Jordan - Petra and the Desert Fortresses
Spend two days in the evocative rock-cut city of Petra
Throughout the recorded past, Jordan shook to the often heavy footfalls of conquerors and felt the sweeping movements of peoples and customs, of prophets and kings. Its Iron Age history, home to the Israelites, Ammonites, Edomites and Moabites, is documented in the Old Testament. And the upheavals caused by the mighty Assyrian and Babylonian Empires and the Roman Empire’s purple centuries in Jordan as a part of Provincia Arabia, are recorded in the New Testament. Here the East first met the revolution of Hellenism, bringing its world philosophy and technological expertise.
Jordan’s position geologically is as important as it is culturally. The dramatic gorges of the wadi beds, the deserts of black basalt and golden sand and the end of the Great Rift Valley containing the salty waters of the Dead Sea – the lowest place on earth.
Petra’s tombs and temples are only a fraction of Jordan’s story. We explore traces of biblical tribes, Roman legions, Christian crusaders, and Islamic caliphates in this promised land of archaeology and fascinating history.
Your Departure date
Deposit: £750 Single supplement: £785
Day 1 - London - Amman
We depart from London Heathrow in the afternoon and arrive at Amman airport late evening. Upon arrival, we make our way to our hotel for a much needed rest.
Snack in hotel room due to late arrival.
|Hotel||Ambassador Hotel, Amman|
Day 2 - Wadi Seer - Dead Sea - Amman
After a leisurely start, we head to the valley of Wadi Seer. Here we find the remains of Qasr-al-Abd, a well-preserved Hasmonean and rare Hellenistic period Palace. Hyrcanus of Jerusalem built the palace around 200BC as part of a much larger estate, that is now covered by the village of Iraq al-Emir. We then spend time both at and in the Dead Sea. The lowest place on earth is also the deepest hypersaline lake in the world, over nine times saltier than the ocean. This salinity has created a harsh environment so it is unsuitable for any plants of wildlife, hence its name. It is however, a unique experience to be able to ‘float’ on the Dead Sea, so we make the most of this opportunity. After our time spent here, we return to Amman.
Day 3 - Gadara - Jerash
We explore two Roman Decapolis cities today as our adventure continues. We start off at the ancient city of Gadara (known today as Umm Qais), which offers views over the Golan Heights and Sea of Galilee. After lunch we continue to Jerash (ancient Gerasa) for the afternoon, which is set in the pine valleys of the biblical land of Gilead, and is one of the best-preserved Roman cities in the east. The architecture is particularly fine, and includes the impressive 2nd century Hadrian’s Arch, the Corinthian columns of the Temple of Artemis and the Oval Plaza - framed by a magnificent colonnade - a unique feature of the Forum.
Day 4 - Amman
The morning is spent in Jordan’s modern capital Amman. Here we visit the Archaeological Museum and the citadel. The museum is home to artefacts from archaeological sites from across the country, including the Dead Sea bronze scroll written in Aramaic characters. The citadel is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world, and we visit the ruins of the Roman Temple of Hercules and the palace of the Omayyad Caliphs. Before lunch we visit the Memorial Church at Mount Nebo. In the afternoon, we make a short drive to the early Byzantine Church of St George in Madaba, where we view the amazing 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land depicting biblical sites of the Middle East from Egypt to Palestine. Afterwards we spend a little time in the Madaba Archaeological Park before heading back to our hotel.
Day 5 - Umm al-Jimal
Today we head into the eastern desert to explore the dramatic basalt city at Umm al-Jimal, even the doors are made of huge black slabs and some of them still operate! After lunch we travel on to the desert castles, Qasr Azraq, Amra and al-Kharanah, with far-reaching views over the surrounding landscape. Jordan’s desert castles were so called due to their imposing stature, but they served mainly as agriculture and trade centres, and caravan stations.
Day 6 - Umm al-Rasas -Kerak
We visit the church and spectacular mosaics at Umm al-Rasas. A Roman and Byzantine site, the mosaics of the churches have fine depictions of the principal cities of the region. Before lunch we have a brief stop at a viewpoint at Wadi Mujib. On next to the mighty crusader castle of Kerak, one of the largest in the Levantine region. Overlooking the Dead Sea, it was built in 1132 as the first line of defence for the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem. It’s position also gave control of important trade routes between Damascus, Egypt and Mecca, and of the Bedouin herders of the region.
Day 7 - Petra
Today is the first of two full days in Petra, and with the archaeological park spread across 200 square kilometres, we will easily fill out time spent here as there is much to explore. Located among mountains and rugged desert canyons, this ancient capital of the Nabatean Arabs is carved directly into a mixture of sandstone cliff face, its colours a mixture of red, white and pink hence it is also known as the “Rose City”. We walk into the site each day, both for the sense of discovery, and to experience the famous entrance to the ravine site, the Siq. As we wander along the colonnaded streets, we take in some of the ancient city’s most significant structures, such as the world-renowned “Treasury” (Al-Khazneh), a temple over 40 metres in height with a truly impressive ornate façade. The Nabateans, though essential nomadic, developed a sophisticated water technology, the remains of which we will also see here during our extensive visit. Led by our expert guide, there are optional climbs on both days to Nabatean ‘Monastery’ and ‘High Place’.
Day 8 - Petra
A further opportunity to explore the magnificence of Petra.
Day 9 - Little Petra - Wadi Rum
This morning we will visit the Neolithic site of Beidha, where 8th Millennium BC houses can still be seen, and the painted tomb at “Little Petra” (Siq al-Bahrid). Thought to have been an important suburb of Petra the site includes temples, tombs, water channels and cisterns carved out of rock. We drive to Wadi Rum, home of the largest Roman copper mine in the empire. Here we take 4x4s through spectatular scenery, made famous by the filming of “Lawrence of Arabia”. There are also several rock art sites to be explored here. Afterwards, we head back to Amman for a farewell dinner.
Day 10 - Amman - London
We fly from Amman today, arriving back into London in the afternoon.
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Professional Tour Manager
- Local travel aboard a private air-conditioned coach or 4WD vehicle as required by the itinerary
- Meals as per the itinerary, tea or coffee with dinner
- Entries to all sites as per the itinerary
- All taxes & gratuities
- Field notes
|Tour Departure||Tour ID||Departure date||Return Date||Guided by||Price||Deposit||Single supplement||Availability|
|3 October 2023||AJOR231003||3 October 2023 (Tuesday)||12 October 2023 (Thursday)||Nick Jackson||£4,295
|£750||£785||Book your trip|
|19 February 2024||AJOR240219||19 February 2024 (Monday)||28 February 2024 (Wednesday)||Nick Jackson||£4,720
|£750||£810||Book your trip|
|1 October 2024||AJOR241001||1 October 2024 (Tuesday)||10 October 2024 (Thursday)||Nick Jackson||£4,720
|£750||£810||Book your trip|