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Ovidiu David

Travel specialist

020 7808 6784

020 7808 6784

Journey to an ancient crossroads where desert wonders abound

Jordan is a kingdom steeped in history and culture, full of Roman cities, Crusader castles and biblical sites, but there are also some unmissable natural sites, from the beautiful nature reserves and Wadi Rum desert to the mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea and the glittering Red Sea.

Holidays to Jordan offer surprising variety – whether it’s culture, cuisine, natural wonders, or relaxation you are looking for, you will find it waiting for you in Jordan.

Journey across Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum has played a stand-in for red planets across cinema – and it’s no surprise. Hulking outcrops rise from rust-hued sands to create an otherworldly picture, earning Wadi Rum the epithet ‘Valley of the Moon’. Beyond the Martian aesthetic, Wadi Rum has history. T.E. Lawrence passed through here during the Arab Revolt of 1917, describing the landscape as “vast, echoing and god-like”.

There is plenty to do here beyond marvelling at the scenery. Cross the undulating desert by 4x4 or take the slow road as part of a camel cavalcade, then end the night under the stars, camping out like the local Bedouin.

Float in the Dead Sea

The world’s lowest body of water, the Dead Sea earns its name for being so salty that no fish could ever live in it. Yet its shores are far from lifeless; bathers flock here to enjoy the reputed health benefits of its minerals, and to experience the lake’s remarkable buoyancy. Staying at one of the waterside hotels, you can stroll down to the beach for a relaxing float – the salinity makes swimming near impossible, but allows you to bob along the surface effortlessly. Visitors also cover themselves in the nutrient-rich mud for therapeutic purposes. A Dead Sea stay is an excellent way to round off a Jordan holiday.

See Petra by day and night

Petra, the ancient capital of the Nabataean kingdom, was lost to the wider world for centuries before its rediscovery in 1812. Today, its rock-carved, rose-red ruins are undoubtedly Jordan’s greatest draw, especially the Hellenistic ‘Treasury’ temple – as seen on the five dinar note. 
Return to Petra after sunset to experience the immense ruins by candlelight. The Siq (the long, narrow entrance gorge) and forecourt of the Treasury are illuminated by thousands of candles. You can also venture north to ‘Little Petra’ (Siq al-Barid), where further rock-cut Nabataean buildings are preserved, including an ancient dining room adorned with floral frescoes.

Take a Jordanian cookery class

Aromatic and flavourful, Jordanian food reflects the traditions of Arabian and Bedouin cooking. Common ingredients include olive oil, garlic, onion, tomato, lemon, and the spice mixture za’atar – typically a combination of oregano, sumac, and sesame seeds. A must-try during your visit is mansaf, the national dish, which is made with lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yoghurt and served with rice.

Situated in one of Amman’s oldest neighbourhoods, the Beit Sitti restaurant offers you the chance to sample both Jordanian cuisine and culture. We can arrange for you to learn how to cook an authentic four-course meal here. Then sit back and enjoy your mezzes (small dishes), main course and dessert, paired with the sounds of the city and the stories of old Amman.

Explore Madaba & Mount Nebo

Madaba is a settlement dating back to the bronze age, and an easy detour when travelling along the King’s Way from Amman to Petra. The present-day city is known for the many floor mosaics uncovered in private homes and public buildings, and is the site of the famed Byzantine mosaic map of the region. 
Nearby you’ll find Mount Nebo, from where Moses is said to have stood and looked to the Promised Land. You can hike to the top to enjoy the very same view over the Jordan Valley, including views of Jericho and Jerusalem (on a clear day). Marking the summit is a recreation of the bronze serpent on a pole Moses was instructed to build, called the Nehushtan.

Hike in one of Jordan’s nature reserves

Experience the wilder side of Jordan in Dana Biosphere Reserve or Ajloun Forest Reserve. Both offer excellent flora and fauna with marked scenic walks. The Dana Biosphere Reserve is the largest and is great for birdwatching enthusiasts. The Ajloun Forest Reserve is best enjoyed by walking the 7-kilometre Soap Maker’s Trail and enjoying the panoramic views. Here you can also visit a co-operative, where local women produce soap from olive oil.

Watch a Roman chariot race in Jerash

Jerash – originally called Gerasa – was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, and later became part of the Roman Empire’s Decapolis of cities in Jordan, Syria and Israel. Exceptional ruins from this period survive, including theatres, temples, an arch in honour of Hadrian, and a hippodrome. 
Jerash’s hippodrome is the only place in the world where chariot races can be experienced in a genuine Roman setting. There are also re-enactments of Roman army drills and battle tactics featuring legionaries in full armour.

Visit Jordan's desert castles

Dotting the desert to the east and south of Amman lie a number of isolated castles, or qasrs. Most of these fortified structures were commissioned by Umayyad caliphs between the seventh and eighth centuries, and contain ornate mosaics, delicate frescoes, and early Islamic architecture.

Among these is Qasr Amra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with ceiling frescoes over 1,000 years old. Its paintings depict kings, hunters, nude women, the heavens and constellations. Equally worthy detours lie en route from Amman to Petra via the King’s Highway: Shobak and Kerak are exceptional examples of Christian crusader fortifications. They sit on rock outcrops and afford sweeping views of the countryside.

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