After your independent arrival into Amman Jordan, I look forward to meeting you in the InterContinental Hotel Amman, where we stay for two nights.
On our first full day in Jordan we step back into time; as will visit the Roman theatre and Roman citadel in Amman. North of Amman our visit includes the Greco-Roman ruins at Jerash, one of the most complete ancient cities from this period. Following this, we make the relatively short drive to the medieval castle at Ajloun, which helps provide insights into Jordan’s rich history.
Our dinner tonight will include a hands-on cooking class; we should be in for a treat and I hope this will be one of many memorable meals on our journey.
Travelling south after our stay in Amman we stop at Mount Nebo from which Moses is believed to have seen his Promised Land. Madaba with its Byzantine mosaics, including a map of the Holy Land, will be our halt before we take lunch overlooking the wadi below Dana Village. Shobak Castle, set on a hill with wide panoramas, will be our final stop before we arrive at the Movenpick Petra for a 2-night stay; the hotel is in an ideal location for our visit as its located at the mouth of the Siq into Petra.
We will have a full day devoted to exploring Petra; the “Rose-Red City, Half as Old as Time”. With so much time devoted to this remarkable UNESCO site on our tour, we should be able to take in many of its well-known monuments.
The walk from our hotel through the Siq is about 1 ½ miles and opens directly onto Al Khazneh, The Treasury. Within the principal area, we can enjoy the Nabatean Theatre and Great Temple within the lower area of the city less than 1 ½ miles from Al Khazneh. I hope we will ascend to Al Deir, The Monastery, a steep walk over a mile and an ascent of some 600ft which will not only lead us to one of Petra’s most impressive monuments but also provide views over much of the area.
Leaving the Movenpick in the morning, we stop at Little Petra, a short 20-minute drive from the hotel. Smaller and as a result more intimate than the central valley, this also has well preserved Greco-Roman period monuments. We will continue south to Wadi Rum allowing us to explore its dramatic mix of sand and naturally sculptured rock. Our overnight accommodation is in ‘SunCity Camp’ overlooking the desert.
Today we have the included opportunity to float over Wadi Rum in a Hot-Air ‘ship’ (balloon) and then ride the ‘ship’ of the desert, a Dromedary Camel. We continue this activity-filled day with guided trek, or mountain bike tour, near the Feynan Ecolodge before overnighting there.
Our morning includes learning how to make traditional Arabic Coffee (which is so different from Turkish or Italian Coffee). Our final afternoon in Jordan is spent by the Dead Sea, not only is it the lowest point on Earth but it gives an amazing lesson of the properties of high concentrations of salt in water. The Movenpick Resort Dead Sea is our overnight hotel and it’s directly on the shores.
From Jordan we fly south into Salalah, Oman, via Qatar.
Our hotel in Salalah is the exceptional Al Baleed Anantara, set on a white sand beach, lapped by the Arabian Sea.
The reputed tomb of the Prophet Job that is set on the escarpment of the Jabal Qara Mountains overlooking Salalah will be one of our stops in this region. Later I hope we will be able to walk to Frankincense Trees, this region’s most famous tree.
After lunch we will visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Samharam, the 2400-year-old Frankincense trading port. This ancient trading city is of a comparable period to Petra in Jordan and represents the starting place for the flow of trade north into Petra. Visiting the nearby fishing village of Taqah allows us to look at a castle which protected this community during the late 19th & early 20thc.
On the 18th November 2020, we will be in Salalah during the 50th anniversary of Sultan Qaboos’s reign. Though announcements of events in Oman are usually made with only a few days notice, we will take in those that we can, before flying north to Muscat and overnight in The Chedi, Muscat’s ‘Zen like’ beachfront hotel.
Leaving Muscat in SUV vehicles, we will travel towards the great Al Hajar mountain range which bisects northern Oman. Stopping at the fortress in Nakhal whose origin is thought to be Persian, making it at least 1400 years old, we will then travel through rugged canyons and tiny villages to ascend to a pass at 6500ft above our start at the Chedi. We overnight at 4,600ft, our location having unimpeded views down to the plains below, it’s appropriately called ‘The View’.
After breakfast, we visit into a traditionally built 18thc mud-brick house that, with its cultural displays, gives us a glimpse into the Oman that abruptly ended in 1970. From this mud-brick house, we will journey to the massive mud-brick citadel which is one of Oman’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Bahla Fort, and onto the nearby Jabrin Castle. Our hotel for two nights, the award-winning Alila Jabal Akhdar, is set overlooking a rugged canyon.
High in the Al Jabal Al Akhdar mountains, our day is a leisurely one as we enjoy a cooking class in the hotel’s kitchens, which may well turn out to become part of a meal for us if our skill is at the right level. Later we trek through ancient agricultural terraces and learn something about local life.
In the morning we leave the mountains for the Wihibah sand desert, Camels await us in the ‘Desert Night Camp’ for short rides; the camp’s very comfortable accommodation is set between desert sand dunes and we have an open-air dinner.
After a desert night, our return route to Muscat is via Sur, one of Oman’s ports that traded with Zanzibar for centuries. Heading north along the narrow coastal plain with its medieval town of Qalhat and mountains incised by deep narrow canyons that open onto the sea, we return to The Chedi will be where we spend our final nights in Oman.
The superlative Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the principal mosque within the Ibadhi practice of Islam. The quality of work is astounding, and the creation of the mosque made use of both traditional skills and modern techniques. The Royal Opera House will have a private musical performance exclusively for us. The National Museum, near the Sultan’s Al Alam Palace, allows us to delve deep into Oman’s history and culture. The museum houses stone tools dated up to 2million years ago and a scale model of the ‘Sultanah’, a ship that arrived into New York harbour in 1840 with Oman’s first ambassador to the USA.
On the 25th it’s a short drive to Muscat’s airport for your independent departure flight following what, I hope, you will have found a fascinating insight into the two magical monarchies.
To review the official program and to book this tour to Jordan and Oman – please look at Zegrahm’s website.