Few countries are as richly blessed as the small desert kingdom of Jordan, with its magnificent archaeological remains and breath-taking desert and mountain scenery. This fascinating tour begins in Amman, a fascinating blend of ancient and modern, and then visits the finely preserved Roman city of Jerash.
We continue to Madaba with its Byzantine churches and exquisite mosaics, followed by Mount Nebo from where Moses surveyed the Promised Land. We then follow the ancient King’s Highway south to the great Crusader Castle at Kerak before reaching Petra. Here we visit one of the most spectacular sites in the Middle East – the rock-hewn ‘rose red’ city of Petra. From here we drive through the awe-inspiring landscape surrounding Wadi Rum, before ending our journey with a couple of days relaxing at the Dead Sea.
N.B Please note that this trip does involve a certain amount of walking on uneven terrain and a reasonable level of fitness is required.
London / Amman
Depart London Heathrow on an afternoon British Airways flight to Amman arriving late in the evening. On arrival, transfer to the Marriott Hotel, in central Amman, where two nights are spent. Light snacks provided on arrival in guest rooms.
Amman / Jerash / Aijlun
Morning tour of Amman and its largely Roman ancient sites, including the huge 2nd century Amphitheatre, Odean, Nymphaeum, and Citadel. Continue to Jerash, one of the best examples in the Middle East of a Roman provincial city which is remarkably well-preserved.
Lunch at the Lebanese House in Jerash. Continue on to Aijlun, an awe-inspiring Islamic fortress, overlooking the Jordan Valley. Transfer back to the hotel. Dinner at Beit Sitti, a family owned restaurant, serving wonderfully authentic Arabic food.
Madaba / Nebo / Petra
Transfer south along the King’s Highway, one of the oldest roads in antiquity, to Madaba, known as the City of Mosaics, famous for its large Byzantine mosaic map of The Holy Land on the floor of the St George’s Church, depicting all the major biblical sites of the Middle East. Drive to Mount Nebo, mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the place where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land, and climb to the very top to take in its spectacular views over the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea.
Continue to the ruins of the early 12th century Shobak Castle followed by the magnificent 12th century Crusader fortress of Kerak built by the crusader King Baldwin I of Jerusalem in AD 1142 and featured in legendary battles between the Crusaders and Islamic armies of Saladin.
Lunch in Kerak, before continuing along the desert highway to Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Check into the Mövenpick Resort Petra, where two nights are spent. Dinner at the hotel.
Full day’s sightseeing at Petra. Hewn from towering rust-coloured rock in the valleys of the Shara Mountains, Petra is testament to the prosperity of the Nabataeans. There is the option to ride horses to the entrance of the Siq, before walking or driving by carriage (additional cost US$25 per carriage) through this narrow, winding 2km-long fissure with walls towering up to 200 metres overhead.
At the end lies the unforgettable sight of the ‘rose-red’ Treasury, with its stunning 40-metre high façade. Walk along the Street of Facades, passing tombs in the cliff face and the 1st century amphitheatre, to reach the main part of the city with its fine array of public buildings and temples. One can also climb up the processional way (part winding staircases) to see the other remains and enjoy spectacular views over the ancient city.
Lunch at Basin Restaurant. Dinner at the hotel.
Petra & Little Petra
Morning visit to Little Petra, a magical spot with its own miniature version of the Siq. It is believed Little Petra was an important suburb of Petra, the entry and exit point for the trade routes to the north and north-west. As in Petra, the buildings were carved into the sandstone, used as residences, storages and tombs, with water channels and cisterns. In one of the buildings you can find the remains of painted frescoes with birds, grapes and flowers, dating from the 1st century AD.
Lunch at the Basin Restaurant. Afternoon at leisure and option to return to Petra archaeological site. Cooking demonstration and dinner at Petra Kitchen, preparing typical Jordanian dishes with local women.
Petra / Wadi Rum / Dead Sea
Drive (with luggage) to the Bedouin settlement at Wadi Rum, which is forever associated with T.E. Lawrence and is surrounded by the most extraordinary desert scenery – rust-coloured jebels capped with sandstone rising sheer from the wide sandy valley floor. Desert safari in 4×4 jeeps.
A buffet style lunch at a Bedouin camp before continuing to the Dead Sea. Check into the Mövenpick Resort where three nights are spent. Dinner under own arrangements.
Day at leisure. The Resort has excellent amenities including a beach, several swimming pools and spa and treatment centre, which offers a range of restorative treatments (payable locally). Enjoy, also, the famously buoyant saline waters of this unique environment.
Lunch and dinner under own arrangements.
Day at leisure. Lunch under own arrangements.
Alternatively there is an optional excursion (including lunch) to the spectacular 700m-high hilltop fortress of Machaerus, the castle of Herod the Great, which offers spectacular views over the surrounding landscape and Dead Sea. The hill was first fortified in about 100 BC, and expanded by Herod the Great in 30 BC. Machaerus is renowned as the place where John the Baptist was beheaded by King Antipas, the successor to Herod the Great. Also of interest are the remains of a Roman siege ramp on the western side of the hill dating from when the Romans took the fort from Jewish rebels in AD 72. The excursion is at an additional cost (please see below).
Farewell dinner at the hotel.
Amman / London
Morning transfer (with luggage) to Amman for a morning flight to London Heathrow arriving early in the afternoon.