Join us in Jordan for an epic adventure to ring in 2020! Travel with an amazing crew, hang out with the locals, and eat some of the best meals of your life while discovering this gem of the Middle East.
Step off the plane and into the story of Jordan, a modern Arab country with friendly locals, an artistic bent, and roots that go back thousands of years. We're here to pull back the curtain and invite you in (with a cup of tea, of course) and before you know it you'll be part of the tribe. We're here to connect you to the people, the culture, and the traditions of this safe and incredible corner of the world.
Photo credits: Maarten van der Voorde, Donny de Rijke, Ramzi Nawafleh, used with permission
Like Jordan itself, we'll mix the trendy with the traditional. In Amman, the Middle East's modern design capital, we'll stay at the new Amman Rotana, with views over the White City, as Amman is called.
We'll be treated as members of the family when we are guests of our guide's family at Beit Al Nawafleh, the private apartment of one of the oldest tribes of Petra.
To celebrate the New Year, we'll stay at an authentic desert camp in the famous landscape of Wadi Rum. Opt for a traditional black and white-striped Bedouin tent or upgrade to the glamping experience in a bubble dome.
Then, it's off to the luxurious beachfront Kempinski Aqaba, where every room overlooks the Red Sea.
Our final two nights will be spent in a state of awe at the Kempinski Ishtar Dead Sea. Take some time for some R&R at this world-class resort and spa overlooking the Dead Sea. Float your worries away and end the trip on a high note at the lowest point on Earth.
Curated by Cath's small group adventures are unique because they include two guides offering two perspectives. One, an American, who can serve as a liaison between cultures, and the second, a guide from that destination, who offers an unparalleled opportunity to share his/her experience of local life and culture.
In Jordan, Ramzi Nawafleh brings the local perspective, as a Jordanian guide born and raised in Petra. Cathleen Richards brings the perspective of an American tour guide, and is a great resource - especially for those traveling to the Middle East for the first time.
Together, they demonstrate more than 25 years of experience leading hands-on, culturally immersive tours. In addition to sharing the stories of the people of Jordan (past and present), they'll ensure that every detail of your trip is taken care of, so that you can kick back, relax, and immerse yourself in Jordanian culture.
Is Jordan safe?
Yes, Jordan is a safe country with secure borders, statistically safer than most locales in the U.S. It is known as the Switzerland of the Middle East for its ability to maintain relationships with the many differing viewpoints of the region and the world. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has continually welcomed people of different religions and ethnicities, resulting in a tolerant and diverse populace. As in the U.S., you will find security screenings when entering government buildings, and these measures extend to the 4 and 5-star hotels throughout the country.
Is it safe to drink the water? Can I eat street food?
It is recommended for visitors to drink bottled water. This is the preference of most Jordanians too. Bottled water will be provided in the hotels and on the bus.
There is a high standard for restaurant food in Jordan. Travelers are cautioned against eating street food as safety standards cannot be verified.
Do I need to bring cash with me?
The local currency is the Jordanian Dinar. At the time of this writing, 1JOD = $1.40 USD Upon landing in Amman, you’ll have an opportunity to exchange currency or use an ATM. Stores and restaurants accept credit cards, but if you are interested in visiting a souq (open market) it is best to have local currency on hand.
Note that the easiest way to obtain local currency with the best exchange rate and minimal fees is to use an ATM. If you have questions about good debit or credit cards for international travel, Cathleen is happy to offer insight.
What will the weather be?
Jordan is a desert country, so in winter you can expect cool and comfortable days (50s on average) though heat waves and cold blasts can happen, so check the weather forecast beforehand. Be sure to bring a coat for the evenings. It’s a good idea to dress in layers, as places like Petra can be chilly in the morning shadows but warm once the sun is high. When we are at the Red Sea, it will be plenty warm for swimming and snorkeling, with temps in the 70s-80 and a water temperature in the 70s.
Are there certain things I’m not allowed to wear?
Jordan is a moderate Islamic country where you will encounter a spectrum of clothing choice, from western jeans and polos to traditional robes for men and women, and everything in between. It’s not necessary to wear a head covering, but an overall tone of modesty is considered respectful in local culture.
What does this mean in practical terms?
Yoga or workout clothes are acceptable in the hotel fitness center, but not in public. Western bathing suits are fine as we will be at private hotel beaches and pools. You are welcome to bring shorts/skirts/dresses, but please err on the side of the conservative (i.e. leave the short shorts, high hemlines, low necklines, etc. at home). We want you to be comfortable, but we also want locals, especially women, to feel comfortable in their interactions with us.
Do people drink alcohol? Do they smoke?
Alcohol is readily available at hotels, most restaurants, and bars in the cities. As Jordan is an Islamic country, alcohol is not very popular with locals. Instead, it is common for people to gather and smoke a hookah (also known as shisha, water pipe, or hubbly bubbly) with friends. Smoking is more common than it is in the United States, and is often allowed inside bars and some restaurants. Our hotel rooms will be non-smoking rooms (unless both travelers request otherwise at time of booking) but be aware that we will encounter cigarette smoke in our travels.
Is it a problem that I don’t know any Arabic?
Nope, you’ll be fine! English is widely spoken, especially by the individuals you will encounter in the tourism industry. Street signs are in Arabic and English. Ramzi will be teaching us useful Arabic words and phrases, and you may find it useful to download Google Translate’s offline Arabic dictionary.
Welcome to Jordan! Mohammad, our amazing airport assistant, will meet you when you disembark and lead you through passport control and customs. Then, if you're on the group flight, you'll meet Cathleen and Ramzi and head to our private mini-bus that will take us to check in at our hotel, the Amman Rotana. (For those arriving separately, we'll assist you with arrangements in advance.)
You'll have time to check in and refresh, and then we're diving into the heart of Amman with a welcome dinner at Sufra. Get to know your fellow adventurers over some fresh saj (Jordanian flatbread), hummus (arguably the best you've ever had), tabbouli, baba ghanouj, and other delicious local specialties.
After dinner, we'll head back to the Rotana where you can grab a drink at the bar and catch up with old and new friends, or get some sleep... we've got some exploring to do!