Jordan has been attracting visitors for millennia. Whether it was the ancient Nabataeans plying trade routes near the Red Sea, or Bedouin nomads and their camel caravans plodding the King’s Highway, all these wanderers have left their mark on a land that has more than its share of wonders.
These days, adventure travellers are the latest to discover Jordan’s charms. But with so much wild beauty and heritage on show, planning a route through it all can be daunting. Enter the updated Discover Jordan group tour from adventure travel experts Explore – an ideal way to get to the soul of this disparate, breathtaking land.
Explore has been organising group tours for over 35 years and now offers over 600 trips to over 120 countries. There are few nooks that their guides haven’t explored.
The Discover Jordan trip harnesses all of Explore’s years of experience in this region into one epic adventure. This nine-day odyssey mixes ancient ruins and sandstone gems with the vast natural desertscapes of Wadi Rum and corals of the Red Sea. Plenty have enjoyed Jordan’s treasures – now it’s your turn.
Many of Jordan’s ancient wanderers, from Roman legionnaires to impassioned Crusaders, left a mark on the country. One fascinating example is the Roman city of Jerash, an ancient settlement that was left buried under sand for hundreds of years, until being discovered a little over two centuries ago. It has been left remarkably preserved, and you can now walk its vast collection of ruins, from the colonnaded streets and the crumbling stadiums to its centrepiece, the Forum, an oval plaza fringed by 160 stone columns.
The Treasury, Petra (Dreamstime)
Next, head south for a pair of stops firmly rooted in their Christian past. Stroll Madaba and gasp at hundreds of Byzantine-era murals splashed across the walls, floors and ceilings of its buildings. The most iconic sight in the ‘City of Mosaics’ is arguably its 6th-century Madaba Map, a depiction of the Middle East during biblical times that has been created from 2 million pieces of multicoloured local stone. Pit stop also at Mount Nebo, which was mentioned in the Bible as the location where Moses glimpsed the ‘Promised Land’.
Follow in the wake of those who have passed through – and often inhabited – Jordan over the centuries on the King’s Highway. Traders, armies and pilgrims all travelled along the 5,000-year-old route, which, in its heyday, stretched all the way to Egypt. Evidence still remains of its use, with the remains of Shobak Castle overlooking the route nearby, once a stronghold of the Crusaders.
No trip to Jordan would be complete, however, without a visit to its rosy jewel, Petra. Stroll its sandstone buildings over two days, including the intricate facades of its Treasury and Monastery, then meander the slaloming desert canyons. The stone steps up to the Royal Tombs also afford epic views over the sands of Wadi Araba.
DESERTS AND DIVING
But Petra’s desert panorama is just a taste of things to come, as you head further into Jordan. Hop in a 4WD and sweep over Wadi Rum’s crimson dunes, spying the monoliths that pierce the horizon. Spend a night with those who know this land best, and join Bedouins in camping under the stars, listening to ancient tales of nomadic folklore.
After soaking up the desert heat, cool off in the Red Sea base of Aqaba – ideal for reef diving. Swim or snorkel among its exotic marine life, including blue-spotted rays, hawksbill turtles and lionfish, or hop on a reef-viewing boat to glimpse the kaleidoscopic coral from the surface. Or you can simply relax at the Earth’s lowest point, floating in the calm saline waters of the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea (Dreamstime)
TAKE TO THE TRAIL
Perhaps the best way to appreciate the nomads, pilgrims and tradesmen that created Jordan’s diverse culture on their way through the regionis to tread those same paths. Explore’s Walking in Jordan tour covers a slice of the newly established Jordan Trail, which stretches from Um Qais in the north to the Red Sea in the south.
The section traced by the Discover Jordan trip begins in the dunes and canyons of Wadi Rum, then threads spectacular Petra along a pair of ancient routes – the Desert and King’s Highways – before hiking up to the imposing Kerak Castle. Trek past snippets of Jordan’s patchworked history at Jerash and Madaba and take well-deserved dips in both the Red and Dead seas.
No matter where you go in Jordan, you’re sure to be following in historic footsteps, Dreamstime and Explore’s Jordan adventure makes doing so far easier than if you’d attempted to go it alone. Experience not only the legacies of wanderers past but some of nature’s most awe-inspiring creations as you delve into the heart of this incredible land.
How to enter
Explore is offering one reader and a friend places on its nine-day guided Discover Jordan tour, which includes return flights with Royal Jordanian and visits to Petra, Wadi Rum and more. To be in with a chance of winning, answer the following:
Petra was rediscovered in which year? a) 1912 b) 1812 c) 1712
Closing date: 11 Oct 2017
Jordan’s packed with legendary cities and natural wonders – enjoy a blend of both worlds with adventure tour operator Explore
Source: Win! A trip to Jordan worth over £2,350 | Wanderlust