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Blog Winter
Experience Jordan in Winter

You may be wondering, is winter a good time to visit Jordan? Does Jordan get cold? Or, how can I make the most of my trip while staying warm? And of course, what should I pack?

– Don’t worry! We have the answers to those questions and more below. There are plenty of great options for sightseeing, hiking, and having an amazing experience!

How is the weather? And what to Pack?

Practically, if you are visiting Jordan between December and February: Do pack warm cloths! Although it may seem that the temperature is higher in Jordan than your home country, the feel of the temperature can be quite different. There can even be snow. Wearing layers is advisable, as it means you can react flexibly to changing temperatures (day/night, inside/outside), plus a decent coat, sturdy shoes, and warm socks.

Indoor heating may be different than what you are used to from your home country as well. In Jordan the buildings generally have room heaters (hot water carrying wall units), AC units (that are also able to blow hot air), or space heaters (electric or gas) as primary heat sources. That is instead of central heating like more modern buildings and areas. Hotels should always be comfortably heated in the winter. However, houses and older buildings are very often poorly insulated. So even inside buildings, you may want to wear a light jacket. 

Preparation is key, so be sure to check the weather forecast before you come for any signs of rain/snow!

Winter is a great season to hike in Jordan.

In summer most places are crowded with tourists, and the blazing sun can make being outdoors uncomfortable. But you can avoid both of these inconveniences by planning your trip during the winter months between November and March.

This time of the year is especially perfect for activities such as hiking, since the temperatures are comfortable for even long hikes on desert trails. For example the route from Little Petra to Petra is a fantastic hike to consider: Rated among the top hikes in the world by National Geographic, it has you enter Petra via the lesser travelled ‘back door’ route. That route enables you to explore the beautiful and wild landscape, as well as many other attractions on the way, without the heavy traffic of thousands of fellow tourists. It also incorporates the phenomenal site (and sight!) of Petra with a better grasp of cultural and historical places and traditions. 

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While in Petra, you perhaps also want to take the time for a visit to Petra kitchen. It’s a great option for the shorter days of winter! There you can learn to cook traditional meals with local women. Additionally, it is a fantastic opportunity to engage with locals, sample delicious dishes, and learn more about the fundamental importance of food and hospitality in Jordanian culture.

Other Options for visiting Jordan in Winter:

A trip to Madaba, could include visits to several (heated) museums and churches, as well as a stroll on nearby Mount Nebo. The view over the Holy Land is best at this time of the year, when the dust in the air has been washed away by the winter rains. There is a renovated church on top of the mountain, boasting an array of beautiful mosaics, and on the road up to/down from the site itself you can visit the best folklore museum in Jordan: La Storia. In Madaba there are different churches that are also worth stopping by – above all the Church of St George accommodating the oldest existing map of the region. …and since Madaba is a predominantly Christian town, a December trip can incorporate the sighting of sparkling Christmas trees too!

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Another great option is to travel to the Dead Sea. Due to it’s low altitude, the climate in this region is much warmer than in the rest of Jordan, and the opportunities for relaxation are unrivaled. Even if you find it too chilly to swim in the sea, many of the hotels have heated pools, plus the spas are heavenly – treat yourself!

And last but not least, there are also many options in the capital city of Amman. In Amman there are art galleries, restaurants, cafes, cultural centers, concerts, historical sites, or local markets. As travel experts, we would be happy to recommend some options specific to your trip.

Blog OliveHarvest
Olive Harvest in Jordan

If you happen to be in Jordan in autumn, you are definitely lucky! …because that means that you can participate in the olive harvest, and experience this memorable event up close as you work alongside local families.

 

An essential part of Jordanian culture

 

The olive harvest is an established event in Jordan’s calendar. Since thousands of years it holds significance both in terms of tradition and in terms of being a vital source of income. This makes the farming of olives an essential part of Jordanian culture and economy. The products that emerge are diverse, and besides the olives also the wood is very valuable. It is fashioned into a variety of products from jewelry to household items and furniture, and then sold. Important note: Only wood from non-producing trees is used for that.

 

But the real deal are the olives! Or perhaps rather what’s made out of them is. Jordan is one of the world’s top-10 producers of olive oil. And this is a good thing, for it is also consumed by the gallon here. Practically every meal uses this precious ingredient – a local favorite is simply bread dipped in olive oil and Za’atar, a traditional Arab spice mixture consisting of thyme, roasted sesame seeds, salt, and additional other spices.

 

Olive Picking

 

Wondering if you would be up to that task?

 

So, as stated above, if you are in Jordan during autumn, you have the great chance to visit a farm and participate in the olive picking process.

 

Here is a simple how-to:

 

1. Stretch plastic tarpaulins below the tree.

 

2. Pull your hand down every single branch, stripping the trees of the ripe olives, which then fall onto the tarpaulins.

 

3. Once the tree is stripped of all the olives, shake them into the middle of the tarpaulin. Sift through them, and also remove the twigs that have fallen into the mix.

 

4. Also collect any olives lying on the ground. Don’t even think about throwing dried and shriveled olives which are seemingly past their best! They are actually the best kind to take to the press. This is because the water has evaporated from them, leaving only concentrated oil behind.

 

5. Pile the olives, now twig free, in buckets, which are poured into sacks. These sacks get transported to the warehouse and factory where the press lives. There, they are churned and juiced, pulped and purified, until only the gorgeous yellow oil remains.

 

 

This experience, which is part of our weekly walks program, offers excellent insight into a process that is at the heart of Jordanian culture, in terms of economy, cuisine and tradition. Of course, not all olives are turned into olive oil. There is another process that begins to create olives for eating. Yum! But that is for another post.

 

If you’re in Jordan now, sign up for the harvest – for a day in the fresh air of the green northern countryside with many new interesting insights and a lot of fun for young and old. You won’t regret it!

 

Get more information about this and other cultural experiences, events and trips here.

Blog AmmanCitadel
Experience Jordan’s History: Amman Citadel

Jordan has more amazing historical sites than most people realize. This historic fortress, the Amman Citadel, is located on top of Jabal al-Qal’a, the highest of seven hills on which the city was built (jabal means ‘mountain’, qal’a ‘castle’).

Travel through time…

The citadel boasts a diverse range of previous inhabitants: Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, as well as Umayyad and Ayyubid dynasties. Of course, this is a paradise for everyone else who loves history. The first signs of human occupation that archaeologists found date back to the Middle Bronze Age (1650-1550 BC). At that time, most likely either a fortress, or an agora (a public space for arts, sports and politics) occupied the hill. Today’s visitors can trace the great ancient civilizations through the remnants of a Roman Hercules Temple, a Byzantine church, a spectacular Umayyad palace, and many other ruins and fragments. They can also visit the Jordan Archaeological Museum. In the museum many excavated artifacts are preserved, including both every day items, and the finer things of life such as jewels and statues.

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“I’m not interested in History…” – Here is why you should still visit:

You may say, “Thanks for all the information, but historical sights are not really my cup of tea. Why should I visit?” – We have a few more reasons to convince you…

1. The Location

The citadel is the perfect place to take a moment of rest. This is in particular from the busy and sometimes even stressful atmosphere in downtown. Since the site is located only a few minutes walking distance from Roman theater and Husseini Mosque (to be honest though, that’s downhill), you can fit a visit easily into your schedule. The way from downtown to the citadel is mostly a steep uphill. We therefore recommend to take a taxi (should cost less than 1 JD), or plan a few extra minutes of walking.

2. The View

From the citadel’s vantage point, situated atop the highest hill in Amman, you can see far out in every direction across the beautiful city. As you look west, the tallest freestanding flag in the world flies proudly in the wind. At the foot of the hill the amphitheater and downtown Amman buzz with life. And all throughout the year you can see flocks of domesticated doves circle over the city, that are joined by numerous kites during winter and spring time. It is a strange and fascinating feeling to stand in the ancient site that has been occupied by so many cultures, all while observing the modern city of today.

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3. The Atmosphere

Like the many locals coming to the Citadel, you can take time to relax, have a chat with friends and let you gaze wander over the sea of houses. Due to the variety of people present, you oftentimes find yourself enveloped by an atmosphere that is as diverse and multicultural as the traces of history covering the place.

Practically speaking, there are WC facilities on the mountain and a nice little market where you can get ice cream, waters, snacks, and coffee. The site closes around sunset – so make sure to be there early enough, so you can lean back to enjoy Amman in the glow of the golden hour (or any other hour of the day).

Blog PetraBackDoor
Experience Petra: Enter via the ‘Back Door’

If you come to Jordan, you absolutely have to take the opportunity to discover the Nabataean city of Petra. Carved in beautiful red rock more than 2000 years ago, the impressive buildings and long staircases take present day visitors back in time and hold many secrets to discover.

We highly recommend entering Petra via the back route, which takes you on unbeaten paths past the Monastery (ad-Deir). This way, you will escape the majority of other tourists and end up with an enriched encounter of this magical site.

Options:

The ‘back door route’ can basically be done in one day. Starting at Little Petra, the path will take you all the way to the monastery and down into Petra. Along the way, enjoy taking in spectacular landscapes and the awe-inspiring monastery, arriving at the site with time for exploration.

For the more passionate hikers among us, there is the option to do the full Dana to Petra trek. That trek, which is also part of the Jordan Trail, is not without it difficulties – you especially should make sure to bring a certain fitness level. But don’t let this statement dishearten you. The experience is totally worth every bit of struggle! Rated as one of the best in the world by National Geographic, the hike leads through a wild and stunningly beautiful scenery, diverse landscapes and untouched nature.

The full hike, which can be completed in around 5 days, should generally be done with a tour company as it leads through some very remote areas.

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Re-Entering via the ‘front door’

If you’re staying the night in Petra you can attend ‘Petra by Night’, where the sight is illuminated by hundreds of candles. The next morning we recommend re-entering Petra the common way: via the Siq. You will walk through the canyon, walls of rose-colored stone towering above you on each side. While walking the anticipation builds as you feel yourself nearing the heart of the ancient site. Suddenly, there it is, right in front of you!

The appearance of the Treasury at the end of the gorge is a breathtaking moment. And while it is a moment usually shared with many fellow travellers, you will be the lucky one. By first entering via the ‘back door’ and then – assuming you made it out of bed in time – early the next morning via the Siq, you will have gotten the best of both worlds. Petra is so immaculate it is best taken in from multiple angles and lighting. From afternoon, evening, and morning sunlight to candlelight – Petra’s majesty can be witnessed in many different ways. 

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Our Recommendations:

If experiencing Petra via the backdoor seems exciting to you, check out this tour which offers the best sights of Jordan and the Little Petra to Petra hike via the back entrance: Jordan Hikes & Sights

If you’re up for more something more physically challenging, you should have a look at our Dana to Petra Treks – possible to do privately or as part of a bigger group.

…or you can of course request to add any version of the hike on to any of our private tours. We are looking forward to hear from you!

bekdash ice cream experience jordan
Experience Taste: Bekdash Ice Cream from Syria to You

While in Amman, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to experience the many tastes you won’t find in other places. Maybe you wouldn’t think to look for or find Syrian ice cream in Jordan, but we think you should not miss the opportunity to taste this delightful substance.

Bekdash is a well-established business, originating in Syria, and now available in different locations in Amman like: Galleria Mall, Sweifieh, on Al-Madina Al-Monawara Street and Downtown.

The ice cream is the gem of the selection: specially formulated to make it resistant to the heat and less likely to melt! So for all those people who sarcastically comment that ice cream should be made heatproof: this one is!

The recipe and method of making the ice cream remains the same today as it did when it was first created in 1895- a true taste of tradition!

Incorporating milk, heavy cream, mastic (an aromatic resin), and flour ground from orchid tuber, this ice cream is very different to other ice cream both in taste, being less sweetand in texture, it has elastic properties(!).

The rich ice cream is rolled in a thick coating of pistachios and cashews, adding a delicious salty crunch as well as aesthetic appeal- it’s almost as pleasing to the eye as it is to the stomach.

syrian ice cream in jordan - Experience Jordan

Hopefully, while you are in eating your ice cream, you will also get a chance to hear the beating of the ice cream. That’s right! The ice cream is pounded rhythmically like a drum. You will be hard put to not get up and dance.

They offer a range of flavours and toppings, but the traditional is the “Arabia with Nuts”.

To read more of the intriguing history behind Bekdash, see this article by The Irish Times.

There’s something more special than just the flavour and appearance of this ice cream though: in eating it, you are keeping something of Syria’s wonderful traditions alive. While the country may be turbulent currently, it can also be celebrated even in the simplest of ways.

Petra Treasury Tala Dabbain Photography
Experience Petra: Travel Tips for the Adventurous Traveller

Petra, one of the seven wonders of the modern world, is undoubtedly on the “MUST VISIT” list of all travellers to Jordan. As an attraction holding so much prestige, it is important to us that no one should go and return feeling underwhelmed or disappointed. So, here are a few Petra travel tips to make your trip easier, stress-free, and more than worthwhile!

trip to petra tips

1. Entrance Fee

For Jordanians, entry is JD1. For tourists, one day entry is JD50, 2 days is 55, three days is 60. It pays to be ready with cash.

2. Horse rides to the Siq

When you enter, you will be welcomed by Bedouin men with horses offering you a ride for free- yes for FREE! The price of a ride down to the Siq is included within the price of your ticket, but should you have a ride you are expected to tip. Tipping is important and is a way to show honour to the culture and your host, the bedouins who use to live in Petra. It’s a lively experience!

This is the first slightly confusing thing for people when visiting Petra. But it won’t be for you after reading these Petra travel tips.

3. Camel and Donkey rides within the site

There are many animals inside Petra which show the authentic Bedouin culture that developed around Petra long ago. The opportunities for a ride on a variety of animals are plentiful, and feel free to have one- there’s nothing to fear. Just enquire about price before hand, and remember  that you are expected to tip too.

4. Sellers – Trinkets & Food

There are many people selling trinkets, souvenirs, kohl, food, drinks, etc. All are pretty much the same price. Enjoy haggling, but remember that once you start to haggle the expectation is to purchase.

Taking food and water with you will save you a heap of money but there are many cafes and a couple of restaurants on site. It is culturally acceptable to only buy a drink and then sit and eat your own food. Remember though, you have a long walk into the site so keeping your pack as light as possible is advisable.

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5. The monastery – Al Deir and Beyond

Al Deir is a good climb up from Petra (around 1000 steps in fact). It is worth going for sure, but make sure you set yourself adequate time to do so- take into account the going up, site seeing, and coming back! Once you’re up there, you can go on just a little farther to a look-out point. This is a must; seriously, you’ve already come all that way- make the most of it by seeing all of the amazing views!

In addition to this little hike there are a few other hikes available from the site. It is well worth it to pick a couple to do and stay for a few days. You don’t want to miss seeing these spectacular views!

6. Toilets

USAID have done a great job of making Petra completely tourist friendly in terms of facilities, including toilets- which are spread out around the archeological site.

7. Visiting times

Petra is open from 6am-6pm in the Summer, and 6am-4pm in the Winter. Going early in the morning avoids the rush of tourist groups, and the heat- which makes a real bonus if you’re planning on trekking a lot (which is kind of a given here).

8. Night Time

‘Petra by night’ runs every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and offers an amazing perspective of Petra as visitors watch the rose-red city illuminated by candle-light. For admissions information click here.

9. Guide

The site of Petra is light on signs and information. If you really want to know about the history and culture of the past and/or present, a guide is essential. Otherwise, it’s pretty much just looking at the scenery, which is amazing! But, there is so much more to the site than what you can see with your eyes. The stories that come with a good guide will connect you to a place that may seem quite foreign. The reality though was that the great city was inhabited by people, who were not so different from you and me.

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10. Additional Information

On the official “Visit Petra” website you can view more information regarding fees, plus advice on how to spend your time and transport to/from the site.

If you’re keen to read up on the subject a bit more, there are some great blogs that give a tourist’s perspective on Petra, including this one listing 10 top Petra travel tips.

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A trip to Petra is unforgettable; the magnificence of a city “half as old as time” won’t leave you disappointed. There are options to purchase water inside the site as we have said, but remember to drink a LOT of water. There is nothing worse than hiking out of the site when you are thirsty. Bring a hat and/or scarf to cover your head. It’s surprising how this one small item can make you feel so much better in the heat.

So grab some sturdy shoes and get exploring! The following tours include Petra in the itinerary, but as we can customize any tour for you, just let us know and we can add it to your trip.

St. George Church Madaba
Experience Culture: Madaba

Madaba is a city that may on the offset seem less historic than modern. But, it is a city with ancient roots, mentioned two times in the Old Testament of the Bible, that can still be explored today. We wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on experiencing this unique part of Jordan.

As you drive to Madaba the experience begins. On the outskirts of the city, there are many family homes that have been there for generations. You’ll notice the goats and sheep wandering in the fields. The fields are either green or brown depending on when you visit. As you enter the town, you will see it full of life. People everywhere you look.

Welcome to Madaba, the city of mosaics and religious history.

Before heading out to one of the many local attractions, first, stop at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. This church has the famous map of the Holy City circa 70 AD. Not only does it depict Jerusalem, but it also depicts the areas of Palestine and the Nile delta. It is the oldest mosaic map of the Holy Land. If you just look at the tile inside, you may miss the significance. Be sure to check out the large post outside the church that explains the map.

 

Mosaic Floor in Madaba

 

As you leave the church, spend some time wandering the small tourist shops. Yes, they are touristy, but they also represent families who have been shopowners in this area for generations. These shops often have mosaic replicas of the well-known designs in Madaba, as well as many other things. The owners usually speak basic if not excellent English and they love to share about their city and country. Ask them some questions and don’t be surprised if they ask if you would like tea. 

 

In Madaba, there is also an Archeological Park where you can see more mosaics. It is easy to see why Madaba is well known for this art form.

 

Archeologocial Site Madaba

 

We don’t recommend leaving without a food break. There is a lot of food in Madaba. One of our favorites is Harat Jdoudna. It is a fantastic restaurant in an old home.

 

Orthodox Church madaba

 

When you are ready to head out, there are many different options awaiting you. Close to Madaba, you will find other attractions such as Mount Nebo, La Storia Museum, Dead Sea, Ma’in Hot Springs, Bani Hamida, Umm Ar’rasas, and the Baptism Site.

 

Enjoy your experience in Madaba!

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Experience History: Mount Nebo

Mount Nebo, according to scripture, is the mountain on which the prophet Moses was shown the Promised Land before he died.

 

Located just outside of the city of Madaba, Nebo is a top attraction in Jordan due to its religious and historical significance; it boasts a large collection of ancient mosaics amongst other artifacts. If you want to experience history, this should be on your “must see” list.

 

A sculpture of Moses' staff

A sculpture of Moses’ staff

 

It’s quiet here if you are lucky enough to arrive when there are no buses of tourists, just a few others who are like you, in awe of the beautiful scenery and fresh air.

 

From the top of the mountain you can look out in all directions, onto the Baptism Site, Jerusalem, Jericho, the Dead Sea, Amman… The whole land is spread out before you, just as God showed it to Moses, only with a few more buildings!

 

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Looking out over the Dead Sea, towards Jericho and Jerusalem

 

There’s a fantastic renovated church at the top of the hill, filled with an impressive selection of mosaics that date back thousands of years to when the first church was established in this location.

 

Ancient mosaics in the renovated church atop Mt Nebo

Ancient mosaics in the renovated church atop Mt Nebo

 

A short walk down the Mount is the “La Storia” museum that, as the name suggests, documents history- specifically religious and Jordanian. The displays consisted of life size models, some moving and some stationary, depicting key stories from the Qur’an, Bible and Torah (such as Noah’s Ark, Moses parting the sea, and Jesus’ baptism), plus a whole section named “the village”.

 

la storia

 

This latter area is literally a large model village recreating Jordanian life as it used to be, complete with all the traditional professions, shops and a school. It is very impressive to see, and the museum guides are entertaining and knowledgeable; it is worth incorporating into your visit.

 

From Mount Nebo there are several other sites that can be included in your tour. Madaba is a historic city that is very close, the Dead Sea is a short drive and along the way you pass the Baptism Site. Also, there is Makawir, Ma’in Hot Springs, and Lot’s Cave.

 

A trip to Mount Nebo offers fascinating insight into history, religion and general Jordanian culture. We highly recommend including this great spot on your Jordan tour.

 

 

ajloun forest reserve cabin
Experience Luxury: Ajloun Reserve Camp

Not everyone loves to camp, but glamping is a treat enjoyed by all. Maybe cabins with beautiful views aren’t ‘glamping’ as such, but we think they’re pretty close. A luxury camping experience is certainly what you can find at the Ajloun Reserve.

 

This camp, nestled in RSCN territory (The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature and Wild Jordan) offers explorers a true “Evergreen Escape”.  Situated in the highlands of North Jordan, rich greenery covers the 13km2 of hill country.

 

The idyllic location offers an unforgettable get-away. This coupled with the camping facilities is what makes this venue one we knew we needed to recommend to you.

 

There are different levels of accommodations. If you are looking for a luxury camping experience then the Individual Cabins are a must. Standing on your balcony you will have beautiful views of the green hills as the cabins are surrounded by oak, pistachio and carob trees. Also in your private cabin you will find a spacious bedroom (linen provided) and bathrooms as well as living space with electricity and small refrigerator. The seclusion of the place, far from the noises and business of the city, ensures a restful experience, in a setting of both luxury and phenomenal scenery.

 

There is an on-site restaurant at the camp site, noted for it’s local and homegrown produce, as well as the Nature Shop, which offers an array of artisan Ajloun handicrafts.

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If you can ever bring yourself to leave the delights of the lodge, there are many activities in which you can participate. Be it one of the many year-round guided tours, which take in the flora and fauna of the forest- including Roe deer and orchards aplenty- as well as the historical gems of the place.

 

Close Historical Sites:

  • Mar Elias: Ruins of one of Jordan’s oldest churches, is a place you can relax in the shade with sweet chai (tea), before enjoying a lunch hand-crafted by the locals for you.
  • Jerash: Jordan’s second-most important tourist site, as it is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of Roman architecture outside of Rome itself!

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Close Cultural Experiences:

  • The Soap House is also worth a visit, with its hand-fashioned Orjan soap, created using local olive and essential oils.
  • Opposite the camp is the renowned Biscuit House, where visitors can relax and enjoy sweet delicacies handmade by the ladies there.
  • As if that wasn’t enough, you can taste of the culture more by partaking in classes of the ancient art of calligraphy: printing fine Arabic script onto leather or silk.

 

The combination of the fresh-air and stillness, with the variety of activities and sights, topped by the most comfortable stay one could wish for, makes this an experience we could not not recommend to you, our honored customers. It is truly too good to miss.

 

More information can be found on the RSCN site. But here is a quick informational brochure from them. Be sure to check out the information on Trip Advisor.