellation Policy

For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience. Tours booked using discount coupon codes will be non refundable.

Reviews

  • Vera S
    05-Feb-2018

    We didn't go to the monastery at all, camping on the other side of the creek. The guide wasn't a Christian, so he had nothing much to say about the Monastery.

  • Michelle M
    20-Nov-2017

    This tour is a nice break from busy Jerusalem and visits many sites of historical and geological significance. Being a small group tour there is a better sense of intimacy which suits the setting.

  • Brad J
    20-Nov-2017

    This was a most Outstanding Tour !!! Our Guide, Nir, conducted a most enjoyable Trip....he is very passionate about the Israeli Desert and showcased it very well blending historical sights as well as contemporary issues...we covered a lot of ground in tricky Terrain but his driving was Fantastic...we would love to do this Tour again !!!

  • Murray S
    14-Nov-2017

    An outstanding experience. Words can't express how amazing this experience was. Imagine going off road, interacting with bedouins. Finding a hidden spring in the desert and having a sheep and goats wander up. Highly recommended.

  • homeofkimbles
    09-Sep-2017

    The best experience of our whole trip according to our three teenage boys. Zaki, our driver, made it really fun!!

  • CL
    05-Jun-2017

    I think that on the whole it was a positive tour experience, as you do get off the beaten tourist path and get to see some great views of the desert and the monastery. The tour guide's ability to drive a Landrover and navigate through the desert was definitely commendable - a lot of tricky and sharp twists and turns. However, Wadi Qelt fell way short of my expectations - we were taken to a very small stream which was hardly big enough for anyone to jump in and swim. Also, the tour guide mentioned at the start of the tour that we were due for a long day and a very long drive to the desert - but the tour ended at about 3.10 pm that day and the drive to the desert was less than half an hour, which left me wondering if his representation was simply due to language issues or otherwise. That said, I did appreciate the tour ending at the time it did because it gives you a couple of hours in Jerusalem before the start of Shabbat note that the tour takes place on Fridays.

  • Linda L
    29-May-2017

    I was in Israel for just a few days with my brother to celebrate our nephew's wedding. It was my second visit to Israel, my brother's first. We tried to fit in as much as possible in the short time that we had. This trip is right up there as of of our favorite highlights. The off-roading was exhilarating, the sights unimaginably spectacular and our guide Mir was the perfect guide to lead us on this adventure. He is charming, funny, fascinating and insightful. His knowledge of history, culture as well as current events made all that we saw come alive and filled with meaning. Do not think twice. Go on this tour. It is fabulous.

  • Sandy O
    08-Mar-2017

    We needed to find something to do in Jerusalem before our group tour started and found this. Great tour! I wish I had done this when we just got back so I would remember the guide's names but they were great! The lead guide was so informative about the areas we saw and also life in Israel and a kibbutz. One of our jeeps got a flat tire but the extra time was not wasted as we learned still more about the area and the country. We had two jeeps for 11 people so it was a bit cozy but we got out of the jeeps often enough so it wasn't too bad.

    Highly recommended!

  • Pier P
    03-Oct-2016

    Brilliant tour. Nir was fantastic, very informative and a great sense of humour. The scenery was breathtaking and the sweet tea at our Mar Saba stop was delicious. The gentleman in the second jeep my apologies but I can't remember your name was also a wealth of information with a fun sense of humour. I highly recommend this tour if you wish to get off the beaten track.

  • Pamela L
    23-Mar-2016

    This was a really great tour and the off road experience was wonderful. The guide was very informative. However I had booked this tour because part of the itinerary was a stop at Ein Prat nature reserve. It was very disappointing that this never happened.

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13 Reviews