10 days full immersion with local culture and people in Jordan

by Margherita Clerici

When we are visiting famous tourist places we were dreaming about, often we wonder how the actual daily life of the people is.  What about spending some time with them? A full immersion with local culture and people in Jordan is a unique experience you can’t get from any documentary or postcard!

With our proposed 10 day itinerary through Jordan, while you are visiting many of the highlights – UNESCO sites of Petra & Wadi Rum, Roman ruins, Byzantine mosaics and the surprising North – you can always be in contact with the local community to get to know the true Jordan spirit, without rushing over one site to another. Take your time to observe, to chat and exchange ideas, explore or simply enjoy a breathtaking panorama. That is what we call travelling!

Day 1 – Discovers the different souls of Amman

Amman is often underrated in classical touristic routes. Yet, if you train your eyes to a different perspective, the capital is the perfect point to catch the local spirit. Vibrant, youthful and a surprising melting pot which will surprise you! You can find legendary street food points but also different world cuisines. Or young Jordanians who are revisiting traditional dishes in a creative way. If you would like to know alternative things to do in Amman, take a look here!

For that day, we propose an unplugged discovery day in Amman and with our beloved Anas, a special guide who is leading a local start-up. Anas aims to let people discover alternative touristic maps. Eat the locals’ favourite street food, explore the souk, walk through the narrow stairs that identify the city, enjoy the magical view and learn about the 7 hills of Amman, discover some new pieces of the new local street art.

Street art in the alleys of Amman

If you like, you can join an amazing soap-making workshop with a powerful team of Syrian ladies. The Syrian Jasmine House is an initiative which was started as a means of providing jobs for Syrian women refugees in Amman while introducing Jordan to traditional Syrian products. Because of the tragic events still happening in Syria, many people found shelter in Jordan. Their stories are becoming part of Jordan history and development as well. It’s a great opportunity to get to know their resilience stories.

Day 2 – The unexpected North:  Jerash & Ajloun

After breakfast, you will meet your driver to go straight to the north to visit Jerash, the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy. The city is famous also for delicious BBQ restaurants.  Ask your driver to make a recommendation, or head to the Khayam Global Restaurant, our favourite spot for delicious meat grills/ Mashawi. Don’t be shy if the place looks weird to you, it’s your time to try the unexpected!

Then you will continue to Ajloun, where you will visit the castle built against the crusaders. Take in the breathtaking views of the green panorama of the North during the spring. With its hilltop position, the castle was one in a chain of beacons and pigeon posts that enabled messages from Damascus to Cairo in a single day. The rearing of pigeons is still a popular pastime in the area.

Enjoy dinner and overnight stay accommodation with a local family in Ajloun, first interesting cultural exchange with the local community of your trip. If you like, you can also have a hike to explore the forests and the ancient paths around with a local guide who will make you meet also the villagers around.

Sumaya, from a local family in Ajloun

Day 3 – The black pearl of Jordan: Um Qais

Your driver will take you deeper to the North in Irbid area. Here, it’s time to explore the ancient site of Um Qais, also known as Ghadara. Um Qais is definitely one of Jordan’s highlights to visit, but usually underrated. Just like Jerash, it’s a Decapolis city, ruled by the Romans and existing for 2.400 years, but built with a particular black stone. It boasts a spectacular view of the Sea of Galilee that is like no other. If you like, you can have a morning hike in Orjan with a local guide or visit to the hotsprings of Al Himma, where you can soak in the thermal waters. There is a more elegant part in the resort or the full local style part, more conservative. Guess where you can listen to the best local gossips!

You can choose to spend the night at Beit al Baraka, walking distance from Um Qais. It’s community-owned, managed, and run. Also the activities proposed there are developed by maintaining a sustainable outlook with regard to the community and the environment so you will have only local and organic homemade food. The place has three comfortable bedrooms, furnished with handcrafted beds and sometimes… rooster alarm!

The other overnight option we love for a local culture touch is Beit Philodemus! The energetic owner, Ahmad, chose the name from beit, house in Arabic, and Philodemus, the name of an ancient Greek philosopher born in Gadara (aka Umm Qais) in 110 BC. Like the philosopher, Beit Philodemus stresses the importance of hospitality and enjoying the surrounding nature and food. This quaint four bedroomed farmhouse offers a traditional breakfast of hot & cold mezze and can provide hiking experiences with local guides!

Day 4 – Discovering the coexistence: Salt, Mount Nebo and Madaba

Salt city view

The local culture and people of Jordan are the special results of a longstanding interfaith coexistence and respect among different people. Today you will see some of the best examples. After breakfast, your driver will take you to the ancient town of Salt, once the capital of Jordan. It is full of history, especially during Ottoman Rule. Be ready to discover its secrets along its alleys during your walking tour with a local guide. After that, your driver will take you towards Madaba but before arriving there, it is time to visit Mount Nebo. According to scripture, it is the mountain on which the prophet Moses was shown the Promised Land before he died.

Then, you will arrive in Madaba where you can visit the famous Byzantine mosaics at Madaba’s churches and small archaeological park.  At the entrance, the oldest mosaic ever discovered in Jordan is displayed. Here in Madaba, enjoy overnight stay with another local family.

Day 5 – Towards Petra

Today, after breakfast with your hosting family, it is time to move toward the South, and finally Petra. First, stop in Little Petra for a taste of what you will see tomorrow and reach your overnight place in Petra.

Enriching options for your day to discover local people and culture of Jordan:

  • Cooking workshop at Petra Kitchen for sharing authentic local cuisine in a casual, family atmosphere. Visitors work alongside local chefs to prepare dishes found on a typical family’s menu using fresh ingredients. By their recipes and flavours, they are presenting history and culture, encouraging the guests to return home to share the tastes of Jordan with friends and family. With the multi-night course, you can even join food sourcing at the local markets!
  • Local family dinner: In the evening, a family from Petra is ready to host you for a traditional meal
  • Petra By Night: on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, you can explore the Siq, the rocky canyon to enter in Petra, lit from thousands of candles
  • Henna Fantasia: A must-see show full of movement and colour; a combination of presenting Jordan’s ancient, cultural and modern history and all its aspects, with traditional dances, costumes and videos. All in the amazing location of the Old Village Resort in Petra.

 

Day 6 – Discover Petra and overnight in Wadi Rum

You have until the early afternoon to explore the beautiful site of Petra (opens at 6 AM). Walk through the Siq and see the famous Treasury. Then visit the Street of Facades and perhaps climb up to the High Place of Sacrifice. If you have the energy, then climb up the 800 steps up to the Monastery. If you like, you can enter Petra via the hidden back-road. Early morning a local Bedouin guide will pick you up and take you towards the starting point of this hike. He will walk with you over this scenic trail which will bring you towards the biggest and best-preserved monument of Petra – The Monastery. From there, you can continue exploring by yourself.

A little citizen of Wadi Musa, Petra

In the afternoon, your driver will transfer you to the magic Wadi Rum. Here you will spend the night under the stars in the desert. Along the way, you’ll see the landscape changing from the mountains of Petra to the moon-landscape of Wadi Rum. Overnight stay in Bedouin camp, with a delicious dinner included.Be ready to drink A LOT of tea, it is a must for local culture and people in Jordan!

Day 7 – Desert adventure and Dana Natural Reserve

In the morning, after breakfast, you will have a 4X4 jeep tour to explore the main highlights of the desert.
After that, your driver will take you to Dana, the biggest natural reserve in Jordan. You can choose to sleep in the first hotel in Jordan run by the local community or in the ecolodge or the camp both run by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. Take a walk, meet enthusiastic park rangers or simply relax and nourish your spirit with Dana’s unique panorama.

Rummana Eco camp in Dana

Day 8 – From Iraq Al Amir to the Dead Sea

Leaving Dana Area toward North again, you will be taken to Iraq al Amir, an ancient Persian village located on the hills, around many springs and famous for its olive and forest trees. Here there is a cooperative managed and run by local women. Enjoy the lunch here and, if you like, a cooking or ceramic workshop with them. This community of women transcends social boundaries! Their aim is to create a bright future through artisanal crafts by blending the heritage of their ancestors with the community of the present.

After that, you will arrive at the Dead Sea, to float in the salty waters and use the facilities of your resort for a well deserved relax.

Day 9 – Desert Castle Tour

Today, before driving back to Amman, enjoy your Desert Castles Tour. Learn about these fabled castles built by the Umayyad rulers during the 7th and 8th centuries as you visit each one in the desert plains of eastern Jordan. Explore UNESCO-listed Amra Castle (Qasr Amra), famous for its 8th century frescos of hedonistic scenes. Then carry on to the Harrana Castle (Qasr Al – Harrana) and the atmospheric Al – Azraq Castle (Qasr Al – Azraq). The latter was used as military-based by T.E Lawrence, known as Lawrence of Arabia during World War I. You can also take an offroad longer version of this tour, far from the beaten track, as from an idea of one of our local drivers, Akram. Check more about this unique day trip here.

Amra Castle

 

Day 10 – Back to the airport

If your flight is in the afternoon or in the evening, you have the day to explore. Maybe buying last souvenirs! Your driver will pick you up and take you to the airport in time for your departure. Time to say goodbye to Jordan!

Amman’s downtown

All itineraries are highly customizable! We are happy to work out according to your interests and needs. Contact us and get started on your own plans to discover local culture and people in Jordan!

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