August is one of the hottest months of the year, with temperatures exceeding 105°F (40°C) in places, although the famous dry, hot khamseen wind rarely blows in August.
The higher elevations will be cooler than lowland areas. Amman averages an agreeable 81°F (27°C), and Petra is a few degrees warmer, but with some days reaching into the nineties. In the south, Aqaba bakes at an average 100°F (38°C), with some days topping 115°F (45°C), accompanied by an intolerable hot summer wind, and humidity is high. The eastern desert areas and Dead Sea have similar temperatures to Aqaba, but without the humidity.
Fortunately, the summer air is dry and can still be comfortable. Pack a lightweight wardrobe, bring your shade hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and be sure to drink lots of water. And do as the locals do: regard noon to three in the afternoon as siesta time indoors.
Crowds & Costs
Most international visitors skip Jordan and the Middle East in mid-summer. Hence, the most popular tourist sites, such as Petra and Wadi Rum, can now be enjoyed in relative solitude without the tour-bus hordes.
As this is the low season, airfares come down and hotels decrease their rates. Although prices are now at their best, note that many restaurants and other places that rely on the tourist trade close for the low season.
Where to Go
The sizzling heat of mid-summer is a good time to focus on Amman’s air-conditioned cultural sites. Culture vultures will want to check out the Jordan Museum, tangibly regaling the country’s historical epic; the National Gallery of Fine Arts, for a sense of Jordan’s contemporary art scene; and the exquisite King Abdullah Mosque. And don’t miss the Royal Automobile Museum, showcasing the late King Hussein’s personal collection of cars and motorbikes.
Head to Madaba, an easy-going market town 20 miles (30 km) southwest of Amman, to marvel at the superbly preserved Byzantine-era mosaics for which it is known. You won’t want to miss, most famously, the impressive sixth-century mosaic map of the Holy Land on the floor of St George’s Church. But roaming the narrow streets, lined with old Ottoman stone houses, you’ll come across many other mosaics, often more vibrantly colored and complete. The mosaics date back to the 3rd century AD, but reached their golden age during the 6th century. Don’t skip the intricate mosaics at the Church of the Apostles (578 AD), the Crypt of St Elianos (595 AD), and the Church of the Virgin (595 AD).
Head to Mount Nebo (2,330 ft/710 m) for sensational panoramic vistas over the Jordan Valley and Israel. According to biblical legend, this is the mountain considered from where Moses saw the Promised Landed before he died. Explore the mountaintop church, with its beautiful mosaic murals, atop the mountain. And the nearby Christian town of Madaba entices with its excellent La Storia religious and folklore museum and its Church of St George.
What to Do
While visiting Petra by day is an incredible experience, it will be extremely hot in July. Visit by night when it’s cool to experience a magical new dimension. Candles will light your way through the Siq, guiding you to the Treasury to witness a traditional Bedouin performance in a breathtaking setting lit by more than 1,500 candles.
Make a soak at the Ma’in Hot Springs your soothing reward after hiking in the Mujib Biosphere Reserve, of which it’s a part. Enshrining 82 sq ml (212 sq km) of rugged desert terrain between the King’s Highway and the Dead Sea, it protects seven wadis and the wildlife their precious waters sustain. Keep your eyes underfoot for the desert cobra, and your fingers crossed for a very rare sighting of the Syrian wolf or striped hyena. Among the most popular of the reserve’s many trails is the challenging 9 mile (15 km) Mujib Trail.
Travel into the eastern desert or Wadi Rum for stargazing by night. The crystal-clear desert sky is so unbelievably dark you’ll gasp at the Milky Way galaxy and its billions of stars, made more humbling by the absolute desert silence. In July and August you can see the prolific Perseids Meteor Shower streak across the sky. Unless there’s a bright moon, expect to see dozens of fireballs per hour as space debris ejected by the comet Swift-Tuttle fall to earth and burn up in the atmosphere.
Maal Hijra. This changeable date (August 20, in 2020) follows the lunar calendar and marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year. The public holiday is cause for celebration across Jordan.
Traveling to Jordan in August? Check out these great itineraries
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