|Destination:||Jordan, Middle East|
Cycle through some of the most spectacular scenery and sites of Jordan. Float in the Dead Sea at the lowest place on earth and camp in Wadi Rum desert under a blanket of stars. Visit the ancient city of Petra – a world class UNESCO site.
Madaba and Mount Nebo – Discover Jordan’s biblical heritage as we ride in the footsteps of Moses
Wadi Rum desert camp – A night under the stars in our Bedouin camp in a secluded spot
Red Sea – Relax on the beaches and swim among the coral and fish.
Day 1 Join trip in Madaba
Arrive in Madaba, an interesting market town known for its Byzantine-era mosaics.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Madaba at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you’ll need to arrive into Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), which is a 30 minute drive from the hotel. You will meet your Tour Leader at the welcome meeting at 8.30am tomorrow.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose visit the Madaba Museum, Visitors Centre or one of the many fascinating churches or you may wish to go to a caf for a coffee and soak up the atmosphere of this market town.
Day 2 Visit Madaba and cycle to Mt Nebo and descend to Dead Sea
After the welcome meeting we visit the spectacular Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics of Madaba including the famous 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land. We then start cycling toward Mt Nebo, reputedly the burial place of Moses and certainly the site for a spectacular view over the valley below. We will stop en route for our included picnic lunch. Freewheeling down the stunning series of switchbacks towards the unique setting of the saline waters of the Dead Sea, at nearly 400m below sea level the lowest point on earth is a great way to start this trip! Surrounded by barren hills, this unparalleled body of water has an amazingly high salt content (33%), resulting in the absence of any form of animal life and creating an almost impossible propensity to sink. We will have the opportunity to ‘swim’ in its buoyant waters and enjoy the therapeutic properties of its mineral rich mud before continuing on up to Shobak by bus for our overnight stop.
On all of the rides you will be provided with filtered water, tea and seasonal fruit and veg for snacks (included).
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 36 kilometres.
Day 3 Cycle from Shobak Crusader Castle to Petra
This morning, we drive the short distance across the valley to Shobak Castle. The first of the series of Crusader Castles built in Jordan, it was constructed by Baldwin I in 1115 and only surrendered in 1189 to the Great Salahdin. After our visit to this isolated stronghold we will continue on our journey on the Kings Highway. An ancient road that once carried the treasure laden caravan’s of Solomon, to the fabled Nabatean city of Petra, one of the highlights of our journey and surely one of the most spectacular archeaological sites on earth. We cycle the undulating landscape through the fabled land of the Edomites, once home to the largest of the three Transjordanian Iron Age kingdoms that inhabited these wild upland regions. Descendents of Lot’s brother-inlaw Esau, the Edomites went on to become rich from trade in copper and luxury goods, before making way to the emerging Nabatean kingdom that went on to create the majesty that is Petra. We will stop en route for our included picnic lunch before continuing southwards as our route takes us from an elevation of some 1700m down to about 1000m and we skirt the lower slopes of the mountains that lead the way to Petra. Tonight there is the opportunity to visit Petra lit by candlelight, a majestic experience.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 42 kilometres
Day 4 Exploring Petra
Abandoned centuries ago Petra was the rock cut stronghold of the Nabateans, a fortress city built to protect the lucrative levies its citizens imposed on the rich caravans heading north. Surrounded by imposing mountains and approached through a deep, narrow cleft in the rocks, known as the Siq, it is a unique and unforgettable place and, enhanced by the play of light and shadow, an altogether overwhelming experience. Approaching on horseback this morning, we then enter the Siq on foot, following its towering sandstone walls towards the site of the captivating and iconic splendour of the beautiful Khazneh (The famous Treasury). A guided walking tour will take us to some of the key parts of this remarkable and ancient site, one of the most impressive and exciting anywhere in the world. We’ll take in the Colonnaded Street and the Royal Tombs, enjoy the site of its amazing theatre, with its 8,000 seats carved from the solid rock. A free afternoon affords the possibly of climbing the steep track up to the magnificent sacrificial ‘High Places’ (altars) and the top of Jebel Harin (1396m) for a stunning view over Wadi Araba and the Negev Desert. Here we find the Monastery, the largest of Petra’s monuments and certainly a highlight to any visit to the city. Towering to a height of 40m its doorway alone measures 8m in height, dwarfing anyone framed within it and it is certainly worth the steep climb up to it. This evening you have the opportunity to enjoy a Bedouin cookery demonstration and meal at a nearby restaurant, learning how to make a traditional Makloubah (upside down) dish, with meat, rice and fried vegetables, followed by Um Ali, a creamy Arabic dessert with croissant pieces, raisins and nuts (No cycling today).
Day 5 Free time in Petra. Cycle to Little Petra and El Beidha
We have a free morning to revisit the Petra site, relax or shop in Wadi Musa. After a traditional Bedouin meal for lunch we take to our bicycles again and ride to Little Petra – a satellite of the main site. We can also visit the important Neolithic site at nearby El Beidha to view an excavated Stone Age village where the remains of houses, fireplaces and workshops that date back to around 6000 BC have been excavated, providing visitors with access to one of oldest excavated Neolithic sites on earth. On return to Wadi Musa what better way to relax this evening than with a traditional Ottoman Bath (optional).
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 20 kilometres
Day 6 Cycle to Wadi Rum and overnight in desert camp
Returning to the Kings Highway we pedal south over undulating upland pastures including a few long but gentle ascents and finally, the five-mile freewheel down to the southern desert. Today’s picnic lunch spot offers views over Arava and Israel beyond. Cycling along the Old Desert Highway and negotiating sand drifts across the road, we then transfer by bus the remaining kilometres to Wadi Rum. A place that seems more akin to the surface of a distant planet than to anything on earth. The combination of its immensity, colour and awe-inspiring shapes creates an atmosphere that is almost supernatural. Lawrence of Arabia, who held Wadi Rum in high esteem, wrote: ‘Our little caravan grew quite self-conscious, and fell dead quiet, afraid and ashamed to flaunt it’s smallness in the presence of the stupendous hills. Landscapes in childhood’s dreams were so vast and silent’. We have the opportunity this afternoon for an optional camel ride to enjoy the stunning sunset as we ride or walk through a landscape of sandstone mountains and white and pink coloured sands. The private campsite we use is intimate and for Explore’s exclusive use. The camp is located away from the main road and tourist centre and within the Wadi Rum protected area with great views over the desert. This evening presents the opportunity to experience traditional Bedouin living arrangements in a large communal style goat hair tent, which provides the best protection against typical desert extremes of hot and cold weather. The tent is laid out with rugs, mattresses, pillows and blankets and is where each tribe would commune to eat, sleep and socialise. Another Explore group may be at the campsite this evening if the itineraries coincide. After time to settle in and have dinner, we learn to prepare Bedouin coffee in the traditional way. Coffee beans and cardamom pods are roasted over an open fire, before brewing the coffee and enjoying its flavour. The rest of the evening is normally spent around a campfire, with spectacular desert stars overhead. A toilet and wash block with limited washing facilities is also available during our stay.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 58 kilometres
Day 7 Cycle from Wadi Rum and continue on to Aqaba by bus
On our final day of cycling, we cross the Hejaz railway line and tour the desolate parts of Wadi Rum riding on the ‘Jelada’ the hard dried mud left from the rare rains. Few other visitors venture to these areas but for cyclists it is an easy riding surface and perfectly flat! A strange world of bleached bones and mirages turn the surrounding hills into towering islands. We will stop for a picnic lunch in a remote shady spot before making our way out of the desert and by afternoon transfer by bus to take us to Aqaba and Jordan’s only seaport. As we take our last views out across the Jordan Valley we reach Jordan’s southern borders, leaving behind the desert and entering a landscape of palm groves and coral reefs, warm glistening waters and the impressive backdrop of the Jordanian Heights.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 35 kilometres
Day 8 Free day to relax by the Red Sea before returning to Amman
We have a free day to relax or perhaps enjoy some more of the 17km of sandy beaches, splendid coral reefs and clear warm waters for which Aqaba is famed. You may like to take the opportunity to swim or snorkel in the Red Sea, or view the coral and marine life from a special reef-viewing boat. Late afternoon we depart the coast and return to Amman.
Day 9 Trip ends
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Amman.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Amman at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), which is a 40-minute drive from the hotel.