This 15 day tour, starts from Beirut, Lebanon, and ends at Amman, Jordan.
Welcome to Beirut! You will be transferred to your hotel and the remainder of the day is yours free to explore at your own pace.
We start off the day with a visit to Barouk Cedar Nature Reserve where many wild animals, hundreds of plant and bird species may be found. We then drive to the Chouf Mountains and the village of Deir al Qamar, 17th century capital of Lebanon. It is a charming place and is rich with historical significance. We then visit the gorgeous 19th century Beit ed-Dine Palace. Constructed around an old Druze hermitage, the palace is one of the greatest remaining Lebanese architectural achievements. Finally return to Beirut to enjoy an evening out in this busy city.
We start this morning with a tour of Lebanon's capital city, Beirut. A city of contrasts, Beirut features ancient architecture alongside cotemporary buildings. Highlights of the tour include the downtown area, the corniche, and the Beirut Souks. You also see Raouche Rocks, a well-known natural formation that rises out of the ocean. After leaving Beirut and heading north towards Byblos, we'll stop for an adventurous visit to the Jeita Grotto, where we can see one of the largest collections of stalactites and stalagmites in the world. We then head to Harissa, where we go to the top of the Our Lady of Lebanon Basilica by cable car and enjoy great views over the bay below.
Finally the tour finishes in Byblos, possibly the oldest continually-inhabited city in the world, significant both historically and archaeologically.
After spending the morning exploring Byblos's harbour and attractions, our destination today is the spectacular Baatara Gorge Sinkhole and Waterfall. Baatara Gorge consists of an enormous cavern, into which a waterfall cascades hundreds of metres, over three naturally formed bridges, when the mountain snows are melting and after periods of heavy rainfall. You can choose to do a small hike, or to explore the nearby Douma Village. A traditional Lebanese lunch is included today. Finally today we drive to the scenic Qadisha Valley where we spend the night at the Qozhaya Monastery (subject to availability), or a nearby guesthouse.
If we have been able to spend the night in the Monastery, you will have the opportunity to join the monks for morning prayers.
After breakfast we'll take a short hike passing springs, waterfalls, churches and monasteries, in the beautiful Qadisha Valley, a UNESCO Heritage Site and one of the most important early Christian monastic settlements in the world. From the valley we visit the village of Becharre, the birthplace of Khalil Gibran, the legendary poet and artist. His museum contains many of his manuscripts, paintings, and personal effects.
We'll then proceed to the Cedars Ski Resort where found nearby is the Cedars of God, one of the last remnants of the cedar forests that used to cover these mountains.
En route to our overnight stop, Zahle "the City of Wine and Poetry", the tour crosses the Col des Cedres pass and descends along a sharply winding road into the Bekaa Valley. This high plateau sits between the Anti Lebanon and Mt. Lebanon mountain ranges and has been the heart of Lebanon's wine growing industry for centuries.
Today we head to Baalbek which features the most well-preserved temple complex in the Middle East. It is still largely intact after earthquakes, wars, and ravages. The Greeks and Romans dedicated the temple to the god of the sun, Jupiter. We then visit the only significant Umayyad site in Lebanon, Anjar, founded in the 8th century, its mosques, palaces, and baths provide evidence that it was an imperial residence which also features 600 shops, indicating that it was also an important commercial centre.
Next we go on a guided tour of the Ksara Caves, which are dated from the Roman era, and also visit the winery where a tasting is included. If you wish, you can also purchase some of the finest wines in Lebanon.
Today's itinerary consists of a full-day tour of South Lebanon. We start in the city of Tyre, a UNESCO Heritage Site, an ancient Phoenician city and home to a number of important historical sites. Its golden age was during the reign of King Hiram who fostered close ties with the Hebrew kings David and Solomon, and contributed to the construction of the Temple of Solomon by sending skilled workers and cedar wood.
We then drive to Sidon, also known as Saida, another important ancient Phoenician city which grew wealthy due to the trade of murex, a type of shellfish from which an expensive purple dye used to be produced, as well as glass.
Today, Saida is an important administrative and commercial centre of South Lebanon. You will visit the Great Mosque, the Crusader Sea Castle, Khan el Franj, and other interesting sites. You can also enjoy browsing through the old souks.
Your time is free today until we transfer you to the airport for your flight to Amman in Jordan to start the next leg of your tour. On arrival into Amman you will be met and transferred to your hotel in the centre of Amman.
(The Beirut (BEY) to Amman (AMM) flight is not included in the price of the tour)
Leaving Amman this morning, we head north to the ancient city of Jerash - one of the largest and well-preserved Greco-Roman cities outside of Europe. Here we'll visit the Forum, explore its Roman colonnaded streets, the Nymphaeum and the Temple of Artemis.
From Jerash, we'll make our way to Ajloun Castle, built in the 12th century and extended in the 13th. It also served as the base for Saladin's Arab forces when he defeated the Crusaders in the 12th century. The countryside of the Ajloun Forest Reserve around the castle is picturesque and green and a popular place for avid hikers, with its hills, mountains and forests just waiting to be explored.
After Ajloun Castle, we head to the village of Rasoun to meet our homestay hosts for the night. After settling in and being shown through the village, we'll walk through hills covered with scrub and forest to see some Bronze Age Dolmens - which are megalithic tombs formed by placing a huge stone slab atop two or more standing stones.
We'll return to our homestay in Rasoun this evening, where we'll be treated to a home-cooked traditional Arabic meal which will be prepared by our host Jordanian family, and we spend the evening chatting with them about life in Jordan.
We say goodbye tour Jordanian host family, after a shared breakfast and head south to Madaba, where we'll marvel at the Byzantine mosaics and the 'Madaba Map' - which is the oldest preserved map of the Holy Land. From Madaba, we'll make our way to Mount Nebo where on a clear day, which is most of the time, you get great views towards Jericho and beyond.
After a tasty lunch, we'll make our way down to our resort right on the banks of the Dead Sea, where you have some free time to swim - or rather float - in its incredibly salty waters and to relax by the hotel pool. Don't forget a newspaper or magazine for your iconic Dead Sea photo!
Today, we'll make our way down the Dead Sea coastline, after we pass some salt flats at the southern end of the Dead Sea, we head up through the mountains towards Petra, stopping for a short hike in the beautiful scenery and hills of the Dana Biosphere Reserve along the way. This is Jordan's largest nature reserve, and there are great views of the valleys and hills on the various trails around the restored Dana village. Spring is a particularly lovely time to visit with the terrain surprisingly green and full of flowers.
We'll stop for lunch in the village and take a walk before continuing to the imposing crusader castle at Shobak, finally arriving at Petra late in the evening.
You have the option for a spectacular and atmospheric introduction to Petra tonight, with the Petra by Night tour. Here you walk through the Siq to the Treasury, the whole way being atmospherically lit up by thousands of candles.
We start our exploration of the Rose Red city of Petra, now one of the Modern 7 Wonders of the World, with a walk through the winding Siq to the magnificent Treasury.
Our guide will explain the fascinating history of the site and the Nabatean people who built it, and we'll explore several caves and tombs. You'll then have time to explore further, perhaps hiking up to the huge Monastery, carved out of the cliffs overlooking the Jordan Valley, or walking up to the High Place of Sacrifice.
Late in the afternoon, we head into the spectacular desert scenery of Wadi Rum for a night under the stars enjoying the hospitality of the Bedouins. We stay in a comfortable camp with a great remote location between the sand dunes and the rocky cliffs, well away from the road and traffic.
You can sleep in your traditional goat hair tent, with a proper bed and all bedding provided, or take a sleeping bag and find a secluded location to sleep outside under the stars.
After breakfast in the camp, we take a jeep safari through the sands and beneath the towering 'jebels' of Wadi Rum, stopping to climb sand dunes and to see some of the strange rock formations, including a spectacular rock bridge.
We'll also do some local activities inspired from the Bedouin traditions, walking with a local shepherd with his sheep and goats to a Bedouin tent where we'll participate in making lunch. We can also join in and learn about other traditional Bedouin activities such as shearing the sheep & goats' hair, milking, grinding grains, making bread and roasting coffee until our lunch is ready. Finally, after really getting a feel for nomadic Bedouin life, we return by jeep to our camp and then drive north on the Desert Highway back to Amman.
If you would like to add a few days to your tour and spend some time by the Red Sea, then an extension to Aqaba is available after you finish in Wadi Rum. This evening we'll walk out to a coffee shop or cafe near our hotel in Downtown Amman to enjoy a shisha, a game of backgammon and to reminisce on our Jordan tour.
Your first full day of our Jordan tour starts after breakfast, as we make our way to Jordan's famous 'desert castles'. Jordan's desert castles are located on the old trade routes and still house some of its ancient remnants including frescoes, bath houses and wells. We'll explore the desert castles of Qasr al-Kharrana, Qasr Azraq and Qasr Amra before we head back to Amman for lunch at a local eatery, with falafel and hummus on the menu.
After lunch, we'll explore downtown Amman on foot, visiting the impressive Roman Amphitheatre, the Jordan Folklore Museum as well as the Citadel. We'll also visit some of Amman's busy markets, tasting Knafeh - a tasty sweet - while our guide teaches us some basic Arabic greetings and phrases to use during our Jordan tour. We may visit a few traditional handcraft and art galleries, if time permits.
Your time is free in Amman today until we pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your departure. Further sightseeing tours are available today if you have a late afternoon or evening flight, including a trip to the Baptism Site at Bethany on the Jordan River. This tour also connects well with several of our Egypt and Israel tours, please contact us for ideas and help with connections.