petra, Jordan, middle east

Tips from Oliver

Jordan Discovery

  • Best value tour
  • Standard accommodation
  • Group size: 14-18
  • Full on trip pace
  • Highlights: Jerash, Madaba & Mt Nebo, two full days in Petra, overnight in Wadi Rum, Read & Dead Sea

With this brilliant tour you will discover the wild beauty and perfectly preserved heritage of Jordan. You will spend two days exploring the ancient city of Petra, visit crusader castles and roman ruins. Then embrace the real desert experience in Wadi Rum, travelling off the beaten track and living the Bedouin lifestyle for a night. There is time for snorkelling among the coral reefs of the red sea and for the obligatory float on the Dead Sea!

Itinerary 

Day 1: Amman
Join the rest of your group in Amman, the capital of Jordan and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Now home to almost half of the country’s population, it is a fascinating city of contrasts, where the very ancient and the brand new collide. Depending on the schedule of your flights, you may wish to explore the city independently. Your accommodation is a good 3 star hotel and it is centrally located.

Day 2: Jerash & Madaba “City of Mosaics”
This morning you will travel the short 30 mile journey north of the capital to the ancient Jerash. Populated for over 6,500 years, the city’s golden age was in Roman times when it was conquered by General Pompey and became one of a confederation of ten important Middle Eastern cities, known as the Decapolis League. Now, because of the way it has been preserved in sand before its excavation last century, it is widely acknowledged as one of the best-preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. Walking around the colonnaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, handsome theatres and the chariot-racing stadium, it is easy to imagine Roman life carrying on around you. All this is just the tip of the iceberg – it is estimated that only about 10% of city has been uncovered.

This afternoon you head south to Madaba – a town with a strong Christian heritage and aptly dubbed the ‘City of Mosaics’. Home to hundreds of Byzantine-era mosaics, the most famous of these is the 6th century map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Created with two million pieces of vividly coloured local stone, it is believed to be the oldest surviving map of the holy land.

Before heading back to Amman, you will stop off at Mount Nebo – a site of Christian significance due to its reference in the Old Testament as being from where Moses saw the Promised Land. On a clear day, you too can see out across the border to Israel from its summit.

Day 3: Petra
This morning, just as traders, armies and pilgrims have done before, you will journey south along the impressive 5,000 year-old King’s Highway to Kerak. Imposingly situated on a rocky outcrop next to the road and containing a maze of stone-vaulted halls and passageways, this ancient Crusader stronghold is the most famous of a chain of fortresses built for the Holy War against Islam. You will continue south to Shobak Castle. Lesser known than its sister fortification, Shobak dominates the rugged surroundings and its visit is truly evocative as few visitors venture into this stronghold.

Your day of exploring Crusader castles ends with a short drive to Petra – without doubt Jordan’s most valuable treasure. You can look forward to a couple of days spent here to really get under the skin of this awe-inspiring site. You arrive in time to take an optional candlelight tour of the ancient city. Abandoned centuries ago, this other-worldly place is enhanced by the play of light and shadow to create an altogether magical experience.

Day 4: Explore Petra “The Rose City”
Over the next two days you get the opportunity to discover Petra and to soak up this mysterious city. The entrance fee for both days is included, giving you the chance to truly do justice to this jewel with an in depth visit. Your hotel, a good three star accommodation in the centre of town, is very conveniently located, just a few minutes walk away from the action, so you can visit the town or come back to and from the archaeological site as you wish.

Defined by John Burgon with the illustrious words ‘A Rose Red City half as old as time’, Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the new wonders of the world. Often named as one of the places that you should see before you die, this ancient city carved in the rocks has retained its grandeur throughout the centuries and although much has been written about it, nothing really prepares you for the impact of this unique site.

After a guided orientation tour which will take you to some of the key areas, you have the rest of the day to explore in your own time. Most of what can be seen today was built by the Nabataeans – an industrious Arab people who settled here more than 2,500 years ago, growing wealthy on tax proceeds from passing silk and spice trade.

Petra’s spectacular setting deep inside a narrow desert gorge adds to its majesty. The site is accessed by walking through a kilometre-long chasm (known as the Siq), the walls of which soar to a height of 200m. Petra’s most famous monument, the Treasury, appears dramatically at the end of the Siq, carved out of the sheer, dusky-pink rock face. Miraculously well preserved, this massive 43 metre-high façade dwarfs everything around it and perfectly represents the engineering genius of these people.

The existence of this site had been kept secret for centuries by the local Beduins and only revealed to the West by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. After the decline of the City, due to shifting trading routes and a series of earthquakes, the Bedouins had continued to use the sophisticated water system created by the Nabateans to make the most of the water coming from the perennial stream and the flash floods; a precious oasis in the middle of an inhospitable desert. It’s easy to imagine how overwhelming the rediscovery of the site must have been for him!

While you wander through literally hundreds of tombs, temples and colonnaded streets, your mind finds it easy to picture caravans loaded with frankincense, spices and textiles travelling through the Siq. The site is excellent for photography and the best time to take pictures is either early to mid-morning or late afternoon, as this is when the angled sun highlights and enhances the natural red, pink and orange colours of the rocks.

Day 5: Petra – The Royal Tombs
Today is free for you to discover more of Petra’s beautiful and awe-inspiring buildings and scenery. You may choose to climb the steep path to the ‘High Place of Sacrifice’ for a stunning view over Wadi Araba and the Negev Desert, or trek up to the impressive ‘Monastery’ – Petra’s largest monument. This evening you enjoy a Bedouin cookery demonstration and meal at a nearby restaurant, learning how to make a traditional Makloubah (upside down) dish, with meat, rice and fried vegetables, followed by Um Ali, a creamy Arabic dessert with croissant pieces, raisins and nuts.

Day 6: Four Wheel Drive Adventure Wadi Rum Desert
Today is all about embracing the Wadi Rum desert experience in its authenticity, as you have the once in a lifetime opportunity to live the lifestyle of the nomadic Bedouin people. This morning you will leave Petra by bus and head to Wadi Rum Visitor Centre where you will transfer into 4WD jeeps for an exhilarating 2 hour jeep drive through the desert. This is a great chance to see the most spectacular and untouched parts of Wadi Rum.

Wadi Rum occupies a region of 74,000 acres and as described by T.E. Lawrence, is ‘vast, echoing and God-like…’. Monolithic outcrops of granite rock and sandstone rise out of the desert with a drifting blanket of sand between them. It is at its most impressive at the beginning and end of the day when the soft light and blue sky create a coppery effect on the sand. The Bedouins learnt to live with this hostile environment 3000 years ago, choosing the partnership with the camel for their survival. They understood the importance of keeping on the move and interpreting the elements, in order to find food and water. This afternoon you have the chance to experience a camel ride and learn about this precious alliance between the dromedary and the nomads.

After sunset, enjoy the Bedouin hospitality around the campfire under a blanket of stars; a great setting to share stories while sipping mint and sage tea. A traditional zarb, which consists of a chicken or a goat meal cooked under the desert sand, is served as well as a delicious selection of mezze.

The campsite presents the opportunity to experience traditional Bedouin living arrangements in a large communal style goat hair tent, which provides the best protection against typical desert extremes of hot and cold weather. The tent is laid out with rugs, mattresses, pillows and sleeping bags and is where each tribe would commune to eat, sleep and socialise, as well as a fire pit to sit around and enjoy some local sweet tea. Far away from the tourist centre, roads and within the Wadi Rum protected area, the camp is intimate and provides great views over the desert. A toilet and wash block with limited washing facilities is also available during our stay. Private tents can be paid for locally should you wish, subject to availability.

Day 7: Aqaba – Free time to Snorkel in the Red Sea 
After all the exploration of the last few days, today you can enjoy a relaxing day in Aqaba on the Red Sea. Famed for its preserved coral reefs and unique sea life, your tour leader will be on hand to arrange optional activities for you. For example, you may like to take the opportunity to swim or snorkel in the Red Sea, or view the coral and marine life from a special reef-viewing boat.

Day 8: Dead Sea/ Amman 
Today you have the opportunity to swim in the Dead Sea. Officially the lowest point on the earth’s surface, this unique water body has an amazingly high salt content (33%) which means that no animal life survives and it is almost impossible to sink. The experience of floating naturally is unique and relaxing on the calm sea. There is also the opportunity for mud pack treatments, renowned for their precious mineral contents and their health and beauty benefits. You will stay at a private beach and include the use of showers and washing facilities.

Finally, you drive on to Amman and spend your last night in the bustling capital with free time to do some last-minute shopping and sightseeing. To mark the end of your trip, you may choose to enjoy a traditional or cosmopolitan meal, washed down with some excellent Jordanian wine, in one of the capital’s exceptional restaurants. Your Leader will be able to provide suggestions.

Day 9: Amman 
Your tour ends after Breakfast and you will head to the airport for your return flight to the UK


Standard, mid-range accommodation offers a good level of service, often with other amenities such as a restaurant, bar, garden or swimming pool. Generally rooms will be comfortable with en suite facilities.

Full on paced trips are for travellers who like their holidays packed with activities and experiences, moving on quickly from place to place with lots of early starts and long, busy days. Some may find them tiring, but others get a buzz from packing their precious holiday-time as chock-a-block full of new experiences as possible!

Departure Dates and cost per person

15th Sept 2018: from £1520
22nd Sept 2018: from £1499
6th Oct 2018: from £1520
13th Oct 2018: from £1520
20th Oct 2018: from £1679
21st Oct 2018: from £1585
27th Oct 2018: from £1499
3rd Nov 2018: from £1515 – discounted to £1445
10th Nov 2018: from £1519 – discounted to £1460
17th Nov 2018: from £1469
24th Nov 2018: from £1399
22nd Dec 2018: from £1599
9th Feb 2019: from £1499
16th Feb 2019: from £1559
23rd Feb 2019: from £1449
2nd March 2019: from £1540
9th March 2019: from £1499
16th March 2019: from £1530
23rd March 2019: from £1559 – discounted to £1530
30th March 2019: from £1499
6th April 2019: from £1560
7th April 2019: from £1590
13th April 2019: from £1560
20th April 2019: from £1530
27th April 2019: from £1530
4th May 2019: from £1499
11th May 2019: from £1540
18th May 2019: from £1499
25th May 2019: from £1540
1st June 2o19: from £1499
27th July 2019: from £1575
31st August 2019: from £1499
7th Sept 2019: from £1499
8th Sept 2019: from £1499
14th Sept 2019: from £1499
15th Sept 2019: from £1499
21st Sept 2019: from £1499
22nd Sept 2019: from £1499
28th Sept 2019: from £1499
29th Sept 2019: from £1499
5th Oct 2019: from £1499
6th Oct 2019: from £1499
12th Oct 2019: from £1499
12th Oct 2019: from £1499
13th Oct 2019: from £1499
19th Oct 2019: from £1530
20th Oct 2019: from £1499
26th Oct 2019: from £1499
27th Oct 2019: from £1499
2nd Nov 2019: from £1499
9th Nov 2019: from £1499
16th Nov 2019: from £1499
23rd Nov 2019: from £1499
30th Nov 2019: from £1499
14th Dec 2019: from £1535
21st Dec 2019: from £1575

Single Person supplement offered from £195

Prices are subject to flight supplements and should be used as a guide, please call us to confirm costs.

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