Discover six amazing ways to explore Western Asia’s most inviting oasis. By Rina Chandarana
Laced with striking desert landscapes, the Arab Kingdom of Jordan offers ample opportunities for total immersion in its diverse history. Experience all of it: see spectacular ruins, sample sumptuous cuisine, soak up local culture and glamp in the heart of nature. Peaceful and safe, the land of ancient kings, traders, prophets and pilgrims is yours to explore.
Due north in Jerash, visit icons of antiquity that include representation from the Bronze, Roman, Byzantine and various Muslim periods. Set among the mountains, you’ll find the ancient city of Gerasa, one of the most well-preserved sites of Roman architecture outside of Italy. Paved streets, hilltop temples, theatres, public squares, plazas, baths, city walls, towers and gates transport travelers over 2,000 years back in time. Catch the exhilarating, daily reenactment of Roman games, complete with horse-drawn chariot races and gladiator battles.
Jordan is a land of interfaith coexistence, where Islamic minarets sit near Christian sites. Visit the Biblical site near Mount Carmel where the Transfiguration is said to have taken place. In the Christian village of Madaba, see the ancient mosaic map of the Holy Land and the remains of a Byzantine church. Look out over the landscape at Mount Nebo, where Moses viewed the promised land. The region of Bethany is where the historic John the Baptist lived.
Accept the invitation to a home-cooked meal, a glass of warm tea infused with fresh mint or a cup of thick, cardamom-flavored coffee. Jordanian hospitality dates back to days along the region’s ancient trade routes. Camel caravans carrying frankincense and spices on the King’s Highway were offered food and water before resuming their journeys. Family bonds are important—meals are a time-honored way to gather everyone together over shared dishes of fragrant rice, fresh vegetables and meats.
Stroll the pathways of bustling Amman. The young and modern capital city brims with opportunities to explore historical sites and haute boutiques. Wander through the souks to score sparkling jewelry and handcrafted treasures. Breathe in the scent of pungent spices, and then sample mouth-watering cuisine. Creamy hummus and fresh fattoush salad are always on menu in one of the city’s many restaurants.
Lost City of Petra
Travel through winding canyons to see the awe-inspiring view of the 2,000-year-old red sandstone city of Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Carved into the cliffs during the third century, it was forgotten for 1,000 years and then rediscovered in 1812. Also known as the Treasury, this complex is a multihued labyrinth of tombs and temples, and an imposing amphitheater. Reach this hidden gem by making your way through a narrow rift.
Launch your exploration of Petra at the Movenpick Resort. Marble floors and fountains, opulent inlaid furniture, and live music will take you back to the time when archaeologists like Thomas Edward Lawrence roamed these deserts searching for ancient artifacts. His life adventures and detailed writings about the Middle East inspired the Oscar-winning film Lawrence of Arabia.
Nights Under the Stars
In the southwest valley of Wadi Rum stay in a secluded Bedouin-style tent, surrounded by towering rock formations that punctuate the stunning light of the sunset. Chat with new friends under the starry desert sky. Luxury tents boast showers for freshening up after a day exploring the hot sands, and plush low cushions for sitting and sipping nightcaps. The Bedouins still live in the area around Petra, following their traditional lifestyle and keen to share this captivating place with visitors.
An oasis of healing and splendor awaits at the resorts that focus on using natural elements. Relax and rejuvenate at the Evason Ma’In Hot Springs Resort & Spa’s hot spring waterfall. Experience the sensation of weightlessness during a dip in the saline Dead Sea in Madaba Governorate, the world’s oldest natural spa and lowest point on earth. These deep, blue waters are believed to be healing and beneficial for skin. Kempinski Ishtar’s signature massage uses Dead Sea salt and mud to pamper guests. Succumb to a feeling of profound wellbeing while looking out to the arid landscape.
Take your water bottle with you to reduce your consumption of plastic. – Nicole Porto, Luxury Travel Expert