Through the Holy Lands: Jordan
Thanks to its strategic location at the crossroads of the ancient world, Jordan is truly part of the ‘cradle of civilisation’.
From antiquity to the twentieth century, this tiny country has had a fascinating and varied history, which has left its mark with an extraordinary abundance of natural beauty, archaeology, myths and legends. From powerful biblical sites and well-preserved ancient Roman cities to Arabic desert citadels, Crusader castles and Umayyad palaces, Jordan is also rich in geographical contrasts. For many, of course, the highlight will be the magical, ancient rock-cut city of Petra.
This tour is designed to connect with Through the Holy Lands: Israel and Palestine tour to create a grand adventure of 19 days.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Suggested morning departure from Australia on Qantas to Bangkok to connect with a Royal Jordanian flight to Amman. Renaissance Tours can assist you with these travel arrangements.
Arrive in Amman early-morning. Transfer to the hotel and check-in. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
This evening join Julian and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing and dinner at your hotel.
After breakfast join Julian for a talk, followed by a day visiting desert castles. Begin with Kharaneh, a well-preserved castle which remains an enigma to historians and archaeologists. Some believe it was built as a defensive fort, others a caravanserais for passing camel trains, and another theory, a retreat for Umayyad leaders.
Then visit Amra, the best preserved of the desert castles and a UNESCO World Heritage site, built during the reign of the Caliph Walid (705-715 CE) as a luxurious bath house.
Continue to Azarq reserve for lunch, followed by a visit to Azarq Castle and its present form which dates back to the beginning of the 13th century CE. The first fortress is thought to have been built by the Romans circa 300 CE, and has been redesigned, fortified and used by the Byzantines, Umayyads, Mamluks, Ottoman Turks and Lawrence of Arabia.
Return to Amman for an evening at leisure.
Begin your day with a visit to the Citadel, situated on one of the city’s highest hills and offering a splendid view of the old city. Visit the Roman Theatre and Nymphaeum that reflect the historic legacy of the city.
Continue to Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative Society, founded by the Noor Al Hussein Foundation in 1994 with the support of the Swiss government. This project employs 50 women in the production of handmade paper, handwoven fabric, ceramics and food.
After lunch, continue through a secluded and lush valley to Qasr Al-Abd (Palace of the Slave), a striking Hellenistic monument dating to the 2nd century BCE.
Return to Amman and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
After breakfast join Julian for a talk. Then depart for Jerash, which remains one of the most beautiful and best-preserved Greco-Roman cities in the world. Spend time exploring this unique site which boasts a history of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years. Lunch is at a local restaurant close to the archaeological site.
This afternoon, continue to Ajloun situated in the northern region of Jordan where you will visit Ajloun Castle, a fine example of the genius of medieval Arab military and Islamic architecture built to protect the region from invading Crusader forces.
Return to Amman for an evening at leisure.
This morning depart early for the drive to Pella, known as Tabaqat Fahel, the site of the fascinating ruins of the Greco-Roman period. The site at Pella has been continuously occupied since 8000 BCE, and excavations by the University of Sydney over the past 30 years have uncovered many important discoveries from Neolithic housing (circa 6000 BCE) to an early Islamic city destroyed by an earthquake that hit the region in 750 CE.
Continue to Um Qais and the ancient Greco-Roman city of Gadara, which offers splendid panoramic views over the lake of Tiberias, the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights. Um Qais was the home of several classic poets and philosophers including Theodorus and boasts the remains of two Roman theatres as well as an impressive colonnaded terrace.
After lunch, continue your drive through the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea, where you will be staying for the next two nights.
Enjoy dinner at the hotel.
After breakfast, join Julian for a talk followed by a visit to Mount Nebo and Madaba. Begin with a short stop at the site from which Moses was shown the Promised Land, and where it is believed he was buried. After a short drive further on, visit a local mosaic factory, another initiative of the Noor Al Hussein Foundation, which employs local women to create beautiful replicas of the mosaics seen at Mount Nebo and Madaba. Descend the heights to Madaba, the ‘city of mosaics’, and visit the Greek Orthodox Church of St George to view the 6th century mosaic map of the Levant.
Enjoy a traditional lunch at a local restaurant followed by some free time for shopping.
Return to the hotel at the Dead Sea for the remainder of the afternoon and evening, which is at leisure. This is a good opportunity to enjoy a Dead Sea mud treatment, a swim or a spa experience.
This morning depart early for Um Al Rasas. Driving along the Kings Highway, the ancient road mentioned in the Bible and which linked prehistoric villages dating from the Stone Age, you will reach the rectangular walled city which today lies in ruins. See some of the finest Byzantine church mosaics in the Middle East.
Continue to Kerak, known for its famous crusader castle, one of the three largest castles in the Levant.
After lunch, continue along the Kings Highway to Shobak castle, built by Baldwin I of Jerusalem. Perched on the side of a mountain, with a grand sweep of fruit trees below, this Crusader castle dates to the 12th century CE.
Arrive in Petra in the late afternoon. Before dinner, join Julian for a talk.
Sure to be one of the tour’s highlights for many, spend the day at the ancient site of Petra. A short walk from the hotel will bring you to the entrance gate to the site, but from here it is a gentle descent to the Siq, or canyon entrance, to the archaeological site (this may also be done on horseback if you wish). Walking a little further on will bring you to Petra’s greatest monument, the Al Khazneh, or the Treasury building. Your guide and Julian will spend the day showing you the spectacular sights of the ancient rock city, with free time for lunch (own arrangements), as well as the option to climb the 800 steps to the monastery and the viewing point. You can return to the hotel at your leisure at any time this afternoon.
The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the facilities of the hotel or to explore Petra’s modern town.
Enjoy a late breakfast before a short drive to Beidah (“Little Petra”). A similar entrance to Petra’s Siq, Beidah’s Siq al Barid (“Cold Siq”) is much shorter, and the site itself is a Pre-Pottery Neolithic village dating from the 7th millennium BCE. From here, drive to the iconic Wadi Rum, a desert valley frequented by Lawrence of Arabia and later made famous by David Lean’s epic movie.
On arrival enjoy lunch under a Bedouin tent. Following a brief orientation, 4WD jeeps will take you to explore the hidden valleys, red dunes and petroglyphs that are scattered throughout the desert, finishing at a vantage point to watch the sunset before driving back to Petra for a late dinner at the hotel.
Enjoy the morning at leisure.
In the early afternoon drive back to Amman (approximately 4 hours). Visit Rainbow Street where you can do some last-minute shopping or soak up the atmosphere in a coffee shop.
This evening, celebrate the end of the tour with a special farewell dinner.
In the late evening transfer to the airport and check-in for your return flight.
In the early hours of the morning, depart on Royal Jordanian Airlines to Bangkok, connecting with a Qantas flight to Australia. Arrive in Australia on the early morning of Saturday, 04 November. Renaissance Tours can assist you with your travel arrangements.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking
Final payment due
24 August 2017
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness levels definitions.
Qantas and Royal Jordanian Airlines
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do require a tourist visa for Jordan. For people booked on the Through the Holy Lands: Jordan tour only, a visa will be arranged by Renaissance Tours in advance and obtained on arrival.
Important note: If you are travelling on the Through the Holy Lands: Israel and Palestine tour, then you will be crossing the border from Israel to Jordan at Allenby Bridge (also known as the King Hussein Bridge). Australian passport holders must arrange their Jordan visas in advance.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally located hotels with breakfast (B) daily including early check-in in Amman on the first day
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner). Wines with welcome and farewell dinners. Picnic lunches on certain days
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader throughout the tour
- Visa for Jordan (arranged through Renaissance Tours)
- Transportation throughout in comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Transfers on arrival and departure if travelling on suggested flights on day of tour arrival and departure
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Transfer on arrival and departure if not travelling on suggested flights on day of tour arrival and departure
- Alcoholic beverages (except welcome and farewell dinners where wines are included)
- Airport porterage
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, taxis, room service, minibar etc.
- Travel insurance (recommended; please contact Renaissance Tours for assistance)
Amman – Intercontinental Jordan*****
Dead Sea – Mövenpick Dead Sea Resort*****
Petra – Mövenpick Petra****+
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted