Jordan | Petra and the Desert Fortresses

Petra
Petra
Petra
Petra
Petra
Petra
Amman Citadel
Amman Citadel
Amman Museum
Amman Museum
Qasr Al-Abd
Qasr Al-Abd
Jerash
Jerash
Jerash
Jerash
Umm Qais
Umm Qais
Umm el-Jimal
Umm el-Jimal
Umm al-Rasas
Umm al-Rasas
Qasr Asraq
Qasr Asraq
Camels in Wadi Rum
Camels in Wadi Rum
Qasr Kharanah
Qasr Kharanah
Qasr Amra
Qasr Amra

Nothing can prepare you for Petra: the scale, the colours and the grandeur. Lively, cosmopolitan and rich, with goods from every corner of the known world, Ancient Petra was an extraordinary city. Its streets were swathed in a fusion of Nabataean, and Classical architecture — elaborate tombs, colonnaded streets and temples carved into rose-red rock.

Petra’s tombs and temples are only a fraction of Jordan’s story. We explore traces of biblical tribes, Roman legions, Christian crusaders, and Islamic caliphates in this promised land of archaeology and fascinating history.

  • Tour the exhibits at Amman’s Archaeological Museum
  • Visit Jerash, the best preserved Roman town in the east
  • Spend two days in the evocative rock-cut city of Petra
  • Cruise Wadi Rum’s striking desert scenery in 4x4s
  • Discover the mighty crusader castle at Kerak

Themes

  • Romans
  • Rock Art
  • Prehistory
  • Medieval
  • Historic Churches
  • Cultural Excursion

Practicalities

  • Special Access

Itinerary 2018

Day 1

We arrive in Amman.

Day 2

We begin at the remains of a well preserved Greek Palace that lie in a remote valley at Qasr-al-Abd. This afternoon, we spend time at the Dead Sea, with the opportunity to swim - or more accurately, float - in the salt-saturated waters.

Day 3

Two Roman cities today. We start off at Umm Qais which overlooks the edge of the Jordan River valley, offering views over the Sea of Galilee. We continue to Jerash this afternoon, which is set in the pine valleys of the biblical land of Gilead, and is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the East. The architecture is particularly fine, and a unique feature of the Oval Plaza - framed by the magnificent colonnade.

Day 4

The morning is spend in Jordan’s modern capital Amman. Here we visit the Archaeological Museum and the citadel. This is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world, where there are the ruins of the Roman Temple of Hercules and the palaces of the Omayyad Caliphs. We proceed onwards to Mount Nebo, where we marvel at the 16th century Madaba mosaic map. The schematic depiction of the Holy Land, with Jerusalem at the centre, has all sorts of lively detail depicting life beside the ancient River Jordan.

Day 5

Today we explore the dramatic basalt city at Umm al-Jimal – even the doors are made of huge black slabs, and some of them still operate! On to desert castles, Qasr Azraq, Amra and al-Kharanah, with far-reaching views over the surrounding landscape. At the hunting lodge, Qasr Amra we view remarkable wall paintings.

Day 6

We visit the church and mosaics at Umm al-Rasas. A Roman and Byzantine site, the mosaic floor of the church has depictions of the principal cities of the region. On to the mighty crusader castle of Kerak which was built by Pagan the Butler at the Order of King Fulk of Jerusalem in 1132.

Day 7

We spend two full days in Petra. We walk into the site, both for the sense of discovery and to experience the famous entrance ravine. The city and its tombs cover a huge area, all built into the richly coloured rock - it is called the ‘Rose City’ for good reason. We also have the option to climb to the Nabatean ‘High Places’ offering incredible views.

Day 8

We spend two full days in Petra. We walk into the site, both for the sense of discovery and to experience the famous entrance ravine. The city and its tombs cover a huge area, all built into the richly coloured rock - it is called the ‘Rose City’ for good reason. We also have the option to climb to the Nabatean ‘High Places’ offering incredible views.

Day 9

We start our day at the site of Beidha, also called “Little Petra”, where prehistoric houses can still be seen. We drive to Wadi Rum, where we take 4x4s through spectacular desert scenery, made famous by the filming of “Lawrence of Arabia”. There are also several fine rock art sites to be explored here, with carvings from very early times to the fairly recent past – this was how nomadic peoples left messages for each other.

Day 10

We fly home.

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

We depart from London Heathrow in the afternoon and arrive at Amman airport late evening. Upon arrival, we make our way to our hotel for a much needed rest.

Day 2

After a leisurely start, we head to the valley of Wadi Seet. Here we find the remains of Qasr-al-Abd, a well-preserved Hasmonean and rare Hellenestic period Palace. Hyrcanus of Jerusalem built the palace around 200BC as part of a much larger estate, that is now covered by the village of Iraq al-Emir. We then spend time both at and in the Dead Sea. The lowest place on earth is also the deepest hypersaline lake in the world, over nine times saltier than the ocean. This salinity has created a harsh environment so it is unsuitable for any plants of wildlife, hence its name. It is however, a unique experience to be able to ‘float’ on the Dead Sea, so we make the most of this opportunity. After our time spent here, we return to Amman.

Day 3

We explore two Roman Decapolis cities today as our adventure continues. We start off at the ancient city of Gadara (known today as Umm Qais), which offers views over the Golan Heights and Sea of Galilee. After lunch we continue to Jerash (ancient Gerasa) for the afternoon, which is set in the pine valleys of the biblical land of Gilead, and is one of the best-preserved Roman cities in the east. The architecture is particularly fine, and includes the impressive 2nd century Hadrian’s Arch, the Corinthian columns of the Temple of Artemis and the Oval Plaza - framed by a magnificent colonnade - a unique feature of the Forum.

Day 4

The morning is spent in Jordan’s modern capital Amman. Here we visit the Archaeological Museum and the citadel. The museum is home to artefacts from archaeological sites from across the country, including the Dead Sea bronze scroll written in Aramaic characters. The citadel is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world, and we visit the ruins of the Roman Temple of Hercules and the palace of the Omayyad Caliphs. Before lunch we visit the Memorial Church at Mount Nebo. In the afternoon, we make a short drive to the early Byzantine Church of St George in Madaba, where we view the amazing 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land depicting biblical sites of the Middle East from Egypt to Palestine. Afterwards we spend a little time in the Madaba Archaeological Park before heading back to our hotel.

Day 5

Today we head into the eastern desert to explore the dramatic basalt city at Umm al-Jimal, even the doors are made of huge black slabs and some of them still operate! After lunch we travel on to the desert castles, Qasr Azraq, Amra and al-Kharanah, with far-reaching views over the surrounding landscape. Jordan’s desert castles were so called due to their imposing stature, but they served mainly as agriculture and trade centres, and caravan stations. Examples of both early Islamic art and architecture they represent a fascinating era in the country’s rich history. Later at the Umayyad hunting lodge, Qasr Amra, we view remarkable and unorthodox 8th century frescoes.

Day 6

We visit the church and spectacular mosaics at Umm al-Rasas. A Roman and Byzantine site, the mosaics of the churches have fine depictions of the principal cities of the region. Before lunch we have a brief stop at a viewpoint at Wadi Mujib. On next to the mighty crusader castle of Kerak, one of the largest in the Levantine region. Overlooking the Dead Sea, it was built in 1132 as the first line of defence for the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem. It’s position also gave control of important trade routes between Damascus, Egypt and Mecca, and of the Bedouin herders of the region.

Day 7

Today is the first two full days in Petra, and with the archaeological park spread across 200 square kilometres, we will easily fill out time spent here as there is much to explore. Located among mountains and rugged desert canyons, this ancient capital of the Nabatean Arabs is carved directly into a mixture of sandstone cliff face, its colours a mixture of red, white and pink hence it is also known as the “Rose City”. We walk into the site each day, both for the sense of discovery, and to experience the famous entrance to the ravine site, the Siq. As wander along the colonnaded streets, we take in some of the ancient city’s most significant structures, such as the world-renowned “Treasury” (Al-Khazneh), a temple over 40 metres in height with a truly impressive ornate façade. The Nabateans, though essential nomadic, developed a sophisticated water technology, the remains of which we will also see here during our extensive visit. Led by our expert guide, there are optional climbs on both days to Nabatean ‘Monastery’ and ‘High Place’.

Day 8

A further opportunity to explore the magnificence of Petra.

Day 9

This morning we will visit the Neolithic site of Beidha, where 8th Millennium BC houses can still be seen, and the painted tomb at “Little Petra” (Siq al-Bahrid). Thought to have been an important suburb of Petra the site includes temples, tombs, water channels and cisterns carved out of rock. We drive to Wadi Rum, home of the largest Roman copper mine in the empire. Here we take 4x4s through spectatular scenery, made famous by the filming of “Lawrence of Arabia”. There are also several rock art sites to be explored here. Afterwards, we head back to Amman for a farewell dinner.

Day 10

We fly from Amman at lunchtime today, arriving back into London in the afternoon.

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - Most meals included
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
  6. Field Notes
  7. Hotels
  8. Flights

Travel Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

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2019 Tour Details

Tue 26th March - Thu 4th April

Call for Availability

Guaranteed Departure

£2,995

inc.

sgl supp: £395

JOR19A

Led By: Nick Jackson

Tue 30th April - Thu 9th May

Available

£2,995

inc.

sgl supp: £395

JOR19C

Led By: Nick Jackson

Tue 8th October - Thu 17th October

Call for availability

Guaranteed Departure

£3,299

inc.

sgl supp: £395

JOR19B

Led By: Nick Jackson

Guide Lecturer

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