Arabian Horse Club
The best equestrian instruction in Amman is at the Arabian Horse Center where visitors can ride Arabian horses and take lessons. Arabian horses are commonly regarded as the most docile and friendly breed and are the prized possessions of the Bedouin people.
Dana Biosphere Reserve
Darat Al Funun: The Khalid Shoman Foundation
Founded by Khalid Shoman, a philanthropist who made his fortune with the Arab Bank, Darat Al Funun (also known as the Shoman Foundation) is an art gallery in central Amman that showcases the work of contemporary Arab artists. The museum is housed in a cluster of historic houses in Amman, so in addition to viewing interesting art shows, you can get a sense of the charming residential architecture. Exhibits, which are shown in four galleries, include works from the permanent collection and visiting shows. Local artists can use the studios, printing facilities and library on the premises.
The Dead Sea is not actually a sea, but a lake that sits at the lowest point on earth, 400 meters below sea level. Its extremely high salt concentration (almost ten times that of most oceans) kills off almost all marine life, hence the name the Dead Sea. The Jordan River feeds its waters, but because the river is also being diverted for irrigation, the Dead Sea is rapidly shrinking; it’s likely that in less than a century it will no longer exist.
The water and the sulphurous mud it creates have been renowned for centuries for their rich mineral content and healing powers. The high concentrations of calcium, magnesium, bromine, sulphur and bitumen in Dead Sea water has been said to heal skin diseases and ease joint pain. The buoyancy of the water makes swimmers bob like corks and if you have any open cuts, the salt will sting. For maximum health benefits, stay in the water for fifteen to twenty minutes and then slather up with the black mud from the shore. Once the mud has dried, you can rinse off in the outdoor showers and your skin will be silky soft. Tip: Avoid putting the mud on your face if you have dry skin.
Indagare Tip: Do not get water near your eyes in the Dead Sea. The high salt concentration of the water can be painful. And while the haze that hangs over the Dead Sea is said to filter UVB rays and therefore allow you to tan, not burn, sunscreen is recommended. It’s important to stay well hydrated as well; the combination of the heat and the low elevation can be very dehydrating.
Indagare Tours: Jerash
The largest and best preserved Roman site in the world outside of Italy, Jerash is not as well known as Ephesus or Pompeii but offers an astounding view of an ancient city. The site is an hour’s drive from Amman and on the route to the Dead Sea. While there is evidence of inhabitation as far back as 3200 BC, the city’s golden age was in the time of Alexander the Great when it was named one of the great cities of the Decapolis League by Pompey.
Only part of the site has been excavated and yet as you explore its colonnaded streets, theaters, temples and squares, it is impossible not to stand in awe of the scale and grandeur. At its height, Jerash is thought to have been home to 20,000 inhabitants. A series of earthquakes contributed to its decline in 749 AD and much of the city lay buried under sand for centuries, which is why it has been so well preserved. Excavations began in the 1920’s and continue today. Among the exploreable highlights: Hadrian’s Gate (the triumphal arch built in 129 AD to honor Emperor Hadrian’s visit); the Oval Plaza; the South Theatre, which seated more than 3,000 spectators; the Cardo Maximus, or colonnaded street; the Byzantine churches with mosaic floors and the Temple of Artemis. Indagare members can contact our bookings to team to arrange a guided tour.
Indagare Tip: In July, the site is home to the Jerash Festival, an art fest that was started by Queen Noor in 1981 to celebrate Jordanian and international culture. Over the years, such legends as Placido Domingo and Diana Krall have performed in the spectacular setting. Performances have included everything from Chinese acrobats to Shakespearean plays, Italian opera and ballet. Indagare members can contact our bookings to team to arrange a day trip.
Indagare Tours: Petra
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Petra is truly one of the most stunning works of man. The ancient Nabatean city once covered 200-square-miles, and while the freestanding buildings have been destroyed by earthquakes over the centuries, those that were carved in the pink sandstone remain and their beauty and the drama of the setting amazes even the most jaded traveler. The building that most people associate with Petra is the Treasury building that appeared in the Indiana Jones movie, The Last Crusade, but there is much more to the site than that one gorgeous façade, so you will need at least three hours to explore it. Those interested in history or hiking could easily spend a few days making various forays.
The reason behind the city’s location is the nearby natural rock gorge, called siq, that is almost a mile long and, at some points, 500 feet high, that serves as a fortified entrance. You can ride a horse or take a carriage part way along it, but walking allows time to marvel at the natural and carved rock formations. The excavations are ongoing, and the carvings of life-size camel feet and a human figure that appears at one bend in the siq were only recently unearthed. Touring with a knowledgeable guide who can point out significant spots and put them in historical context will add greatly to the experience. Sites not to miss include the Royal Tombs, the Great Temple (which actually functioned as a form of parliament building), the Monastery and Little Petra. The Bedouins who once inhabited the tombs and caves of Petra are now the only people who are allowed to operate businesses inside of Petra. They sell trinkets, offer camel and donkey rides and operate the refreshment stands. Indagare members can contact our bookings to team to arrange single or multi-day tours of the sprawling site.
Indagare Tip: The best place to eat inside Petra is the Basin Restaurant, which is past the Great Temple on the way to the Monastery. It isn’t charming, but it is clean and well run, and it offers a lunch buffet and tables on a terrace under the shade of trees.
Indagare Tours: Petra by Night
Petra transforms after sundown, and is worth seeing from this new perspective. A few nights a week, the site is lit by hundreds of candles, and guests are able to walk through the siq to the Treasury. The donkeys, camels and horses that clog the route during the day are gone, leaving visitors to experience the magnificent locale in an entirely new way. Petra at night should be done in addition to a daylight tour not instead of—there is too much to see that cannot be lit up at night. Indagare members can contact our bookings to team to arrange a night visit.
Indagare Tours: Wadi Rum
One of the most iconic deserts in the world, Wadi Rum was etched into the imagination of millions when it starred as the backdrop in David Lean’s Oscar-winning film Lawrence of Arabia. Though only twenty-miles-long and five-miles-wide, Wadi Rum contains some of the highest mountains in Jordan and their striking, wind-whittled shapes give the landscape its grandeur. “Vast, echoing and God-like” was how T.E. Lawrence described the spot from which he launched his famous attack on Aqaba during the Arab Revolt. Today, the valley is home to deer, ibex, snakes, falcon, camel and Bedouin as well as tourists who come to hike the mountains or explore on horses or camels or by jeep. The most memorable way to visit is to spend a night in a tented camp so you can see the desert at sunset and sunrise when the rocks and sand seem to shift into a subtle color show. Indagare members can contact our Bookings Team for help planning a stay/visit.
Mount Nebo & Madaba
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Aqaba, on the Red Sea, serves as Jordan’s coastal playground and its only port, which means that swimming here will probably include murky water and views of a massive tanker. The draw is access to the coral reef of the Red Sea, which offers some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the world. While the luxury hotels do front the sea, their beaches are not the ones with good snorkeling, so you should arrange for a half- or full-day excursion or charter a boat to one of the beaches to the south.
The city has some areas with expensive villas, since this is where the country’s elite, including the royal family, come to enjoy the seaside. While the beach is not very inviting in town, a short car ride grants access to a more picturesque Red Sea and visitors will understand why it tops scuba divers lists. With the world’s northernmost coral reef ecosystem, the Red Sea boasts hundreds of different species of corals, which attract an incredibly diverse marine life, from dolphins, turtles and sea cows to tropical fish. It’s a great spot for first-time divers—the reefs are so close to shore that you don’t need a boat for diving, the waters are warm year-round and there are many dive centers who will do PADI training and certification.
The Baptismal Site: Bethany Beyond the Jordan
A protected national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bethany Beyond the Jordan is open to pilgrims and visitors, and aims to preserve the site to how it was when Jesus was baptized there. The biblical monument is listed with Bethlehem and Jerusalem as one of the three holiest cities in Christianity. The area holds deep religious meaning for many, and baptisms for children and adults are performed daily. Regardless of their religion, visitors should take care to be overly respectful. A popular religious memento is bottled Holy Water from the Jordan River.
The Royal Automobile Museum
This memorable museum traces the life of Jordan’s King Hussein, through his impressive automobile collection, providing a great overview of Jordan and the Hashemite dynasty. While there are cars that belonged to King Abdullah I, the country’s founder, and the present ruler, King Abdullah II, the bulk of the collection was amassed by King Hussein, who ruled Jordan for forty-six years until his death in 1999. Newsreel footage and photography are mixed in with displays of the actual vehicles and trace the development of car technology alongside important historical events such as the Arab Revolt and World War II. Closed on Tuesdays.