Get off the beaten path on this 9-day road trip through Jordan's cultural highlights and natural wonders. Striking out from the capital of Amman, you'll explore the Roman ruins of Jerash, hike through the breathtaking nature reserves of Aljoun and Dana, and admire the rock-cut temples of Petra. After an unforgettable night of desert camping in the Wadi Rum, end your trip floating in the healing waters of the Dead Sea.

Highlights

  • Explore the ancient ruins of Jerash & Umm Qais
  • Hike through the Aljoun Forest & the Dana Biosphere
  • See the wondrous "Rose City" of Petra
  • Camp with the Bedouin in the Wadi Rum Desert
  • Float in the tranquil waters of the Dead Sea

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Jordan! Amman
Day 2 Explore Ancient Jerash, Drive to the Aljoun Forest Reserve Ajloun
Day 3 Abraham Path Hike, Drive to Umm Qais Umm Qais
Day 4 Explore Umm Qais, Drive to Madaba & Mount Nebo Umm Qais
Day 5 Dana Biosphere Hike, Drive to Petra via Kerak & Shobak Petra
Day 6 Discover Petra Petra
Day 7 Wadi Rum Desert Safari & Camping Wadi Rum
Day 8 Visit Lot's Cave, Drive to the Dead Sea The Dead Sea
Day 9  Drive to Amman & Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Jordan

Discover the Temple of Hercules on the Amman Citadel

Welcome to Jordan! Upon arrival at the Queen Alia International Airport, pick up your rental car and drive 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, you can spend the remainder of the day settling in, or head out to explore the historic Old City and tour the magnificent Amman Citadel (Jabal al Qal'a) and the 2nd-century Roman Theater, two of the most famous archaeological sites in the capital. Stroll amid colorful wares and aromatic spices in Amman's old souks (markets), before returning to your hotel for the evening.

Day 2: Explore Ancient Jerash, Drive to the Aljoun Forest Reserve

Roman ruins in Jerash

Hit the road today, driving 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 well-preserved 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 the sweeping views over the Levant.

In the afternoon, you'll continue to the RSCN Ajloun Forest Reserve, a protected ecosystem of evergreen oaks, pines, and wild pistachio trees. Go for a stroll among the wildflowers and woodlands, then get settled into one of the beautiful cabins on the edge of the reserve for the night.

Day 3: Abraham Path Hike, Drive to Umm Qais

Hike along the ancient Abraham Path 

This morning starts with a visit to the famous cave of Anjara and the Church of Our Lady of the Mountain. Afterward, you'll head back to the Ajloun visitor's center to meet your local hiking guide and set out on a trek along the ancient Abraham Path. Hike through stunning scenery to reach Tel Mar Elias (Elijah's Hill), where you find ruins of one of the oldest churches in Jordan. After breaking for a packed lunch, you'll return to Aljoun and get back on the road. Drive north into the Irbid region to reach the town of Umm Qais, where you'll spend the night in a local guesthouse.

Day 4: Explore Umm Qais, Drive to Madaba & Mount Nebo

Ancient stone mosaics in Madaba

After breakfast, discover 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." 

After a stop at the Yarmouk Reserve for breathtaking panoramic views over Jordan, Syria, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories, you'll make your way south to the city of Madaba. Discover its 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 over the Dead Sea and beyond, then visit the Memorial Church of Moses, a modern structure that now houses excavated relics from the region.

As the sun sets on a busy day of sightseeing, check into your hotel in Madaba for a well-earned rest.

Day 5: Dana Biosphere Hike, Drive to Petra via Kerak & Shobak

Views over the Dana Biosphere Reserve

Carry on south this morning, driving along the King's Highway to reach the impressive Crusader castle of Kerak. 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. 

Next, it's on to the Dana Biosphere Reserve, where you'll meet with a guide for a 3.5-hour hike through Jordan's largest nature reserve and visit the 15th-century stone village of Dana. The reserve covers four different bio-geographical zones: Mediterranean, Sudanian penetration, Irano-Turanian, and Saharo-Arabian. Take in the area's incredible vegetation and biodiversity, including acacia, Phoenician juniper, and evergreen oak.

After lunch, you'll continue south, passing the ruins of Shobak Castle. Built by 12th-century crusaders, this fortress withstood attacks by Saladin until he finally overtook it. You can even see what is purported to be Saladin's simple throne in the catacombs, along with Islamic tablets and Christian carvings.

As evening falls, you'll reach your final destination for the night: the lost city of Petra. Get checked into your hotel, and rest up for tomorrow's excursion into this ancient wonder.

Day 6: Discover Petra

Marvel at the ancient Nabataean stonework of Petra's Treasury

Today you'll explore Petra, Jordan's beloved archeological treasure. 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 city, paying a visit to Qasr al-Bint, a grand temple that was once the population's primary place of worship. Discover the Street of Facades, a row of monumental Nabataean tombs, as you work your way through the archaeological site discovering the amphitheater and caves.

Break for lunch, before climbing 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 a full day, you can return to your hotel to rest up and cool down before venturing out again for an unforgettable candlelit walk along the Siq.

Day 7: Wadi Rum Desert Safari & Camping

Camp under the stars in the Wadi Rum 

This morning you'll be picked up by a private driver and transferred into the wilderness of Wadi Rum, an expanse of desert dubbed the "Valley of the Moon" by Lawrence of Arabia. Here you'll meet your Bedouin hosts to begin a Jeep excursion into this UNESCO-protected site. 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, taking in a desert sunset and camel ride before returning to your Bedouin camp for an evening of dinner by the campfire under a twinkling night sky.

Day 8: Visit Lot's Cave, Drive to the Dead Sea

Spend your final evening on the shores of the Dead Sea

After waking to a desert sunrise, you'll be transferred back to your car and begin driving north, stopping to see the traditional site of Lot's Cave on a steep hillside near the town of Ghor Safi. Remains excavated from the cave show it was first used 5,000 years ago, and it's said to be the place where Abraham's nephew Lot and his daughters sheltered after fleeing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. 

Continue driving north to reach the shores of the Dead Sea, one of the most spectacular natural and spiritual landscapes in the world. It is the lowest body of water on earth, the lowest point on earth, and the world's richest source of natural salts, hiding wonderful treasures that accumulated throughout thousands of years. 

After a scenic drive through a landscape of otherworldly, arid hills, you'll reach your hotel, where you can spend 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 9: Drive to Amman & Departure

Twilight over Amman

Depending on your schedule, enjoy a final morning relaxing on the shores of the Dead Sea. Then it's time to drive back to Amman's Queen Alia International Airport to drop off your rental car and catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

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