The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has been made famous in films like Lawrence of Arabia and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Along with its natural beauty, Jordan has a fascinating history. If you’re planning a holiday or group tour to Jordan, be prepared to find your to-do list growing steadily longer as you find out more and more about this incredible country.
The ‘Rose City of Petra’ is Jordan’s most impressive archaeological feature and is listed as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. A long, winding cleft in the rock known as the Siq leads you to the hidden valley and the facade of Al-Kazneh – the Treasury of Petra. Originally used as a tomb by the ancient Nabataeans, the Treasury gets its name from the fact that pirates are thought to have hidden their treasure here. No wonder it was used as the final resting place of the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade! Head to Petra and you’ll be following in the footsteps of another famous adventurer: Tintin!
The laid-back region of Aqaba is Jordan’s gateway to the sea. Known for its beautiful sandy beaches, clear water and colourful reefs teeming with marine life, Aqaba is the ideal spot for those wanting to dive, snorkel, waterski, parasail, jet-ski, fish or simply laze the day away on the beach. There’s something for the history buffs too, with many historical sites dating back as far as 4000BC.
A vast, silent desert landscape with incredible rock formations, Wadi Rum is an ancient region with a stark, striking beauty. Home also to the semi-nomadic Bedouin, Wadi Rum is a recent addition to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Don’t go to Wadi Rum without spending the night in a traditional Bedouin tent. The desert is at its most beautiful from just before sunset until just after sunrise. As the heat of the day subsides the desert takes on a magical feel as the light changes and the constellations come into view. This is only surpassed by the crystal clear morning light and the gentle rising of the sun.
Forming the border between Israel and Jordan, The Dead Sea is the lowest point on the planet at 410 metres below sea level. With a mineral content of 33%, this saltwater lake is around six times saltier than the world’s oceans, and one of the more unusual places to take a dip. It’s impossible to swim here, or to sink. The only option is to bob around on the surface! The salts and minerals are good for the skin and have both health and beauty benefits, making it the ideal place to take a break from it all and enjoy a good pampering in one of the local spas.
The Roman Ruins of Jerash
Jerash is an ancient city of the fabled Decapolis, on confederation of 10 Greco-Roman cities. Over 2000 years old, the ruins of Jerash are considered some of the best-preserved ruins of the Decapolis. Some of the highlights include a giant arch erected in honour of Emperor Hadrian in 129 AD, a hippodrome (sports field) capable of holding 15 000 people, two amazing amphitheatres, a colonnaded street paved with ancient stones featuring marks made by ancient chariots, and a nymphaeum. Jerash is probably one of the most underrated sites in Jordan and should be visited at a leisurely pace.
Best of the rest –
As well as Jordan‘s big hitters don’t forget some of the smaller sites and those that are slightly off the beaten track
Um Qais – known as biblical Gadara this Roman site is situated on Jordan’s boarders with Syria and Israel and offers fantastic views of the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee. It is also the place where the Miracle of the Gadawine took place and is mentioned in New Testament.
Mount Nebo – with fantastic views over the Dead Sea and mountains of Israel this is thought to be the final resting place of Moses and from where he first glimpsed the Promised Land.
Wadi Mujib – The lowest nature reserve on earth is certainly worth a visit if you want to walk through water filled canyon and abseil down flowing waterfalls
Dana Nature Reserve – Jordan’s flagship nature reserve Dana is fantastic for walking and is definitely worth spending the night there, either under canvass or in the Wadi Feinan Eco lodge – electricity free and candlelit at night
Amman – A visit to Jordan isn’t complete if you don’t explore the capital. An exciting and vibrant city and definitely worth a couple of days!