Our Small Group Tour and Conference to Jordan in April 2019 – ‘Footsteps of the Prophets’ – saw us travelling to a part of the world that Amaco hasn’t explored in more than two decades.
Set on the crossroads between Arabia and the Mediterranean Sea, Jordan is full of historic sites. Crusader forts along old trade routes and ancient cities carved from stone still captivate tourists in much the same way they did for T.E Lawrence and others before him. Although it’s mostly covered by desert, Jordan also has mountains, canyons, gorges, forests, marshes, beaches, plains, rolling hills and fertile river valleys.
Our adventure began in amazing Amman, the capital of Jordan where conference participants, presenters and Amaco staff first came together. While in Amman, participants were be treated to an amazing exhibition at the Royal Stables and a quick meet and greet with Princess Alia… first daugher of the late King Hussein of Jordan. They also explored the Roman Theatre, the Gold Market as well as the Spice Market and Green Market. A tour of the Citadel was also in the itinerary as was a visit to a local hospital where participants were given the opportunity to network with Jordanian colleagues. Rounding off our sightseeing was a visit to Jerash – these 2000 year old Greco-Roman ruins are the best preserved of the ancient Decapolis cities.
Departing Amman on the King’s Highway the group headed to Mount Nebo. Here, a church marks the spot where Moses is said to have seen the land of Canaan and is also his supposed burial place. With perfect weather, we enjoyed some excellent views of the Jordan River Valley before continuing to Madaba, the capital city of mosaics. A visit to the St. George Church to see the oldest known map of the Holy Land dating from the 6th century was included.
We then journeyed to Petra. This rose-coloured UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the regions greatest historical and architectural treasures and is regarded as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Carved by the Nabataeans more than 2000 years ago, it is unlike anything you have ever seen. A highlight of our time in Petra was the private visit to a Nabataean Villanever before open to the public. Even better was having the lead archaeologist show us around and explain the excavation site to us.
After two nights in Petra, we travelled south along the King’s Highway in a fleet of 4×4 vehicles before turning onto the Desert Highway towards Wadi Rum. The scenery in this protected nature reserve was spectacular – dry riverbeds, sandstone and granite mountains, sandy deserts and wind-sculpted black hills abound. It remains as Lawrence of Arabia’s awestruck description suggests “vast, echoing, and God-like”.
Aqaba, the next stop on our itinerary is Jordan’s only access to the sea and lies on the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba. We chartered a private yacht so as to be able to enjoy a relaxing cruise with ample time set aside to snorkel and swim. The waters are noted for their abundance and variety of fish and coral.
Following two nights in Aqaba, we journey north towards the Dead Sea – the lowest point on the earth’s surface. The area has attracted visitors for thousands of years and has been home to health resorts in one form or another since the days of Herod the Great. The water in the Dead Sea is extremely dense which makes swimming near on impossible… rather just enjoy a good float!
Also in this region, and one of the final stops on our Jordanian itinerary is Bethany Beyond the Jordan, believed to be the site where John the Baptist lived, preached and where he baptized Jesus.