Q & A with Zel Lederman, Founder, Israel Travel Company, Jerusalem, Israel. An award-winning inbound tour agency offering customized single day and multi-day experiences in Jerusalem,
Tel Aviv, Dead Sea, Jordan Valley, Galilee, Golan Heights, Negev, and others regions. Tour guides are fluent in English, German, French, or Spanish.
CONGRATULATIONS ON MULTI-YEAR RECOGNITION BY TRIP ADVISOR. CLEARLY YOUR GUESTS LIKE YOUR TOURS AND GUIDES VERY MUCH.
Thanks. It is gratifying to see how the Israel Travel Company has grown in size and reputation. Israel is a diverse and complex place. Guides are also diverse in their individual backgrounds and skills. So a key to our success is having a range of guides available and then knowing which guide is best to match with each group based on touring requests and stated interests. To offer such customized and personal service is very important. A common thread to every guide who works under the Israel Travel Company umbrella is his or her ability to give the highest level of professional and personal service, and I believe this is why they receive such high praise from our clients.
Yes, many visitors come here from Oz – they have this great advantage since they come from the southern hemisphere. That is, when they have their summer holiday in Australia, in the months of January – February, it is the opposite season here in Israel – it is winter. And winter is the best time to explore the Negev and Southern Israel. Walking or biking conditions are ideal then, and the desert “blooms” with flowering fields of red anemones.
WHERE ELSE DO GUESTS COME FROM?
The majority of our clients come from the United States, but we do get inquiries from all over the world. And though most of our tours are in English, we have guides who are fluent in German, French, or Spanish, plus a few other languages, too.
Yes, it is possible to put a series of one-day tours together to create a multi-day travel experience. We have also noticed that some travelers want to mix in days fully guided with days off to explore on their own, so we have developed one option where self-driving travelers can meet up with guides in different parts of Israel. Another option is to spend a few days with one guide specializing in a particular field, for example, religion, followed by days spent with a different guide who is expert in another field, perhaps architecture or nature. This can only work successfully because of our great teamwork approach.
We present our eco-tours as adventure tours with an environmental orientation. Here is one example of a 3-day tour (that can be customized into shorter or longer tours):
Day 1: Departing from Jerusalem, we travel north to arrive in the Jordan Valley. While exploring present-day communities, we describe those communities and cultures that lived along Jordan River in the ancient past. Visitors learn about environmental projects dedicated to the river and visit monasteries near the river banks. We also stop by Qasr el Yahud - the traditional baptism site of Jesus. The afternoon includes a visit to the Peace Island Project at Naharayim and historic Beit Shean. Guests stay overnight either in the Sea of Galilee or Golan Heights regions.
Day 2: The group visits classical historic and archaeological sites around the Sea of Galilee and discusses important environmental issues, such as water, and how borders, wars and politics can influence policy. Guests stay overnight in the Sea of Galilee, Upper Galilee, or Golan Heights regions.
Day 3: This day provides a customized tour of the Galilee region based on interests – perhaps agriculture, history, social/culture, active adventures, and so forth. The tour ends with a return to Jerusalem (or ends in Tel Aviv instead).
We believe that eco-tours should be both educational and fun, so we like to include Israeli food workshops, cultural explorations, recreational sports, and more.
All of the above and more - homestays, traditional village caves, sleep-outs, spas and top-line hotels. We believe a combination of various accommodations results in more interesting tour experiences.
ARE MEALS INCLUDED IN THE MULTI-DAY TOURS? ARE THESE ALL KOSHER MEALS?
Normally meals are not included in the quoted prices for multi-day tours as we basically quote daily rates for guide and transport. However, we can certainly help clients with their dietary requests by making the proper arrangements for them.
WHAT SURPRISES FIRST-TIME VISITORS ABOUT NORTHERN ISRAEL?
They are amazed to see how close everything is to each other and yet how very diverse the landscapes, cultures and people are who call this region of Israel home.
Everyone coming to Israel should not miss the wonderful sight of the thousands of different bird species landing at dusk on the fields and ponds of the Hula Valley or the endangered griffon vultures circling majestically high in the skies above Gamla on the Golan Heights.
SOME OF YOUR TOURS FOCUS ON POLITICAL OR SOCIAL ISSUES - WHY OFFER SUCH TOURS AND WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Travel is one of the great ways to learn about oneself by challenging one’s perspectives. By exploring the complex issues faced by Israel and its neighbors, our guests are left with deep impressions that last long after the tour is over. They learn why this place is so special for so many.
Yes they can. And let me say while any time of the year is a good time to visit Israel, the spring months are especially lovely, not only because of these major holidays but also because the natural beauty of Israel is on full display.
Yes - through new connections with other suppliers, I can offer custom tours into the Negev desert and southern Israel to visit amazing places, like Makhtesh Ramon, and to arrange experiences such as camel treks, horse riding, and overnight stays with Bedouin families.
SO TO SUMMARIZE, WHY CHOOSE ISRAEL TRAVEL COMPANY?
We have built our name and good reputation by providing excellent guides and service. We listen to our clients and deliver to them the customized experiences they request. We are also very much part of the wider professional tourism community here in Israel, and so when we design a custom tour for a client, it is not at all unusual for us to include another provider in the mix in order to achieve the most unique and special of experiences possible.
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