RAIL AND ANCIENT WONDERS OF
ISRAEL AND JORDAN
MARCH 14-APRIL 1, 2020
Join us on our first visit to Israel, and a rail tour which will visit most of the freight lines in the country over three days, appropriately using a selection of freight locomotives to supplement one of the few freight locomotives still fitted with door opening controls which must be part of our special train.
Israel has a modern and efficient railway network which is still expanding with new lines being built and electrification works in progress. Most trains are diesel hauled and the intensive service on most lines mean it is difficult to accommodate special trains. As a result we will concentrate on the freight lines as it is quite straightforward to buy passes for parts of the network and travel the passenger lines independently. The reason for the tour being Monday – Wednesday is that no trains run from Friday afternoons until Saturday evenings which is the Jewish Sabbath.
Day 1 Saturday March 14:
Arrival in Tel Aviv and transdfer to the hotel. Saturday is the Sabbath so no trains running today. Night in Tel Aviv.
Day 2 Sunday March 15: (B)
Escorted travel around the network on passenger trains not covered by the freight tour, this will be continued on Thursday to do the remaining lines. Night in TelAviv.
Day 3 Monday March 16: (B)
This morning we transfer by coach or train to Rosh Ha’Ayin North (which is east of Tel Aviv), because this is operationally more convenient for Israel Railways than busy Tel Aviv. South of the station is a wye giving access to the freight only line to Lod, occasionally used for diversions. South of Lod we join passenger metals and proceed south towards Ashkelon, diverging west at a wye onto the freight line to Ashdod Miyun yard. We expect to continue from here into Ashdod docks. When we return we take the west to south side of the triangle and head south towards Ashkelon. For those looking at a map and wondering why we are not going to Rutenberg power station the answer is simple. The line is out of use and disconnected. Instead we take the Kheletz line, which is a west to east freight connection to Kiryat Gat. It is likely we will have a couple of photo-stops on this lightly used line. From Kiryat Gat we are on the line to the southern city of Be’er Sheva our stop for the night, but we continue through and take the freight line to Ramat Hovev, home to a vast array of chemical industries, where we may visit the freight terminal before returning to Be’er Sheva. Night in Be’er Sheva.
Day 4 Tuesday March 17: (B)
Today we venture into the northern part of the Negev desert on freight lines built to transport minerals and phosphate. First we take the line to Dimona, the end of the passenger service, and with a locomotive depot which we hope to visit. On to freight lines now, eastwards to a wye where we continue east to Zefa and the Rotem Industrial area where there chemical industries as well as mining for phosphates and oil shale. When we return we take the east to south side of the wye to access the long branch to the Zin phosphate mine, where we may visit the freight terminal. Now we retrace our route, doing the third side of the wye, to Dimona and Be’er Sheva North. We hope to have a fast run to Tel Aviv BS back to Lod then north to Rosh Haayin and then to Bnei Brak. The station is the first on the line to Rosh Ha’Ayin – an important consideration for tomorrow! Transfer to Tel Aviv hotel.
Day 5 Wednesday March 18: (B)
(Assuming we start from Bnei Brak) Our final day starts from Bnei Brak station and we head west towards Tel Aviv, this time taking the east to north freight only curve towards Haifa where we will visit several freight spurs, but en-route we pause to take the freight branch to Hadera East. Haifa is a delightful city on the Mediteranean with a colorful temple of the Baha’i faith. We hope to visit the loco depot before tackling the freight line which runs south east to a major oil refinery. Once we return a visit to the Qishon Workshops is planned before we visit the short branch to Qishon Port, and finally the branch to Haifa Port, all subject to final approval. We end the tour with a visit to the National Railway Museum. Night at Haifa hotel.
Day 6 Thursday March 19: (B)
Continue traveling on the regular lines as necessary or maybe Night at Haifa hotel.
Day 7 Friday March 20: (B)
We recommend you make a full week of it and today you might want to take the cable car to the Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery and Elijah’s Cave or head for fabled Jerusalem. Possibly a chance to travel on the extensive tram system in Jerusalem
Day 8 Saturday March 21: (B)
After breakfast we travel by road to Amman, Jordan.
Day 9 Sunday March 22: (B)
Free day in Amman to explore.
Day 10 Monday March 23: (B)
Leisurely late morning start. Two options: Cultural- guided city tour – visiting the Citadel, the Roman Theater as well as the labyrinthine “downtown” in the heart of the city with its markets and shops as well as many cafes, bars and restaurants. Or Rail Enthusiast: Coach to University of Jordan, Amman to see JHR 4-6-2 steam loco #84 ; then to Amman station where we visit the small museum and tour the locomotive depot and workshops where steam locomotives are still being repaired and returned to service. Here we will gain a good introduction to the former Hijaz Railway, built by the Ottomans in the early years of the 20th century to connect Turkey via Damascus to the holy city of Medina in what is now Saudi Arabia. The line opened in 1908 but only served this purpose for a few years prior to the First World War, when it was famously put out of action by the exploits of Lawrence of Arabia. Overnight Hotel, Amman.
Day 11 Tuesday March 24: (B, L)
Departing at approximately 9:00am on steam‐hauled train to Al‐Mafraq north of Amman. Lunch in local restaurant. Afternoon coach, trip firstly a short visit to see steam loco - JHR #63 2-6-2T at Al-Bayt University, Mafraq, then on to the spectacular, extensive Roman ruins at Jerash, which are now generally acknowledged to be one of the best preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. Hidden for centuries in sand before being excavated and restored over the past 70 years, Jerash reveals a fine example of the grand, formal provincial Roman urbanism that is found throughout the Middle East, comprising paved and colonnaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, handsome theatres, spacious public squares and plazas, baths, fountains and city walls pierced by towers and gates. Time permitting, we will head further north to Umm Qais in the hills above the River Jordan valley, where the Roman ruins are juxtaposed with an abandoned Ottoman-era village. Return back to Amman via the Jordan valley for a further night in Amman.
Day 12 Wednesday March 25: (B)
Coach transfer to Madaba to visit the 19th Century Greek Orthodox Church built over the remains of an early Christian Church with its 6th Century mosaics. We return to Amman via Salt and Mount Nebo and rejoin the train to start our journey southwards towards Aqaba, where other attractions await. Late morning transfer to Amman station – steam hauled train to Al‐Jeza. Diesel hauled train onwards to Al‐Qatrana. The lack of hotels in the desert area south of Amman means that we must take a coach transfer back to the hotel in Amman.
Day 13 Thursday March 26: (B)
Coach transfer back to Al‐Qatrana where we make a short visit to remains of the Ottoman castle before boarding our diesel hauled train to Al-Abiad. Here we hope to travel a short branch line heading eastward to the Wadi Al‐Abyad phosphate mine, if it’s available. We then take the coach for the journey to Petra via the town of Karak where, for the rail enthusiast we hope to visit JHR steam loco 2-8-2 #73 at Al Mu’tah University before visiting the impressive hilltop-crusader castle that dominates the town. Continue south along the famous King’s Highway to Petra.
Day 14 Friday March 27: (B)
This morning we take the coach back to Al-Abiad, with a stop at Shobak Crusader castle ruins. We take the train southwards to Ma’an where we visit the original Jordan‐Hejaz Railway station before ending our journey at Ma-an Aqaba Railway station. En route we hope to visit by train to the phosphate mine at Al‐Hasa and make a short walking visit off the train at Anieza to explore the 16th century Ottoman castle remains. Coach transfer from Ma’an back to the hotel in Petra.
Day 15 Saturday March 28: (B)
The highlight of the tour – the “Red Rose City” of Petra where we can visit the giant red mountains and vast mausoleums of a departed race at sunrise, or later if you wish. Although much has been written about Petra, nothing really prepares you for this amazing place: it has to be seen to be believed. Entrance to the city is through the Siq, a narrow gorge, over 1 mile in length, which is flanked on either side by soaring, 262 feet high cliffs. Just walking through the Siq is an experience in itself. The colors and formations of the rocks are dazzling. As you reach the end of the Siq you will catch your first glimpse of Al-Khazneh (Treasury). The Treasury is just the first of the many wonders that make up Petra. As you enter the Petra valley you will be overwhelmed by the natural beauty of this place and its outstanding architectural achievements. There are hundreds of elaborate rock-cut tombs with intricate carvings - unlike the houses, which were destroyed mostly by earthquakes, the tombs were carved to last throughout the afterlife and 500 have survived, empty but bewitching as you file past their dark openings. Here also is a massive Nabataean-built, Roman-style theatre, which could seat 3,000 people. There are obelisks, temples, sacrificial altars and colonnaded streets, and high above, overlooking the valley, is the impressive Ad-Deir Monastery – a flight of 800 rock cut steps takes you there. Overnight at Petra.
Day 16 Sunday March 29: (B)
Currently the Aqaba Railway are upgrading the line south of Ma’an through Wadi Rum to the Red Sea coast at Aqaba and constructing a new line to the re-located phosphate ship-transfer terminal south of the city. Unfortunately, the upgraded line is not going to be available to us and therefore after a second visit to Petra or a leisurely morning at the hotel, we will travel by coach direct to Wadi Rum and visit the location made famous by the legendary “Lawrence of Arabia”, including a jeep tour. We overnight at Al-Bait Bedouin Camp, with all facilities including air conditioning and Bedouin restaurant and entertainment.
Day17 Monday March 30: (B)
After breakfast we take the coach to Wadi Rum station for the Steam-hauled Tourist train with “Lawrence of Arabia” mock-attack” (as seen on Chris Tarrant’s “Extreme Railways” and BBC World Travel Show). We then drive through the spectacular desert and mountain scenery to Aqaba, hopefully with visit to the Aqaba Railway Depot, with an afternoon arrival at our Resort Hotel on the Red Sea coast for a relaxing evening as the sun sets behind the Egyptian coastline across the narrow sea-way.
Day 18 Tuesday March 31 (B)
We have two options today: a short city tour to include the Aqaba Fort with its giant flag and the old town, or perhaps a morning on the beach, followed by PM Transfer for the short flight from Aqaba Airport to Amman. The second option is a scenic coach return to Amman International Airport / Amman, via the Kings Highway and the Dead Sea. Overnight in Amman
Day 19 Wednesday April 1 (B)
all prices are per person
DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY$4,990
SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$995
FULL PAYMENT AT TIME OF BOOKING
TOUR CONDITIONS FOR 2020 **PLEASE READ CAREFULLY**
Tour Price: All tour prices are subject to change without notice, at any time. All prices based on double room occupancy. Those people that use a credit card for payments a 3% conveyance fee will be added to the tour price. We reserve the right to change tour prices if necessary without prior notice.