This 8-day shoestring tour is the perfect introduction to Jordan and includes the county's most notable and famous sights. Our tour will also venture to some less touristy places to give you a real taste of Jordan.
The tour kicks off in the capital city of Amman, beginning with the Baptism Site on the River Jordan and continues along the 'Harmony Trail' through the hillside town of As-Salt. When you are here you can learn about the different religions that are practiced by the residents. The tour will give you a thorough excursion of Amman and you will get to view the remarkable Roman ruins at Jerash. You will then be taken south into the desert and along the picturesque King's Highway, crossing over vast wadis and by quaint villages, olive groves and farmlands.
You will get the chance to see some well preserved mosaics in Madaba, take in the vista over Israel from Mount Nebo and venture into the Crusader Castle in Kerak. Petra is another highlight in Jordan and this UNESCO World Heritage Site is spectacular. You will have a day to meander around the site with a guided tour and some free time to walk up to the Monastery and the High Place of Sacrifice.
The tour will then go further into the desert of Wadi Rum and you can sleep in a Bedouin camp under the craggy cliffs and a starry sky. To enjoy more of the desert, the tour will travel via jeep safari and then head back to Amman, stopping off at the banks of the Dead Sea. You will be able to float on the surface of these famously salty waters.
The last day will be spent outside of Amman, exploring a collection of Jordan's Umayyad 'Desert Castles'. You must remember that these buildings resemble forts and merchant houses on ancient trade routes rather than castles. The tour will then visit the Azraq Wetland Reserve and the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve - two nature reserves positioned in the desert landscape and home to an assortment of wildlife, migratory birds and herds of endangered Arabian oryx.
This Jordan tour is based in comfortable 3-star hotels in Amman and Petra. However, you have the option to upgrade these to the local 4 or 5-star hotel levels if you want a little more comfort. The tour also integrates with our Egypt and Israel tours which start/finish on Sundays, and a flight or overland transfer is available at your request. Extra extensions are also available for more relaxation time or snorkeling and scuba diving at the Red Sea in Aqaba
Private tour option: If our scheduled departure dates don't work for you, or you would prefer not to travel with a group, then we can also run this tour privately for you. Please contact us for more information and prices.
Amman, Bethany Baptism Site, As-Salt Harmony Trail, Jerash Roman ruins, Madaba mosaics, Mount Nebo views, Scenic King's Highway, Kerak Crusader Castle, Full day in Petra, Wadi Rum jeep safari & Bedouin camp, Desert Castles & reserves
- Small Group
Day 1 : Welcome to Jordan, hotel transfers included
Upon arrival in the airport, our company will welcome you to Jordan and drive you to your hotel. The accommodation is situated in the centre of the capital city of Amman and is ideal for walking around the area and nearby sights. If you want to relax you can do so in the hotel or venture to the shops and cafés. If you need help settling in or have any questions, our staff will be on hand.
Pella and Umm Qais, Extra day in Amman - pre tour, 5-star hotel upgrade (JOSHWJ), Single room supplement (JOSHWJ), 4-star hotel upgrade (JOSHWJ)
Day 2 : The Harmony Trail at As-Salt and the Baptism Site at Bethany
This tour sets off to the hilltop town of As-Salt in the morning, which is a 40-mintue drive from the city of Amman. As-Salt was a trading link between the Jordan Valley and the Eastern Desert as well as the former capital of Amman. Your guide will show you around the snaking narrow streets and point out the elaborate Islamic architecture made from yellow limestone. Today, this town is an example of the religious and cultural friendship between the local Muslim and Christian population. You will stroll along the self-designed 'Harmony Trail' and learn more about the history of the town and its people. Lunch will be served with a local family and you will get to sample some traditional delicacies.
After lunch, you can meander out of the hills to the Baptism Site at Bethany. This site was recently excavated and is believed to be the biblical 'Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan' - the place where John baptised Jesus Christ. You will also see an assortment of churches, caves and pools from the Roman and Byzantine periods. Your guide will describe to you how both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI visited this area. An electric minibus will drive you from the visitors centre to the three sites of Mar Elias, the Baptism Pools and John the Baptist's Church.
The tour will conclude back at your hotel in Amman where you can rest in the evening.
Day 3 : Exploring Amman and Jerash
This day will be spent seeing more of Amman and understanding its history. Your expert guide will describe in detail how many archeological discoveries have uncovered remains from the Neolithic period as well as the Hellenistic and late Roman to Arab Islamic Ages.
The walking tour will begin at the Citadel, home to the ancient Hercules Temple, the Byzantine Church, the Umayyad Palace and a 6000-seater Roman theatre, built during the Roman Period. This theatre is still used as a space to display cultural events.
The tour will depart from Amman and carry on to Jerash, one of the world's most well preserved Roman architecture sites outside of Italy. For centuries, this site was buried under layers of sand and was only discovered 70 years ago. Jerash is a significant model of Roman urbanism with its public squares, plazas, colonnaded streets, hilltop temples and theatres.
Amman – evening food tasting tour
Day 4 : Driving along the King's Highway to Petra
In the morning, you will vacate your hotel in Amman and drive along the King's Highway to Petra. This lengthy route will allow you to soak up the enchanting scenery, the deep wadis, farmlands, olive groves and rural villages.
Before you arrive in Petra, the tour will stop at Madaba and you can check out the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George - famous for its 6th century-old Byzantine mosaic map of the Holy Land and other biblical sites. Your guide will lead you to Mount Nebo, the known burial place of Moses with some magnificent views of the Holy Land.
The tour will then drive south over more gaping wadis and canyons to reach the Kerak Castle - one of many Crusader fortresses sprinkled across Jordan in the 12th century. The Crusaders called the castle 'Crac des Moabites' or 'Karak' in Moab. This castle is a perfect point for viewing the hills and plains.
After you have arrived in Petra, you can relax for the rest of the evening. You also have the option to see the city with the Petra by Candlelight tour through the Siq to the Treasury.
Petra by night
Day 5 : Exploring Petra, Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp
This day is all about adventuring around the famous Nabatean site of Petra. This site was the capital of the ancient Nabatean commercial empire until the Romans seized power in 106AD.
Sitting on the edge of Wadi Aruba, the Siq is the best way to get into the site. It is a twisting tunnel that cuts through the canyon walls and hills. In Petra, you will soon see that there are not many freestanding buildings as the Nabateans liked to construct their homes into the pink sandstone cliffs.
Your guide will take you into the city and you can also enjoy some free time to wander around by yourself. The Siq is the starting point for the guided tour and continues to Khazneh, one of the most impressive temples in Petra. As you walk, your guide will describe how the houses were carved and the spiritual importance of the site.
The tour will also include the ancient ruined Roman amphitheater and the colonnaded street. In your free time you should head up the gorge to the Monastery - the largest of Petra's carved monuments. This uphill walk can take some time, but the vista over the Wadi Aruba and the Jordan Valley is worth it. If you have the energy, keep going until you reach the High Place of Sacrifice and the Lion Fountain.
Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum
Day 6 : Wadi Rum jeep safari, Dead Sea swim
The tour will drive into the desert landscape of Wadi Rum. You should keep an eye out for the copper-coloured rocky 'jebels' that inspired the writer TE Lawrence during the Arab Revolt and appeared in the movie Lawrence of Arabia. Traversing by jeep safari, the tour will go past sharp cliffs and striking rock formations.
The tour will turn north and go towards the Dead Sea - one of the world's most remarkable destinations. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth at 400 metres below sea level and is a most stunning sight. A variety of rivers including the River Jordan flow into this sea. As these rivers are landlocked, they then evaporate and create a combination of salt and minerals, which make high quality products for industries.
There is a range of mountains surrounding the Dead Sea and the hills of Jerusalem lie to the west. This region is now sparsely populated, but was believed to have been home to the five biblical cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Adman, Zebouin and Zoar (Bela).
You will also get a chance to bath in these salubrious and salty waters. As a result of the large amount of salt, normal swimming is not possible so it is better to float or sit in the water. You should avoid getting any salt water in your eyes, as it will sting.
The day will conclude back at your hotel in Amman.
Amman – evening food tasting tour
Day 7 : Desert Castles and nature reserves
After you have eaten breakfast, the tour will leave from Amman to find Jordan's Desert Castles - remnants of early Islamic art and architecture. These 'castles' were constructed on the old trade routes during the Umayyad era and look like forts, bathhouses and palaces rather than castles.
Your guide will point out the remaining mosaics, frescoes, carvings and illustrations that were inspired by Persian and Graeco-Roman traditions - offering insight into life during the 8th century. The tour will travel around the castles of Qasr al-Kharrana, Qal'at al-Azraq and Qseirr Amra.
The tour will then visit the nature reserves run by the Jordanian Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN). The first reserve, the Aqraq Wetland Reserve is a serene haven in the eastern desert, set between a limestone desert in the west and a basalt desert in the east. This sanctuary is filled with marshland, pools and streams that attract a variety of migratory birds on the Africa-Eurasian flyway.
The second reserve is the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve, which was originally a breeding and reintroduction centre for globally threatened and locally extinct wildlife, particularly the Arabia oryx. Over the years, rare animals have resided in the reserve, including ostriches struthio, goitered gazelles and Persian onagers. Red foxes, wild cats, striped hyenas, caracals and wolves also live in the area. Bird lovers should keep an eye out for imperial eagles, pallid harriers and Egyptian vultures.
The visitor's centre on site is an excellent starting point and guided safaris are also available in the reserves. You can arrange a safari with your tour if there is time and availability before the tour returns to Amman.
For your last evening we suggest going to Downtown Amman and indulging in some Jordian dishes. You shouldn't leave without trying the national dish of Jordan, Mansaf (lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented yogurt) or tucking into falafel and hummus along with a sweet dessert.
Hotel in Amman
Day 8 : Free time in Amman, departure airport transfer
You are free to do any last minute shopping or visit some more sights on your last day in Amman. A transfer will collect you and drive you to the airport for your departing flight back home.
You can also choose to go on an optional day trip with choices like an excursion to Aljoun Castle, the Desert Castles and the Baptism Site at Bethany or a tour into Israel to see Bethlehem or Jerusalem.
It is possible to extend your tour and transfer to Tel Aviv by flight or overland to connect with the Biblical Israel tour, starting on Sunday. You can also extend your stay at a resort by the Red Sea or Aqaba.
Pella and Umm Qais, Extra day in Amman - post-tour, Aqaba extension
Touring with Encounters Travel
Encounters Travel specialise in creating imaginative, adventurous small group tours all around the world for the open minded traveller. They are always looking for new ways to add value and excitement to your travel experiences so that you see more than just the usual tourist spots, as well as having great fun at the same time. Their tours are designed to give you the best possible experience in each country, whilst at the same time providing good value for money without making compromises.
You will see and learn about local cultures and historic sites while enjoying some more adventurous activities along the way. They also try very hard to keep the overall style and inclusions/exclusions of their tours as consistent as possible from country to country, while taking into account the different highlights and activities available in each destination. Their escorted group tours are hosted by specially selected experts who bring their knowledge and skills to add an extra dimension to the tour.
Encounters Travel are committed to travelling responsibly, and leaving a positive impression and impact on the countries through which they travel.