Set in a spectacular location on the edge of the Wadi Araba, the fabled ruin called Petra was a fortress carved from solid red sandstone in the 3rd century BC. Our explorations of this great archaeological site include the Al-Khazneh (“Treasury”) of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade fame. Our extension also visits the haunting desert realm of Wadi Rum, the ancient Roman city of Jerash, the pilgrimage site of Mt. Nebo, Madaba, "the city of mosaics," the Crusader fortress of Shobak, and ends with an overnight on the shores of the Red Sea.
Arrive at Amman Airport, where you are met by your guide for a tour of Amman, one of the most ancient cities in the world, with archaeological finds dating back 3,000 years. Inhabited since the Bronze Age, the city is mentioned in the Old Testament as Rabath Ammon, capital of the Ammonites, and it was here that David met Bathsheba. Visit the Citadel, archaeological museum, Roman theater, and enjoy a walk through the bazaar. Overnight at the Intercontinental Hotel Amman...L
Amman / Jerash / Ajlun
Visit the ancient Roman city of Jerash, an archaeological masterpiece framed by the hills of Gilead. It was founded by the soldiers of Alexander the Great during the 4th century BC and later joined the Roman Decapolis. Monuments of this prosperous Roman city—one of the best preserved in the Roman Empire—include a triumphal arch, a stadium, a monumental fountain, and temples. After lunch, visit the labyrinthine 11th century Ajlun Castle, a remarkably preserved mountaintop citadel built by a nephew of the great warrior Saladin as a defensive fortress against the Crusaders. Return to Amman for overnight...BL
Mt. Nebo / Madaba / Shobak / Petra
On our way to Petra, we visit Mt. Nebo, the mountain where Moses was allowed to view the Holy Land, yet not allowed to enter it. Today it is the site of the Church of Moses, built by the first Christians. The views over Jordan, the Dead Sea, and Israel are tremendous. When the weather is clear, you may even see Jerusalem, about 30 miles away. Continue to Madaba, whose St. George’s Church houses a world-famous mosaic floor that is a large map of Palestine, including a detailed mosaic of Jerusalem as it was during the 6th century AD. Later, explore Shobak Castle, with its imposing brick walls. It was built by the Crusader king Baldwin I in 1115 AD. After its fall to the armies of Saladin in 1189 AD, it was occupied by the Mamluks, who expanded its complex. The castle itself has many secret passageways, and we'll pass under arches, walk through tunnels, and see the ruins of a lesser-visited crusade fortress. Continue to the Petra Movenpick Resort for overnight...BL
We travel to Petra, the ancient capital of the Nabataens, a nomadic Arabian tribe who ruled the Trans-Jordan area in pre-Roman times and derived their great wealth and power from the passing trade caravans. The city reached the peak of its fame after the Romans took over in the first and second century AD. With the rise of the coastal trading center at Palmyra and the opening of sea trade routes, Petra declined in importance and was forgotten by the outside world for a thousand years. In 1812, Swiss explorer John Lewis Burckhardt, a young convert to Islam traveling the Middle East’s deserts in Bedouin disguise, heard local Bedouins tell of fantastic ruins hidden in the mountains of Wadi Musa and persuaded one to lead him there. His journal and sketches of Petra eventually made their way to London, where they inspired many to seek this lost city.
Sheer sandstone hills in beautiful shades of deep rust banded with gray and yellow form a deep canyon that protects Petra in all directions. Today’s full-day visit begins with a short horseback ride (or walk) from the main gate of Petra to the entrance of the old city. From here, we walk through the narrow canyon called the Siq to visit the rose-red city of Petra. The archaeological site covers an area of about 50 square miles, with over 800 monuments excavated, including the famous Al-Khazneh (“Treasury”), featured in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The modern town outside of Petra is called Wadi Musa (Valley of Moses). This is the spot where Moses is thought to have struck the rock with his staff, bringing water flowing forth as it does today. Overnight at the Petra Movenpick Resort...BL
Head to the famed desert canyon of Wadi Rum, where British officer T. E. Lawrence was based during the Great Arab Revolt of 1917-18. Enjoy an optional ride by camel to Lawrence’s spring, and explore by 4WD vehicle to enjoy a magnificent desert world where massive rock peaks rise out of pink sands. Our remote ecolodge, Wadi Rum Night Camp, offers a comfortable desert getaway in a superb wilderness setting. Before dinner this evening, head out to a scenic spot to enjoy sunset over Wadi Rum. Overnight at Wadi Rum Night...BLD
Wadi Rum / Dead Sea
After a short walk this morning to a small natural arch with inscriptions dating from the time of the Nabateans, the builders of Petra 2,000 years ago, continue to your hotel at the legendary Dead Sea, with the afternoon at leisure. Overnight at the 5-star Dead Sea Movenpick Resort & Zara Spa...B
After breakfast at hotel, transfer to airport for departure on homeward-bound flights via Amman...B