The myriad marvels … of Jordan
The majestic Roman ruins of Jerash adjoining the bustling modern capital of Amman, the drive along the Kings Highway to Madaba and Mount Nebo , the expansive sights of Petra then across the desert wilderness of Wadi Rum, finishing with a stay on the shores of the Dead Sea…nothing had prepared my wife and I for so many wonderful sights and experiences on our journey through Jordan.
Our driver, Mohammed, was excellent at explaining everything that we saw along the way in addition to local guides who accompanied us at all the major sights.
On our first day in Amman we visited the ancient citadel, set on the highest hill in the city (image left). It contains ruins of the Roman Temple of Hercules, a series of historic buildings that once made up the Umayyad Palace and a Byzantine Church, not to mention a wonderful view of Amman and a Roman theatre at the foot of the hill that could seat 6,000. This first glimpse of Jordan gave us an inkling of the sights and treats that were to come.
The ruined Roman city of Jerash, a short drive from Amman, is a sight to behold with its wonderful colonnades, temples and ceremonial gates.
More impressive sights were to come the following day with a visit to Madaba, often called “the City of Mosaics” due to its many Byzantine mosaics, in particular the mosaic map on the floor of St George’s Church, which dates back to the sixth century and shows Jerusalem and other holy places.
It was then on to Mount Nebo, where Moses is believed to be buried. From here, on a clear day you can see over the River Jordan valley to the Dead Sea, Jericho and sometimes Jerusalem. It was then onwards to the lost city of Petra via a visit to Shobak Castle, a crusader fortress.
Our visit to the “red rose” Unesco world heritage site of Petra was to be our highlight. On our first day we set off at sunrise to walk a mile or so down a narrow chasm known as the Siq, the sunrise constantly changing the colours and tones of the red and yellow sandstone forming this gully. Our first view of The Treasury as you pass through a gap in the rocks to the open canyon is awe-inspiring. Photos cannot do justice to this magnificent rock-hewn monument or the civilisation that built it about 2,000 years ago. Further exploration of the surrounding area revealed what a large city this must have been.
The Treasury, Petra
We spent two days exploring all the sights of Petra, which consisted of many tombs, temples and houses of wealthy citizens that once lived here. We took two quite strenuous but very rewarding climbs out of the valley, one to a place called The Monastery, the other being the High Place of Sacrifice, both of which offered tremendous views of the whole area. On our final evening in Petra we attended ‘Petra by Candlelight’ when 1,800 candles light the way down the Siq to The Treasury, which is also lit by hundreds of candles and illuminated in varying colours. It was magnificent!
The Monastery, Petra
It was then on to Wadi Rum where remarkable sandstone mountains rise up from the sandy desert floor. On the way we saw the engine and rolling stock used in the film Lawrence of Arabia which are still used as a tourist attraction today. We also saw several Bedouin camps before going on a two-hour excursion in a 4×4 into the desert. We saw some incredible scenery on this off-road trip. Our driver even showed us how water can be extracted from what at first sight appear to be dry desert plants. After the ride we were taken to a small Bedouin camp for local refreshments.
Our final days were spent at a resort on the shores of the Dead Sea where we relaxed and went swimming at some 400 metres below sea level. A great end to a wonderful trip before bidding farewell to Jordan.
Floating in the Dead Sea
Our thanks must go to Leah Reavley, our Cox & Kings travel consultant, who arranged the itinerary. Also to lovely Mohammed, our driver in Jordan. We were very fortunate to have him with us from start to finish. Everything went to plan and the whole trip exceeded our expectations. Well done Cox & Kings!!!
Mike Tyrer and his wife travelled on a private basis on our Splendours of Jordan tour. This is also available as a group tour. You can find more information here. Alternatively, if you are interested in tailor-made travel, please either call one of our specialist travel consultants or complete our tailor-made request form and one of our experts will get back to you to help you plan an itinerary.