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Need help planning two-week independent travel to Israel, Petra

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We are two independent women in our 60s who are planning two weeks in Israel with a sidetrip to Petra in October 2013. We are hoping to travel independently, picking up tours in different cities or drivers when necessary. We are looking for especially good tour companies or planners for that sort of travel, and hotel recommendations at the moderate level, including airbnb. We also want to do an organized hike of some sort for a day or two and are looking for the most interesting terrain to cover (including stays indoors rather than camping). We are of moderate means, but adventuresome, although not interestied in roughing it or hostel stays (nor 5-star hotels!). Can someone give us an idea of the most efficient route for an itinerary and how many days you'd recommend in each city? We are interested in museums on history and local culture. This is our first inquiry. We've done no research as of yet. Have to begin somewhere. Found great advice here for earlier trip to Southeast Asia...

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