Jordan Small Group Tour exploring this ancient monarchy

Jordan enthrals people from around the world, and it certainly worked its appeal on a Jordan Small Group Tour I lead on a tour through the kingdom, to delve into some of its well-known and not so well known features.

Amman Citadel overlooking Amman
Amman Citadel overlooking Amman

Staying at the Intercontinental Amman, it was only a short drive to the site that would give us an overview of Amman and also insights into its history. Amman’s Citadel with its long history of occupation by many great civilizations.

Amman King Talal St
Shop Amman King Talal St

Most of the buildings that can be seen here are from the Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad periods. Nader, our excellent guide, explained the history with the Temple of Hercules, The Jordan Archaeological Museum and the Umayyad Palace. As it was built on one of the legendary 7 hills of Amman, we had a great view of area below The Citadel including the Roman theatre and Al Hashami suq area, both of which we later visited.

Hashem Restaurant Amman
Hashem Restaurant Amman

Both our meals or lunch and dinner were probably the most memorable of our whole time in Jordan. Lunch was in the simple, well-known restaurant ‘Hashem Restaurant’ which gave us all a nice light meal, and a flavour of the country.

Beit Sitti Amman
Beit Sitti Amman Wafaa (centre) hosted us

Dinner was a different experience, at Beit Sitti (‘my grandmother’s house’). The concept is simple, we, the guests, are hosted and enabled to prepare our own dinner, in Jordanian style. Wafaa (who would make a great Jordanian Bake Off presenter) was our host and she enabled each of our group to participate.

Mario Junior Appiani of Jordan River vineyards at Bait Sitti
Mario Junior Appiani of Jordan River vineyards at Bait Sitti

As one of our group has their own vineyards I was especially delighted that we got Mario Junior Appiani to provide a tasting of local, Jordanian, wines, from the company who operates the Jordan River vineyards.

Beit Sitti Dinner
Beit Sitti Dinner

From Amman we plunged deeper into Jordan’s Roman history at Jerash, north of Amman, one of the places along the Kings Road. This is a large site, though only part of the original city is excavated & much lies under the modern town.

Forum and Cardo - Jerash Jordan
Forum and Cardo – Jerash Jordan

Jerash, a Seleucid city, was incorporated into the Roman Empire from 63BC and from AD 106 was incorporated into Arabia Petraea. We found this was in many respects a typical Roman city, with a Hippodrome, plaza, 3,000 seat theatre and various temples and churches spread along a long collonaded street.

Mosaic decoration - Jordan
Mosaic decoration – Jordan

Leaving Amman, we travelled south to Petra, pausing at a modern mosaic factory, and got an understanding of how the Byzantine mosaics were made.

Moses Memorial Church Mount Nebo
Moses Memorial Church Mount Nebo

Stopping at Mount Nebo we joined hundreds of pilgrims at this site said to have been visited by Moses and much more recently Pope John Paul II & Pope Benedict XVI . The location has extensive Byzantine-style mosaics and an active Church, the Moses Memorial Church.

Shobak Castle - Montreal - Jordan
Shobak Castle – Montreal – Jordan

After a quick lunch and walk through Dana village, the next stop was a nice one as it took us to Shobak Castle, which I had never been to before.

We stayed on the Mövenpick Resort Petra for a couple of nights.

Petra Jordan
Petra Jordan

This hotel is ideal for a visit to Petra as it’s immediately next to the site’s entrance, and museum, making access quick and easy.

Petra Museum
Petra Museum

We were among the first visitors of the day into Petra, so we reached The Treasury before it became crowded.

Treasury Petra Camel
Treasury Petra Camel

Much of Petra is along the watercourse of a wadi, making it a delightfully easy impressive place to visit as you simply follow the route. For a fitter group there are monuments reached by steep stair routes, however, we decided to focus on the key sites along the wadi.

Petra Jordan donkeys
Petra Jordan donkeys

Our target was lunch at the Crown Plaza’s Basin Restaurant where our visit was timed well, with a group table available, before a stroll back to the hotel.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom Wadi Rum Jordan
Seven Pillars of Wisdom Wadi Rum Jordan

Moving even farther south we arrived in Wadi Rum, for another couple of nights stay, this time in the aptly named Martian Tents of ‘Sun City’.

Wadi Rum Jordan
Wadi Rum Jordan

This is named as the rooms they have a passing resemblance to the accommodation in the Martian film, which was partially shot in Wadi Rum.

Hijaz Rail Wadi Rum Jordan
Hijaz Rail Wadi Rum Jordan

Our time in Wadi Rum gave the group a change to ride Camels, take an open top 4×4 ride and most memorably a re-enactment of a Lawrence of Arabia attack on our private Hejaz Rail train.

Wadi Rum re-enactment
Wadi Rum re-enactment

From Wadi Rum we swung farther south and then north along the Jordan Valley into Wadi Feynan.

Feynan Ecolodge Jordan
Feynan Ecolodge Jordan

Here the Feynan Ecolodge would offer us memorable star-watching, demonstrations of traditional bread making and coffee roasting.

Wadi Feynan trek
Wadi Feynan trek

Our final destination was the Red Sea, once again staying at a Mövenpick Dead Sea.

Mövenpick Resort Dead Sea
Mövenpick Resort Dead Sea

Naturally, I checked that I was still buoyed up by the water, & fortunately, I was.

Tony Dead Sea Jordan
Tony Dead Sea Jordan

The hotel offered us a marvellous farewell dinner at  Luigi’s, chosen as one of the group hailed from Italy and was an expert on that cuisine, though we did have Jordan River wine to toast the tour.

 

Author: Tony Walsh

Book author including the current Bradt guide to Oman – edition 4