Day 1 – Arrive Amman
Marhaba, and welcome to Jordan. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel, The St. Regis. Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a fascinating city of contrasts – a unique blend of old and new, ideally situated on a hilly area between the desert and the fertile Jordan Valley.
Check-in, relax until we meet for a welcome drink and dinner this evening.
Overnight: The St Regis (Dinner)
Day 2 – Amman
Travel a short distance north to Jerash, an extraordinarily well-preserved ancient city, acknowledged to be one of the best-preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. Explore the iconic temple of Artemis at the highest point of the city, the long colonnaded street, with its original stone paving, and the monumental Hadrian’s Arch built to celebrate a visit by the emperor himself – all which were hidden for centuries in the sand before being excavated and restored some 70 years ago.
Continue to the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative Society, founded in 1993 by Queen Noor’s foundation, where you have lunch. The cooperative was established to teach women the skills of weaving, paperwork, pottery and other handicrafts. The idea was to preserve the region’s unique architectural heritage and to create more jobs for women, allowing them to contribute to their society. Meet the women over a traditionally brewed coffee, hear their stories and learn about their handmade fabrics, naturally produced soaps, pottery and ceramics, paper-making and cooking.
Later return to the modern, bustling capital. Venture up to the citadel, situated on one of the seven hills that originally made up Amman, and then spend time wandering through the National Archaeological Museum, home to a collection of artifacts which date from prehistoric times to the 15th century. Take a seat in the magnificently restored 6,000 seat Roman Amphitheatre built during the reign of Antonius Pius in 138-161 CE.
Transfer back to the hotel and enjoy dinner in house this evening.
Overnight: The St. Regis (B / D)
Day 3 – Petra
Today transfer by private vehicle from Amman to Petra stopping en route at Mount Nebo and Madaba.
Mount Nebo is the mountain where Moses was allowed to see the Holy Land…but not allowed to enter it. Nowadays the mountain is a memorial site. Here you will find the ‘Church of Moses’, built by the first Christians. Ever since the first days of Christianity this mountain has been a holy place and a destination for pilgrimage. Like Moses, you can have a great view over Jordan, the Dead Sea and Israel.
Continue to Madaba, the ‘City of Mosaics’, situated on an archaeological site with more than 4,000 years of history buried beneath it. The quality of mosaic flooring has made Madaba one of the most prominent cities in the world for mosaics. St. George’s Church houses a world-famous mosaic floor depicting a large mosaic map of Palestine and at its centre, a detailed map of Jerusalem as it was during the sixth century AD. Enjoy a mosaic class and lunch with a local family – fabulous!
After lunch, continue to Shobak Castle. Built in 1115, it was the first of many fortifications built beyond the Jordan by King Baldwin I of Jerusalem to guard the road from Egypt to Damascus. It successfully resisted a number of sieges until it fell to Saladin’s troops in 1189. Petra where you will check-in and enjoy dinner, before hitting the pillow to get ready for an exciting day tomorrow.
Then to our hotel for tonight and dinner in-house.
Overnight: Movenpick Nabatean Castle. (B / L / D)
Day 4 – Petra
Enter on horseback (your very own Indiana Jones moment) and then it is time to explore the bucket-list ‘Rose-Red City’, one of the most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. Established as the capital of the ancient Nabataeans, it was an important stop on the caravan route between Asia, Arabia and Europe. Discover tombs, temples and exquisite monuments hewn out of the surrounding mountains. Whilst the entire site is extraordinary, the most well-known structures include the Treasury, accessed through the narrow ‘siq’ – a naturally occurring geological rift between the mountains, the Roman Theatre, the Corinthian and Palace Tombs and the Roman Road.
Then late this afternoon return to the hotel, freshen up and it’s time for a cooking class at the Petra Kitchen. You will work alongside local chefs to prepare dishes found on a typical family’s table using fresh ingredients, and enjoy a fab cultural immersion.
Overnight: Movenpick Nabatean Castle (B / D)
Day 5 – Little Petra, Beidah & Wadi Rum
This morning the adventure continues with our desert escape! A night of ‘martian; tents and star gazing in the desert.
You transfer to Little Petra where you will walk through an 8,000 year old excavated stone age villages at Beidah and Basta and wander among the ruins of settlements of the biblical Edomites, and explore the sprawling remains of the Roman legionary fortress at Udruh,
Then it is time to continue to Wadi Rum on your 4×4 adventure in a local Bedouin Jeep! A 2 hour tour where you will be immersed into the desert and its awesome moon-like landscape; where the film “Lawrence of Arabia” was shot, and where you can shoot so many selfie’s you will not know what to do with yourself…..
This evening your will overnight in your every own ‘Martian’ tent in the desert and after dinner, enjoy star gazing with a local expert.
Overnight: Palmera Camp Wadi Rum (B / D)
Day 6 – Aqaba
This morning after breakfast you will transfer from Wadi Rum to Aqaba, Jordan’s only Seaport for the country, a coastal town in the far south of Jordan, with its’ spectacular Red Sea setting – purple coloured mountains and sandy beaches. You have an afternoon at leisure to enjoy this gorgeous resort and for those who like to dive – you can!
Dinner at the hotel.
Overnight: Movenpick Resort & Residences (B / D)
Day 7 – Dead Sea
This morning you travel via Araba road to visit Bethany which is the the site of John the Baptist’s settlement at “Bethany Beyond the Jordan”, where Jesus was baptised, long known from the Bible (John 1:28 and 10:40) and from Byzantine and medieval texts.
Continue your journey to the lowest point on the earth’s surface, the Dead Sea, located in the Jordan Rift Valley. At more than 400m below sea level, it is known for its highly salty waters. Spend time in arguably the most luxurious resort on the Dead Sea.
Leisurely afternoon for swimming and floating in the Dead Sea is a must.
Overnight: Kempinski Hotel Ishtar (B / D)
Day 8 – Dead Sea
Today is all about you and whatever you feel like doing. Luxuriate, ruminate and meditate if you want, or just hang by the pool and indulge in a cocktail or 3. You’ve earned it!
Our farewell Jordan dinner this evening is in the beautiful Rehan Lebanese Restaurant.
Overnight: Kempinski Hotel Ishtar (B / D)
Day 9 – Oman
This morning time for breakfast, checkout and to Oman we go.
Flight details to be confirmed.
Welcome to the Omani capital, and a warm welcome where you are with a VIP arrival through customs, immigration and baggage collection. Transfer to your luxury accommodation. Located on the Arabian Peninsula, Muscat has a rich and vibrant culture and is a remarkably laid-back capital city with a friendly atmosphere. The rest of the day is yours to explore.
Enjoy a leisurely evening by the pool or in the bar (or maybe you just feel like a little room service?) at your beautiful hotel, the W Muscat.
Overnight: W Hotel Muscat (B)
Day 10 – Oman Coast
Today is a day to explore the beautiful coastline of Oman.
A morning transfer to the marina to board your boat for some amazing dolphin watching followed by a snorkelling and swimming session. Check out the local marine life and if you’re very lucky, you might just spot a few turtles!
Then its time to picnic on the secluded beach and enjoy some downtime before heading back along the breathtaking coastline, to meet your transfer back to the hotel.
This evening, enjoy dinner at Omani House and experience the authentic hospitality of Omanis.
Overnight: W Hotel Muscat (B / Picnic Lunch / D)
Day 11 – Muscat
Today you will enjoy a full-day tour of the elegant city of Muscat with your private guide.
Tour the exquisite Royal Opera House, combining world class acoustics with Middle Eastern elegance. Stroll around the magnificent Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, a stunning example of contemporary Islamic architecture. It is the only mosque in Oman open to non-Muslims. From its minarets, large golden dome, arches, engraved walls, decorated interior, unique lamps and central crystal chandelier, the mosque is an architectural wonder.
The best way to understand a culture is through its cooking and sharing food with locals. For lunch today, enjoy cooking with local Sidab women, learning about their traditions. You will cook delicious Omani food and have the opportunity to enjoy lunch with the local women – a rare opportunity.
Next, you stop for a photo opportunity at Al Alam palace, the palace of the Sultan, before continuing on to admire the exterior of two Portuguese forts, Mirani and Jalali.
You will then spend time in the beautiful National Museum, Oman’s flagship cultural institution, showcasing the Sultanate’s cultural heritage from the earliest evidence of human settlement in the Oman Peninsula through to the present day.
Finally, retail therapy time at the Muttrah Souq, which is one of the oldest markets in Oman, dating back about two hundred years. Here you can shop for artefacts, antiques, traditional textiles, beautiful scarves, cashmere and jewellery in the bustling lanes of the traditional Arabian market.
Then return to the hotel for some well deserved r’n’r before a relaxed dinner in-house this evening.
Overnight: W Hotel Muscat (B / L / D)
Day 12 – Wadi Valley
his morning post breakfast it is time to leave the W and head to new horizons.
Your adventure starts with an off-road crossing of Wadi Al Arbeieen, one of Oman’s most beautiful wadis (valleys). The wadi is located around 90 minutes outside of Muscat and provides nature’s ultimate soundtrack, the sounds of running water, birds and the wind funnelling through the narrow channels.
Then continue to Wadi Tiwi, a spectacularly deep and narrow gorge carved out of the mountains, running between towering cliffs right down to the sea. The wadi is famous for its old traditional villages surrounded by lush plantations of date and banana. Travel to Sur, one of the few places that still produces traditional wooden dhows and watch the craftsmen as they go about their highly skilled work.
Arrival at the entrance of Wahiba Sands (also known as Sharqiya Sands). The longitudinal dunes stretch 200 km long and 100 km wide until the Arabian Sea and have been home to the Bedouin for 7,000 years. After gently driving through the sand dunes to reach the camp you will venture up the high dunes and witness the unforgettable desert sunset with a glass of champagne.
Enjoy a delicious dinner and a great night’s sleep in the silence of the desert, in your very own luxury eco tent.
Overnight: Wahiba Desert Camp (B / L / D)
Day 13 – Wadi Bani Khalid
After breakfast you leave the delights of the desert to head to one of the most spectacular mountain regions you will ever encounter.
First, travel through Wadi Bani Khalid, a mountain area of small villages and waterfalls. The wadi is in the Al Sharqiyah Region and has several water pools as well as a spring that keeps water flowing inside the wadi all year long. The pools are cool, deep and absolutely stunning. Feel free to plunge in and experience the crystal-clear waters.
Then you will discover Jebel Akhdar (the green mountain). It is neither green nor a single mountain, but a large grey-brown massif covering more than 1,800 square km with several peaks, rising to nearly 3,050 metres. The mountain range is dotted with Omani villages and in many areas, villagers have created terraces for growing crops. Wadi Bani Habib is one of several interesting villages located on the massive plateau. Jebel Akhdar is also famous for rose water distillation. Of the thousands of varieties of rose, only a few produce the fragrant oil required to make rosewater, ‘damascina’ being one of the most famous of this prized varieties (March/April).
Your final destination today is a serene eco-resort at Jebel Akhdar, built to blend seamlessly into its rugged surroundings.
Overnight: Alila Jebel Akhdar (B / L / D)
Day 14 – Jebel Akhdar
This morning ensure you enjoy a good breakfast as today you are heading into the great outdoors to explore.
Our walk starts from the wadi (dry waterway) a few minutes from the resort, offering a close look at the natural wadi system, the various bushes and trees found in this fertile part of the mountain, and the various rock formations. Explore the region with your guide and discover our local ‘mirage’, the village of Sarab, the nearest abandoned village to the resort. Then head back to the resort for an afternoon at leisure.
Enjoy lunch at your own pace, and maybe some spa time?
Late in the afternoon a private yoga and stretching class overlooking the majestic mountains, to move any travel kinks and stretch tired limbs after this morning’s walk.
Dinner at leisure this evening.
Overnight: Alila Jebel Akhdar (B)
Day 15 – Nizwa
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and checkout as it is time to take a step back into history.
Enjoy a beautiful photo opportunity at Birkat Al Mouz, one of the most famous villages lying in ruins, in Oman. With a large banana plantation and the scenic surroundings, the site is also home to the old falaj irrigation system, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You then visit Jibrin castle, consisting of five floors and containing 55 rooms. This castle is distinguished by the inscriptions and frescoes that adorn its rooms. The castle’s ceilings are decorated with paintings and Islamic inscriptions, and its doors are beautifully carved, with a falaj running through the middle of the castle.
Another great photo opportunity of the massive Bahla fort (UNESCO site). It was built in the third millennium BC. The length of its south facade is about 112 metres, while its eastern facade is about 114 metres.
You will then arrive into Nizwa, the former capital of Oman where you will visit the legendary Nizwa Fort at the foot of the Western Hajar mountains. In the ninth century, a stronghold was built to protect the town from marauding forces, and Nizwa Fort with its imposing sandstone structure has been added to and adapted ever since. Search out the metal spikes, booby traps and ‘murder holes’ (through which boiling hot date syrup was poured on to intruders) that made Nizwa so impenetrable. Make your way to the rooftop, where dozens of cannons would have once stood, for excellent views of the city.
In the bustling souq nearby you will have a chance to find local products such as Omani daggers (Khanjar), copper, silver jewellery and handicrafts for sale!
Overnight: Golden Tulip Nizwa (B / L)
Day 16 – Muscat
Today is a big travel day, so after breakfast check out and depart and finish your exploration of the past as we head back to Muscat.
Start with a morning visit to the livestock market in Nizwa, one of the oldest in the country. Every Friday, farmers from around the country flock to the city, bringing with them their cattle, goats and camels for selling to the locals.
We then depart and visit the village of Al Hamra, one of the best-preserved old towns in the country and the home of the Bait Al Safa living museum, formerly a royal residence and today, a trove of archaeological and architectural treasures. Take a stroll in between the old abandoned buildings and mud houses. Visit the museum and learn about the Omani traditions with men and women demonstrating ancient practices.
Begin the off-road crossing of Wadi Bani Awf (3 hours), a spectacular mountain road. You will see small villages on the way and enjoy a stop to admire the panoramic view of Snake Canyon. The final stop today is at Bilad Sayt, a fairytale-like village typical of the Arabian settlements of the past and one of the most picturesque villages in Oman.
We head out of the past and back to the future as you arrive back into Muscat and the W Hotel.
Overnight: W Muscat (B / L)
Day 17 – Muscat
Today is your last full day in this elegant city. It is a chance to wind right down, enjoy some pool time, spa time and pretty much do what you wish.
For those who want to do more we can organise a trip back to the Souq for last minute shopping, a visit to Amouage Visitors’ Centre where the Omani perfume that is world famous, is made (it is a splurge but is the most divine perfume). Or if there is something else you want to do you just let us know and it can be arranged.
This evening our farewell dinner is at the W, and we will start drinks in their fabulous lounge with a view.
Overnight: Hotel W (B / D)
Day 18 – Departure
Depending on your flight schedule (it can be an early start) you will be transferred to the airport by private driver. For those going home thank you. For some you might want to join me in Dubai for a little shopping spree?
Thank you for a great time and see you again soon. Bon voyage! (B)