Current as of: December 5, 2023 - 04:50
2 out of 7 - Leisurely / Moderate
This 12-day trip to Jordan is ideal to truly appreciate all the country has to offer. It will give you enough time to take in its world-famous monuments, such as Petra and Jerash, and explore the less well-known historic and archaeological treasures. This itinerary includes visits to several of these sites, and the chance to experience the beautiful Wadi Rum desert and snorkel in the Red Sea, ensuring enough time to relax and unwind too.
Looking to travel after 31 May 2024? Please see our new itinerary – Jordan: Culture & Nature In Depth
This trip includes a few of our Citizen Science Departures. These special departures offer you the opportunity to be involved in the collection of freshwater samples during the trip. The environmental DNA information derived from this sample will contribute directly to the eBioAtlas; the world’s largest repository of flora and fauna species data, contributing to the conservation and restoration of biodiversity both locally and globally. To book onto one of these special departures, see the Dates & Prices tab. For more information on these departures and the eBioAtlas, click here.
Although this is a cultural trip, some days (such as those in Petra) can be long and tiring. To do the optional 850 steps up to the monastery, or the climb up to the High Place of Sacrifice, you should have a reasonable level of fitness. Your leader can provide you with further advice about these hikes. It is not advisable to do the High Place of Sacrifice if you suffer from vertigo, as there are some very steep, narrow steps and cliffs. The leader will show where the route to the High Place of Sacrifice starts, but does not accompany people wishing to take this route.
While camping in Wadi Rum, please be aware that, while the campsite does have plumbed toilets and showers, it is basic and hot water may be limited. Our private Exodus camp is, however, often mentioned as a trip highlight by many of our guests.
In very rare instances, we may need to amend the order of the itinerary, but we will ensure that all the elements of the itinerary are still included and site visits are of the same duration.
Ramadan is expected to run from approximately 10 March-10 April 2024 and 28 February-29 March 2025. One of the most important periods in the Islamic calendar, it is a special time to visit a Muslim country. Each evening, the streets empty as people head home to break the fast, followed by an air of festivity upon their return. Our leaders and drivers choose to work at this time so we continue to run trips; however, their energy levels may be slightly lower than normal. Many tourist sites, restaurants and shops will have an amended schedule, but your tour leader will know how to adapt the itinerary to still experience all the inclusions on this trip and maximise your experience during this special time.
Adult min age: 16
Min group size: 4
Max group size: 16
Accommodation: Hotel Khan Khediwe (or similar)
Welcome to Amman, the capital of Jordan, where our adventure begins. There are free transfers to the hotel from Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) for all customers today. Please note, transfers should be booked with your sales representative at least two weeks before the tour starts.
Accommodation: Hotel Khan Khediwe (or similar)
After breakfast, we depart for a visit to Iraq El Amir. Set in the desert to the east of Amman is the Desert Castle Loop, consisting of numerous palaces and minor forts dating back to the Omayyad period (661-750 CE). Our first stop is Qasr al- Hallabat. Originally Roman, this castle was rebuilt during the Umayyad period when it was elaborately decorated in mosaics, carved stucco and fresco paintings, which transformed the castle into a palatial residence. There are about 150 inscriptions within the castle, mostly in Greek. The vast majority of these inscribed stones, which were reused as building material, belong to an edict issued by the Byzantine emperor Anastasius (491-518 CE). A few kilometres away is the Hammam as-Sarakh, a bathhouse and hunting lodge. The buildings have been almost completely restored, and here we can see the channels used for hot water and steam.
Around 62mi (100km) east of Amman, the oasis town of Azraq has a large, black-basalt castle, which served as Lawrence of Arabia’s headquarters during the Arab Revolt.
Heading back towards Amman, the Qasr El Kharraneh and Qusayr ‘Amra are the best preserved of the desert castles, Qusair Amra is noted for its extensive fresco paintings, which cover virtually all the interior walls. The paintings include themes such as hunting, dancing, musicians, bathing, cupids, and personifications of history, philosophy and poetry. We drive back to the hotel in Amman.
Accommodation: Hotel Khan Khediwe (or similar)
We begin early as we have a long day heading north. We visit Irbid, which hosts an interesting museum. The most remarkable artefacts are the Ain Ghazal statues dated to the pre-pottery Neolithic period; between 7500 BCE and 5500 BCE. The museum also contains artefacts from the later periods. Umm Qais, in the north, has fantastic views of the Sea of Galilee and was once a hub for arts and culture. Later we proceed to Pella, an important city in Roman times, though most of the remains date to the Byzantine period. Overnight in Jerash.
Accommodation: Olive Branch (or similar)
After breakfast we visit Jerash, known to the ancient Romans as Gerasa. During that period, this was one of the 10 wealthy, self-governing cities of the Decapolis, and was famous throughout the Roman empire for the luxury of its lifestyle. Buried for centuries under blown sand, Jerash is the only city of the Decapolis to have survived to any extent, with an outstanding forum, colonnaded main streets with the drains still intact, two theatres and an impressive temple to Zeus. Our journey continues to the only Arabic castle in Jordan, Ajloun. It is perched on a hilltop and has fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. Originally constructed in 1184 CE, it was destroyed and rebuilt over the centuries following numerous wars and earthquakes. Drive for overnight stay at the Dead Sea.
Accommodation: Holiday Inn Dead Sea (or similar)
We start the day by visiting Bethany Beyond the Jordan, the site where Jesus Christ was said to have been baptised by John the Baptist, marking the beginning of the new era of Christianity. We then head to Madaba, the City of Mosaics. Best known for its spectacular Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, it is home to a sixth-century mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
We see this historic map in the small Church of St George. Made up of small pieces of coloured stone, the map depicts hills and valleys, villages and towns as far as the Nile Delta. From here, we head to Mount Nebo, where Moses was shown the Promised Land before his death. There is a purpose-built church, which houses wonderfully preserved mosaics. After a good look around, we head back to the Dead Sea to float in the thick saline waters.
Accommodation: Holiday Inn Dead Sea (or similar)
Leaving the Dead Sea behind, we drive through the deep gorge of Wadi al Mujib. This massive canyon is now a huge nature reserve. We arrive at Al Karak and Al Shawbak, two castles that played an important role in the Crusades. Built in medieval times, Al Karak is the larger of the two castles, its well-preserved fortifications towering over the town offer incredible views. Al Shawbak, though not as well preserved, is equally as notable. Late afternoon, we drive on to Petra. Overnight Petra.
Accommodation: Standard hotel – see accommodation section for more detail
Enjoy two days exploring Petra. The so-called Red Rose City was hidden for centuries until the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt rediscovered it in 1812. It was founded by the Nabateans, an Arab tribe that arrived here in the sixth century BCE. Building at Petra began in the third century BCE and continued through the Roman period, financed by taxes levied on the desert caravans. Two features of Petra are unique: firstly, it is a city made defensible by being built down a series of chasms, rather than on a hilltop. Secondly, it is built directly into the rock – beautiful red-and-yellow sandstone carved into the most impressive facades, which glow in the sunlight.
To enter Petra we must begin by walking down a narrow chasm, known as the Siq. Unveiled at the end is El Khazneh, the Treasury. This is just the first breathtaking sight of a remarkable day. Continuing to the city centre, we pass the houses and tombs of the rich citizens and the remarkable scale of the site begins to unveil itself. An optional walk can then be done up 750 steps to El Deir, the Monastery, with its superb facade topped by a huge urn.
On the second day, your guide will take you back into the site. You can either hike up to the High Place of Sacrifice (unaccompanied) or explore other parts of the city further. Only a few people attempt to visit the High Place as it can be quite arduous and is not recommended for those who are unsure of their fitness or are uncomfortable with heights. However, those who do make it to the top are rewarded with wonderful views over parts of the site visited on the previous day.
Accommodation: Standard hotel – see accommodation section for more detail
This morning we visit Little Petra before joining the modern Desert Highway to make our way south to Wadi Rum. The purpose of Little Petra is not clear; however, archaeologists believe it was probably a suburb of Petra where visiting traders on the Silk Road may have stayed. Today we enter the Unesco World Heritage site of Wadi Rum, where dramatic sandstone mountains rise from the sandy desert floor. It was here that Lawrence of Arabia and Prince Faisal assembled the Arab tribes for the attack on Aqaba in the First World War and also where sections of the 1962 epic film were shot.
After checking into our private Exodus camp. Our Bedouin hosts take us for an approximately two-hour 4×4 ride to explore some of the highlights of the protected area. We visit the highlights, have time to sample Bedouin tea, and then watch the sunset from the vantage point of a rock formation. From here we return to our camp where we enjoy Bedouin hospitality with a traditional dinner called zarb, which is cooked underground. After dinner, we learn about Bedouin culture and music through interacting with the family who run the camp.
Accommodation: Exodus Private Camp (permanent Bedouin camp)
We wake in the dramatic desert scenery and then make our way on to Aqaba, Jordan’s port and holiday resort, best known for having beautiful coral reefs. There is time to relax on a beach with transport and entrance included. You can add to the experience with optional snorkelling and lunch packages, which your leader will explain. Please note there is a cost for these extras. There are several good restaurants in Aqaba for our evening meal together.
Accommodation: La Costa Hotel (or similar)
After breakfast, drive from Aqaba to Amman to explore the ancient city. Amman has served as the modern and ancient capital of Jordan. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with a 1994 excavation uncovering homes and towers believed to have been built during the Stone Age, around 7000 BCE. The earliest written records refer to the city as Rabbath Ammon, the capital of the Ammonites in the 12th century BCE. Later, the city was named Philadelphia under the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus (283-246 BCE).
As one of the cities of the Decapolis under King Herod in 30 BCE major building works were conducted. The 6,000-seat Roman theatre on the citadel is a testimony to Roman architecture, although extensively restored it remains a classic example. Also on Citadel Hill, just northwest of the Temple of Hercules, is the Jordan Archaeological Museum. This small museum houses an excellent collection of antiquities ranging from prehistoric times to the 15th century. From here, we head to the Roman theatre in the old town. This evening your leader will arrange a group dinner for those who would like to join.
Accommodation: Hotel Khan Khediwe (or similar)
Transfer to the airport; flight home
Breakfast marks our final meal, an excellent chance to reminisce about an adventure packed with excitement. To make your return journey home easier, there’s a free shared transfer back to the airport.
Just like the trip itself, the accommodation is delightfully varied. Typically, we use a three-star hotel in Amman, a basic hillside hotel in Jerash, a five-star retreat by the Dead Sea, a well-located yet simple hotel near Petra, and a four-star hotel in Aqaba, plus we spend a night in our private Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum.
Exodus Private Camp in Wadi Rum
Reserved exclusively for our groups, the permanent Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum is a highlight for many travellers. We sleep in simple, traditional tents sheltered by rugged stone cliffs and enjoy the warm hospitality of our Bedouin hosts. In the evening, they serve us a zarb dinner, cooked underground in the traditional manner, while the rest of the night is typically spent around the campfire, chatting and sharing an unforgettable experience.
Holiday Inn Dead Sea
Another standout stay for many is the Holiday Inn at the Dead Sea. Checking into this five-star retreat allows us to kick back and relax, perhaps in one of the many pools or with a float in the salty Dead Sea waters from the private beach. There’s also a free-to-use gym, a selection of excellent restaurants and bars, and the bliss of five-star service.
We spend three nights in Wadi Musa, the town adjacent to Petra. Demand for rooms near Petra is extremely high; over the years, we have built relationships with several accommodations, which allows us to secure spots even during peak season. The limited amount of accommodation and high demand can result in varying quality in both the accommodation and service. However, we stay at these hotels as they are well-located for our trip to Petra: some are within walking distance of the main entrance to the Red Rose City, others are no more than a 10-minute transfer away. Places we stay include Edom Hotel, Petra Plaza, Petra Palace, Amra Palace and La Maison among others.
Single supplement from £ 370
All breakfasts and three evening meals are included on this trip.
When not half board, we usually eat in local restaurants and the leader arranges bookings for those in the group who would like to join. We suggest you budget around 20 Jordanian dinars (US$28) for non-included meals. If you are vegetarian, please note that main meals are limited in choice; however, meze is almost always available in restaurants and is a good, filling vegetarian choice. There is a good selection of seafood available by the Red Sea. At the Wadi Rum camp, we enjoy a traditional dinner called zarb, which is cooked underground. This consists of rice with a selection including chicken, lamb and vegetables. Vegetables are cooked separately from the meat.
Alcohol is available in Jordan, but not widely. Many hotels do not sell alcohol but will often allow it to be brought in from elsewhere. It is best to plan ahead if you’ll want a drink, your tour leader will be able to tell you what’s possible and may be able to arrange a stop at a supermarket or liquor store (depending on location). In Petra, the unique Cave Bar in Petra Guesthouse is open to the public. A less expensive option is the bar in the Petra Palace Hotel which is also open to all.
For most of this trip, we use one air-conditioned bus with local drivers. To reach the Wadi Rum camp and to explore the desert of Wadi Rum, we use basic 4WD vehicles owned by the host Bedouin family. The vehicles are appropriate for desert travel but may fall below the normal vehicle safety standards usually expected on our trips. As there are no other vehicles available, and as we are not travelling by road, we feel they are an adequate means of transport.
Spring and autumn are popular in Jordan as it is cooler – around 24C (75F) in the day and 8C (46F) at night. Rain is likely, but protracted bad weather isn’t. It is hot and dry, but not unpleasant, throughout Jordan in the summer. Daytime maximum temperatures are around 32C (89F) in Amman. Jerash temperatures are the same.
Wadi Rum on average in summer is around 30C (86F) though it can get as high as 40C (104F). At night, it is usually around 10C (50F) cooler. In winter, it is much cooler, reaching as low as 10ºC during the day. In the evening it is around 0C (32F). There are occasions when there is rain or even snow in the desert. If weather conditions require, we may need to modify the itinerary or the camp location for your comfort and safety.
Aqaba is very hot when the air is still, but there is usually a breeze. Rain is unusual but possible. The Dead Sea air temperatures vary from around 14C (57F) in winter, nearing 40C (104F) in summer. The water temperature doesn’t drop below 20C (68F).
As with many countries in the world, seasons can go on longer than usual, so it is advisable to always check the weather of the country you are travelling to a week or two before your trip so you can pack appropriately.
Recommended arrival time: Hotel check-in is from 2pm
Airport: Queen Alia International Airport (AMM)
The start hotel is approximately 40 minutes’ drive from the airport. Exodus provides free arrival transfers to the start hotel from the airport for all customers.
Exodus provides free departure transfers for all customers to Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) from the end hotel.
Please note, unless specified otherwise, the transfers will be to the start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers should be booked with your sales representative at least two weeks before the tour starts.
Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.
Location start: Amman
Location end: Amman
You will encounter a range of temperatures on these trips; in spring and autumn the days are generally quite hot (very hot in July and August), the nights are cool in the desert. Light cotton clothing is suitable for daytime use, but you may need a sweater, and for departures from the end of September onwards you should also bring a warm jacket.
Please note, Jordan is a Muslim country and so modest dress is required on this trip when visiting holy sites and rural areas (ie legs, shoulders and upper arms should be covered). In the larger cities and more popular destinations this is not necessary.
Please try to bring no more than one main piece of luggage per person. On occasion luggage may be transported separately to the vehicle the group travels in.
Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill or get burned. Both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip, we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles to reduce the plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout; all you need to do is bring a bottle to refill along the way. Please add this to your packing list.
Jordan passport information
It is essential that we have your full passport details at least two weeks before the start of your trip (or at the time of booking for late bookings). This is required for the free visa (see below for eligibility details) and additionally, has to be supplied in advance to the tourism police, hotels and sights we’ll be visiting. If we are not provided with accurate passport information in advance, problems may be encountered during the trip and you may incur extra costs.
Visas are required by most nationalities and can be obtained at the border or Amman airport.
We will arrange a free visa (usually 40 Jordanian dinars) for travellers booking a tour and any pre-tour arrangements through us, provided we receive full passport and flight details at least two weeks before arrival.
You will need to pay for the visa if we do not have these details two weeks before arrival or you are making your own pre-tour arrangements (ie extra nights before the tour that are not booked through Exodus).
Our airport representative will meet and assist you with obtaining the free visa on arrival in Jordan at Customs & Immigration. They will be carrying an Exodus sign.
There are no mandatory vaccination requirements; however, polio, tetanus and typhoid vaccines are all recommended.
Jordan's time zone: Asia/Amman (UTC +03:00)
Jordan's electricity: Plug types C (two round pins, European standard), D (three round pins), F (two round pins), G (three rectangular pins, UK standard), and J (three round pins) – 230V, 50Hz
Jordan's currency: Jordanian dinar (JOD)
There are ATMs in the major towns and cities, such as Madaba, Petra, Aqaba and Amman. However, not all cards are accepted by the ATMs, so please bring cash to change if possible. Your leader can advise you on changing money and ATMs. Larger shops in the cities may take credit cards, but do not rely on this.
You can take your money in sterling or US dollars. You may want to take some in cash and some in travellers cheques, with a mix of denominations. However, we should point out that changing travellers cheques in Jordan can be quite difficult as very few places now accept these. If you do wish to take them, we advise using those issued by either Thomas Cook or American Express, as you may find others even more difficult to change. Small denominations are useful for times when you want to change a small amount of money outside the major towns or cities.
There are various excursions possible on this trip – the leader will provide more details on arrival. Please note that all prices are subject to change.
Our local staff are paid fairly for their work with Exodus. However, while tipping may not be common in your home country, in Jordan it is part of the culture and is generally expected within tourism and many other areas of Jordanian life. We have given guidance in US dollars below, but tipping is best done in the local currency (Jordanian dinars).
For tipping your driver, hotel staff and other local staff, we recommend the use of a tipping kitty. Your leader can advise on the amount, as a guide, expect it to be US$85 for this trip. This kitty can be placed in the hands of one of the group members to look after and the leader will advise where it is appropriate to tip. If preferred, however, the leader can manage this for the group. The kitty is there to ease confusion and embarrassment by not knowing how much or how little to tip.
Most clients also wish to tip their Tour Leader and as a guide we suggest US$55 per person for this trip. Most groups prefer to present the money to the leader at the end of the week in an envelope. The amount is at your discretion and our suggested amount is to be used as a guideline only.
We work hard to create trips that improve life for the people and places we visit, and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.
In Jordan we are very proud to work with a local partner who received the Travelife Partner award in July 2021. Travelife is a certification system dedicated to achieving sustainable practices in the global tourism industry. In order to receive the award our Jordanian partner had to comply with over 100 criteria related to Corporate Social Responsibility. The Travelife standard is formally recognised for full compliance with the UN Sustainable Tourism Criteria.
Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:
How this trip helps improve life for local communities.
How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.
How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.
Tips for sustainable travel on this trip
This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.
This trip goes near an area deemed unsafe to visit by the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, whose advice we follow when operating our trips. While our itinerary doesn’t go to these areas, you should familiarise yourself with your local government’s advice if you are planning any pre- or post-trip travel. Any independent travel to areas currently against your local government advice is entirely at your own risk and unlikely to be covered by your travel insurance.
Your safe participation
When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.
Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.
By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.
When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.
You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.
Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.
Trip Note validity
These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.
The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.
Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.