Trip Number: 13795A
Staff: Rochelle Gerratt
- Experience the wonders of Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Roman
- Hike and camel ride through the multi-colored desert of Wadi Rum with
- Float in the Dead Sea and swim in the Red Sea
- Local professional naturalist throughout the trip
- Comfortable hotels, ecolodges, and two nights camping in a Bedouin desert
Photo: Terhaal Adventures
From dramatic deserts to archaeological treasures to the waters of the Dead
Sea and the Red Sea, Jordan offers the traveler astounding beauty and many opportunities
for outdoor adventures. This tiny country holds four UNESCO World Heritage sites
(three of which we visit on our tour) including the iconic "Lost City"
of Petra with its towering walls of reddish pink sandstone carved into monuments
and tombs. This small desert kingdom is steeped in history and ruins from countless
ancient civilizations -- Romans, Greeks, Nabateans, and the people of the world’s
three monotheistic religions, to name just a few. Jordan also offers plenty
of scenic and rugged trails in its colorful deserts and canyons, many of which
have been used for millennia. Organizations such as Jordan’s Royal Society
for the Conservation of Nature promote sustainable tourism by supporting arts
and craft initiatives, maintaining the country’s cultural heritage, and
supporting traditional lifestyles.
Our Jordan adventure takes us on an exciting historic and cultural journey
that includes five days of spectacular hikes. From our starting point of Amman
we visit its traditional market, explore Jerash (one of the most well-preserved
ancient Roman cities outside of Italy), test the special buoyancy of the Dead
Sea at Earth’s lowest point, and trek in the Dana Biosphere Reserve. We
hike into fabled Petra through its unique “back door” with two days
to explore this amazing site, which is now chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders
of the World. We immerse ourselves in an ocean of sand and massive sandstone
mountains by foot, jeep, and camel to explore Wadi Rum, where Lawrence of Arabia
was filmed. We end our trip at the beach of Aqaba to enjoy the fresh waters
of the Red Sea before returning to Amman for our journey home. Throughout our
trip we will be practicing the techniques of travelling responsibly. We’ll
be using local guides and services, including community-based lodges.
Note: This itinerary is subject to change based on weather and/or other factors.
Day 1: We arrive at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman
and take a taxi to our hotel in Amman West, a 40-minute drive. Our trip officially
starts at 6 p.m. for our orientation meeting, where we will introduce ourselves
to each other and get an overview of our trip. We meet our local tour guide
who will accompany us for the entire trip. We enjoy our welcome dinner at our
Day 2: This is a full day to experience Amman, the capital
of Jordan. It’s a fascinating city of contrasts -- a unique blend of old
and new, situated on a hilly area between the desert and the fertile Jordan
Valley. Due to the city’s modern-day prosperity and temperate climate,
almost half of Jordan’s population is concentrated in the Amman area.
We set out on a walking tour of Amman’s downtown, visiting the Citadel
Hill and exploring its interesting columns and ruins from Roman through early
Islamic time. Downhill from the Citadel is the Roman Theater. Cut into the side
of a hill, it can accommodate 6,000 spectators and is still periodically used
for sporting and cultural events. After exploring these two sites, we walk through
the traditional markets and allow Amman to tempt us with strong Arabic-style
coffee and delicious pastries in a typical downtown coffee house. Lunch will
be at a simple and traditional restaurant. We next visit Wild Jordan, located
on the edge of Jebal Amman with a great view of the downtown and the Roman columns
of the citadel on the opposite hill. Wild Jordan is a division of the Royal
Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) and is responsible for socio-economic
development, including all eco-tourism operations that contribute to RSCN’s
mission to conserve biodiversity throughout Jordan. Here we will meet an RSCN
representative who will give us a presentation on their nature conservation
and ecotourism work in the different reserves that they manage around the country.
In the evening we go out to one of Amman’s favorite restaurants where
we will get introduced to a delicious variety of Jordanian/Arabic foods.
Photo: Terhaal Adventures
Day 3: After breakfast we take a 50-minute drive north to
one of the largest and most well-preserved Roman cities outside of Italy. Its
colonnaded streets, baths, theaters, plazas and arches remain in exceptional
condition. The history of Jerash is a blend of the Greco-Roman world of the
Mediterranean basin and the ancient traditions of the Arab Orient. Archaeological
findings indicate human occupation at this location for more than 6500 years.
After touring this impressive site, we have lunch and then drive to the highland
of Ajloun. We stop at the stronghold of Ajloun Castle, a fine example of medieval
Arab/Islamic military architecture. The castle was built between 1184-85 CE.
Near the castle, Ajloun Woodland Reserve is nicely located in a Mediterranean-like
hill country, dominated by open woodlands of oak, pistachio, pine, carob, and
wild strawberry trees. Upon our arrival we can check into our eco-style wooden
cabins and spend the rest of the afternoon in the serenity of the reserve. We
can enjoy the view from the terrace or take a self-guided walk following one
of the short hiking trails. Dinner typically consists of salads, a traditional
meal of rice, vegetables and meat and followed by some fruit.
Day 4: After an early breakfast, we set off on a pleasant
hike that's highlighted by several cultural elements. We hike through the reserve’s
open evergreen oak forest with many panoramic viewpoints. We descend to Rasoun
village and stop by the Soap House where we will learn about traditional soap-making.
A short walk through the village then takes us to the Arabic Calligraphy House
where we will learn about the different kinds of Arabic Calligraphy -- and even
try it ourselves. We then continue to one of the simple homes in the village
where a local family will be our host, serving us lunch. What a great interaction
opportunity -- it's a chance to have a glimpse into the lives of the villagers
in this part of the country and enjoy some delicious local foods! After the
sweet cup of tea that typically follows lunch, we walk on a road that passes
local farms. Our trail ends at a renovated old water mill that dates back to
the 16th century where we meet our bus and transfer to spend the night at the
Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is famous geographically as "the lowest point on
earth," lying some 1315 feet below sea level. It is 67 miles long, and
from 4 to 10 miles wide. Fed by the Jordan River, it has no outlet. It is entirely
devoid of plant and animal life due to an extremely high content of salt and
other minerals. Today’s hike covers 7.7 miles, with an elevation gain
of 500 feet and loss of 2,500 feet.
Photo: Terhaal Adventures
Day 5: This is a free morning for you to experience the buoyancy
effect of the world’s second saltiest lake by swimming in the Dead Sea.
In the afternoon, we drive up to Madaba via Mount Nebo. Known as Pisgah in the
Bible, Mount Nebo is where the Bible says Moses lived out his remaining days
and viewed the Promised Land, which he would never enter. Mount Nebo offers
a vista that includes the Dead Sea, the West Bank, the Jordan River, and on
a clear day, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. We then continue to the Church of St.
George in the center of Madaba. The church is the home of the Mosaic Map of
Palestine, which represents the Holy Land and its surrounding regions. Composed
of over 2.3 million pieces, the mosaic was made around 560 CE. We have dinner
in downtown Madaba and return for the night to our hotel at the edge of the
Day 6: Today we travel south along the Dead Sea Rift Valley
toward the western gate of Dana Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The great difference in altitude between the Rift Valley and the Eastern Plateau
has resulted in the creation of some amazing river canyons. We will walk into
the canyon’s beautiful sandstone and may expect to get our feet wet. Back
to our bus, we continue travelling southward to reach Feynan Lodge located at
the western gateway of the Dana Biosphere Reserve in the desert zone of the
reserve. Rated as one of the top 50 eco-lodges in the world by National Geographic
Adventure Magazine, Feynan lodge has a unique arabesque desert design, uses
environment-friendly technologies, including solar power, and is fully operated
by employees from the local community. At night, most of the lodge will be lit
by candles. Feynan was one of the largest copper works in the ancient Near East.
What remains today are ruins of Byzantine churches, an aqueduct and water reservoir,
and a smelting furnace. Today’s hike is 2.5 miles, with an elevation gain
and loss of 170 feet each.
Photo: Terhaal Adventures
Day 7: This morning we hike from Feynan at 1,066 feet to Dana
Village at 3,937 feet. We walk at a moderate pace, following a 4x4 track through
a wide-open valley flanked by the Dana Mountains. Dana Biosphere Reserve is
Jordan’s largest nature reserve, covering some 320 square kilometers of
spectacular mountains and wadis along the face of the Great Rift Valley. We
end at Dana Village where we’ll be spending the night. The Dana Village
area, overlooking the scenic Wadi Dana, has been occupied since about 4,000
BC. Archaeological evidence indicates that Palaeolithic, Egyptian, Nabatean,
and Roman civilizations have been drawn to the area by the fertile soil, water
springs, and strategic location. Today’s walk is 8.7 miles with an elevation
gain of 3,000 feet and loss of 200 feet.
Day 8: After yesterday’s long hike, today is planned
to be a relaxing day. In the morning we walk around Dana village and then drive
to Shobak to explore the remains of Shobak Castle, one of the chain of Crusader
fortresses that stretches across Jordan. Another short drive takes us to the
area of one of the main commercial areas of Petra, the entry and exit point
for the trade routes to the north and northwest. Once inhabited by the Nabateans,
this area has many tombs, water containers, and channels. Because of the scale
of this area and the fact that it is a continuation of Petra it is called Little
Petra. We will visit the Little Petra site for a taste of the magnificence that
we will encounter tomorrow at the main Petra site! We then drive to our hotel
in Wadi Musa and have the afternoon free for rest and to enjoy the hotel’s
facilities. In the evening, we will go out for a pleasant dinner experience
at Petra Kitchen where we will learn how to cook a special traditional meal
alongside local women under the supervision of a local chef and then dine together.
Day 9: This morning we drive to the trailhead of today’s
hike. Our trail takes us across open farmland then contours around the mountain
ridge with fantastic views to the Wadi Araba desert as we enter Petra from its
"back door." After a magnificent trek, our first glimpse of the top
of the Monastery monument has a jaw-dropping effect. Just opposite the Monastery,
we enjoy a view of Aaron’s tomb located on Mount Aaron, the highest summit
in the Petra Mountains. We then walk down the well-worn Nabatean steps into
the heart of Petra and break for lunch then exit Petra via the Dark Siq before
re-entering the site through the main Siq to experience the most famous view
of Petra -- the Treasury. Petra is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and
one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. This ancient rock city was the capital
of the Nabatean Kingdom. Built around 2,300 years ago, the imposing rose-stone
palaces are an impressive testament to the power and influence of the Nabateans,
who controlled trade around the area in the 3rd century BC. Petra is surrounded
by hills in which tombs have been carved into the pink sandstone. The site includes
some 800 structures. We also tour the Facades Street, Urn Tomb, the Theatre,
Colonnaded Street, Royal Tombs, and Qasr al Bint. We exit Petra and head back
to our hotel. Today’s trek is 10 miles long, with an elevation gain of
850 feet and loss of 600 feet.
Day 10: The morning is free to sleep late, hang out at the
hotel, or give Petra another quick visit. A two-hour drive in the afternoon
takes us to another amazing UNESCO World Heritage site, the Wadi Rum desert!
Wadi Rum is a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock in southwest Jordan.
It has been inhabited by many human cultures since prehistoric times and is
dotted with massive rock formations. T.E. Lawrence called it "vast, echoing
and god-like." Upon reaching Rum village we will meet our Bedouin host,
mount the jeeps, and enter deep into the Wadi Rum Protected Area to reach our
Bedouin campsite in time for a magnificent desert sunset and dinner. For the
next two nights our desert accommodation will be in a comfortable fixed Bedouin
camp with large tents made of goat hair and divided into twin rooms/ sections.
Communal wash basins and shower, and shaded dining and seating areas are available.
Cooked on embers, dinner usually consists of grilled meat and vegetables. Around
the campfire we gather and spend the evening with our Bedouin hosts for an opportunity
to learn about their extraordinary life and Arabian desert culture.
Day 11: This morning we head to the southern part of the Jordanian
desert. We hike through a rocky valley to reach a sandy plateau in the middle
of this impressive mountain. We then climb to a prominent summit at 5,575 feet
and enjoy sceneries extending across the desert landscape. We will have a good
view of Jebel Um Adaami (the highest summit in Jordan at 6,004 feet) right next
to the border with Saudi Arabia -- a great photo opportunity! We then descend
through another rocky valley to reach a sandy wadi and choose a shaded spot
for lunch and a well-deserved siesta. After lunch, we trek through a charming
valley to capture a view of another magical sunset. A 30-minute transfer then
takes us north back to our campsite. Dinner tonight is a traditional Bedouin
dish of chicken or lamb, cooked in an underground oven. Whether you would like
to spend the night inside your Bedouin goat-hair tent or take your mattress
out to sleep under a canopy of twinkling stars, the choice is yours. Today’s
hike is five miles, with an elevation gain of 985 feet and loss of 1,050 feet.
Photo: Terhaal Adventures
Day 12: This morning we use the jeeps to explore more of Wadi
Rum’s incredible rock structures and stunning landscape. We stop at an
interesting and very old rock inscription, or petroglyph, that shows a camel
caravan. Our jeep tour will eventually bring us to the big sand dune of Um Ishreen
for an opportunity to take off our shoes, climb up and run down its soft sand.
Lots of fun! Coming down from the dune we meet our camels and enjoy a camel
trek heading back to Rum village in harmony with the desert’s slow and
peaceful pace. We say good bye to our Bedouin hosts, ride our bus for an hour
transfer down to Aqaba, the Jordanian Red Sea town, where we stop for lunch
before heading to the South Beach, check into our beach resort, and have the
rest of the day free to enjoy the Red Sea swimming, snorkeling, or enjoying
the relaxing facilities of our seaside hotel.
Day 13: Today is a free day to experience the pleasant waters
of the Red Sea -- whether you’d like to swim, snorkel or just relax on
the beach with a cold drink in hand, the choice is yours. Scuba diving, wind
surfing and other water sports are also available here. In the evening, we drive
to downtown Aqaba and gather over a nice farewell dinner at one of Aqaba’s
Day 14: This morning marks the end of our Jordan adventure
together. According to our group’s flight schedule, a single group transfer
will be arranged to the Amman Airport, which is a 3.5-hour drive with a stop
Book your flight into and out of Amman (AMM), the capital of Jordan. The leader
will arrange for your transportation to our hotel in Amman and will be happy
to assist you if you wish to extend your stay on either end of the trip.
Accommodations and Food
For eight nights we will stay in comfortable locally owned hotels with swimming
pools, fitness centers, and opportunities for spa treatments. For three nights
we stay at ecolodges in desert or forest settings. We spend two nights at a
fixed Bedouin camp with mattresses in large goat-hair tents that are divided
into twin rooms. Rooms are double-occupancy. If you come alone you’ll
be sharing with another person of the same gender. The food will be delicious
with a variety of Jordanian and Arabic foods with many fruits and vegetables.
There will be opportunities to sample traditional meals made by local women
in some of the small villages we visit. Vegetarians will be accommodated and
any other food limitation or allergies should be shared with the leader as soon
To fully appreciate this outing you should be in good physical condition and
enjoy moderate day hikes. We will be hiking on five days of our trip, sometimes
through rough terrain. There are sections of narrow trail across rocky terrain.
Our hikes range from 3 to 10 miles distance, with a maximum elevation gain of
3,000 feet but usually averaging 1,000 feet daily elevation gain. The maximum
elevation we reach will be 5,575 feet. You will need to carry only a light daypack
on our hikes.
Equipment and Clothing
A detailed equipment list will be shared with the group. The Bedouin campsite
is furnished with mattresses and blankets. Hiking poles are helpful on the rough
terrain. Everyone will want good binoculars and cameras to photograph the amazing
Photo: Terhaal Adventures
- Caulfield, Annie, Kingdom of the Film Stars: Journey into Jordan.
- De Villier, Marc, Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource.
- Feller, Bruce, Walking the Bible.
- Lawrence, TE, Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
- Lonely Planet, Jordan.
- Maqwood, Rosalyn, Petra: A Traveller’s Guide.
- McCrossan and Taylor, Globetrotter Travel Guide to Jordan.
- Porter and Aspinall, Birds of the Middle East.
- Taylor, Jane, Petra and the Lost Kingdoms of the Nabataeans.
- Taylor and Howard. Walking in Jordan: Treks, Caves, Climbs, and Canyons.
- Van Geldermalsen, Marguerite, Married to a Bedouin.
The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about
conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our
work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, encouraging
grass roots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward understanding
parallel environmental concerns at home and abroad.
As a result of modernization and population increase, environmental problems
have arisen today in Jordan, a country that was just in the 70s relatively free
of environmental problems. Jordan today stands face to face with the reality
of frightening water shortages and scarcity. It has one of the lowest levels
of water resources in the world. A high rate of natural population growth, combined
with periodic massive influxes of refugees and fluctuation of rain, has worked
to create a large imbalance between population and water. The situation has
become worse by the fact that Jordan shares most of its water resources with
neighboring countries, whose control has partially deprived Jordan of its fair
share of water. These deficits are increased by the unsustainable practices
of overdrawing highland aquifers, resulting in lowered water tables and declining
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Rochelle Gerratt loves Jordan for its rich archaeological history, fantastic scenery, and friendly people. She enjoys designing and leading natural history trips in the United States, Central and South America, Europe, and the Mideast. Rochelle has been leading international trips for Sierra Club Outings since 2000. This will be her third trip to Jordan. Her trips feature scenic hiking, good food, and authentic cultural experiences. An avid traveler, Rochelle works as a career coach when she is home. She looks forward to sharing Jordan's treasures with you.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips