Highlights of this itinerary
Day 1, Arrive in Jordan, transfer to hotel
Upon arrival our staff will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in Amman for the start of your trip. They'll help you settle in and introduce you to the local area.
Single room supplement (JOSGJE), Extra day in Amman - pre-tour
Day 2, Pella and Umm Qais
Our Jordan sightseeing begins today with a journey north to the ruins at Pella and Umm Qais. Pella is one of the most ancient towns in the world and a favourite of archaeologists. It is exceptionally rich in antiquities, some of which are exceedingly old. Besides the excavated ruins from the Graeco-Roman period, Pella offers visitors the opportunity to see the remains of a Chalcolithic settlement from the 4th millennium BC, evidence of Bronze and Iron Age walled cities, Byzantine churches, early Islamic residential quarters and a small medieval mosque. In addition to Jerash and Amman, Gadara (now Umm Qais) and Pella (Tabaqit Fahl) were once Decapolis cities, and each has unique appeal. Our next stop, Umm Qais, is one of the most brilliant ancient Greco-Roman cities of the Decapolis. Perched on a splendid hilltop overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee, Umm Qais boasts impressive ancient remains, such as the stunning black basalt theatre, the basilica and adjacent courtyard strewn with nicely carved black sarcophagi, the colonnaded main street and a side street lined with shops, an underground mausoleum, two baths, a nymphaeum, a city gate and the faint outlines of what was a massive hippodrome. In the afternoon we'll return to Amman where we'll spend the night.
Day 3, Jerash and the Dead Sea
After breakfast, we leave Amman for nearby Jerash, 'the Jewel of the North'. One of the largest and most well-preserved sites of Roman architecture in the world outside Italy, the ancient city of Jerash boasts an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years. The city's golden age came under Roman rule and Jerash is now generally acknowledged to be one of the best-preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. Having been hidden for centuries in sand, evacuations restorations over the past 70 years have revealed 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.
This afternoon we continue to the Dead Sea, one of the world's most amazing places. As well as being the lowest point on earth at over 400m below sea level, the Dead Sea region is moe of the most spiritual landscapes in the world as well as being full of dramatic natural beauty. The Sea itself receives a number of incoming rivers, including the River Jordan. Once the waters reach the Dead Sea they are land-locked and have nowhere to go, so they evaporate, leaving behind a dense, rich, cocktail of salts and minerals that supply industry, agriculture and medicine with some of its finest products. The Dead Sea is flanked by mountains to the east and the rolling hills of Jerusalem to the west, giving it an almost other-worldly beauty. Although sparsely populated and serenely quiet now, the area is believed to have been home to five Biblical cities Sodom, Gomorrah, Adman, Zebouin and Zoar (Bela). We stop here to enjoy a 'swim', though the internsely salty waters lead to a very strange swimming experience. In fact, normal swimming is not really possible, and it is easier (and more photogenic!) just to float, sitting or lying in the water. Be careful not to get any water in your eyes, as it will sting very strongly - you'll also discover various tiny cuts you never thought you had.
Day 4, King's Highway to Petra via Madaba and Kerak
We depart Amman for a scenic drive south along the King's Highway to Petra. The King's Highway is a slower, but much more interesting and beautiful drive than the busy Desert Highway, and during our journey we'll cross deep Wadis, drive through olive groves, and pass remote rural villages. En-route we stop in Madaba and see the town’s main attraction, the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George where we'll see its famous 6th Century Byzantine mosaic map of the Holy Land and other biblical sites. We'll also enjoy great views of the Holy Land from Mt. Nebo, known as the burial place of the propher Moses.
Continuing south we cross several deep Wadis including the majestic Wadi al-Mujib, where the road winds down and down, and then back up the other side of this 1km deep canyon. Next stop is Kerak Castle, one in a chain of Crusader fortresses built across Jordan in the 12th Century on the ancient Egypt-Syrian caravan route. Built in 1132AD by the Crusader King, Baldwin 1 of Jerusalem, the castle fell to Saladin in 1188AD. It is still a hugely impressive building with commanding views over the surrounding hills & plains.
Day 5, Petra tour and free time
We enjoy a full day today inside the world famous Nabatean site of Petra. The ancient capital of the Nabataean commercial empire until the Romans finally took over in 106AD, Petra was largely forgotten, except by the local Bedouins, until it was 'discovered' in 1812 by a young Swiss explorer, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. Petra is situated on the edge of Wadi Aruba., whose canyon walls and surrounding hills make it almost impossble to approach except through a narrow, winding cleft in the rock, called the Siq. The city itself has very few free-standing buildings, as the Nabateans chose to carve their homes, buildings and tombs into the multi-coloured sandstone cliffs. Nowadays, the Jordanian government and local people are well aware of Petra's interest to tourists, and the tourism infrastructure in the adjoining village of Wadi Musa is booming, though, thankfully, once you enter through the Siq, the site is protected, and all the building feels miles away.
We have a whole day today to tour this fascinating city (2-3 hour guided tour, then free time to explore yourselves). We start by walking through the Siq, which rises to 200m above us, and narrows to just 2m wide in places. The ancient Nabatean water channel can still be seen on one wall, as well as some remnants of the terracotta pipes that brought water into the city. All of a sudden, a now classic view appears around one corner, and one of Petra's most impressive monuments, the Khazneh (Treasury) comes into view. Our guide will explain how this, and the other buildings here, are mainly elaborate facades carved into the rock from the top down, and also discuss the spiritual significance of the building style. From the Khazneh, the valley opens out, with tombs carved into the rock on both sides. We'll see the ruined Roman amphitheatre, and colonnaded street, and during your free time you can walk up a steep and narrow winding gorge past beautifully coloured sandstone cliff walls to the huge and imposing 'Monastery'. The biggest of Petra's carved monuments at 50m high and 45m wide, this is truly spectacular, as are the distant views west across Wadi Aruba and the Jordan valley. Another climb can take you to the High Place of Sacrifice, and Lion Fountain.
All in all, this is a full & tiring, but hugely rewarding day touring one of the world's most famous ancient sites. We spend the evening and night relaxing at our hotel.
An option is available to return to the Siq in the evening for the atmospheric Petra by Candlelight tour through the Siq to the Treasury.
Petra by night
Day 6, Little Petra, Wadi Rum safari & Bedouin camp
This morning we visit the site of Little Petra, which was a suburb of the main city and provides a great insight into the building of the larger buildings and tombs. Next we head for the spectacular desert & mountains of Wadi Rum. The desert here, with its towering rust coloured rocky 'jebels' awed TE Lawrence during his visits during the Arab Revolt of 1917-18, and was later made famous in the film Lawrence of Arabia. After arriving in Wadi Rum, we take a jeep safari through the beautiful desert scenery, seeing more of the sheer cliffs and bizarre rock formations, before finishing at a Bedouin camp located against the cliffs right inside the Wadi Rum reserve. We have the rest of the afternoon here, and you can relax in the camp, take a short or longer hike through the beautiful scenery around you, or enjoy an optional camel safari. We then spend a memorable night here at the camp where we enjoy our Bedouin hosts' hospitality, traditional food, and plenty of tea. You can sleep in comfortable Bedouin tents (beds & all bedding provided), or find an atmospheric spot outside under the stars if you prefer (bring a sleeping bag).
Wadi Rum Bedouin camp
Camel Ride in Wadi Rum
Day 7, To Amman via Wadi Mujib (seasonal)
After breakfast at the Bedouin camp we leave the spectacular scenery of Wadi Rum and start our drive back up the Desert Highway to Amman. During the summer months (and weather permitting) you may also have the opportunity to do the Siq Trail at the mouth to Wadi Mujib. This is a fun ‘canyoning’ adventure that takes between 1 and 2 hours and involves walking, scrambling and some easy rock climbing through a spectacular narrow canyon (siq) up to a waterfall. The recent rainfall levels will determine how much water there is but you should expect some pools and swimming and to get very wet. A good level of fitness is required and we recommend wearing shoes not sandles to protect your toes.
On arrival back in Amman we stay in a 3-star hotel in Downtown Amman where you are within walking distance of many cafes, restaurants and shops for your last night in Jordan.
Note The Siq Trail is not available all year round and is generally only open from April to October and may also be closed at times during these months. Local guides are in place to assist inside the Siq but this is a self-guided section. If the water levels seem high & fast, or you are not confident in your fitness then we recommend not to proceed. Always follow the advice of the local guides. You must be able to swim as life jackets are not always available. A minimum age limit of 16 applies. When a stop a Wadi Mujib is not possible we will return directly to Amman where an optional city tour will be offered (payable locally).
Day 8, Amman, free time, transfer to airport
Your time is free today until we transfer you to Amman airport for your departure flight. Alternatively you may wish to take one of a number of optional day trips. These include tours to Ajloun Castle, a tour of the 'Desert Castles', a visit to the Baptism Site at Bethany on the Jordan, or a tour into Israel to visit Bethlehem and Jerusalem. We can also arrange a transfer to Tel Aviv either by flight or overland for people wanting to connect this tour with our Fantastic Israel tour departure which starts on Sunday.
Bethany & Ajloun Castle, Extra day in Amman - post-tour
- All accommodation as stated in the itinerary in 3 and 4-star hotels and Bedouin desert camp
- All transport and transfers
- 24-hour airport arrival & departure transfer service
- Services of a tour guide/tour leader
- 4x4 jeep safari in Wadi Rum
- All camping equipment in Wadi Rum
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary
- Entrance fees (worth approx. US$110)
- International Flights (available on request)
- Visa fees (currently waived for most nationalities)
- Travel Insurance (compulsory, available from Encounters Travel)
- Single room supplements (chargeable if a same-sex room share is not available)
- Meals not indicated in the itinerary
- Hotel Gala Dinner supplements if applicable
- Drinks, snacks and other personal expenses (e.g. laundry)
- Any other items not mentioned above
- 7 Oct, 2018
- 14 Oct, 2018
How to book
1. Contact a destination specialist
Whether you wish to plan your trip around this itinerary idea or you have other ideas, please do get in touch by phone or online. If using our online form, a sales team member will contact you by email to discuss your requirements.
2. Discuss your requirements
Our sales team have firsthand knowledge required to put your plans into action. They can answer your questions, offer suggestions and advice to suit your tastes and budget.
3. Refine your tailor-made itinerary
Your specialist will carefully design your trip, creating a detailed itinerary which you will receive in the post and online. Your specialist will answer any further questions you have and refine it until you are completely happy.
Once you are pleased with all the arrangements, we ask you to complete a booking form and pay a deposit of 50% of the total cost of your trip.
5. Staying in touch
Even after booking, if you have any further questions, feel free to email your sales team member at any time. The same person will handle your trip from start to finish.