What makes Jordan special?
Jordan is tiny – you could drive from one end of the country to the other in an afternoon – but in terms of cultural attractions and natural variety it punches way above its weight. What makes this little wedge of hilly desert land special?
At a crossroads between Europe, Africa and Asia, Jordan has seen countless armies come and go. Every period of history has left its mark, from the Stone Age village at Beidha to beautiful Ottoman-era architecture around the country. Take in the Roman splendor of Jerash, or the Crusader castles at Karak and Shobak. Explore Byzantine church mosaics in Madaba, then visit the place where Jesus Christ was baptised in the River Jordan. In Jordan, history is not shut away in museums – it’s a living, breathing part of everyday life. Come and join in!
As part of the award-winning environmental programmes of Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, the Wild Jordan project has pioneered sustainable tourism at nature reserves around the country. Stop in first at Dana – a spectacular reserve taking in mountainside villages and scorching open desert: stay in a village guesthouse, camp out on a remote cliff top or hole up at the award-winning Feynan Eco lodge, a romantic, candle-lit wilderness hideaway. Elsewhere, take the plunge at Wadi Mujib, home of epic canyoning trails. Or head up to the highland forests of Ajloun, where deer roam the hillside woods.
Wherever you choose to stay, whatever your budget, Jordan is all about a warm welcome. Traditions of hospitality run deep in Arab culture, and there is no greater privilege for a host than to welcome an honored guest. Jordan has an array of high-quality, family-run midrange hotels, where you may be greeted with a glass of hot sweet tea and hosted in a cosy setting of good food and good company. And at the top of the range, Jordan’s luxury hotels offer Arabian-style comforts to remember, from superb architecture and contemporary design to world-class restaurants and spas.
Jordan pulls in culinary influences from around the region, taking the best of Turkish, Lebanese and Persian cooking to serve up its own unique styles and flavours. That means you can expect a meal to be built around mezze – little sampler dishes of anything from the famous Mediterranean chickpea dip hummus to stuffed vine-leaves, or goat’s cheese to spicy sausages. Fresh-baked flat bread is always on hand, for scooping and dipping, and you should look out for Jordan’s national dish – mansaf, a Bedouin feasting platter of mutton with rice, tangy yoghurt and delicious pine-nuts.D
If it’s thrills you’re seeking, you’ve come to the right place. Jordan’s canyoning routes are second-to-none, following jagged, impenetrable gorges down to the Dead Sea. Take on epic horse-rides across the vast, silent sands of Wadi Rum – or roam the mountain paths of Petra. The trekking is exceptional, whether you tackle the four-day wilderness trail from Dana to Petra, or shorter routes across the rolling northern hills. But don’t stop at ground level: at Aqaba, on Jordan’s Red Sea coast, world-class dives explore coral reefs and sunken wrecks in crystal-clear water – or you could take to the skies in a microlight or hot-air balloon.