Jordan is a land of mesmerizing beauty and contrasts, rich in historical sites, unique landscapes and cultural experiences. From the fertile Jordan Valley to remote desert canyons, visitors can explore splendid desert castles and Roman ruins, gaze in awe at the haunting wilderness of Wadi Rum, or bathe in the mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea.
Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a fascinating city where modern commercial centres rub shoulders with traditional coffee shops and artisan workshops. The ancient city of Jerash is acknowledged to be one of the best preserved Roman provincial towns in the world, and Jordan’s desert castles, beautiful examples of early Islamic art and architecture, are fascinating.
Petra, the ‘rose-red city’, a vast, unique city, carved into the sheer rock face by the Nabataeans is without doubt Jordan’s most valuable treasure and greatest tourist attraction. Less than an hour’s drive away, Wadi Rum is the largest and most magnifi cent of Jordan’s desert landscapes, with monolithic mountains (‘jabal’), towering above a small Bedouin Village.
The Dead Sea lies in the Jordan Valley and sits at the earth’s lowest point at 418m below sea level and falling. Relax and float in the saline waters, or try the healing powers of the mud floor minerals in a Spa.
- The oldest statues in the world were discovered at Ain Ghazal, near Amman. They date from around 6000 BC and have large painted eyes.
- 6000 year old murals from the ancient settlement of Teleilat Ghassul, in the Jordan Valley, show masked fi gures, stars and geometric patterns; their meaning remains unknown.
- Rich seams of copper at Feynan, south of the Dead Sea, were worked for centuries from the Bronze Age onwards. Some historians claim that these vast areas of copper mines in the scorching desert were the famed ‘King Solomon’s Mines’. You can still see the ancient workings at Feynan today.
- The Old Testament records that when Abraham arrived in the region, his nephew Lot decided to take his own path. Abraham went west; into what is now Palestine and Israel, while Lot went east into modern Jordan. At Safi, on the rocky slopes above the Dead Sea, an ancient shrine is built around the cave where Lot and his daughters purportedly sheltered from the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah and a stone tower nearby has long been tagged as ‘Lot’s Wife’, who turned to watch the destruction and was turned to a pillar of salt.
- Jordan is packed with biblical history. This is where Moses led the Israelites along the King’s Highway during the Exodus, where Moses’ brother Aaron died; where Moses himself gazed over the Promised Land; where King David sent Uriah the Hittite into battle and later where John the Baptist baptised Jesus. It is also where Jesus performed the Miracle of the Gadarene Swine and where Salome danced for the head of John the Baptist.
- The Nabataeans, the people who built Petra, were originally a tribe of nomads from Arabia. They settled in the area of modern Jordan in about the 5th century BC and eventually came to control the caravan trade of incense and spices between Arabia and Europe. Petra was their grand capital city.
- The Hejaz Railway, linking Damascus to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, was built by the Ottomans through Jordan, along the line of a pre-existing pilgrimage route by camel caravan through the desert. It cut the journey time from two months to three days!
- T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) was a British offi cer who worked with Arab armies under Feisal bin Hussein to defeat the Ottoman Turks in the region of the Middle East during the second half of World War I (1916–18). The operation, much of which took place on Jordanian territory (particularly in the deserts around Wadi Rum), became known as the Great Arab Revolt.
- The borders of Jordan were drawn by Winston Churchill, then Britain’s Colonial Secretary, in April 1921.
- The present King of Jordan, Abdullah II, is the 43rd-generation directly descended from the Prophet Muhammad.
- Throughout its history, Jordan was visited by Moses, Jesus Christ, Alexander the Great, Lawrence of Arabia and the armies of Genghis Khan.
- In the years leading up to the birth of Christ, Jordan played host to the Israelites, the Philistines, the Babylonians, the Ancient Greeks and was witness to the cataclysmic destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
- Petra – Lost for 500 years, the Rose City is Jordan’s greatest treasure
- Dead Sea – 400m below sea level with therapeutic mineral rich salts
Biblical Jordan – Bethany the baptism site of Jesus, Mount Nebo where Moses is said to have seen the promised land. Madaba with its 6th century mosaic map of Jerusalem
In Amman: If you love street food, try a shawarma, the Arab equivalent of a doner kebab. The very best shawarma in Jordan comes from Reem, a stall located by the 2nd Circle. It’s always busy and frequented late at night by the young & trendy.
In Amman: Gentlemen, miss your shave for a couple of days and then visit a local barber in the alleyways of Downtown Amman for an old-fashioned cut-throat shave and a trim, with all the powders and pomades. A fantastic local experience for little more than a few pounds.
In Amman: Even if you’re staying in a fancy uptown hotel, venture down to Hashem’s, a traditional street side restaurant off Feisal Square. It stays open 24 hours a day, serving bowls of hummus and glasses of scalding hot tea.
In Amman: Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the magnificent panoramic rooftop views from the terrace of the Wild Jordan café, off Rainbow Street. They do a fabulous frozen lemonade cocktail with fresh mint too.
In Amman: Jordan’s only pedestrianised shopping zone is on Wakalat Street in the glitzy uptown district of Sweifi yyeh. Think global brands, fashion boutiques, pavement cafés and some great people watching.
Take a daytrip out of Amman to the semi-ruined Hellenistic-era palace of Qasr Al-Abd, complete with marble carvings of leopards, lions and eagles adorning the architecture.
Visit the workshop of Silsal ceramics, near the 5th Circle, and watch their skilled potters make beautiful vases, jugs and decorative ceramics, for sale in the onsite shop. If you ask nicely, they might let you have a go too.
Looking for the perfect holiday gifts? Head to the Wild Jordan Nature Shop in down town Amman. Local products made in the traditional way by local people and the money goes to a good cause.
Jordanian wine is particularly good. St George, from the Zumot winery, has won several international awards.
The desert is wonderful at any time of the day but for the very best experience try and arrive a couple of hours before sunset and leave a few hours after sunrise. This is when it is at its prettiest. The changing colours as the sun sets are magnificent and the night time stars are out of this world. If you spend the night, try and sleep out in the open, wake early as the sunrise and early morning light are magical.
After a long walk into Petra and seeing the sites, take a load off and catch a camel train back. It’s a majestic way to finish off your tour. The best route is from the Basin Restaurant through the main site stopping at the Treasury.
Go back to your childhood and roll around in the Mud! Jordanian Dead Sea Mud is fantastic for the skin so you’re also doing your skin some good too. The hotels on the Dead Sea usually provide a person to apply it for you on the beach.
In a Jam? Only if it is fig Jam from the Dana Nature Reserve. It's brilliant and the apricot is pretty good too. You can buy it at any RSCN shop.
If you love snorkelling or Scuba Diving, Aqaba is great option. Lots of fish, plenty of coral but not too many divers. There is also a wreck, strategically sunk at 13 - 27 metres, so your Padi Open Water is fine.
Business Class Benefits:
- Separate check in area luggage allowance of 2 pieces; first upto 30 kgs and second upto 23 kgs and access to lounges, seats with seat pitch approx 62’’and up to 180 degree recline, personal TV screens, à la carte meals accompanied by fine wines. Business class upgrade fr. £235 each way.
Business Class Benefits:
- Premium check in area , access to departure and arrival lounge, seats that recline into fully flat beds (seat recline depends on individual aircraft check with us before booking), personal TV screens, choice of excellent cuisine and fine wines.
- Amman fr. £479 each way, seat pitch approx 60’’, luggage allowance 3 pieces approx. 32kgs.
Language: Arabic. However English is widely spoken, especially in the cities.
Visit www.jordanembassy.org.uk/Consul.html / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Religion: The Kingdom of Jordan is a majority Muslim country.
Flying Time: 5 hours
Health/Vaccinations: No mandatory vaccinations. Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio are recommended.
Water: Bottled water is recommended.
Tourist Board: Jordan Tourism Board, The Pod, Bridges Wharf, London SW11 3BE. Tel - 020 7223 1878. www.visitjordan.com
January 1: New Year’s Day