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ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE FROM AMMAN
13 DAYS | 12 NIGHTS
[ 04 Amman | 02 Ma’in | 02 Petra | 02 Aqaba | 02 Dead Sea ]
DAY 01 : Q.A.I. AIRPORT – AMMAN
Arrive at Queen Alia International Airport. Transfer to your hotel in Amman for a three night stay.
DAY 02 : AMMAN s/s
After breakfast, tour Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Start with a visit to the Royal Automobile Museum 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 is 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. Stroll through the old bustling downtown souk (market) which offers everything from a fruit market to tiny artisans’ workshops and clothes. Enjoy the sights of authentic souvenirs, the glittering gold souk, the smell of spices and stop at Habiba pastry shop, most famous for serving “knafeh” traditional dessert.
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 and 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.
Drive to Abdoun, a contemporary residential area which boasts some of the best modern architecture, and very popular amongst the locals for its numerous restaurants and cafes.
DAY 03 : AMMAN – JERASH s/s ( RACE ) – UMM QAIS s/s – AMMAN
After breakfast, drive north of Amman to visit one of the most splendid provincial cities anywhere in the Roman Empire, the 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.
Enjoy the Roman Army And Chariot Experience ( RACE ) show in Jerash which features forty-five legionaries in full armor in a display of Roman Army drill and battle tactics, ten gladiators fighting “to the death” and several Roman chariots competing in a classical seven lap race around the ancient hippodrome.
Drive on to the Decapolis city of Umm Qais, which was known by the Romans as Gadara and was famous for the richness of its intellectual life. Not only popular because of the 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 of Gadara is also 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. Return to Amman.
DAY 04 : AMMAN – DESERT CASTLES s/s – AZRAQ RESERVE s/s – AMMAN – BATH
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.
Drive to Azraq Wetland Reserve which contains several natural and ancient built pools, a seasonally flooded marshland and a large mudflat known as Qa’at Azraq. Scores of birds flock to the reserve each year, on their winter migration route from Europe to Africa, they include larks, finches, warblers, eagles, raptors, harriers, plovers and ducks. The reserve is also home to the wild water buffalo that live in the marshland. Lizards, foxes and jackals are sporadically seen in the late evening.
Return to Amman and experience a delightful traditional ritual at hammam Al-Pasha Turkish Bath where your whole body would be rejuvenated.
DAY 05 : AMMAN – BETHANY s/s – MOUNT NEBO s/s – MADABA s/s – MA’IN
After breakfast drive to Bethany, the most important and extraordinary biblical site in Jordan. It marks the place in el-Kharrar Valley (Saphsaphas), East of the Jordan River, where our Lord Jesus Christ came 2,000 years ago, to be baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized of him” (Matthew 3: 13), and where Prophet Eiljah is said to have ascended into heaven in the 9th century BC, on a chariot of fire from Elijah’s Hill which is located at the eastern edge of the valley. Recent excavations at the Baptism site has revealed caves, where monks and hermits used to live, remains of churches with mosaics and marble floors dating back to the Byzantine era, and some to the late Roman era, along with ancient baptismal pools, where pilgrims descended through the marble steps into the water to be baptized.
Proceed to 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.
Continue to Ma’in, which is set dramatically amidst the mountains around a series of hot springs and waterfalls, for a two night stay.
DAY 06 : MA’IN ( FREE )
Day at leisure to enjoy the therapeutic properties of the hot springs and hyper-thermal waterfalls of Hammamat Ma’in that cascade into natural mineral-rich hot pools, making it a wonderful retreat in the colder months.
DAY 07 : MA’IN – MUJIB – KERAK s/s – PETRA – CAVE BAR – PETRA BY NIGHT s/s
After breakfast, drive to the rose-red city of Petra for a two night stay, along part of one the oldest continuously used routes in the world; the 5,000-year-old Kings’ Highway. Pass through the spectacular canyon of Wadi el-Mujib to the Crusader stronghold of Kerak where you will visit its 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.
Arrive at Petra and check in at your hotel. Enjoy a drink at the Nabatean Cave Bar before joining the Petra by Night evening excursion where the ‘rose-red’ city is transformed into a world of magic with only the flickering light of candles to guide you way to the Treasury (Petra by Night operates on Mondays, Wednesday & Thursdays).
DAY 08 : PETRA s/s – 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.
Drive 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 in the evening.
DAY 09 : PETRA ( FREE ) – WADI RUM ( 4X4 ) ( DINNER ) – AQABA
Morning at leisure.
At noon 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 the Red Sea resort of Aqaba for a two night stay.
DAY 10 : AQABA ( FREE ) – SUBMARINE ( TRIP )
Morning relax at the palm-fringed beaches of Aqaba.
Afternoon, enjoy a trip on the semi-submersible submarine to explore the wanders of the Red Sea, famed for its remarkably rich marine life.
DAY 11 : AQABA – WADI ARABA – MUJIB RESERVE ( HIKE ) – DEAD SEA ( FREE )
After breakfast, drive via Wadi Araba road along the Jordan Rift Valley to the Dead Sea for a two night stay at the lowest spot on earth. En route stop at the Mujib Reserve, one of the most enchanting nature reserves in Jordan and enjoy a delightful adventurous hike along its water filled canyons, crystal-clear pools and waterfalls (open between 1st of April and 31st of October).
DAY 12 : DEAD SEA ( FREE )
Day at leisure in the Dead Sea, 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 13 : DEAD SEA – Q.A.I. AIRPORT
Transfer to Queen Alia International Airport for departure…