HIGHLIGHTS OF JORDAN: FOUR DESTINATIONS FOR YOUR BUCKET LIST
Scattered with ancient archaeological sites and magnificent landscapes, Jordan is one of the Middle East’s most alluring (and safest) destinations. It encompasses captivating swathes of desert and the marine-rich waters of the Red Sea, not to mention ancient kingdoms that have flourished in secret. Jordan is also renowned for its incredibly hospitable people who will make any visit to this fascinating country a memorable adventure...
Hidden amidst towering cliffs in Jordan’s southwestern desert, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed caravan city of Petra is simply breathtaking. Built by the Nabatean Kingdom, it’s been inhabited since prehistoric times, with intricately carved tombs and temples that have been etched into the pink sandstone walls.
Entering Petra is like stepping into another world, with the long and winding Siq eventually opening out at the towering Treasury building where Bedouin people and their camels await. From soaking up the views from the High Place of Sacrifices to watching the day’s last rays ignite the Monastery a deep orange, Petra is a place you’ll never forget.
Also known as the “Valley of the Moon”, Wadi Rum encompasses a spectacular tract of desert wilderness in the south of Jordan where monumental sandstone rock formations rise above wind-carved dunes. Follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia as you visit the natural watering hole named after this legendary British soldier and witness prehistoric inscriptions carved in the rocky chasms.
While you can visit Wadi Rum on camelback during a day trip, most opt to spend the night in one of the many Bedouin camps that dot the landscape. Not only does this allow you to experience Wadi Rum at its most photogenic (sunrise and sunset), but encounter the unique traditions and hospitality of Jordan’s desert-dwellers.
Dana Biosphere Reserve
The largest nature reserve in Jordan, Dana sprawls across more than 300 square kilometres and encompasses four different bio-geographic zones. It boasts an incredible diversity of plant life, with species from across Europe, Africa and Asia converging in its rugged canyons that are framed by towering cliff faces.
For those wanting to stretch their legs, the trail that leads from the tiny town of Dana to the Feynan Eco-Lodge offers an exceptional day hike and the opportunity to meet Bedouin herders as they lead their goats towards new grazing pastures. If you’re lucky, you might also witness Nubian ibex, caracals or Syrian serin, just a few of the threatened species that call the Dana wilderness “home”.
'A Bedouin herder leads his goats through the Dana Biosphere Reserve'
While Jordan is a predominantly Islamic country today, the charming town of Madaba is home to the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, which houses a mosaic map of the Holy Land that dates to the 6th century. It draws pilgrims and history buffs of all faiths from across the globe to witness this treasure of early Christianity.
In addition to the floor mosaic and the church’s small interpretive centre, Madaba’s narrow, winding streets harbour other highlights. These include artefacts and remains from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic eras, reflecting the storied history of Jordan.