Israel Tours from South Africa a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
ISRAEL TOUR 2019/2020 TOUR BRIEFING PACK Welcome to all Israel tour members. You are most welcome in traveling with us when we visit The Holy Land and/or other connecting countries. As Tour leaders we are available to be of assistance to you. Should you have any queries you may contact us. Remember you are on holiday and should relax as much as possible. You might be worried about exchanging money and what to wear etc. These suggestions are only to simplify your stay as we have experienced it in the past. A South African English/Afrikaans Tour operator and guide will be with you throughout our stay in Israel and connecting countries. We will also give a tremendous amount of information - it will help if you have a notebook to take notes for further reference. As Tour leaders we will also recap and add as necessary. We are proud to share the Israel Tour briefing pack with all the relevant details to help you prepare for the tour. A second briefing pack with additional information will be sent to you before departure. Feel free to contact our office should you have any queries and our friendly staff will gladly assist. Personal booking details, flight numbers and itinerary will be sent as soon as it is available with all relevant documentation that might be involved. Please note that all details shared are subject to change according to your travel Group allocation and tour dates. Below you will find a list of topics that will cover the basic movement, communication, rates, cuisines and many more information points that would be of use to you during your travel and stay in Israel. Also included is a section that covers all the various questions that we have received related to tours. BASIC INFORMATION RELATED TO YOUR STAY IN ISRAEL CLOTHING Weather in Israel: Winter weather can fluctuate. Some winters are mild and sunny, some severe and overcast with rain. Be sure to check the weather forecast close to your departure, to help you choose what to pack! The weather can sometimes be unpredictable. Expect several days of outdoor activities and a few evenings out on the town. You will also spend time inside museums, archaeological sites and at shopping areas. Bring clothing that you can wear in layers. Although some of the hotels may offer laundry services. Try and pack enough clothing for ten days. Remember you will be wearing the same clothes when departing warm South Africa -when you land so the weather will be different, try to dress with the weather in mind because the seasons differ. Summer weather: hot and dry. Israel enjoys long, warm, dry summers (April-October) and generally mild winters (November-March), with somewhat drier, cooler weather in mountainous regions, such as Jerusalem and Safed. Rainfall is relatively heavy in the north and centre of the country with much less in the northern Negev and almost negligible amounts in the southern areas. Regional conditions vary considerably, with humid summers and mild winters on the coast; dry summers and moderately cold winters in the hill regions; hot dry summers and pleasant winters in the Jordan Valley and year-round semi desert conditions in the Negev. As Israel is in the Northern Hemisphere, the seasons are: 20 March - 20 June: Spring 21 June - 22 September: Summer 22 September - ~21 December: Autumn 21 December - ~20 March: Winter Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_season_is_it_in_Jerusalem_Israel#ixzz1VaJqWnRo BAGGAGE You may use a bag or backpack of your own choice for hand luggage. Baggage is limited to one hand luggage. Your suitcase can weigh 20 Kg.(see changes on Flight tickets) Try to take less in case you would like to go shopping and need the space. TIME GMT + 2 Business Hours: Stores are generally open from Sunday through Friday 08:00-19:00. Shops in hotels are often open until midnight. Due to the variety of religions in Israel, there are different shopping hours depending on the venue: Muslim shops close on Fridays, Jewish shops on Saturdays and Christian shops close on Sundays. Banks are open Sunday to Friday 08:30-12:00 and Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday 16:00-18:00. KOSHER There is nothing in flavour or style that distinguishes kosher food from any other. Kosher food is simply any food which complies with Jewish dietary laws. Basically the laws require that meat and dairy foods not be served at the same meal, and they forbid the serving of pork or shellfish. What is certain is that the many talented chefs in the hotels and restaurants serve up delicious meals, and substitutes created for dairy products assure that nothing is lacking from any menu. Find more information on kosher food at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosher_Food ELECTRICITY Israel's electric current standard is the European 220/240 V/50Hz. Most hotels provide 1l0-V outlets for shavers only. Three-pin plugs are standard; if needed, adaptors can be purchased in Israel. SHOPPING Every country has its own character and products. Israel is not a "shoppers" paradise. Many shops will have souvenirs - but Jerusalem and Bethlehem has a lot to offer. Dead sea Mud products. All airports and flights have revenue free shops. Egypt will offer perfumes, linens etc. There are a number of genuinely good buys to be made in Israel, where trade and tariff agreements with many countries eliminate customs duties. Purchases most favoured by visitors include jewellery - the diamond and precious gemstone industry is one of the world’s most actively traded - leather accessories and furs, religious articles, works of art, registered antiques and antiquities, carpets, and fashion items, particularly beach wear. CUSTOMS Cameras, video cameras and laptops should be declared at the airport prior to departure — ask for assistance at the airport. Take your spare films/memory cards from home -it's usually cheaper. All passengers may carry a certain amount of goods custom free to South Africa. Should you do a lot of buying - make a list of everything and keep all your receipts to fill in customs forms on return. GEOGRAPHY Israel is situated at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea on the "land bridge" between Europe, Asia and Africa. Its topography is a microcosm of the world's topographies, including mountain ranges, plains, savannahs and deserts. The notable points of the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea and the Red Sea are part of the continuum of the great Afro Syrian Rift Valley and include the lowest point on earth at the Dead Sea. RELIGION Israel's mandate guarantees total freedom of religion and free access to holy places of worship for followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Each religion has autonomy over its holy places and houses of worship, and establishes the hours and rules of conduct for visiting them. Visitors are expected to demonstrate respect and dress modestly at religious sites. Find more on their religions at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Israel#Religious_self-definition. SHABBAT The Jewish "Shabbat", observed from Friday evening until Saturday evening, governs many activities in hotels and some public places. Special events in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv hotels should therefore, not be planned for Friday evenings or Saturday during the day. Hotels continue to function normally and all non-kosher restaurants remain open throughout. Some sites are closed on Friday afternoon and Saturday. Restrictions on the rental and use of conference equipment apply on the Sabbath and on and Jewish holidays. Similarly, Moslem sites are closed on Friday, the Moslem Sabbath, and Christian sites on Sunday. TELEPHONES CELL PHONES It is advisable to take a cell phone with and activated SMS roaming before you leave OR Tambo airport. You can receive SMS from SA at normal rates and send SMS’s at R2.75.This is the most cost effective way to stay in contact-but you have to activate “SMS Roaming” while in South Africa (OR Tambo) after activation; you will not receive any more calls, only sms’s. REMEMBER TO LOAD SOME AIRTIME [R100 WILL ALLOW YOU ABOUT 30 SMS's FROM ISRAEL] S.A. sms bundles does not work. To activate: Vodacom: SMS the word “ROAMON” to 123 - MTN: dial: *111*14# - Cell-C does not offer SMS roaming. I suggest that the 'Cell-C" users buy a "Vodacom" prepaid simcard @ about R1 for this purpose . An advanced telecommunications infrastructure permits convenient and easily accessible international telephone communications. All hotel rooms have telephones for domestic and international calling, including credit card calls. Public telephones using "tele cards" are found on virtually every corner, as are kiosks selling the cards. Rental cellular phones are also readily available. Full IDD service Country code: 972 Emergency Numbers Police: 100 Ambulance: 101 Fire: 102 COMMUNICATION In this age of instant information and communication, visitors to Israel in general, and business travellers in particular, are pleased to find they are never out of touch. Not only does Israel enjoy a broad communications-technology infrastructure, but it is one of the world-leaders in developing new communications technology. Most hotels offer upwards of forty cable television stations, including the world's major news organizations and a variety of local, regional and European channels. Internet access and satellite-broadcast systems for tele-conferencing are readily available; the reception staff at your hotel should be able to arrange these in advance of your stay. TIPPING No tip is expected for taxi rides; a 10% tip in restaurants is considered "correct", with 15% or 20% given for superior service. Convention dictates that you tip your tour guide and coach driver at the end of your visit. Hotel rates include a service charge, though tips are usually given to porters, maids, waiters and front desk staff. LOCAL GREETINGS You are not likely to offend anyone in Israel by trying to use the country's traditional greeting. Just as localss do not take offense to visitors from other countries saying “hello,” you are welcome to use the Israeli greeting “shalom” when you visit. It will help you blend in with the locals. The literal translation of the traditional greeting is “peace,” and it is used for both hello and goodbye across Israel. DO ASK QUESTIONS Be curious about the places you visit. In Israel, there is a proud culture among its citizens. They enjoy talking about their country, the sites to see, the Jewish religion and even politics. Y ou should not shy away from talking to locals about these subjects if you are in a conversation with a person who knows all about the area. There is no better way to discover the differences in Israel and your own hometown than this – and that is what you are there for. DRESS APPROPRIATELY Dress codes are pretty simple and are common sense in Israel, but there are a few rules you might not be accustomed to. Make sure you pack conservative clothes for visiting any religious sites. Men should not wear shorts or go without shirts around these sites. When visiting Jewish shrines or memorials, it is also proper for men to cover their heads.