HIGHLIGHTS OF JORDAN

BACK > TOURS

HIGHLIGHTS OF JORDAN

ARRIVAL FROM AMMAN & DEPARTURE FROM AQABA

 09 DAYS  |  08 NIGHTS

[ 02 Amman | 02 Dead Sea | 02 Petra | 02 Aqaba ]

 

ITINERARY

DAY  01  :   Q.A.I. AIRPORT – AMMAN

Arrive at Queen Alia International Airport. Transfer to your hotel in Amman for a two night stay.

DAY  02  :   AMMAN – DESERT CASTLES s/s – AMMAN s/s

After breakfast, drive towards the magnificent Eastern Jordanian desert complexes, collectively known as the ‘Desert Castles’ where many intriguing caravanserais, ancient hunting lodges, bath houses, and ruins of fortified forts and palaces were built by the Umayyads, during the 7th and 8th century AD, to provide refuge to caravans crossing the harsh arid desert and as a testimony to the Umayyad princes’ love of hunting and leisure and as a retreat from city life.

The mighty structure of Qasr el-Kharaneh with its imposing walls and narrow slits looks like a military fortress but experts believe that it was probably used as a caravansary, being set on the path of several ancient trade routes.

Qasr Amra is the most charming of all the Umayyad buildings in Jordan, built as a bath-house around (AD 711). The real outstanding attraction of Qasr Amra is the frescoes adorning its interior walls and ceilings. They are of exceptional interest for what they portray of human life: men hunting, athletes competing, woman bathing and dancers.

Qasr el-Azraq was built by the Romans as a military outpost. It was then used by the Byzantines, and later on by the Umayyad Caliphs for their hunting expeditions in and around the marshes. Qal’at el-Azraq is most famous for having been the headquarters of Lawrence of Arabia in World War I during the Great Arab revolt against the Turks.

Return to the capital Amman for a city tour to include a visit to the Royal Automobile Museum (closes on Tuesdays) which reviews the eventful life of the late King Hussein through his cars and motorcycles, showcasing part of Jordan’s history and the Hashemite Dynasty. In the vicinity you may enjoy views of King Hussein Bin Tallal Mosque with its impressive modern Islamic architecture.

Proceed to the Downtown area (Balad), the oldest part of Amman, which is crowned by the ancient Citadel (Jabal al-Qala’a), offering a panoramic view of the whole downtown area. Here one can also see the ancient Roman ruins of the Temple of Hercules, the Byzantine Church, the domed Islamic Omayyad Palace, and the National Archaeological Museum which, although small, houses a good collection of the antiquities of Jordan. At the foot of the Citadel is the 2nd century AD Roman Theater, still used today for cultural events.

Drive up from the old downtown area to Jabal Amman which was once the elite’s neighborhood when the city was just a small town occupying the downtown valley floors. Explore on foot Rainbow Street renowned for its fine old villas dating from 1920, where some are now used as showrooms to promote local crafts such as Jordan River Foundation or turned to traditional street cafes, small antique stores or Hammam such as Al-Pasha Turkish Bath where you may enjoy a traditional bath or a glass of Karkadeh drink (hibiscus) in its beautiful garden courtyard. Stop at Wild Jordan with its spectacular views overlooking the downtown area, and which promotes items often produced by rural women in the different nature reserves of Jordan ranging from jewelry to painted ostrich eggs, organic herbs, dried fruits and soap.

DAY  03  :   AMMAN – JERASH s/s – UMM QAIS s/s – JORDAN VALLEY – DEAD SEA

After breakfast drive to one of the most splendid provincial cities anywhere in the Roman Empire, the remarkably well preserved 2,000 year old city of Jerash. From the southern end walking past Hadrian’s Arch and alongside the impressive 244m long Hippodrome, where chariot races took place in antiquity, one enters the ancient city of Jerash, onto the lovely colonnaded Oval Plaza, connecting the Temple of Zeus, which overlooks it, with the main street, the Cardo, which is beautifully lined by Corinthian columns. Overlooking the Plaza is the extraordinarily well preserved and the most magnificent of all the city’s monuments, the South Theater, which seats more than 3,000 spectators. Walking through the magnificent Colonnaded Street, one can see the Market Place and the Omayyad residential quarter. Further up is a 4th century AD Cathedral, St. Theodore’s Church, the impressively carved Nymphaeum (public fountain), an Omayyad mosque, the arches of the West Baths and the North Theater. One can also see the Temple of Artemis and the western churches.

Proceed to visit the Decapolis city of Umm Qais, which is not only popular because of its extensive ruins but because of its magnificent panoramic views over the Golan Heights, Lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee) and the Jordan Valley. The ancient city was known by the Romans as Gadara and is believed to be the site where Jesus Christ cast out demons from two men and forced the evil spirits to enter a herd of pigs, which in turn rushed down the steep slope and drowned in the Sea of Galilee (Matthew chapter 8, 28-34). Much of what can be seen today was actually constructed during the 2nd century AD. A visitor can observe the West Theater which was constructed from the black basalt, and once seated an audience of 3,000 people. Beside the West Theater, stand the black basalt Corinthian columns of the 6th century octagonal Byzantine church, and further west is a bath complex. Numerous Greco-Roman tombs and a colonnaded street can also be observed.

Continue along the fertile Jordan Valley, where early settlements were built 10,000 years ago and significant biblical events took place, to the Dead Sea for a two night stay.

DAY  04  :   DEAD SEA

Day spent at leisure in the Dead Sea; the lowest spot on earth where one can experience floating ethereally on its saline waters without exerting any effort. The extraordinarily unique healing and beautifying powers along with the relaxing feeling that this salt lake imparts, makes it an exceptional natural spa with exclusive benefits, ranging from the oxygen-rich atmospheric haze which filters out harmful ultra-violet sunrays to the soothing and therapeutic properties of its mineral-rich salty waters and mud.

DAY  05  :   DEAD SEA – MT. NEBO s/s – MADABA s/s – MUJIB – KERAK s/s – PETRA

After breakfast, drive to the rose-red city of Petra for a two night stay, along one the oldest continuously used routes in the world; the 5,000-year-old Kings’ Highway. En route visit Mount Nebo which dates back to the time of the Prophet Moses, around the 12th century BC and is believed to be the site of the Prophet’s burial place and from where he viewed the Holy Land. On the top of the 1000m hill are the ruins of Moses Memorial Church, built by the early Christians in the 4th century AD. Inside, are the remains of magnificent mosaic floors with stunning designs that feature hunting and herding scenes but unfortunately the church is now momentarily closed for renovation. From a viewing platform in front of the church and looking out towards the Holy Land, a visitor may see a an Italian-designed bronze memorial of a snake on a cross which symbolizes the serpent lifted up by Moses in the desert, and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Mount Nebo commands excellent sweeping views over the Dead Sea and the entire Jordan Valley and on a clear day one can also see the rooftops of Jerusalem (46km) and Bethlehem.

Drive on to Madaba the “City of Mosaics” which is renowned for its magnificent collection of lavish Byzantine mosaics found in its churches and homes. The most famous and significant of all the city’s treasures is one of the oldest maps of ancient Palestine, the 6th century AD mosaic map which covers the floor of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, depicting the major biblical sites from Egypt to Palestine. The extraordinary map offers a historical insight into the surrounding region and was depicted in the past for the benefit of the pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. The River Nile, Mount Sinai, the Dead Sea, the Jordan River and Lake Tiberias are easily identified on this map, in addition to many cities such as Gaza, Bethlehem and the detailed Holy City of Jerusalem where one can still clearly make out the city walls, gates, the main street (cardo) and the domed Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The City of Mosaics has an interesting Archaeological Park which houses a rich collection of ruins and mosaics from the area, and a Folklore Museum housed at the Madaba Museum, which displays a collection of ancient artifacts, pottery, jewellery and traditional costumes.

Continue through the spectacular canyon of Wadi el-Mujib to the Crusader stronghold of Kerak where you will visit the imposing fortified castle which was built in AD 1142 and had witnessed many battles between the Crusaders and Saladin’s Muslim armies until its surrender to the Arabs after more than a one year of siege. Visitors will be amazed by the network of the dimly lit vaulted rooms and long winding corridors, which lead into each other through heavy arches and doorways. Also of interest, are the narrow arrow slits in the walls, to prevent invaders from climbing up the steep rocky slope to the castle.

DAY  06  :   PETRA s/s – CAVE BAR – THE ROCK CAMP ( DINNER )

After breakfast, explore the legendary city of Petra which was carved entirely out of solid sandstone rock more than 2,000 years ago and has been recently voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The breathtaking ancient city is accessed by foot through the magnificent 1.2 km narrow Siq (gorge), which leads to Petra’s most famous 1st century BC monument, the spectacularly carved Treasury which appears dramatically as you enter the hidden city at the end of the Siq. The numerous stunning ruins of tombs, known as the Street of Facades, lead your way into the remarkable 3,000 seat rock carved Theatre, and the impressive collection of Royal Tombs. The once bustling colonnaded market street, leads to the Great Temple, the beautiful 5th century AD Byzantine Church and to the mighty Qasr el-Bint Faroun. Should you wish to explore Petra further, a flight of about 900 steps cut into the colorful rock, takes you up to the gigantic 1sth century AD monument of the Monastery, with its stunning views over Wadi Araba.

In the evening enjoy a drink at the rock carved Nabatean Cave Bar before driving to The Rock Camp in Little Petra area which is set on an ancient site of a Nabatean winery and where 2,000 year old water channels are still visible. The camp offers an insight into the Bedouin’s way of life. Enjoy their hospitality while dining under lamp-lit, hand woven tents. Share in authentic Shraak bread baking, and relax around the campfire under the starlit skies. Tantalize your senses with the taste of fresh cardamom-spiced coffee grinded and roasted in front of you. Get adorned with temporary Henna tattooing; traditionally thought to have magical powers & Kohl eyeliner, still popular amongst the Bedouins as a natural protection against the harsh desert sun. Return to your hotel.

DAY  07  :   PETRA s/s – WADI RUM ( 4X4 ) ( DINNER ) – AQABA

After breakfast return to Petra for a second half day visit in the morning where you may climb up to the High Place of Sacrifice; the most significant sacred site chosen for devotion and sacrifice where animal offerings were made at the rock carved sacrificial alter.

Drive to Wadi Rum best described by Lawrence of Arabia as ‘vast, echoing and God-like’ for its stunning natural beauty, and known by the Arabs as the Valley of the Moon for its moonscape terrain of ancient riverbeds, soaring wind carved rocks and smooth golden dunes, offering the most spectacular desert scenery in the world. Explore its stunning landscape and venture far into the magnificent desert by Bedouin four-wheel drive vehicles while marveling at the massive mountains, beautiful canyons, awe-inspiring rock formations and remarkable desert sunset.

Enjoy dining in the desert before driving to Aqaba for a two night stay.

DAY  08  :   AQABA

Day at leisure in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba, Jordan’s only coastal city famed for its remarkably rich marine life and renowned for its palm-fringed beach resorts. Possibility to relax at the beach or to enjoy the different water sports activities or a trip on the semi-submersible submarine to explore the wanders of the Red Sea.

DAY  09  :   HOTEL – AQABA AIRPORT…

After breakfast transfer to Aqaba Airport to connect flights in Amman.