Assalam ‘Alaykum! I am very excited to announce the return to Petra after an enormously successful first adventure in 2017. There are no words or pictures that can describe the unique beauty and magnitude of Jordan.
In all of my international travels, and in the many international yoga travel adventures that I have led, I have never felt safer in a foreign country than I have in Jordan. This has been a total surprise considering how volatile the Middle East can be, which has also been the number one concern expressed by students interested in traveling to Petra. I often hear, “Aren’t you afraid to go to there?” and equally often I have heard from my Jordanian friends “Please tell your friends to come visit us. It is safe here.”
To date, Jordan is the safest country in that region, exceeding even Turkey’s political unrest and violence. Jordanians want you to come see their amazing country, and so do I! The benefit about this misconception about Jordan being a dangerous place is that tourism is down so none of the great sites, like Petra — the 7th Wonder of The World — are overrun with tourists making it easy to get a real sense of these sites with little hassle. Equally surprising is that vendors are low key and respectful and seldom bother tourists to buy their wares even though one would think they would be desperate to do so — something also very different from other Arab countries.
As I write this, everywhere in the media from the New York Times through National Geographic are articles about a recent new discovery at Petra just this year! Thanks to better satellites and drone images, archeologists have received a much better idea of the scale and importance of this new site even though it will be years before it is excavated. Also, Vogue magazine just featured Jordan in its Top 10 Travel Destinations!
Not to worry, there’s already more than you can imagine at Petra and I only mention this because it is just part of the en vogue and buzz about visiting this timeless country and ancient culture. Traveling around Jordan is effortless and seldom takes more than 3 hours to get from place to place in our air-conditioned tour bus. The weather in November is the best, which is why it is considered high season.
Here’s our itinerary for 2019
October 31 - November 9
(susceptible to minor changes and refining)
Getting to Jordan is a bit of its own journey! Allow yourself a day to acclimate. For those of you who are up for it, there will be an informal dinner and orientation at the hotel on November 1st. This meal is not included in your package.
DAY 1: Jerash
Tour the modern and ancient capital of the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, Amman. Amman has a population of about 2.8 million people and is a busy commercial and administrative center. It is home to many fine hotels, restaurants, art galleries, three museums, as well as old markets and Souks that sell gold and spices. Modern boutiques offer everything from local handicrafts to the latest imported fashions.
History and Architecture
Towering above Amman, in an area known as the “citadel”– excavations have revealed structures from the Neolithic period through to the Hellenistic, late Roman period to the Arab-Islamic period. The structures include: the Temple of Hercules, the Umayyad palace, and a Byzantine church. At the foot of the citadel, carved into the hill, lies the roman theater. Having 6,000 seats, it is still used for various events to this very day.
The marvels of nature and the genius of medieval Arab military architecture have given northern Jordan two of the most important ecological and historical attractions in the Middle East: the sprawling pine forests of the Ajloun-Dibbine area, and the towering Ayyubid castle at Ajloun, which helped to defeat the Crusaders eight centuries ago.
Ajloun Castle (Qal’at Ar-Rabad) was built by one of Saladin’s generals in 1184 AD to control the iron mines of Ajloun, and to deter the Franks from invading Ajloun. Ajloun Castle dominated the three main routes leading to the Jordan valley and protected the trade and commercial routes between Jordan and Syria; it became an important link in the defensive chain against the Crusaders, who unsuccessfully spend decades trying to capture the castle and the nearby village.
After Ajloun Castle we drive to Tell Mar Elias and Anjara where we will have a garden lunch at Lady of the Mountain village under ice pine, olive and fig trees. The ladies of the village will prepare this wonderful home cooked meal and the profit goes to helping out the community and orphanage.
After lunch we head to Jerash – A close second to Petra on the list of favorite destinations in Jordan–the ancient city of Jerash boasts an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years. Jerash lies on a plain surrounded by hilly wooded areas and fertile basins. Conquered by General Pompey in 63 BC, it came under Roman rule and was one of the ten great Roman cities, the Decapolis League.
The city’s golden age came under Roman rule, during which time it was known as Gerasa, and the site is now generally acknowledged to be one of the best-preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. Hidden for centuries in sand before being excavated and restored over the past 70 years, Jerash reveals a fine example of the grand, formal provincial Roman urbanism that is found throughout the Middle East, comprising paved and colonnaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, handsome theaters, spacious public squares and plazas, baths, fountains and city walls pierced by towers and gates.
DAY 2: Sea of Galilee
Morning Yoga & Breakfast
Continue our exploration of Amman before heading to Umm Qais – a town in northern Jordan near the site of the ancient town of Gadara. It is situated in the extreme northwest of the country, where the borders of Jordan, Israel and Syria meet, perched on a hilltop (378 meters above sea level), overlooking the sea of Tiberias, the Golan Heights and the Yarmuk gorge. We will have lunch at Romero Restaurant, which over looks the Sea of Galilee and all three countries.
Dinner on your own tonight.
“Truthfully, this was not a region of the world I thought I’d be visiting, but I can’t possibly describe how happy I am I said yes. David orchestrated such a safe, rich and rewarding experience in such a truly amazing place. The balance of daily asana practice with perfectly curated cultural experiences (Dead Sea! Petra!! Camel ride by starlight!!! Yoga in a Bedouin tent!!!!), and – ohmygawd – the food! There’s not a day since my return that I haven’t marveled at just how lucky I am to have been in the right place at the right time to receive all the gifts this trip offered.”
DAY 3: Evason Ma’in Hot Springs
Morning Yoga & Breakfast
Leave for Mount Nebo, the mountaintop memorial of Moses with captivating views of the Jordan Valley, Dead Sea and The River Jordan. Early Christians built a small Byzantine church there, which has been expanded into a vast complex. During his visit to Jordan in 2001, the Late Pope John Paul II held a sermon here that was attended by some 20,000 faithful.
Embark on a tour of Madaba Best known for its spectacular Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics; Madaba is home to the famous 6th century Mosaic Map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. With two million pieces of vividly colored local stone, it depicts hills and valleys, villages and towns as far as the Nile Delta. The Madaba Mosaic Map covers the floor of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George.
Walk to Harriet Jdodna Restaurant for another amazing regional lunch. After lunch we drive to Hot Springs Ma’in Hotel. Once at the Ma’in we will have an afternoon yoga session followed by free time for the hot springs, spa treatments, and hikes.
Buffet dinner is included at the hotel restaurant.
Evason Ma’in Hot Springs
Enjoy another of Jordan’s natural treasures. Just minutes away from the Dead Sea, at 866 feet below sea level, are the Evason Ma’in Hot Springs and Six Senses Spa. This oasis reopened in 2010 after a $12 million renovation. It is known for its access to waterfalls that are fed by hot mineral springs. Legend has it that they were once the bathing place of King Herod the Great, since the water had medicinal and therapeutic properties. A new spa complex is devoted to the healing properties of these mineral rich waters. The spa also features treatments such as the three-hour Hammam ma’in signature journey, which includes the use of dead sea salts, steam, mud wrap, a body massage and a scalp massage using warm henna flower oil, and a bath in the waters from the hot springs.
DAY 4: Wadi Rum
Morning Yoga & breakfast
After a leisurely morning we will head out for Wadi Rum dessert, the majestic backdrops the films Lawrence of Arabia and the Martian. This will be one of the longer bus rides of about 4 hours heading south. Wadi Rum known as The Valley of the Moon – cut into the sandstone and granite rock. Inhabited by many human cultures since prehistoric times, with many cultures–including the Nabateans–leaving their mark in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples.
In the West, Wadi Rum known for its connection with British officer T. E. Lawrence, who passed through several times during the Arab Revolt of 1917–1918. Desert Trekking, Jeep Safari, Camels ride, Hot Air Ballooning and Camping are some the activities you can do in Wadi Rum. We will take jeeps to watch the sunset before heading to our luxury camp with our spaces and well-decorated tents.
Buffet dinner included.
Camp Wadi Rum Night Camp
DAY 5: Wadi Rum/Petra
Up at 4:30 am to mount our camels and head toward sunrise. This is a breathtaking experience, as we become part of a Bedouin tribe of camels and camel herders. After greeting the sun we head back to camp for showers, yoga & buffet breakfast. We will the hop aboard the same jeeps as the day before to head back to our bus in order to drive from Wadi Rum to the city of Petra – about 2 hours.
Petra visit (First visit: 3 hours)
- The Obelisk Tombs
- The Siq
- The Treasury
- Roman theater
- Point of View of the Royal Tombs
Buffet Dinner Petra hotel.
Explore ‘the hidden treasury of the lost Nabatean city of Petra’. Petra (meaning ‘rock’ in Greek) is the legacy of the Nabatean race, an industrious Arab people, who lived in the city nearly 2,000 years ago. The city is a great feat of engineering, with its unique architecture and sophisticated water channels. Because of the city’s hidden location it had been kept a secret by the Arabs and remained unknown to the western world until 1812 when it was revealed by the Swiss explorer, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, who tricked the Arabs into gaining access into the city.
The city was designated a world heritage site in 1985 and recently it was declared one of the new 7 wonders of the world. Petra is a city that’s architecture was carved in the rock. Our guides will take you through “al-Siq”, the historic entrance into the rose red city, which follows a kilometer long chasm with walls soaring 200 meters above. The original entrance to Petra takes you downward through a winding gorge dramatized by the huge range of colored sandstone ancient rock walls. At the end of the Siq, Petra’s most famous monument, the treasury, comes into view. The journey into the city is breathtaking.
DAY 6: Petra
Get an early breakfast to get an early start back into Petra. If we get an early enough start we will have time to chant in some of the tombs and temples, also hiking it while the temperatures are still agreeable. We will also hike, walk, ride donkeys and horses to new locations – including the “monastery” and have a very good buffet lunch (included) at the international restaurant on site. Part of the day will be with our tour guide and the rest will be up to your own exploration.
After a good chunk of the day on the ruins we will return to the hotel to sit by pool and re-hydrate. Dinner is on your own before we head back to the site for the candle lit evening presentation called Petra By Night.
“(Journey To Petra)… was an unforgettable trip that was so much more than Petra. The community, the yoga, the food, the sights, the time spent walking the roads of ancient civilizations put so much of my daily life into better perspective. This was some combination of retreat and adventure in a land that holds history of mythic proportion. Seeing this part of the world was also a humbling experience that brought me compassion and understanding for past and present political, religious and social events. I am changed and I would do this Journey again in a heartbeat.”
DAY 7: Feynan Eco Village
Morning yoga & breakfast
Drive to the picturesque Dana Village and through the terraced gardens and local craft workshops. Visitors can meet the local residents, see original Ottoman architecture, and learn more about Dana’s rich history. Lots of longhaired goats to watch too before lunch at the Village Trail. Then a 2-hour drive to Feynan Eco Village arriving in time for sunset hike and candle lit evening in the desert.
Feynan Eco is located on the western end of Dana. The lodge has been mentioned by national geographic adventure magazine as one of the top fifty Eco Lodges in the world. The lodge is part of a Jordanian non-governmental organization known as the royal society for the conservation of nature (RSCN). It is devoted to protecting the kingdom’s natural landscape and wildlife. Stargazing will follow dinner as we listen to Bedouin folk songs accompanied by the delicate sound of the oud (Bedouin stringed instrument).
Feynan Eco Lodge
DAY 8: Feynan Eco Village/Dead Sea
Yoga will follow sunrise hike before breakfast. Next we have a cooking class where we'll make our own tasty lunch, learning how to create wonderful Arabic food. Leaving in the afternoon, we begin a 2-hour drive to the Dead Sea with vista stops along the way.
Arrive and check in to the Dead Sea Marriott late afternoon.
Dinner on your own. There is a very good Italian restaurant at the Marriott, which is one of three dinning options.
DAY 9: Dead Sea
Morning Yoga and breakfast
Spa day, Dead Sea mud experience, swimming pools over looking the Dead Sea while facing Jerusalem and Jericho in Israel. This day is to catch up, hang out and indulge… plenty of free time.
Dead Sea Marriott
DAY 10: Dead Sea
Morning yoga & breakfast
More pool, sea, and spa time. The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. Lying on the Jordan rift valley, the Dead Sea is surrounded by mountains to the east and the rolling hills of Jerusalem to the west.
It is over 400 meters below sea level and is considered to have therapeutic and healing properties. The mud and water are both rich in minerals making its famously buoyant water a joy to experience. The Dead Sea has also been of historical and religious importance. The five biblical cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Adman, Zebouin and Zoar were all believed to have been located in this region. It is also the site of John the Baptist’s settlement at ‘Bethany beyond the Jordan’, where Jesus was baptized. Where we will visit in the late afternoon.
After a lovely dinner at the hotel we will have our closing ceremony here before some will leave for late night flights, while others stay the night and leave the next day.
Dead Sea Marriott