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Petra & Beyond

experience the treasures of jordan with a small group of like-minded travelers

October 6-15, 2019

10 days, 9 nights

Jordan is a country of brilliant contrast, where traditions centuries old illuminate the warm and hospitable modern Arab culture of the present-day.

When you join us on this once-in-a-lifetime trip, you will experience the most well-preserved Roman city outside of Italy, a Martian landscape on the ancient trade route to the Orient, the 21 minerals found only in the therapeutic mud of the Dead Sea, and of course Petra, one of the new seven wonders of the world.

More than that, we will connect with locals throughout the country to better understand life in a culture so different from our own. Woven through all of these is the unparalleled opportunity to experience the warm hospitality of Jordanians and day-to-day life in a safe, friendly, and modern Middle Eastern country.

The first time I visited, I felt completely rewarded for taking a leap into a country that had previously not held a place on my bucket list. When I returned to the United States, I felt that more North Americans should have the opportunity to experience the safe, vibrant, and perspective-shifting destination that is Jordan.

Whether a trip to the Middle East is a tiny step or a giant leap outside of your comfort zone, I hope you’ll join us. Trust me that this exclusive trip to Jordan will be an incredible travel experience that will stay with you for years to come.

cath treasury

Yalla! (Let's Go!)
Cathleen


Sunday 6 october

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Amman



one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world

 

day 1

salaam and welcome to jordan

Overnight: amman rotana

 

Cathleen and Ramzi, your fearless leaders

I want to take a moment to introduce the cultural insider who is making a dynamic and immersive trip like this possible, Ramzi Nawafleh. By sheer luck, Ramzi was my guide on my first visit to Jordan. I have always been thoroughly impressed by his ability to invite us into his culture while guiding us and genuinely caring for the well-being of our group. He and I will accompany the group 24/7 from the time you arrive until it is time to board your return flight home.

Together, Ramzi and I bring you an in-depth knowledge of the destination, and more than two decades spent leading experiential trips. We aim to create a journey for you, our guests, that is engaging, illuminating, unique, fun, and perspective-shifting as we explore Jordan’s wonders in comfort and style.

Welcome to Jordan! Those arriving on the suggested group flights on Royal Jordanian non-stop from Chicago or New York JFK will be met in the terminal by our wonderful airport assistant, Mohammad, who will guide the group through passport control and baggage claim.

Visitor visas are required for Americans but will be handled by our staff in advance of your arrival. After you’ve claimed your bags, we’ll meet our guides, Cathleen and Ramzi, and in our private minibus, we will be brought to our hotel to check in and refresh.

Our home for three 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 the hotel overlooking all of Amman.

After getting to know each other over our first meal together, it’s time for a good night's sleep in anticipation of the adventures to come.

 

Included Meals: Dinner


monday 7 october

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Jerash

the pompeii of the middle east

Photo Credit: Maarten van der Voorde

day 2

jerash & amman

overnight: amman rotana

Photo Credit: Maarten van der Voorde

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

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 will find ourselves standing in the middle of the best-preserved Roman city outside of Italy. Jerash 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 and take in the views. The Roman infrastructure is evident here, seen in the city layout and the wagon ruts on the original streets you'll walk along. On our privately guided walking tour through the ancient city, Ramzi will show us the influence of the Byzantines, Greeks, and others who have called Jerash home throughout the past 6500 years.

After exploring the ruins of Jerash, we'll enjoy a family-style lunch nearby at the Lebanese HouseThe 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 such as fresh hummus, moutabel (maybe you know it as baba ghanouj), labneh, tabbouleh, falafel, kibbeh, and more. 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, now called Citadel Hill, Ramzi will lead us among ancient ruins left by empires of the past, including caves from the Bronze Age and a palace from the Umayyad rulers of the 7th century AD. In the center of Amman, we will also see two Roman theaters that are still in use today. Amman is also home to Jordan's allotment of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

You can continue to explore the shops along Rainbow Street and in the heart of downtown Amman, or you may opt to go back to the hotel for a refresh before dinner. Tonight, we are headed to a dinner at one of Amman’s most famous restaurants, Sufra, to taste Jordanian specialties.

 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

tuesday 8 october

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The Jordan Valley

Home to the religious sites of jordan

Photo Credit: Maarten van der Voorde

day 3

Bethany & Iraq al Amir

overnight: amman rotana

More adventures await us in the Jordan Valley. Our first stop is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, the place where Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth was baptized. 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 visit the nearby Iraq-Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative. 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. Iraq-Al-Amir is one of the organizations working to close this gap by creating sustainable opportunities for women outside the home.

Here, the aims of the cooperative are to provide meaningful work opportunities for local women, preserve Jordanian traditions, and protect the environment, while educating the public. We’ll have the opportunity to engage with the women as they share their expertise in traditional craft. We simply must have lunch here, as the women are also famous in Jordan for their homemade lunches made with local ingredients.

Once we arrive back to our Amman hotel, you have the remainder of the afternoon and evening to go out and enjoy the city’s dining and arts scene. We are happy to share our favorite recommendations with you!

 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

 

wednesday 9 october

nebo

Mount Nebo & Madaba

Stunning views and byzantine mosaics

Photo Credit: Maarten van der Voorde

day 4

madaba & mount nebo

overnight: kempinski aqaba

As our adventures continue, it’s time to bid farewell to Amman! This morning, we are ascending to more than 2500 feet above sea level 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. 

A trip to Jordan wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Church of St. George, home of 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 flat in Madaba for lunch and cultural exchange with a family. Maha is our gracious hostess - you will find her to be a brilliant and accomplished woman as well as an excellent chef!

After lunch, we drive 3.75 hours south, with stops en-route, to Aqaba, Jordan’s gateway to the Red Sea. 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. 

Our hotel, the Kempinski Aqaba, has a perfect location on the Red Sea with a private beach and infinity pools overlooking the water. Once we arrive and check in, you will have time to refresh before we gather at the hotel for dinner with a view.

 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

thursday 10 october

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Aqaba

gateway to the red sea

Photo Credit: Maarten van der Voorde

day 5

aqaba & the red sea

overnight: kempinski aqaba

This morning, we'll experience the Red Sea in the best way possible - by yacht. Sunbathe and relax on board, or optionally snorkel the clear waters of one of the world's best warm-water coral reefs (snorkeling equipment provided). 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.

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, be sure to catch the views of the sunset from the hotel over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

 

friday 11 october

wadirum

Wadi Rum

An otherworldly place known as the valley of the moon

Photo Credit: Donny de Rijke

day 6

wadi rum

overnight: the old village resort

Enjoy breakfast with views over the Red Sea, and 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  beautiful desert home. After lunch at a family-owned Bedouin camp, our local desert guides will take us on a 4-wheel drive excursion through the moonscape terrain T. E. Lawrence rightly described as "vast, echoing and God-like."

We'll watch the sun set over the red horizon, and then we will enjoy the warm hospitality of our Bedouin hosts as they prepare for us a traditional desert feast, including zarb, food cooked in a traditional manner underground, music and folk dancing. 

After dinner, take a rest or practice your Arabic with us on the 1.25 hour ride to Wadi Musa, the city at the gates of Petra. 

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 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 village has been fully restored and is now operated as a hotel by members of his tribe. 

 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

saturday 12 october

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Petra

trading capital of the ancient nabateans
One of the new seven wonders of the world

Photo Credit: Maarten van der Voorde

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. 

We will have lunch in Petra, and afterward you have the opportunity to take an optional iconic hike to the Monastery.  Then return to the hotel to refresh.

Tonight, we will break bread with locals as we are graciously hosted by Ramzi's family for a homestyle dinner. 

day 7

petra

overnight: the old village resort

 
 
 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 
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Little Petra

an off-the-beaten-path site of the nabatean people

Photo Credit: Maarten van der Voorde

day 8

little petra to the dead sea

overnight: kempinski ishtar
dead sea

After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we will drive 20 minutes to visit Little Petra, a suburb of the ancient capital city of Petra that most visitors miss. Whereas Petra is vast, Little Petra, or Siq-Al-Barid, as it is called, is compact, intimate, and well-preserved.

Departing Little Petra, we will make the 3-hour drive to the shore of the Dead Sea and check in to the beautiful Kempinski Ishtar Dead Sea Resort for two nights. Enjoy the views of the Dead Sea from your room, or from one of the infinity pools. You have the remainder of the day and evening on your own to enjoy one of the many bars and restaurants onsite, including one with live music and drinks overlooking the sea.

 

Included Meals: Breakfast


sunday 14 october

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The Dead Sea

more than 1400 feet below sea level

Photo Credit: Maarten van der Voorde

day 9

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. Visit the resort's private beach to lather yourself in mineral-rich Dead Sea mud and then enjoy the incredible sensation of floating in the water nearly 10 times saltier than the oceans. 

Lunch today is on your own as you enjoy the amenities of the resort at your own pace. Speaking of amenities, the spa at the Kempinski Ishtar is the largest in the Middle East, at over 100,000 square feet. Their treatments feature the one-of-a-kind minerals and mud of the Dead Sea.  

Tonight, we will gather for our farewell dinner at the hotel. We will reflect on our journey together as we take in the incredible sunset over the Dead Sea.

After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we will drive 20 minutes to visit Little Petra, a suburb of the ancient capital city of Petra that most visitors miss. Whereas Petra is vast, Little Petra, or Siq-Al-Barid, as it is called, is compact, intimate, and well-preserved.

Departing Little Petra, we will make the 3-hour drive to the shore of the Dead Sea and check in to the beautiful Kempinski Ishtar Dead Sea Resort for two nights. Enjoy the views of the Dead Sea from your room, or from one of the infinity pools. You have the remainder of the evening on your own to enjoy one of the many bars and restaurants onsite, including one with live music, drinks, and hookah overlooking the sea.

 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

 

monday 15 october

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Until Next Time...

Photo Credit: Maarten van der Voorde

day 10

safe travels home
 

Enjoy your breakfast with the sunrise on the Dead Sea before we are driven 45 minutes from the resort to the Queen Alia International Airport to catch either nonstop flight on Royal Jordanian heading to Chicago or to New York. 

We wish you safe travels home, and many happy returns to Jordan!

 

Included Meals: Breakfast,

 

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FAQ

frequently asked questions

Photo Credit: Maarten van der Voorde

Is Jordan safe?

Yes, Jordan is a safe country with secure borders, statistically safer than most locales in the U.S. It is known as the Switzerland of the Middle East for its ability to maintain relationships with the many differing viewpoints of the region and the world. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has continually welcomed people of different religions and ethnicities, resulting in a tolerant and diverse populace. As in the U.S., you will find security screenings when entering government buildings, and these measures extend to the 4 and 5-star hotels throughout the country.

Is it safe to drink the water?

It is recommended for visitors to drink bottled water. This is the preference of most Jordanians too. Bottled water will be provided in the hotels and on the bus. 

Do I need to bring cash with me?

The local currency is the Jordanian Dinar. At the time of this writing, 1JOD = $1.40 USD Upon landing in Amman, you’ll have an opportunity to exchange currency and/or use an ATM. Stores and restaurants accept credit cards, but if you are interested in visiting a souq (open market) it is best to have local currency on hand. All meals are included on the trip, with the exception of one lunch and two dinners. (We didn't include them since people often complain that they aren't hungry in Jordan because of all of the eating that we do!)

Note that the easiest way to obtain local currency with the best exchange rate and minimal fees is to use an ATM. If you have questions about good debit or credit cards for international travel, Cathleen is happy to offer insight.

What will the weather be?

Jordan is a desert country, so in early October you can expect warm, dry days (70s to low 90s, depending on where we are) and cool dry nights in the 60s-70s. Be sure to bring a jacket or sweater for the evenings. It’s a good idea to dress in layers, as places like Petra can be chilly in the morning shadows but warm once the sun is high. When we are at the Red Sea, it will be plenty warm enough to swim or snorkel, with temps in the 80s and a water temperature in the 70s.

Are there certain things I’m not allowed to wear?

Jordan is a moderate Islamic country where you will encounter a spectrum of clothing choice, from western jeans and polos to traditional robes for men and abayas for women, and everything in between. It’s not necessary to wear a head covering, but an overall tone of modesty is considered respectful in local culture. 

What does this mean in practical terms? 

Yoga or workout clothes are acceptable in the hotel fitness center, but not in public. Western bathing suits are fine as we will be at private hotel beaches and pools. You are welcome to bring shorts/skirts/dresses, but please err on the side of the conservative (i.e. leave the short shorts, high hemlines, low necklines, etc. at home). We want you to be comfortable, but we also want locals, especially women, to feel comfortable in their interactions with us.

Do people drink alcohol? Do they smoke?

Alcohol is readily available at hotels, most restaurants, and bars in the cities. As Jordan is an Islamic country, alcohol is not popular with locals. Instead, it is common for people to gather and smoke a hookah (also known as shisha, water pipe, or hubbly bubbly) with friends. Smoking is more common than it is in the United States, and is often allowed inside bars and some restaurants. Our hotel rooms will be non-smoking rooms (unless both travelers request otherwise at time of booking) but be aware that we will encounter cigarette smoke in our travels.

Is it a problem that I don’t know any Arabic?

Nope, you’ll be fine! English is widely spoken, especially by the individuals you will encounter in the tourism industry. Street signs are in Arabic and English. Ramzi will be teaching us useful Arabic words and phrases, and you may find it useful to download Google Translate’s offline Arabic dictionary.

 

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Trip Details

Photo Credit: Maarten van der Voorde

Pricing:

The cost of the tour is $3597 per person based on double occupancy.

To reserve a single room, the supplemental cost is $695 per person. If you would prefer to be paired with a roommate, we are happy to accommodate your request if availability allows.

Note: Travel insurance is mandatory and is not included in the trip cost, though we can assist you in arranging it. Flights are not included in the above pricing.

Payment Schedule:

  • $300 per person nonrefundable deposit is due within 14 days of trip registration

  • Payment of $1500 is due by August 4, 2019

  • Balance of $1797 is due by September 4, 2019

Payment can be made by check or credit card. Payments by check or bank transfer receive a discount of $100.

Note: The itinerary is based upon a minimum of 10 guests, and a maximum of 20. In the event that this range is not reached, a modified itinerary will be offered, or you may request a refund of your tour cost. We are not able to refund flights, insurance, or anything other than exact tour cost.

Included in the Trip:

  • 9 nights accommodations in a double occupancy guest room:

    • Amman Rotana - 3 nights

    • Kempinski Aqaba - 2 nights

    • Old Village Resort (Deluxe Room) - 2 nights

    • 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

  • 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 included activities, meals, and porterage

  • All entry/usage fees for included sites

  • Applicable taxes and service charges

Not Included:

  • Airfare

  • Travel Insurance (mandatory)

  • Bus Driver and Tour Director gratuities ($5 USD per person per day for driver; $15 USD per person per day for tour director)

  • Meals not included on itinerary

  • Items of a personal nature

  • Spa treatments, hotel incidental expenses, etc.

  • Alcohol

  • Anything else not specifically indicated in the above inclusions