9 days, 8 nights
november 9-18, 2018
An insider's perspective on the middle east
Come with us as we explore Jordan, an incredible destination offering unparalleled glimpse into life in the Middle East. As a small group of women travelers, we'll experience day-to-day life in a safe country. As you peruse the itinerary, you'll see that in addition to visiting world class sites such as Petra and the Dead Sea, we will have many opportunities to engage with locals, including organizations working to support women. I have no doubt that you will be impressed by Jordanian hospitality, whether we are dining in a cosmopolitan neighborhood of Amman or taking tea inside a Bedouin tent in the desert of Wadi Rum.
Jordan is a perspective-shifting destination. Maybe you've never considered Each day of the trip there was something new and awe-inspiring. From the diverse natural landscapes to the ancient history, biblical history, and modern Arab culture, I was completely blown away and came home with the feeling that other American women need to experience this for themselves.
friday 9 november
Photo Credit: Donny De Rijke
nonstop Chicago to Amman
overnight: boeing 787 dreamliner
The suggested group flight is the nonstop flight from Chicago O'Hare (ORD) to Amman (AMM) on Royal Jordanian, the national carrier of Jordan. They fly the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner from all US gateways, ensuring a comfortable flight with seatback entertainment, meals, drinks, and USB chargers.
Note: It is possible for you to arrive in Amman earlier if you prefer to explore and shop in Amman or adjust to the time difference. Should you choose to depart the USA in advance, there are Royal Jordanian nonstop flights on 8-November from both Chicago and New York (JFK) to Amman (AMM).
saturday 10 november
one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world
salaam and welcome to jordan
Overnight: amman rotana
Upon landing at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, we will be met by a representative who will guide us through passport control and baggage claim. Visitor visas are required for Americans but will be handled by our staff in advance of your arrival. Ramzi and our driver will meet us at the airport and we will be transferred to our hotel to check in and refresh.
Our home for two nights in Amman is the new 5-star Amman Rotana, the tallest building in Jordan. Rotana is a Middle Eastern brand with a wonderful reputation for hospitality. The hotel enjoys a coveted spot in the newly-developed Abdali neighborhood, which offers pedestrian areas, restaurants, and shopping just outside of the hotel.
After taking some time to refresh, we will kick off the trip with our welcome dinner at Wild Jordan overlooking Citadel Hill and the historic center of Amman. Wild Jordan is a restaurant, shop, and information center operated by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, which supports projects to protect Jordan's natural heritage. We chose Wild Jordan because their proceeds directly impact conservation programs and local communities.
After getting to know each other over a delicious meal, we'll head back to the hotel for a good night's sleep in anticipation of the adventures to come.
Included Meals: Dinner
sunday 11 november
the pompeii of the middle east
Photo Credit: Maarten van der Voorde
jerash & amman
overnight: amman rotana
When you arrive in Amman, you may believe yourself to be in a distant land with a history and culture far from any you've known before. On the contrary... we will be traveling along the most famous trade route known to Western Civilization, connecting the ancient empires of the Mediterranean to those of the Orient.
This morning when we visit Jerash, about 45 minutes from Amman, we might just find ourselves standing alone in the middle of the best-preserved Roman city outside of Italy. The city was buried in sand for centuries and so the archaeological reassembly is a work in progress, as you may realize when you lean against the cool stone of a toppled column four feet in diameter. The Roman infrastructure is evident here, seen in the city layout and the wagon ruts on the original streets you'll walk along. They weren't the only ones here, however. Ramzi will teach us how to spot the influence of the Byzantines, Greeks, and others who have called Jerash home throughout the past 6500 years.
Have you been to Rome? If so, you likely will have seen Castel Sant'Angelo, originally constructed to be the tomb of Emperor Hadrian. Maybe you've seen the Pantheon? Emperor Hadrian was the one who saw that it was rebuilt after a fire 1900 years ago. He was one of the most highly-regarded emperors, and in 130AD, he paid a visit here to Jerash (then known as Gerasa). In advance of the occasion, the city constructed a triumphal arch to commemorate and welcome him. The arch is still standing today, and that is how you, too, will enter the city when you visit, 1888 years later.
After exploring the ruins of Jerash, we'll enjoy a family-style lunch nearby at the Lebanese House. Don't be put off by the idea that we are eating Lebanese food while in Jordan, as the distance from here to Lebanon is likely less than for you to travel to your nearest state line. The food at this family-owned restaurant is delicious and memorable. (I still have dreams about their Muhammara... Google it if you can't stand the suspense. We'll indulge in mezze like fresh hummus, moutabel (maybe you know it as baba ghanouj), labneh, tabbouleh, falafel, kibbeh, the list goes on... but save room because the main course is still to come, as is dessert, and finally Arabic coffee.
Upon returning to Amman, we will learn more about this fascinating city built upon nineteen hills, or jebels. On the city's highest hill, we'll wander among ancient ruins left by empires and caliphates past.
Amman: The Citadel
In the center of amman is a hilltop site that has been occupied since the bronze age. we will wander among ancient ruins left by empires and caliphates past.
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
monday 12 november
Siq al-Barid, or Little Petra
dating likely to the first century ad, little petra is an off-the-beaten-path
introduction to the nabatean people
amman & little petra
overnight: the old village resort
We will spend our final morning in Amman engaging with local organizations and social enterprises whose work directly impacts Jordanian and refugee women in the community. Women in Jordan are among the most educated in the Middle East, but only 13.2% of women participate in the workforce - one of the lowest percentages in the world. Many organizations are working to close this gap by creating sustainable opportunities for women outside the home.
We'll have lunch in Amman before making the 2.5 hour drive south to Little Petra, a suburb of the ancient trading capital. We will learn about the Nabateans who lived and traded here in anticipation of our visit to the ancient city of Petra tomorrow.
Our home for the next two nights is the the one-of-a-kind Old Village Resort. Archeological evidence has been found in the village dating to the Bronze Age, predating even Petra. The buildings themselves were constructed from stone in the 19th century by members of Ramzi's tribe who called this village home until the modern development of the city of Wadi Musa in the 1970s. The cave-like dwellings have been fully restored and the village is now operated as a hotel by members of the tribe.
After checking in, you will have some free time to refresh. Tonight, we will learn local traditions and try delicious local specialties as we are invited into a local home for dinner.
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Tuesday 13 November
trading capital of the ancient nabateans
One of the new seven wonders of the world
overnight: the old village resort
The rose red city of Petra is an immense and unbelievable marvel that fuses the majesty of nature on the scale of a U.S. national park with the remarkable achievements of an ancient civilization. This morning, we will wake up early to begin our visit in advance of the day-trippers and tour buses.
When we walk through the siq, the slot canyon that leads to the city center, you'll be in awe of Petra's natural beauty, as likely the visiting caravan traders felt centuries ago. When you emerge from the narrow canyon, you will be eye to eye with Petra's most famous monument, the Treasury. Ramzi knows every rock in Petra, as he grew up here and has been sharing the stories of the Nabateans with travelers since he was a teenager. With him, we will explore the temples, tombs, and Roman amphitheater of the ancient city.
While the tourists leave Petra to dine, we will have a picnic lunch among the ruins, and afterward take the iconic hike to the Monastery. After finishing our hike, we'll return to our hotel to refresh before the evening's activity.
We will have been eating fantastic Jordanian food since we arrived, but now it's time to learn to cook authentic recipes ourselves at Petra Kitchen. The expert chefs purchase all of the ingredients for the evening at the local market and will teach us using traditional local recipes. After making the food, we eat!
wednesday 14 november
An otherworldly place known as the valley of the moon
overnight: sun city camp
This morning, you have the option to sleep in, or you can join us for an early morning guided hike in Petra with an incredible view before the crowds arrive.
After our hike, we'll return to the hotel to refresh and check out. Then it's off to Wadi Rum for an adventure in the desert. Even if you don't know its name, Wadi Rum will likely be familiar to you, as it serves as the backdrop to several movies including The Martian, Star Wars Rogue I, and Lawrence of Arabia.
The desert of Wadi Rum has been inhabited for millennia. If you want proof, ask to see the petroglyphs. Today, we will meet bedouin tribesmen who still call the harsh and beautiful desert home. After lunch, our bedouin guides will take us on a 3-hour 4x4 excursion through the moonscape terrain T. E. Lawrence rightly described as "vast, echoing and God-like."
You'll have some downtime this afternoon to arrange a camel trek, do some yoga, or relax in your Martian bubble. We'll meet back again to watch the sunset (though be warned that you may feel you are on another planet). Tonight, we will enjoy the warm hospitality of our Bedouin hosts as they prepare for us a traditional desert feast, including zarb, food cooked under the sand, music and folk dancing.
thursday 15 november
gateway to the red sea
aqaba & the red sea
overnight: kempinski aqaba
After waking up to witness the mesmerizing desert sunrise from your glampsite in Wadi Rum, we'll have a Bedouin breakfast and bid farewell to our gracious desert hosts. Take a power nap or practice your Arabic with us on the hour-long ride to Aqaba. The city of Aqaba has been an important port since ancient times, and these days still serves that purpose while attracting visitors from near and far as a year-round resort with a vibrant city center.
When we arrive, we'll experience the Red Sea in the best way possible - by yacht. Sunbathe and relax on board, or snorkel the clear waters of one of the world's best warm-water coral reefs - the choice is yours. Aqaba's reef is home to more than 250 species of tropical fish, and showcases six to nine types of coral per square meter, compared to an average of two kinds per square meter at the Great Barrier Reef. After snorkeling, we'll enjoy lunch on board, along with views of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel from the water.
Our hotel, the Kempinski Aqaba, has a perfect location on the Red Sea with a private beach and infinity pools overlooking the sea. After we return from our excursion, you'll have the remainder of the afternoon and evening to relax at the hotel or explore the city of Aqaba, including its famous souq, or marketplace. We'll offer restaurant recommendations if you'd like to dine among locals, or you may choose to eat at one of the hotel's waterfront restaurants. However you choose to spend your evening, don't miss the views of the sunset over the Sinai Peninsula.
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
friday 16 november
bethany beyond the jordan
overnight: kempinski ishtar
Though we are betting you won't want to leave the Kempinski Aqaba, more adventures await us in the Jordan Valley. Enjoy breakfast with a view over the Red Sea before relaxing on our longest drive, the 3.5 hour trip north through Jordan's famous rift valley and along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. Our drive north will bring us to ancient sites important to the three monotheistic religions of the area.
Our first stop is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, the place where Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Baptist. The Biblical reference to this site has encouraged pilgrim visits for centuries, and traces of their visits from the 4th to 15th century C.E. can be seen at the historic site today. We'll also show you a modern pilgrimage church and the spot on the River Jordan where people still come to perform baptisms today.
Afterward, we'll ascend more than 2500 feet to Mount Nebo, where Moses is believed to be buried. The Hebrew Bible states that it was from this hilltop that Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land. On a clear day, it is indeed possible to see the Dead Sea, Jericho, Bethlehem, and even distant Jerusalem. Don't miss the incredible mosaics inside the church that are 1500 years old.
Speaking of mosaics, a trip to Jordan wouldn't be complete without a visit at the Church of St. George, home to the famous Madaba Map - the oldest known map of the Holy Land, dated to the 6th century. Afterward, we'll be welcomed into a local home in Madaba for lunch and cultural exchange.
saturday 17 november
The Dead Sea
Lowest point on planet earth
dead sea r&r
overnight: kempinski ishtar, dead sea
It has been an action-packed week! Today, the day is yours to relax and enjoy the amenities of the resort. Head to the beach to lather yourself in mineral-rich Dead Sea mud and then enjoy the incredible sensation of floating
sunday 18 november
Until Next Time...
safe travels home
Enjoy your breakfast with one final sunrise on the Dead Sea before you're transferred at 7:00am from the resort to the Queen Alia International Airport to catch either nonstop flight on Royal Jordanian heading to Chicago or to New York.
The trip cost is $3550 per person based on double occupancy for those who register and pay deposit before June 1, 2018. Beginning June 2, the cost of the trip will increase to $3950 per person. Note: Travel insurance is mandatory and is not included in the trip cost, though Cathleen will assist you in arranging it.
- $300 per person nonrefundable deposit is due within 14 days of trip registration to hold your spot on the trip
- $1500 is due by Friday June 15, 2018
- Remaining balance of $1550 is due by Monday September 10, 2018
Payment can be made by check or credit card. If you are interested in paying in installments, please inquire.
Included in the Trip:
- 8 nights accommodations in a double occupancy guest room:
- Amman Rotana - 2 nights
- Old Village Resort (Deluxe Room) - 2 nights
- Sun City Camp (Martian Room) - 1 night
- Kempinski Aqaba - 1 night
- Kempinski Ishtar Dead Sea - 2 nights
- Meals as noted on the itinerary
- Breakfast daily at our hotel
- Six lunches
- Six dinners
- Exclusive experiences as noted on the itinerary
- Crisscrossing the desert dunes of Wadi Rum in jeeps with local Bedouin guides
- Snorkeling, sunbathing, and lunch on a yacht excursion in the Red Sea
- Learning how to cook Jordanian specialities alongside local chefs at Petra Kitchen
- Private, English-speaking, expert tour director for the duration of the trip
- Water and snacks during transfers and excursions
- Jordan Tourist Visa
- Roundtrip transportation from/to Queen Alia International Airport Amman (AMM) if you are booked on the suggested group flights
- Private transportation in a deluxe minibus with A/C and WIFI
- Airport arrival and departure assistance
- Gratuities for all included activities
- All entry/usage fees for included sites
- Applicable taxes and service charges
- Travel Insurance (mandatory)
- Meals not included on itinerary
- Items of a personal nature
- Alcohol, other than at our wine tasting dinner