Typical Tour Itinerary
Below is a typical example for an itinerary for one of our tours.
Day 1: Heathrow - Queen Alia airport, transit to Amman. Night in hotel.
Fly to Amman with Royal Jordanian. Arrive in Amman around 1900hrs to be collected by Desert Discoveries staff and check into the Granada Hotel in the town centre. Over dinner in the hotel, Desert Discoveries staff will discuss the route and ensure that everyone is comfortable with their equipment.
Day 2: Amman to Jafr via the Wadi Mujib and Ma'an. Night in the desert.
You will be driven into the old town centre to have an early breakfast (0800hrs) in an outdoor restaurant overlooking the Roman theatre, while Desert Discoveries staff load the luggage into the 4-wheel drive vehicles. You will then be collected and driven south along the meandering and very beautiful Kings' Highway, Jordan's main route of passage since the Bronze Age.
We will stop for a picnic lunch at the bottom of the Wadi Mujib, the great gorge bisecting the ancient lands of Ammon and Moab, referred to in the bible as the Brook of Arnon. The Desert Discoveries team will explain the history of the region. We will then continue south until we reach the town of Ma'an, whose governor, His Excellency Mr Sameh Al-Majali, will have granted us permission to sleep in his territory. After refuelling we head east to the oasis of Al Jafr, the last point of settlement (and indeed the last stretch of road) before the open desert. We will drive across the spectactular white salt flats of Jafr deep into the desert, where we will camp for the night.
Day 3: From Jafr to Wadi Rum, following the route of TE Lawrence's attack. Night in the desert.
We will awake with the dawn (around 0600hrs) to have breakfast in the desert. As the sun rises we will see mirages on all sides, as water appears to collect in the folds of the sands. We will go for a desert walk, and if there is anybody who is unfamiliar with desert navigation and would like to learn, the ex-military members of the Desert Discoveries team will happily explain. After packing up camp we will return westwards towards Ma'an, then take the main road south towards Saudi Arabia for a short while before veering west off-road along the desert track towards Rum. We will pause to see the remains of Bat'n el Ghul railway station, whose destruction Lawrence describes in Seven Pillars of Wisdom. We will stop for lunch in the mountains east of Rum, then continue to Rum itself, and will spend the night in the shelter of one of its vast jebels.
Day 4: From Wadi Rum to Aqaba, continuing along Lawrence's route, then north to Humeima. Night in the desert.
After a desert breakfast we will look at the ancient (Thamudic) rock drawings of Rum, then continue south through the granite mountains of the Wadi Yetm to the Red Sea port of Aqaba. We will have lunch in a local Aqaba restaurant, avoiding the tourist area, then continue north up the Desert Highway until we reach the mountains of Guweira, where we will turn west off-road through the Hisma desert until we reach the foothills of the Shara mountains. There we will find the ruins of Humeima, a city founded by the Nabataeans and incorporating structures from Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic times. Sporadic excavations are ongoing here. We will continue for a few miles deeper into the mountains to show you an as-yet unsurveyed and unexcavated site, found by the Desert Discoveries team, who will explain survey methods and the likely archaeological significance of the site to clients. We will set up camp at this un-named location and spend the night in the desert.
Day 5: From Humeima to Petra. Night in hotel.
After breakfast we will walk for a few kilometres west into the Shara Mountains, past a tiny Bedouin troglodyte settlement, to a ridge which overlooks the high crags and deep valleys of the Arabah range. We will be able to show you the relationship of the site to the ancient caravan routes that passed through the mountains and the Dead Sea valley towards the Mediterranean port of Gaza. After our walk we will cross the Hisma returning to the Desert Highway, then north on-road to Petra. Desert Discoveries staff will check the luggage into a luxury hotel while other staff will escort you straight down into the ruined city of Petra. We will see the main monuments: the Treasury, the Royal Tombs, and the High Place of Sacrifice. This day will be guided (full archaeological details given), but will also be a preparation for Day 6 in which you will be asked to choose your own itineraries within Petra on the basis of what you have seen, what you have been told and what you estimate your own physical stamina to be. Petra is built around several great jebel (mountain) massifs, and many of the most spectacular sites are on the top of the mountains. Night in the Mövenpick hotel.
Day 6: Petra, with the evening in nearby Wadi Ba'ja. Night in the desert.
Clients will be offered the opportunity to explore Petra at leisure, guided or unguided, but Desert Discoveries staff recommend, for those fit enough to enjoy it, a climb up Jebel Umm el Biyara ("Mother of Cisterns"), so as to have a fine view over the site without encountering other tourists. This mountain dominates the centre of Petra and on the summit is an Iron Age settlement and a concealed Nabataean sanctuary. We would have a picnic lunch in Petra and most of the day to explore the remains, and would leave Petra at 1700hrs to head towards Wadi Ba'ja, a remarkable site in the sandstone mountains north of Petra. At Wadi Ba'ja are the remains of an Edomite village, a Nabataean settlement and also, tucked away in a high fold of the mountains, a Neolithic site (7th millennium BC). We will camp in the shadow of the mountain cliffs where there is a good chance of hearing hyenas and seeing bright blue lizards.
Day 7: Wadi Ba'ja to the Dead Sea: a walk down the Arabah mountain range: night overlooking the Dead Sea and Jerusalem.
We will show you the Neolithic village (expedition ladders will be provided for a couple of tricky stages in the ascent); digging started there in the early summer, and it will be an opportunity for you to see the formative pre-publication stages of an extremely important excavation.
We will have a very hearty breakfast this day as you will be offered the opportunity to walk five miles down the great Arabah range to the floor of the Rift Valley, following part of the old caravan route from Petra to Gaza. As this is one of the hottest places on earth, we will drive to the bottom for those who would rather enjoy the view from the comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle, walkers and drivers will be linked by radio contact. At the base of the mountain range is the Wadi Nimlah, a spectacular lilac-coloured riverbed running below the ruins of a Nabataean caravanserai. We will have a glass of cold champagne in the shadow of an acacia tree before continuing our journey towards the Dead Sea. We will spend the night camping in an oasis on the slopes of the Dead Sea mountains, looking across the Sea to Jerusalem.
Day 8: Dead Sea, Callirhoe, the Moabite plateau, return to Amman. Night in luxury hotel.
Close to our sleeping place on the Dead Sea is ancient Callirhoe, Herod's great villa and bathing complex. Sporadic excavations are being carried out on this site by a Jordanian team, so again it will be an opportunity for you to see the finds as they are being uncovered. We will head east from Callirhoe up the Dead Sea mountains, following a track carved out by the Jordanian government to help the Bedouin herdsmen travel down from the high plains in winter. This ascent is extremely precipitous, not to say vertiginous, and offers possibly the finest view of the Dead Sea rift to be had on either side. We will have a picnic lunch on the summit, and then rejoin the tarmac roads of the Moabite plain, upon which we will be out of the desert wilderness and back in civilisation. We will drive north to Amman, check into a luxury hotel and enjoy the blessings of hot and cold running water. In the late afternoon, we will offer to escort you to the souk to go shopping and/or to the city museum on the citadel, dominated by the reconstructed columns of a Roman temple to Hercules. We will spend the night in our hotel.
Departure Dates October 2005
Price per person.................................£2500 (
Should you wish to extend your stay in Jordan, perhaps to spend more time in Amman or visit the spectacular ruins at Jerash, please let us know and we can tailor make any additional arrangements.
Should you wish to discuss the above arrangements Antonia, contact details as below.