Grandeurs of Petra Tour & Splendors of Jordan
March 9 – 22, 2019
Why Take The Petra Jordan Tour?
- Led by Professor Gary Rollefson, who has worked in Jordan for more than thirty years.
- Tour Four of Jordan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Um er-Rasas, Qasr Amra, Petra, and Wadi Rum
- See the legendary ‘Ain Ghazal statues discovered by Dr. Rollefson
- Explore Wadi Rum with a traditional lunch under a Bedouin tent
- Three full day exploring Petra and its environs
- Private tour with archaeologists at the Temple of the Winged Lions at Petra
- Four-wheel drive adventure into the eastern desert to see prehistoric villages discovered by Dr. Rollefson
- Hosted by the director, enjoy cocktails at ACOR (the American Center), with a private viewing of the Petra Scrolls.
- Feast in the desert at a privately arranged zarb, an outdoor Bedouin meal of roasted lamb
- Enjoy a cooking lesson and dine on the results!
(click to enlarge)
PETRA & JORDAN TOUR DAILY ITINERARY
Day 1: Depart the USA.
Day 2: Arrive to Amman.
Day 3: City tour of Amman.
Day 4: Visit Qasr al-Abd, Wadi Seer and Jerash.
Day 5: Umayyad Desert Palaces.
Day 6: Travel to the Ghura al-Qattafi mesas.
Day 7: Madaba, Shobak Castle. Um ar-Rasas. Transfer to Petra.
Day 8: Beidha. “Little Petra”, or Siq al-Barid.
Day 9: Wadi Rum.
Day 10: Petra Tour.
Day 11: Petra Tour. Ed Deir.
Day 12: Return to Amman. Bani Hamida House.
Day 13: Ajlun Castle. Umm Qais. Pella.
Day 14: Return to the USA.
The Royal Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a charming land that has preserved a remarkable character unlike any other in the Near East. Ruled by King Abdullah, the people have an unparalleled reputation for hospitality, from the office worker in the city to the Bedouin in his desert camp. Parts of the country are so rich in archaeology that it is literally impossible not to step tens of thousands of years back into time. The unique majesty of Petra, the Roman splendor of Jerash, and the elegant Omayyad fortress-palaces scattered in the eastern desert are only a few of the major attractions. And in addition to a splendid wealth of ancient cities, castles, Christian churches, and mosaic masterpieces, the landscape offers some of the most breathtaking vistas to be had anywhere on earth.
This 14-day Jordan and Petra tour has been designed to give an understanding and appreciation of the country and its compelling history. The itinerary includes several highlights, including Petra, the marvelous repository of Nabataean culture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, explorations of Professor Rollefson’s latest discoveries in the eastern desert, Bronze Age shrines unearthed by Professor Rollefson in Wadi Rum, and ACOR, the American Center of Oriental Research where we will enjoy a private tour of collections, including the intriguing Petra Scrolls.
‘In these times of conflict, it’s more important than ever to have a direct understanding of the Middle East – both its history and its current culture. Jordan is an easy travel destination: it felt very safe, lots of people speak English, and there’s tons of stuff to see from pre-history through recent history and up to the changes of today.’ – Joy Mundy
‘Clearly Petra was the main highlight of the trip. While we had seen many photos of the city, seeing it in person made us remember the resourcefulness, creativeness and resilience of people throughout the ages. This was reinforced by seeing Gary Rollefson’s digs and other desert community remains going back to the Bronze Age.’ – Marolyn Hatch
Tour Leader – Gary Rollefson
Gary O. Rollefson received his PhD from the University of Arizona, and is presently a professor of anthropology at Whitman College. He has conducted fieldwork in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. Since 1982, Dr. Rollefson has been Principal Investigator at the excavations at Neolithic ‘Ain Ghazal, which has produced stunning examples of 10,000 year-old statues and other unique religious paraphernalia. Dr. Rollefson’s exciting discoveries of ritual structures in Wadi Rum are changing the way that archaeologists are looking at copper age and bronze age pastoral societies. His most recent work is in the eastern desert of Jordan where he has found a1 1/2 square mile necropolis. His main publications include Prehistoric Archaeology in the Deserts of Jordan. Professor Rollefson’s knowledge of Jordan and its archaeology, along with his sense of humor and excitement about Jordan makes him an ideal leader.
‘Gary is obviously a “rock star” in the Jordan Archaeology world. In numerous locations, people came up to talk to him, from a humble woman spinning wool at Little Petra to the entire staff at the museums. He was a warm host and representative for Far Horizons and Jordan!’ – Nancy Polich
‘Gary is the best. He’s pleasant, unusually eager to be helpful and explain what we’re seeing. I like him very much and would be happy to travel with him again if the opportunity arises. … for me the visit to Gary’s site in the eastern desert was amazing. The desert itself, the remote location, and the houses that were 10,000 years old! So great.’ – Joy Mundy
‘Gary’s knowledge about the archeological history of Jordan, based as it was on his own endeavors over 30 years in the field, was refreshingly shared without professorial pretense. Gary encouraged questions and answered all in a manner that furthered discussion. When we told a Jordanian friend who we would be traveling with, she told us that we couldn’t have asked for a better leader or a more amiable traveling companion. Kudos for connecting us with Gary.’ – Marolyn Hatch
(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner
Day 1: Depart the United States on our flight to Amman.
Day 2: Arrive Amman. Overnight for three nights in the al Qasr Hotel. Dinner is on our own.
Day 3: Amman’s Citadel sits on the highest hill and dominates today’s city of Amman. Occupied in the early Neolithic, and fortified during the Bronze Age, the remains visible today are from Roman and early Islamic times. The 8th century Umayyad Palace was probably used as an administrative center and governor’s residence. The great Temple of Hercules was built between 162-166 AD. Larger than any temple in Rome it was dedicated to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the 2nd-century. Learn of the Roman city while viewing the amphitheater that seats 6,000 people and the restored odeon. At the National Archaeological Museum the Dead Sea Scrolls found in 1952 are one of the most important exhibits as are the unique figures found at ‘Ain Ghazal by Dr. Rollefson. If open, visit the new National Museum. In the late afternoon, go to the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR), where the director will host us with a private tour including seeing the Petra Scrolls. Dinner will be enjoyed at our hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 4: Explore two remarkable sites today. West of Amman is Wadi as-Seer, one of the most attractive valleys in Jordan and containing Qasr al-Abd, the Palace of the Slave. Built over 2,000 years ago, the beautifully decorated two-story stone structure is a rare example of Hellenistic architecture in Jordan. Nestled in a green and fertile valley in the biblical land of Gilead, the remains of Jerash are impressive. Stroll along the city’s colonnaded streets and through ancient marketplaces, and visit imposing theaters sitting beside Roman, Christian and Muslim houses of worship. Our welcome dinner is in one of Amman’s excellent restaurants. (B/L/D)
Day 5: Today travel east of Amman along ancient desert tracks to explore several dazzling Umayyad palaces. Qasr al-Hallabat began as a Roman fort and ended as a luxurious country estate under the Umayyads. Nearby is its bathhouse, Hammam al-Sarah, constructed of fine limestone. Crafted of the area’s black basalt, Azraq Castle is located in an oasis and takes advantage of the important strategic position of the region’s four springs. The fortress was probably begun in the second century AD by the Romans, and was still in use when T. E. Lawrence used it as a base in the winter of 1917-18. The audience hall at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Qasr Amra is covered with charming, vividly painted frescoes. Overnight in the Azraq Lodge in Azraq. (B/L/D)
Day 6: Our drive in four-wheel drive vehicles will take us further into the eastern desert to the Ghura al-Qattafi mesas. Here, Professor Rollefson has found hundreds of tombs and monumental structures dedicated to powerful personalities among the prehistoric people who exploited the region between 5000 and 2500 BC. While here, we will gain insights into the development of the ritual and economic aspects of a lifestyle that eventually developed into the historic cultural patterns of the desert herders of the Bedouin today. On our afternoon return to Amman, we visit the lonely desert caravansary of Qasr al-Kharaneh, the most complete of the Umayyad castles, along the way. The steep walls rising abruptly from the flat plain create a feeling of strength, and archaeological excavations show that the building was used as an elegant overnight stop by camel caravans coming from the Arabian Gulf. (B/L/D)
Day 7: Today is filled with history. Madaba was inhabited for nearly 3,500 years, and contains a most impressive work of art to survive from the mid-6th century – a mosaic map of Palestine. One of Jordan’s most significant and impressive historical sites, Shobak Castle is an early 12th-century fortification that was one in the great chain of ramparts that stretched from today’s Turkey to Israel. Um ar-Rasas, another UNESCO World Heritage site, contains ruins from the Roman, Byzantine, and early Muslim civilizations. The most important discovery is the perfectly preserved mosaic floor of the Church of St. George, the largest one in Jordan. Continue to Petra, with a stop at Mt. Nebo, where we overnight for five nights at the Petra Movenpick Hotel, conveniently located at the entrance to the site. Gather this evening to enjoy dinner together in one of Petra’s excellent restaurants. (B/L/D)
Day 8: One of the marvels of the Classical World, Petra offers much more than stunning antiquities. Within a 25-mile radius are an exceptional array of monuments and entire settlements that span the last 9,000 years of human civilization. We begin at Beidha, a village that was inhabited between 7,000-6,500 BC, and is included in Petra’s UNESCO World Heritage status. The community constructed round houses of stone masonry and fortified the settlement with an encircling wall. Occupants cultivated barley and emmer wheat, herded goats, hunted for wild animals, and gathered wild plants. Nearby is “Little Petra”, or Siq al-Barid, where high sandstone walls within the narrow gorge keep the multi-story houses and temples cool. After walking through a miniature siq, a splendid collection of tombs, temples, houses, and staircases will appear. This evening, enjoy a cooking lesson and then dine on our creations. (B/L/D)
Day 9: Our full day takes us past the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, of T. E. Lawrence fame, to Wadi Rum. This valley’s combination of immensity, richness of color, and awesome shapes creates an atmosphere that is other worldly. While here we will view a Nabatean temple, ancient rock art, and Bronze Age shrines discovered by Dr. Rollefson. We experience lunch under a Bedouin tent before returning to Petra. (B/L)
Day 10:Early this morning, walk through the siq, the fissure that is the gateway to the splendid UNESCO World Heritage site of Petra. Inhabited since prehistoric times, the prosperity of this Nabataean city was due to the trade routes that passed through the region. An important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean, it is renowned for its iconic rock-cut façades, dramatic and elaborate tomb and temple architecture. The visible remains of water channelization, with tunnels and diversion dams which controlled and conserved seasonal rains, along with magnificent temples and churches, demonstrate the importance of the this ancient town. Our first view of the rose-red City is the dazzling Al-Khazneh Farun, or Pharaoh’s Treasury, carved out of the sandstone rock face facing the entrance to the city. Believed to have been the mausoleum of a Nabatean king. the tomb’s Hellenistic style reflects the influence of Alexandria. Walk along the Street of the Facades and view the magnificent tombs, theatre, markets, the Petra Church with its glorious mosaics, and the Great Temple, still under excavation. If onsite, enjoy a private tour with ACOR archaeologists at the Temple of the Winged Lions. Dinner is on our own to enjoy one of Petra’s fine restaurants. (B/L)
Day 11: Today is for the hardy as we ascend into the more remote areas of Petra. The hike is worthwhile for the breathtaking views over Petra along with seeing the riches of Nabatean architecture. Begin in Qasr al-Bint Temple, dating from the time of Christ and surrounded by a peribolos, or enclosure wall. The sacrificial altar in front, once covered with marble, suggests that this was the main place of worship in the Nabataean city. Pass the Unfinished Tomb and the Columbarium, a former tomb. Further up are the Lion Triclinium guarded by two feline reliefs, and Qattar ad-Deir, the Nabataeans’ water source. Our goal is the High Place, with views overlooking the city, and for the strong, the 12th-century Crusader fortress on the summit of al-Habees Mountain. In the afternoon, another stairway takes us to Ed Deir, the Monastery, to view a temple with the largest façade carved at Petra. This evening we will drive into the desert to feast on zarb, a traditional Bedouin meal of roasted lamb cooked in a hand-built mud oven. (B/L/D)
Day 12: This morning we will return to Amman. In the afternoon, stop at Bani Hamida House, home to a Bedouin women’s craft project, to see beautiful flat weave rugs for sale. Gather this evening for our final dinner party in one of Amman’s finest restaurants. Overnight for two nights at the al Qasr Hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 13: One of the best-preserved examples of medieval Arab military architecture in the Middle East is the 12th-century Ajlun Castle. Built between 1184 and 1188 by one of Saladin’s generals, it was an important strategic link in the defensive chain against the Crusaders. Explore the fortress before driving to the dramatically located ancient city, Umm Qais, perched on a high plain overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee. The site of the ancient Greco-Roman city of Gadara, it was a member of the Decapolis. Pella was also one of ten Decapolis cities that were founded during the Hellenistic period and became powerful under Roman jurisdiction. Excavations have revealed evidence of 6000 years of continuous settlement from the Stone Age to medieval Islamic times. We will see mud-brick houses and defense walls dating from the Bronze and Iron age, and later remains from the Roman, Byzantine, and early Islamic periods. (B/L)
Day 14: Transfer to the airport for our flight for the USA. (B)
$9,495.00 (per person, double occupancy) includes international roundtrip airfare from New York (or Chicago); all hotels; gratuities to guides and drivers; ground transportation; entry fees; and meals as noted in the itinerary.
Single Supplement: $1,095.00 Should a roommate be requested and one is not available, the single supplement must be charged.
Cost Does Not Include: The separate donation check for $150 (made out to Whitman College); passport or visa fees; food, alcohol, and other beverages not included with meals; telephone and fax charges; laundry, personal tips; or other items of a personal nature.
Donation Checks: The cost of the trip does not include the separate non-refundable donation check for $150.00 (per person) to Whitman College with ‘For Gary Rollefson’s Research Account, Anthropology’ in the memo line. As a tour company that benefits from the historical, cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to scholars, archaeological and cultural projects, and museums in each of our destinations. This has created a bond with the academic community that allows you to gain an ‘insider’s view’ of work being done in each country. Your donation check will go directly to the project’s budget. The donation is required as part of your registration and is non-refundable.
A deposit of $750.00 per person along with your registration is required to secure a reservation. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Upon receipt of your deposit and completed registration form, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information. Prior to the trip, we will send links to various websites of pertinent interest to the trip. Click here to download our Registration Form.
Cancellations and Refunds
Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will result in an administrative fee of $450.00 per person. Cancellations received less than 120 days before departure will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the tour, we will not reimburse any fees. Registrants are strongly advised to buy travel insurance that includes trip cancellation.
If you do not fly on the group flight, you are responsible for all flight arrangements and transportation (including airport transfers) to join the group. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. If you issue your own international flight, please send the complete schedule as soon as you have it.
The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be onsite when our groups arrive due to other commitments, or that the date or time of our visit to their project must be changed.
Note About Itinerary Changes
Changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation schedules may occur. A good book to read as well as a flexible attitude and a sense of humor are essential.
Walking and Standing
The group will be walking into and around cities and archaeological site extensively. All participants must be physically active and able to walk independently for distances that may exceed three miles or more each day. All participants are expected to be physically active and able to walk independently throughout our very full touring days. Keeping up with the group is each participant’s responsibility; please do not expect assistance from the other group members or staff.
THIS ARCHAEOLOGICAL TOUR OF JORDAN IS LIMITED TO 14 PARTICIPANTS