Find out more Exploring Jordan


| May 19, 2009

Cox & Kings give you the low-down on what Jordan has to offer and the best times to go.

Jordan

TRAVEL BASICS:

Capital: Amman

Population: 5 million

Time: GMT +2 (BST +3)

Climate: Jordan has a desert climate with hot days, cold nights and cool winters. The northwest of the country receives some rain between November and March. The Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea are hot in summer and very dry and warm in winter.

When to go: Jordan is a year-round destination, with temperatures varying from 12 - 32 C in Amman and 20 - 39 C at the Dead Sea. However, we recommend avoiding the mid-winter months of December and January, when it can be cold.

How to get there: Royal Jordanian Airlines and bmi fly to Amman daily from London Heathrow. The flight is approximately 5 hours.

Further reading: A History of Jordan, Philip Robbins; Petra: The Rose Red City, Christian Auge; Married to a Bedouin, Marguerite Van Geldermalsen; Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence.

Further information: www.visitjordan.com

HISTORY & CULTURE

Jordan is a kingdom steeped in history and culture, and no visit to the country is complete without including its greatest legacy – Petra. This ancient rock-hewn city never fails to inspire and there are various walks around the site that reveal hundreds of buildings and tombs. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience Petra by candlelight, when the Siq, the narrow entrance gorge and the Treasury are lit with thousands of candles.

North of Amman lie the ruins of the Roman city of Jerash with its wide colonnaded streets and amphitheatre. In the huge hippodrome there are displays of Roman army drills and battle tactics featuring legionaries in full armour and a re-enactment of a classical chariot race.

Connecting Amman to Aqaba is the scenic King’s Highway. The first stop when heading south from Amman is Madaba, from where you can view the famous Byzantine mosaic map of the region. Nearby is Mount Nebo, from where Moses is said to have stood and looked to the ‘Promised Land’. Almost midway between Amman and Petra are the remains of the Crusader forts of Kerak and Shobak. The site of Bethany, where John the Baptist is said to have baptised Jesus, is located on the River Jordan and makes an excellent day trip if staying at the Dead Sea.

East of Amman are Jordan’s desert castles, beautiful examples of early Islamic art and architecture. With their fine mosaics, frescoes and isolated locations, they can be visited as a day trip from the capital. Qasr Amra, one of the best preserved, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its interior walls and ceilings are covered with colourful frescoes. Qasr Kharaneh, Qasr Al-Tuba and Qasr Al-Hallabat have also been restored and are all in excellent condition. The black basalt fort of Qasr Al-Azraq has stood since Roman times and was the headquarters of Lawrence of Arabia during the Arab Revolt.

NATURE

There are several beautiful nature reserves around Jordan for those wanting to experience the wilder side of the country. These reserves are ideal for second-time visitors or those looking to explore off the beaten track.

The Ajloun Nature Reserve is located north of Amman and features Mediterranean-style countryside, dominated by oak and pistachio trees. Within the reserve are two hiking trails and an African-style campsite. East of Amman, in the heart of the Jordanian desert, lies the wetland oasis of Azraq. Its attractions include several natural pools and seasonally flooded marshland, home to a variety of migratory birds. The nearby Shaumari Reserve is a thriving protected environment for some of the rarest wildlife species in the Middle East.

Heading south from Amman, the Mujib Reserve is the lowest nature reserve in the world, and over 300 plants and numerous species of birds have been recorded here. Located between the Dead Sea and Petra, Dana Nature Reserve is home to many rare plants, mammals and birds.

Spending a night camping in the spectacular Wadi Rum desert is a memorable experience, and offers an opportunity to witness stunning sunrises and sunsets over the dunes and the lunar-like landscape.

SPA BREAKS & BEACHES

The most popular place to unwind in Jordan is on the Dead Sea. The area’s mineral-rich seawater and natural mud pools are said to bring natural health benefits and the Dead Sea’s high concentration of salt makes the water so buoyant that it is impossible to sink! The Kempinski Hotel Ishtar is our preferred choice at the Dead Sea and offers clients one of the most comprehensive spa complexes in the world, with treatments ranging from Ayurvedic therapies to local salt and mud treatments.

Located in mountains above the Dead Sea is the hot spring resort of Hammamat Ma’In. The springs are located 264m below sea level and the nearby Evason Resort Ma’In offers a wide variety of services including mud wraps, hydrojet baths and underwater massages.

For clients looking for a beach break, the resort of Aqaba in the south of the country is an ideal location for relaxation on the shores of the Red Sea. Our preferred hotels are the luxurious Kempinski Hotel Aqaba and the family-friendly Radisson SAS in nearby Tala Bay.

TRAVEL BRIEF:

Cox & Kings organises group tours and tailor-made travel arrangements throughout Jordan. The 7-night Splendours of Jordan group tour takes in Amman, Jerash, Petra and the Dead Sea, and costs from £1,225 per person. A 3-night break at Petra costs from £945. Call 020 7873 5000 or visit www.coxandkings.co.uk

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