The relaxed pace of this 12 day trip gives you mplenty of time to appreciate all that Jordan has to offer. It will give you enough time to take in its world famous monuments, such as Petra and Jerash, and explore less well-known historic and archaeological treasures. This itinerary includes visits to several of these sites as well as the opportunity to see the beautiful desert landscape of Wadi Rum and the chance to snorkel in the Red Sea.

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Why We Love It

Explore the ancient city of Jerash and Bethany beyond the Jordan

Visit Jordan's desert castles, home to centuries of history

See the Dead Sea Scrolls at the ancient Citadel in Amman

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Day by day Itinerary

Hidden Treasures of Jordan

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Day 1

Amman

Today our journey begins in Amman.

Day 2

Amman

After breakfast we depart for a visit to Iraq El Amir. Set in the desert to the east of Amman is the much-famed Desert Loop, consisting of numerous palaces and minor forts dating back to the Omayyad period 661 AD to 750 AD.

Our first stop is Qasr al- Hallabat. Originally Roman, this castle was rebuilt during the Umayyad period when it was elaborately decorated in mosaics, carved stucco and fresco paintings, thus transforming the castle into a palatial residence. There are about 150 inscriptions within the castle, mostly in Greek. The vast majority of these inscribed stones, which were reused as building material, belong to an edict issued by the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius (491-518 AD). A few kilometres down the road is Hammam as-Sarakh, a bathhouse and hunting lodge. The buildings have been almost completely restored, and you can see the channels that were used for hot water and steam.

One hundred kms east of Amman, the oasis town of Azraq has a large castle built from black basalt, which was Lawrence of Arabia's headquarters during the Arab Revolt. Heading back towards Amman, the Qasr El Kharraneh and Qusayr 'Amra are the best preserved of the desert castles, Qusair Amra is noted for its extensive fresco paintings which cover virtually all the interior walls. The paintings include themes such as hunting, dancing, musicians, bathing scenes, cupids, and personifications of history, philosophy and poetry.

We drive back to the hotel in Amman. (B)

Day 3

Amman - Jerash

Today we begin early as we have a long day heading north. We visit Irbid, which hosts an interesting museum. The most remarkable artefacts are the Ain Ghazal statues dated to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period; between 7500-5500 BC. In addition the museum contains a number of artefacts from the later periods. Umm Qais, in the north of the country has fantastic views of The Sea of Galilee and was once a centre of culture and arts.

As one of the cities of the Decapolis, it was a centre for arts and culture and with its amazing setting it is an enchanting place. Later we proceed to Pella, once an important city in Roman times; most of the remains actually date back to the Byzantine period. Overnight in Jerash. (B)

Day 4

Jerash - Dead Sea

After breakfast we visit the ancient 'Gerasa'. In Roman times this was one of the ten wealthy, self-governing cities of the Decapolis, and was famous throughout the Roman empire for the luxury of its lifestyle. Buried for centuries under blown sand, Jerash is the only city of the Decapolis to have survived to any extent, with an outstanding forum, colonnaded main streets with the drains still intact, two theatres and a most impressive temple of Zeus.

Not too far away is the only Arabic castle in Jordan, Ajloun. It is perched on a hilltop and has fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. Originally constructed in 1184 AD, it was destroyed and rebuilt over the centuries following numerous wars and earthquakes. Drive for overnight at Dead Sea. (B)(D)

Day 5

Dead Sea

We start the day by visiting Bethany beyond the Jordan, the site where Jesus Christ was baptised by John the Baptist marking the beginning of the new era of Christianity. We then take the road south from Amman along the 5,000-year-old Kings' Highway, be prepared for one of the most memorable journeys in the Holy Land, passing through a number of ancient sites.

The first town we visit is Madaba, 'The City of Mosaics '. The city, best known for its spectacular Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, is home to the famous 6th century mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. With two million pieces of coloured stone, the map depicts hills and valleys, villages and towns as far as the Nile Delta. Nearby is the biblical Mount Nebo where Moses was shown The Promised Land before his death and also has fantastically preserved mosaics.

After a good look round we head south to the Dead Sea in time for a 'float' in the thick saline waters. (B)(D)

Day 6

Dead Sea - Petra

Leaving the Dead Sea behind us we drive through the deep gorge of Wadi al Mujib. This massive canyon is impressive and is now a huge nature reserve, covering 212sq km.

We arrive at Al Karak and Al Shawbak, two castles that played an important role in the Crusades. Built in mediaeval times Al Karak is the larger of the two castles, its well-preserved fortifications towering over the town offer incredible views. Al Shawbak, though not as well preserved is equally as notable. Late afternoon we drive on to Petra. Overnight Petra.

Day 7

Petra

We have two full days to explore the UNESCO World Heritage site Petra. The 'rose-red city, half as old as time' was hidden for centuries until the Swiss explorer Burckhardt made his great discovery in 1812. Petra was founded by the Nabateans, an Arab tribe that arrived here in the sixth century BC. Building began in the third century BC and continued through the Roman period, financed by taxes levied on the desert caravans. Two features of Petra are unique: firstly, it is a city made defensible as it is built along a series of chasms, rather than on a hilltop; and secondly, it is built directly into the rock - beautiful red and yellow sandstone carved into impressive facades which glow in the brilliant sunlight.

After walking down the Siq, the narrow chasm providing the only entrance to the site, we come out directly in front of El Khazneh, the Treasury. Continuing to the centre of the city, we pass the houses and tombs of the rich citizens, and the amphitheatre. A long walk beyond the centre and up a series of steps brings us to El Deir, the Monastery, with its superb facade topped by a huge urn. On one of the days we take a walk to the high places where few others visit. This can be quite arduous and is not recommended for those who are unsure of their fitness. However, those who do make it to the top will be rewarded with wonderful views. (B)

Day 8

Petra

See Day 7 for today's itinerary. (B)

Day 9

Petra - Wadi Rum

Explore Little Petra with its well preserved ruins which are hidden away in the mountains, before continuing to the Wadi Rum desert, a stretch of beautiful sand and rock desert. This is where Lawrence of Arabia and Prince Faisal assembled the Arab tribes for the attack on Aqaba in the First World War, and also where sections of the film of 'Lawrence of Arabia' were shot. We take a four-wheel drive vehicle far into the area for an exciting desert adventure before arriving to our permanent camp and destination for the night. (B)(D)

Day 10

Wadi Rum - Aqaba

Today we transfer to Aqaba and have a free day to explore and relax. Aqaba is famous for some of the most beautiful coral reefs to be found anywhere in the world, so today is the perfect opportunity to go snorkelling in the Red Sea. Your leader will be able to advise you on which are the best private beaches to visit as the public beaches generally do not have as many facilities. There are several good restaurants in Aqaba for our evening meal together. (B)

Day 11

Aqaba - Amman

After breakfast, drive from Aqaba to Amman to explore the ancient city. Amman has served as the modern and ancient capital of Jordan. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with a 1994 excavation uncovering homes and towers believed to have been built during the Stone Age, circa 7000 BC.

The earliest written records refer to the city as Rabbath Ammon, the capital of the Ammonites in the 12th century BC. Later the city was named Philadelphia under the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus 283-246BC. As one of the cities of the Decapolis under King Herod in 30BC major building works were conducted. The 6000 seated Roman Theatre on the citadel is testimony of Roman architecture, although extensively restored it remains a classic example.

Also on Citadel Hill, just northwest of the Temple of Hercules, is the Jordan Archaeological Museum. This small museum houses an excellent collection of antiquities ranging from prehistoric times to the 15th century; see the Dead Sea Scrolls, a copy of the Mesha Stele and four rare Iron Age sarcophagi. (B)

Day 12

Amman

Today our journey ends in Amman.

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