The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a small country with a rich history where evidence of ancient civilizations appears around every bend. Travelers can visit expansive ruins of Greco-Roman cities, numerous Old and New Testament sites, early Christian holy sites, the magnificent Nabatean city of Petra, monumental crusader castles, Bedouin desert camps and exquisite examples of early Arab military architecture -- all in a compact and diverse country.If you are looking for a destination that combines the best of Middle Eastern hospitality with the sheer beauty of natural landscapes and centuries of ancient culture without massive tourist crowds, Jordan may well be your dream vacation -- at an affordable price.
Sunny Land Tours (tel. 800/783-7839; www.jordanhotdeal.com) features a selection of Jordanian trips including the nine-day Royal Tour of Jordan that features round-trip airfare from New York to Amman (Saturday departures), seven nights' accommodations (at the San Rock Hotel in Amman and the Petra Palace or Edom Hotel in Petra), breakfast daily, one dinner and land transportation. The package also includes guided tours in Amman, Jerash, Ajloun, the Dead Sea, Madaba, Mt. Nebo, Kerak and Petra and all entrance fees. Highlights of this trip include visiting the Roman Theatre and Citadel in Amman, a tour to Kan Zaman Village for dinner and a folklore show, floating in the Dead Sea, the Roman city of Pella, Umm Qais (ancient Gadara) with its beautiful views over the northern Jordan Valley, the Sea of Galilee, the Yarmouk River gorge and the Golan Heights, the Roman city of Jerash (the "Pompeii of the East," with its well-preserved churches, temples, Nymphaeum and colonnaded streets), the 12th century Saracen castle at Ajlun, stunning Petra with its famed el Khazneh (Treasury) building, temples, tombs and Roman theatre, the mosaic city of Madaba, Mt. Nebo (the supposed burial site of Moses overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea), the 12th century Crusader castle at Kerak and a four wheel drive adventure in the Wadi Rum Desert (where "Lawrence of Arabia" was filmed). This package stays at "value" hotels and is priced from $1,599 per person based on double occupancy. Travel is from January 1 to April 30 in both 2007 and 2008; $1,699 for September 1 to December 12, 2007; $1,899 for travel during the months of May, August and December 13 to 24, 2007; and high season rates of $2,159 for June 1 to July 31 and December 25 to 31, 2007. Single supplement is $250 and the land-only price for this trip (no international airfare) is $999. Taxes in the range of $118 to $198 per person are additional and other departure cities are available for additional cost.
On the Go Tours (tel. 877/541-0882; www.onthegotours.com) offers you the opportunity to spend Christmas and New Year in the sun in Jordan. They have three tours on offer -- the eight-day Christmas in Petra, the eight-day New Year in Wadi Rum and the 17-day "Classic Road to Jordan." The Christmas in Petra tour is a land-only trip that starts and ends in Petra on December 21, 2007 or 2008. It is priced at $1,049 per person with a $229 single supplement. The tour includes airport transfers, breakfast daily, two dinners (including a Christmas feast at Petra Kitchen), six nights' accommodations in three-star hotels and one-night in a desert camp, a four wheel drive Wadi Rum desert trek, transportation and touring with a personal tour leader for groups of six or more. Visit Amman, Jerash, Umm Qais, the Dead Sea, Petra, Wadi Rum, Umm ar-Rasas, Madaba and Mt Nebo. The New Years in Wadi Rum trip is also $1,049 includes all the features of the Petra Christmas tour but with a New Year's Bedouin party at Wadi Rum desert camp instead of a Christmas dinner. The tour departs on December 26, 2007 and 2008 and also visits the same attractions and destinations. Add $80 for either trips to cover additional entrance fees to archaeological sites, museums and attractions. For $1,579, take a Classic Road to Jordan starting in Cairo. This trip includes airport transfers, breakfast daily, two lunches, three dinners, all meals aboard the Nile felucca cruise, 11 nights in four- and five-star hotels, one night at the Wadi Run desert camp, two nights aboard an open deck ship, one night aboard a train form Cairo to Aswan in a sleeper cabin and one night about a bus from Luxor to Dahab. Along the way and escorted guide leads tours of Cairo, Giza, Saqqara, Aswan, Edfu, Luxor, Petra, Dahab, Aqaba and Wadi Rum. Entrance fees to all the sites run to $150 a person. Departure dates are April 7, December 18 and 22, 2007 and December 20 and 24, 2008. International airfare is additional.
Those looking for some religious inspiration, may well find it on Pilgrim Tours' (tel. 800/322-0788; www.pilgrimtours.com) eight-day "Inspirational Christian Tour" which runs from April 27 to May 4, May 25 to June 1, June 22 to 29, August 29 to September 5 and October 19 to 26, 2007. Priced from $1768, the package includes round-trip air fare from New York, six nights' accommodations in four-star hotels, expert Biblical guides, admissions, baggage handling, sightseeing and breakfast and dinner daily. Highlights include three nights staying in Aqaba -- the Biblical Ezion Geber built during the time of King Solomon, the Aqaba Archaeological Museum, the Aqaba Fort, the walled city of Ayla, the world's oldest church (dating back to late 3rd century AD), Petra, the hilltop palace/fortress of Machaerus (where John the Baptist was beheaded), Mt. Nebo, Madaba (best known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics), the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George (home to the earliest original map of the Holy land), Bethany Beyond the Jordan (where Jesus was baptized), the Roman Amphitheatre in Amman and the city's souks. Land-only price for this tour is $795 and single supplement is $268. Air taxes and gratuities are additional.
If you are visiting Israel, Jordan is just next door (or technically just over the Jordan River and Dead Sea). There are several companies that offer one-day or multi-day trips from Israel to Jordan (most starting from the beautiful Red Sea resort city of Eilat) including Yalla Tours (www.yallatours.com), Karkom Jeep Tous (www.negevjeep.co.il/english/jordan.html) and Discover Israel (www.ddtravel-acc.com/jordan.htm).
Royal Jordanian Airlines (tel. 800/223-0470; www.rja.com.jo) has flights to Amman from New York (via Tunis), Detroit (via Larnaca) and Chicago with add on services from Las Vegas and Phoenix with flight durations ranging from 12 to 19 hours. Sample round-trip fares from New York during June 2007 start from $1,164 plus taxes of $225. From Chicago fares start at $1,262 plus taxes of $225. In April, 2007 flight prices are considerably lower starting from $793 plus taxes from Chicago or just $619 plus taxes from New York (even during the Easter holiday period).
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