Geographic Expeditions - vacations and travel

Cultural Touring in Jordan

Jordan, Middle East

from $4,095* per person 7 Days Year-round
Boutique accommodations Exertion level: 4
Operator: Geographic Expeditions 18 people max
  • Airport near amman, jordan
  • Active & Adventure trips
We compress many centuries of history into a short but comprehensive look at this pacific country, visiting Amman, Mount Nebo, and Petra, the astounding city carved from living rock, surely one of the top entries in any traveler's life list. And after Petra, Wadi Rum, the epitome of geologic pomp and circumstance (we may remember Anthony Quinn in Lawrence of Arabia, firing up the troops with the heartfelt cry: "To Wadi Rum!"). You may then choose to further your explorations in the gulf city of Aqaba or pamper yourself with a visit to the Dead Sea and luxuriate in one of the Middle East’s most exquisite spas.

Locations visited/nearby

Jordan, Middle East

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Special information

  • This is a custom departure, meaning this trip is offered on dates that you arrange privately with the provider. Additionally, you need to form your own private group for this trip. The itinerary and price here is just a sample. Contact the provider for detailed pricing, minimum group size, and scheduling information. For most providers, the larger the group you are traveling with, the lower the per-person cost will be.


Day 1

ARRIVE AMMAN, JORDAN On arrival you are met by our local representative who will bring you to
your hotel. Amman is the capital of a country which is today both modern kingdom and ancient desert
realm. The 1916 collapse of the Ottoman rule of Arabia, schemed by Britain and France who had each
been scheming to expand their
empires to this region and
exclude everybody else, resulted
in the secret Anglo-French Sykes-
Picot Agreement which divided
up the spoils between them.
Britain's share included Palestine
and what came to be known as
Transjordan, which took Amman
as its capital. From 1923 onwards
the British-picked King Abdullah,
who harbored expansionist
dreams of his own, steered
Transjordan to independence. In
1950, he annexed Palestine,
calling his new territory the
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Assassinated barely a year later, Abdullah was succeeded for just a single year by his son Talal before
Talal stepped down in favor of his own son, Hussein. Despite being little more than a teenager, King
Hussein soon proved himself a shrewd and adept leader who. During his 47-year rule, he steered a skillful
course through the complex politics of the region, taking Jordan from a country of 400,000 mostly poor
Bedouins in 1948 to the 5 million-strong democracy with a growing economy that it is today.
Sightseeing today will depend upon arrival time and the schedule will be adjusted accordingly. Amman is
a modern city built over the Roman ruins of Philadelphia. Sightseeing begins with a visit to the citadel
with its 2nd century Temple of Hercules, 6th century Byzantine basilica and the 8th century Ummayad
qasr. Next is a visit to the nearby National Archaeological Museum which has an eclectic collection of
items ranging from skulls to fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls.
This evening enjoy a welcome dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 2

AMMAN, EXCURSION TO JERASH This morning you drive north to Jerash, a well-preserved
Roman city and one of the pentapolis cities of Roman Arabia. Starting from Hadrian’s Gate, pass the
Hippodrome and arrive at the forum, distinctive due to its elliptical shape and its good state of
preservation. To the left is the amphitheater, which again is well preserved with incredible acoustics and
marvelous views over old and new Jerash from the top tiers. The Temple of Artemis still has 11 of its 12
massive pillars intact. From here, descend flanks of stairs to the cardo-maximus which still bears the
imprint of chariot wheels, and to the nymphaeum with its elaborately carved stone. The site also contains
the ruins of several churches built under the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century after Christianity
became the dominant religion for a brief period until the advent of Islam in 636AD. The last church was
built in 611. You enjoy lunch on site and this afternoon return to Amman where your time is at leisure.

Day 3

AMMAN TO PETRA This morning you head south on the King’s Highway to Madaba stopping at
Mount Nebo en route. It is here atop one of
the mount’s several peaks that Moses saw the
Promised Land. Indeed the views are glorious
and stretch from the Dead Sea to Jericho and
Jerusalem. Climb to the top and be rewarded
by the beautiful mosaics which adorn the
basilica of the Moses Memorial Church. A
church has sat on this site since the late 4th
century AD and the huge mosaic on the entry
floor speaks to the Roman penchant for
hunting and wine.
Continue to Madaba (the biblical Moabite town
of Medaba), famous for its 6th century
Byzantine mosaics including the ‘mosaic map
of Palestine’ located in the Greek Orthodox church of St. George. It is also a charming small town which is
easy to navigate and a good spot for some shopping either for mosaics, inlay work or for local carpets. Your
walking tour in town includes a visit to the Church of the Apostles, the old houses and Saray, a 19th century
Ottoman building housing the local police, the archaeological park, Martyr’s church, and the Burnt Palace,
named for the fire and earthquake which destroyed it in the mid 8th century.
You have lunch here before continuing south to Kerak, mentioned in the Bible as Qir Moab. The town is
dominated by its formidable fort, built by the Crusaders in 1136. It was chosen due to its strategic location
between Jerusalem and Shobak, but fell at the hands of Saladin in 1187. Drive on towards Petra, arriving
late afternoon.

Day 4

PETRA Capital of the ancient Nabateans, Petra is one of the great sights of Arabia. The nomadic
Nabateans settled in the area around the 6th century BC and became wealthy first by plunder and then by
levying safe passage tolls from passing trade caravans. This proved to be an effective source of income
favored by other well-placed cities in these far-flung desert regions where travel was long, risky and
arduous. Expanding their territory well into Syria increased the Nabateans' wealth, until the rise of
Palmyra and the sea-trade routes sounded the death knell for Petra. By the Arab invasion of the 7th
century AD, Petra was a forgotten city and remained so until it was rediscovered in 1812 by the young
Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt.
Most paeans to Petra barely do it justice: it is a fantastic place. Your first view of the city, through the
narrow siq, reveals the imposing facade of the much-photographed Khazneh (Treasury) which makes a
stunning beginning to our explorations of the city. From there walk down the Street of Facades past the
simple tombs which are cut high into the rock walls, until you arrive at the grander Silk Tomb, the Urn
Tomb and the Corinthian Tomb. En route pass the great Roman amphitheater. Save energy for the climb
up to the Deir or monastery – all 847 steps. The Deir itself is beautifully preserved, and just a few yards
away is a panoramic view of the Wadi Araha.
This evening enjoy dinner at a Bedouin camp in Little Petra.

Day 5

PETRA TO AQABA VIA WADI RUM This morning leave for Wadi Rum, whose majestic rock
formations make for extraordinary desert scenery. Of his approach to Wadi Rum, while he was busy
fomenting the Arab Revolt in 1917, T.E. Lawrence wrote in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, "Our little caravan
grew self-conscious and fell dead
quiet, afraid and ashamed to flaunt its
smallness in the presence of the
stupendous hills." Explore this
beautiful and dramatic desert
landscape, which is home to the
Bedouin in their black goat-hair tents,
in a three hour excursion by 4x4
vehicle. Some of the sights you see
are the petroglyphs at Jebel al-
Khazali and the bridge at Jebel Um
Ishrin. If interested, you may also
take a camel ride through the desert.
Following your visit, you drive on to
the coastal town of Aqaba. Known
today as a popular beach resort and
diving center, Aqaba has in fact been
inhabited since 4000 BC and throughout history has been an important strategic port and trading center
between Asia, Africa, and Europe. This afternoon you visit the small but interesting Aqaba Castle which
dates from the Crusader-era but was rebuilt two centuries later by the Mamluks. After visiting the on-site
museum, take a walk downtown and through the market before arriving at the hotel.

Day 6

AQABA TO AMMAN Enjoy the morning at leisure. At mid-day you are driven back to Amman and
your now-familiar hotel. Enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 7

DEPARTURE You are drive to the Amman airport today in time for your onward flight. Geographic
Expeditions’ arrangements end here.

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