Take an unforgettable journey through Jordan's ancient history on this far-reaching 8-day itinerary. Starting from the capital of Amman, you'll discover dramatic desert castles and ruined Roman cities before heading south into the famed Golden Triangle. Here you'll explore the wonders of Petra, ride camels across the deserts of Wadi Rum, stroll through the Red Sea port of Aqaba, and end your trip on the otherworldly shores of the Dead Sea.

Highlights

  • Discover desert castles & Roman ruins near Amman
  • See the breathtaking ancient mosaics of Madaba
  • Climb to the towering Monastery of Petra
  • Ride a camel through the sand dunes of Wadi Rum
  • Explore the Red Sea port of Aqaba

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Amman Amman
Day 2 Day Trip to the Desert Castles & Iraq al-Amir Amman
Day 3 Day Trip to Jerash, Ajloun & Umm Qais Amman
Day 4 Transfer to Petra via Madaba, Mount Nebo & Kerak Petra
Day 5 Discover Petra, Transfer to Wadi Rum Wadi Rum
Day 6 Explore Wadi Rum: Hot Air Balloon, Jeep Excursion & Camel Ride Wadi Rum
Day 7 Transfer to the Dead Sea via Aqaba The Dead Sea
Day 8 The Dead Sea to Amman, Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Amman

The Temple of Hercules overlooking Amman
Welcome to Jordan! Upon arrival at the Queen Alia International Airport, you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel in the capital of Amman. The nation's largest city, Amman has been inhabited since the Bronze Age and is full of cultural and historic highlights. 
 
Depending on your arrival time, feel free to explore Amman at your own pace. In the evening, head to dinner at a local restaurant to sample Jordanian specialties like mansaf (rice topped with lamb and pine nuts), Arabic sweets, and mint tea. 

Day 2: Day Trip to the Desert Castles & Iraq al-Amir

The dramatic desert castle of Harrana
Today you'll strike out into the black basalt desert east of Amman to explore the Desert Castles—isolated pavilions, caravan stations, and hunting lodges built under the reign of the Umayyads (661-750 BCE). Today these evocative ruins and fortresses stand as a testament to the flourishing beginnings of Islamic-Arab civilization. Start with a visit to the spectacularly well-preserved Harrana Castle (Qasr Kharana), then explore the domes, arches, and frescoes of Amra Palace (Quseir Amra) and the imposing basalt fortifications of Azraq Castle (Qsar al-Azraq).
 
In the afternoon, you'll continue west of Amman into a lush valley to find the ruins of one of the most important Hellenistic monuments in the Middle East. Iraq al-Amir (meaning "the caves of the prince”) is an antiquity site dating back to the 2nd century BCE, where you can find a carefully restored Hellenistic villa that predates the Romans and mysterious cave dwellings first inhabited 10,000 years ago.

After a full day of fascinating history and discovery, your driver will take you back to Amman for the evening.
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Day 3: Day Trip to Jerash, Ajloun & Umm Qais

Roman ruins in Jerash
Start today's tour with a transfer north to Jerash, one of the best-preserved Greco-Roman cities in the Middle East. Spend time wandering the extensive site and be sure to check out the pristine remains of two amphitheaters, the north-south Colonnaded Street, and the Hippodrome (the site of ancient chariot races).

Continue to Ajloun, in the highlands, where you can explore the 12th-century Ajloun Castle, a fortress built to ward off the Crusader armies at the vital trade and pilgrimage intersection between Jerusalem, Cairo, Damascus, and Mecca. Roam the ramparts and enjoy sweeping views over the Levant.

Another hour's drive north takes you to the ancient site of Umm Qais, a beautiful city overlooking the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan Valley that was founded by the Ancient Greeks and later settled by the Romans. Once known as Gadara (one of the frontier Decapolis cities of Rome), the site was widely believed by Christians to be where Jesus performed the Miracle of the Gadarene Swine. Umm Qais' splendor was also remarked upon by several classical poets and philosophers, with one even deeming it the "New Athens." Step back in time as you stroll column-flanked streets and take in the far-reaching views, then return to Amman in the afternoon and spend the evening at your leisure.

Day 4: Transfer to Petra via Madaba, Mount Nebo & Kerak

Ancient stone mosaics at Madaba

 After breakfast at your hotel, you'll check out and meet your driver for today's journey south. Along the way, you'll stop in Madaba to check out its intricate Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, including the spectacular Madaba Map, the oldest preserved mosaic map of the Holy Land. Nearby, the Madaba Archaeological Park preserves the mosaic-rich Church of the Virgin Mary and artifacts from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic eras.

Continue to Mount Nebo, an elevated ridge of the Abarim range said to be where Moses took in the view of the Promised Land. Follow in his footsteps and look out at the Dead Sea and beyond, before eventually making your way to the Memorial Church of Moses, a modern structure that now houses excavated relics from the region.

Carry on south along the King's Highway to Kerak to visit the impressive Crusader castle of the same name. Exploring the fortress-like structure provides an opportunity to experience the vaulted halls and passageways typical of the era, a remarkable insight into the architectural and military prowess of the Crusaders. When you're ready, continue to Petra where you'll check in to your hotel for the night.  

Day 5: Discover Petra, Transfer to Wadi Rum

Marvel at the ancient Nabataean stonework of Petra's Treasury

Today you'll explore Jordan's beloved archeological treasure: the lost city of Petra. Known as the "Rose City" for the area's distinctive red sandstone, it's easy to see why Petra was named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Its intricate architectural design is hundreds of years old, and remarkably well maintained. 

Enter through the Siq, a dramatically narrow gorge flanked by towering cliffs, and spend your day wandering at your leisure through Petra's seemingly endless temples, tombs, and colonnaded streets. Navigate the impressive water conduit system of the historic Nabataean city, paying a visit to Qasr al-Bint, a grand temple that was once the population's primary place of worship. After a two-hour guided tour, you'll have free time to explore the canyons and temples at your own pace. 

If you're feeling adventurous, climb your way up the 800 steps to the Monastery, Petra's largest and lesser-visited monument. For a stunning view overlooking the Treasury and jagged mountains beyond, hike your way up the steep stone-carved staircase to the top of Jabal al-Khubtha.

After getting your fill of Petra, your driver will take you south into the wilderness of the Wadi Rum, an expanse of desert dubbed the "Valley of the Moon" by Lawrence of Arabia. Along the two-hour drive, you'll pass through red valleys, rock canyons, and dunes to reach a Bedouin-style camp, where you'll enjoy a traditional meal and spend the night sleeping under the stars.

Day 6: Explore Wadi Rum: Hot Air Balloon, Jeep Excursion & Camel Ride

Camp under desert skies in the Wadi Rum

Rise early this morning for a breathtaking hot air balloon ride over the desert. After breakfast, you'll set out in a sturdy Jeep for an off-road excursion that takes you deeper into the UNESCO-protected Wadi Rum. Travel through valleys, rock canyons, dunes, and deserts, stopping to check out rock inscriptions and petroglyphs as well as majestic views. Spend a little time at each stop to hike and scramble and explore at your own pace. Along the way, you'll visit desert oases, see 2,000-year-old Kufic rock art, and learn about the history of the area and the local Bedouin culture. 

After lunch and an afternoon rest back at the camp, your "ship of the desert" awaits, as you mount up for a two-hour camel ride through the sands with your Bedouin guide.

Day 7: Transfer to the Dead Sea via Aqaba

Spend your final evening on the shores of the Dead Sea
Enjoy a desert sunrise this morning and see more of the Wadi Rum with another Jeep ride through the dunes. Afterward, your driver will pick you up from camp and transfer you to nearby Aqaba on the Red Sea. Inhabited since 4,000 BCE, Aqaba is Jordan's only coastal city and is home to colorful market stalls, delicious food, and, of course, access to the water. Here you can spend some time exploring the port, or embark on one of the many watersport excursions on offer. Hop aboard a glass-bottom boat to enjoy views of abundant marine life, try your hand at parasailing or diving, or go for a leisurely snorkel through the clear waters. 
 
In the afternoon, your driver will take you north to the lowest point on earth: the Dead Sea. Get settled into your hotel, then spend the rest of your final day in Jordan at your leisure—floating in the salty waters, enjoying a full-body mud treatment, or relaxing in the sun.

Day 8: Transfer to Amman & Departure

Sunset over Amman

Take advantage of your last morning in Jordan with one more dip in the Dead Sea. When the time comes, your driver will be waiting to transfer you to the Queen Alia International Airport for your departing flight. Safe travels!

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