While traveling abroad, check in at foreign student and youth travel agencies for local tours. You'll often discover budget-priced trips to remote areas that you might not feel comfortable visiting on your own, and economical opportunities to join some unusual adventures.
For example, through the travel agency operated by Israel's youth hostel association you can sign up for a camel safari in the Sinai Desert.
Whether you take a camel or desert vehicle tour into the Sinai, be prepared to rough it. These trips are designed for the "young or young at heart."
Nights are spent outdoors in sleeping bags, and water for washing is not always available. Trip fees include camping equipment and meals during the safari. Snorkeling equipment is provided for swimming in the Red Sea.
The six-day guided Camel Tour is combined with a seven-day do-it-yourself package for traveling around the rest of the country. You get a bus pass and vouchers for seven nights' accommodations at any of Israel's 31 youth hostels (breakfast and dinner included). The cost is $482 U.S.
The tour starts with bus transportation from the Tel Aviv youth hostel, and includes a night at the Eilat youth hostel on the Red Sea.
The following day the group heads for the Monastery of Santa Catharina, makes camp for the night and loads the camels with food and equipment. For the next four days the trek is through desert canyons to an unfinished palace and to Bedouin villages.
Departures are Aug. 15 and 22, Sept. 5 and 19, Oct. 3 and 17, Nov. 7 and 21 and Dec. 19 and 26.
To make arrangements, contact the Israel Youth Hostel Assn., 3 Dorot Rishonim St., Jerusalem 94625. In Tel Aviv, make inquiries at the youth hostel at 32 Bnei Dan St. You can also check European student and youth travel agencies.
The do-it-yourself packages that combine bus passes and youth hostel lodgings are called Israel on the Youth Hostel Trail. They are designed for budget travelers who want to be independent and flexible. You can buy 7-, 14-, 21- and 28-day versions, or combine them with a variety of short guided tours. Any package of at least 14 days includes a pass for visiting the 31 national parks.
A seven-day package costs $150 U.S.; 14 days, $290; 21 days, $410; 28 days, $540.
The Israel Youth Hostel Assn. also can arrange car rentals (with vouchers for hostels or kibbutz lodging), work on an archeological dig, work on a kibbutz, and a variety of tours from two-night desert camping trips to budget expeditions into Egypt.
Tel Aviv to Cairo
A seven-day tour from Tel Aviv to Cairo and back costs $338. That price includes Egypt and a seven-day Israel on the Youth Hostel Trail package. Border taxes and visa charges are not included, nor are lunches, dinners and some sightseeing fees.
What you do get is coach transportation, accommodations (with breakfast) in a tourist-class hotel for the four days in the Cairo area, two days of sightseeing with an English-speaking guide, the services of a company representative, and accommodations at the youth hostel in Tel Aviv. This trip can be started from Tel Aviv on any Friday.
A nine-day Egypt tour with visits to the Nile Valley, Cairo, Aswan and Luxor, and which also includes the seven-day Israel on the Youth Hostel Trail package, costs $530. It begins from Tel Aviv on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Transportation between Aswan and Cairo is by rail, using first-class sleeping services.
The Israel Youth Hostel Assn. suggests that you make your Egyptian visa arrangements before leaving home.
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Because of continuing disturbances in the West Bank and Gaza, the U.S. Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid travel to these areas until further notice. In addition, the situation in East Jerusalem (including the Old City) is described as "unpredictable." Before entering the West Bank or East Jerusalem, visitors should consult with the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, or in the case of travel to Gaza, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.
For more information on travel to sensitive areas around the world, contact the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, 2201 C St., Washington, D.C. 20520.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs publishes several booklets providing tips on travel to various parts of the world, including "Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa."
Copies are available for $1 from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. You also can obtain a list of other areas covered by the booklets.