Encounter Jordan’s remarkable history and its stunning historic sites
Two full days spent exploring Petra
See Wadi Rum in all its romantic glory
Led by Prof Christopher Smith, former Director of British School at Rome
5* hotels will be used throughout, with time to unwind in an excellent spa resort on the Dead Sea
When Jean-Louis Burckhardt stumbled upon Petra in 1812, he did not realise how his discovery would grip the European imagination. This lost city of the Nabateans, the so-called “rose red city” of poetic imagination, is central to any visit to Jordan. Petra’s position on one of the main trade routes of the ancient world ensured that it would be wealthy, sophisticated and endowed with fine buildings. Who today realises that the wealth which led to Petra’s splendour came from trade in precious materials and spices, above all Frankincense?
Petra, where we shall spend two full days, is reached via the spectacular gorge known as the Siq, culminating in a first glimpse of ‘The Treasury’ which is a revelation. The valley then opens up taking in the remains of the Theatre and the many tomb facades, some of which we shall climb up to inspect at close quarters. Our first ‘climbing’ walk (optional) will be to El Deir or ‘The Monastery’ hidden at the top of a very spectacular valley ascent. Our second (again optional) hill walk will take us up to the High Place of Sacrifice, which has a wonderful view of the many valleys beneath. Finally, we shall see the site of the Great Temple, the recently excavated Byzantine Church and rarely included Little Petra.
Yet, Petra is only one amongst many spectacular sites and monuments we shall see. The Nabateans’ great wealth attracted the envy of many and, in time, Roman expansion in this part of the Middle East led to conquest of their kingdom by the Emperor Trajan (AD 98 – 117). The great city of Jerash is a testament to the manner in which the grandeur of Roman architecture could be easily translated throughout their growing empire. Vast in scale, the surviving monuments are remarkable.
Jordan, with its immediate neighbours, together form the geographical and cultural cradle of the three religions of the book: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Thus, the unfolding narratives of both the Old and New Testaments and the Koran will form an integral part of the visit. Indeed, who could not be moved by the view across the Jordan valley from atop Mount Nebo towards Jerusalem, from the place where Moses is thought to have seen ‘The Promised Land’? Equally pregnant with significance is the more or less accepted site of Christ’s baptism, a few miles away down below in the valley of the River Jordan.
Jordan as a state in its own right is a relatively recent creation, emerging from the residual ‘Great Power’ tensions of the early twentieth century. The country takes its name from the great River Jordan, as important today as it was in biblical times. From its capital Amman, we shall drive out to see the misnamed ‘Desert Castles’ which offer an insight into early Islamic culture.
Our visit to this remarkable part of the world, seen in all its springtime glory, should help highlight the many complex issues, ancient and contemporary, which have moulded this fascinating destination. We shall use three 5* hotels, in Amman, Petra and on the Dead Sea, the last of which has an excellent spa resort, a useful ‘extra’ at the end of what should be a memorable visit.
Day by day
- Day 1: Tuesday 10 April
- Arriving late in the evening in Amman, we shall be met by our local guide and tour manager and transfer by coach to the 5* Millennium Hotel in Amman, for a stay of three nights.
- Day 2: Wednesday 11 April
- Our first morning will be given over to an introductory bus tour of Amman, culminating in a visit to the ancient Citadel atop which sits an archaeologically complex site and a small Museum. After an early lunch in Amman we travel out to visit two ‘desert palace’ complexes at Qasr Al Kharana (Qasr Hraneh) and Qusayr Amra. The former is an Arab structure of the Umayyad dynasty, dated to about AD 700. Though at first it resembles a castle, its exact purpose is difficult to establish. The latter complex is a small bath-house now famed for its unusual frescoes of dancing and semi-naked ladies – subjects which are not what one would expect to find in an Islamic bath! We return to Amman and have a late dinner in the hotel.
- Day 3: Thursday 12 April
- In the morning we travel north to Um Queis, or Gadara, the ancient ‘Decapolis’ city with a fine range of mostly Roman buildings from the second century AD. We continue to Jerash where we shall have lunch. After Petra, Jerash is the most important Roman city in Jordan, with truly spectacular buildings. Returning to Amman, we have dinner in a local restaurant.
- Day 4: Friday 13 April
- The day will be spent on a journey through time, travelling along the central part of the old King’s Highway from Amman to Petra, offering amazing views of nature at its most spectacular. Our major visit of the day will be to the great Crusader castle at Karak. After lunch we continue to Petra for our first of three nights in the 5 * Movenpick Resort Petra. Dinner will be in the hotel.
- Day 5: Saturday 14 April
- We spend two full days in Petra, surely one of the wonders of the ancient world? Our first day will begin with a walk down the spectacular gorge known as the Siq, culminating in a first glimpse of the famous Treasury, which is a revelation! We continue along the valley, taking in the remains of the Theatre and the many tomb façades, up to some of which we shall walk to inspect at close quarters. Lunch will be in a restaurant in the centre of the ancient city. In the afternoon, our first optional ‘climbing’ walk will be to El Deir or “The Monastery” hidden at the top of a very spectacular valley ascent. Dinner will be in the hotel.
- Day 6: Sunday 15 April
- Our second day in Petra will see us return to the city where in the morning we climb, again optional, up to the High Place of Sacrifice, which has a wonderful view of the many valleys beneath. We shall lunch in the same restaurant as the day before, and in the afternoon, examine the site of the Great Temple and the recently excavated Byzantine Church. You will then be free to spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure in the ancient city before walking back to the hotel for a rest, followed by dinner.
- Day 7: Monday 16 April
- En route out of the Petra valleys we visit Little Petra, neglected by most visitors. We then drive south through remarkable scenery into the great desert wilderness known as Wadi Rum, where we have lunch, after which we travel into the desert by Jeep. At the end of this spectacular adventure, we continue on to the 5 * Movenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea, where we have a late dinner on arrival.
- Day 8: Tuesday 17 April
- Mid morning, we drive to the nearby River Jordan to visit the generally accepted site of Christ’s Baptism. We return to the hotel for some free time to enjoy the hotel’s Spa or to experience a ‘swim’ in the Dead Sea. Lunch is not included today but there will be dinner for the group in the Hotel.
- Day 9: Wednesday 18 April
- We begin with an excursion to Mount Nebo. This is the site from where Moses is thought to have seen the Promised Land before his death. There is now a fine early church, with exceptional early Christian mosaics, all cared for by Italian Fathers of the Franciscan Order. We continue to Madaba, once again a centre of active Orthodox Christianity, preserved amidst an Arab world and famous for its many ancient mosaics. We lunch at a local restaurant and return to the hotel in time for an opportunity to sample once again the delights of Sea, Spa and Pool. Our final dinner will be in the hotel.
- Day 10: Thursday 19 April
- We check out from the hotel, drive to the airport and fly back to the UK.
- Price: £3,885 per person
- Price without : £3,435
- Deposit: £500
- Single Supplement: £795 (Double Room for Sole Use)
9 nights including breakfast: 3 nights each at the 5* Millennium Hotel Amman; 5* Movenpick Resort Petra & 5* Movenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea
Outward: RJ112 Depart London Heathrow (Terminal 3) 1705, arrive Amman 0010
Return: RJ111 Depart Amman 1210 arrive London Heathrow (Terminal 3) 1525
All dinners and 7 lunches with water, all local transfers, entry fees & gratuities, the services of Christopher Smith and our local tour manager
Travel to/from Heathrow, 1 lunch, alcohol with meals, Tourist Visa
Weather Conditions for Jordan in April are:
Average Temperature between: 9oC - 23oC / 48oF - 73oF
Rainfall: 15mm / 0.5 inches
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.