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Middle East - Jordan


Rail And Ancient Wonders

Of Jordan


APRIL 16-26, 2023


Rail And Ancient Wonders Of Jordan


Day 1 Sunday April 16: (D)

Arrival in Amman Jordan. Met and transferred to the Hotel. Welcome dinner in the evening.


Day 2 Monday April 17: (B-L-D)

Leisurely late morning start. Two options: Cultural- guided city tour – visiting the Citadel, the Roman Theater as well as the labyrinthine “downtown” in the heart of the city with its markets and shops as well as many cafes, bars and restaurants. Or Rail Enthusiast: Coach to University of Jordan, Amman to see JHR 4-6-2 steam loco #84 ; then to Amman station where we visit the small museum and tour the locomotive depot and workshops where steam locomotives are still being repaired and returned to service. Here we will gain a good introduction to the former Hijaz Railway, built by the Ottomans in the early years of the 20th century to connect Turkey via Damascus to the holy city of Medina in what is now Saudi Arabia. The line opened in 1908 but only served this purpose for a few years prior to the First World War, when it was famously put out of action by the exploits of Lawrence of Arabia. Now Jordanian Government owned, the JHR is being maintained but at present only operates “picnic” trains from Amman to Al-Jeza on Thursdays and Saturdays, plus occasional tourist / private charters. Overnight Hotel, Amman.


Rail And Ancient Wonders Of Jordan


Day 3 Tuesday April 18: (B-L-D)

Two options today: rail or culture. For the ‘Rail’ option we hope to travel the Hijaz Railway line north of Amman to Al‐Mafraq behind steam (we understand the line, which was temporarily closed in July 2019 for the construction of a Bus Rapid Transit system and reported to be reopened in Sept. 2020, should be available for our tour but is subject to confirmation). We then take the coach to Jerash with a short visit en-route to see steam loco – JHR #63 2-6-2T at Al-Bayt University, Mafraq. After a short lunch break. we will then continue to the spectacular Roman ruins at Jerash, to meet up with the “Culture” party.


The “culture” option group head north from Amman by coach to Umm Qais in the hills above the River Jordan valley, where the Roman ruins are juxtaposed with an abandoned Ottoman-era village. We then visit nearby Ajlun where the 12th Century Turkish Castle sits on the hill-top above this ancient market town with its 600 year old mosque. Returning back towards Amman, we reach the highlight of the day, the ancient city of Jerash, where we have lunch. Here the extensive ruins are generally acknowledged to be one of the best preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. Hidden for centuries in sand before being excavated and restored over the past 70 years, Jerash reveals a fine example of the grand, formal provincial Roman urbanism that is found throughout the Middle East, comprising paved and colonnaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, handsome theatres, spacious public squares and plazas, baths, fountains and city walls pierced by towers and gates. Return to Amman for a further night.


Rail And Ancient Wonders Of Jordan


Day 4 Wednesday April 19: (B-L-D)

“Cultural” or “Railway” again this morning.  For the “Culture Vultures” an early morning coach transfer via Salt and Mount Nebo to Madaba to visit the 19th Century Greek Orthodox Church built over the remains of an early Christian Church with its 6th Century mosaics. We then head to Al- Jeza to meet the “Railway” party and join the JHR train on its journey southwards.


The “Railway” party will head from the hotel to the JHR station and depot at Amman for a steam-hauled train to Al-Jeza. Southwards from Al-Jeza the train will be diesel-hauled – the JHR have three small US-built General Electric locos and one will be used for our train. We will end the day in the small town of Al-Qatrana. However, the lack of hotels in the desert area south of Amman means that we must take a coach transfer back to the Hotel in Amman.


Rail And Ancient Wonders Of Jordan


Day 5 Thursday April 20: (B-L-D)

Coach transfer back to Al‐Qatrana where we make a short visit to remains of the Ottoman castle before boarding our diesel hauled train to Al-Abiad. Here we hope to travel a short branch line heading eastward to the Wadi Al‐Abyad phosphate mine, if it’s available. We then take the coach for the journey to Petra via the town of Karak where, for the rail enthusiast we hope to visit JHR steam loco 2-8-2 #73 at Al Mu’tah University before visiting the impressive hilltop-crusader castle that dominates the town. Again, due to lack of hotel availability, we must head back to the Hotel in Amman for our overnight stay. 


Day 6 Friday April 21: (B-L-D)

This morning we take the coach back to Al-Abiad, to continue our train journey over the historic Hijaz Railway, which currently has no traffic south of Al-Jeza, southwards to Ma’an where we visit the original Jordan‐Hejaz Railway station before ending our journey at Ma’an Aqaba Railway station where we hope to visit the locomotive depot and wagon repair workshops.  En route we hope to take the train to the phosphate mine at Al‐Hasa (if available) and also make a short walking visit off the train at Anieza to explore the 16th century Ottoman castle remains. Having made our “goodbyes” to the train at Ma’an, we take the coach to Wadi Musa (where the ancient city of Petra is located), hopefully having had time to break the journey with a quick visit to the Shobak Crusader castle ruins, before arriving at our Petra Hotel where we stay for the next two nights.


Rail And Ancient Wonders Of Jordan


Day 7 Saturday April 22: (B-L-D)

The highlight of the tour – the “Red Rose City” of Petra where we can visit the giant red mountains and vast mausoleums of a departed race at sunrise, or later if you wish. Although much has been written about Petra, nothing really prepares you for this amazing place: it has to be seen to be believed. Entrance to the city is through the Siq, a narrow gorge, over 1 mile in length, which is flanked on either side by soaring, 262 feet high cliffs. Just walking through the Siq is an experience in itself. The colors and formations of the rocks are dazzling. As you reach the end of the Siq you will catch your first glimpse of Al-Khazneh (Treasury). The Treasury is just the first of the many wonders that make up Petra. As you enter the Petra valley you will be overwhelmed by the natural beauty of this place and its outstanding architectural achievements. There are hundreds of elaborate rock-cut tombs with intricate carvings - unlike the houses, which were destroyed mostly by earthquakes, the tombs were carved to last throughout the afterlife and 500 have survived, empty but bewitching as you file past their dark openings. Here also is a massive Nabataean-built, Roman-style theatre, which could seat 3,000 people. There are obelisks, temples, sacrificial altars and colonnaded streets, and high above, overlooking the valley, is the impressive Ad-Deir Monastery – a flight of 800 rock cut steps takes you there. Overnight at Petra.


Rail And Ancient Wonders Of Jordan Rail And Ancient Wonders Of Jordan
Rail And Ancient Wonders Of Jordan


Day 8 Sunday April 23: (B-L-D)

We return by coach to Ma’an where we visit the original Jordan Hejaz Railway station and depot, followed by visit to the nearby Aqaba Railway Locomotive and Wagon Depot and repair shops. We then take the train from Ma’an Aqaba Railway station through the desert towards Wadi Rum, with a visit to the El Shidiye phosphate mine branch at Aqaba Hejaz, if possible. Beyond Aqaba Hejaz the line begins a steep descent of some 500 feet from the high desert plateau, through the spectacular rocky defile known as Batn al-Ghul, the ‘belly of the demon’ before reaching the station of the same name, passing KM post 0.00 of the Aqaba Railway where the remains of the former Hedjaz Railway diverge towards the Saudi Arabia border and Medina. Continuing through desert with large sand dunes surrounded by red sandstone hills we reach Wadi Rum and visit the location made famous by the legendary “Lawrence of Arabia”. We overnight at a nearby Bedouin camp, with all facilities including air conditioning, Bedouin restaurant and entertainment.


Rail And Ancient Wonders Of Jordan


Day 9 Monday April 24: (B-L-D)

After breakfast we have a jeep tour of Wadi Rum, before we take the coach back to Wadi Rum station for the steam-hauled tourist train, run by the Jordan Heritage Revival Company, with the “Lawrence of Arabia” mock-attack” (as seen on Chris Tarrant’s “Extreme Railways” and BBC World Travel Show). We then take our train drive through the spectacular desert and mountain scenery to Aqaba, ending our epic journey at the Aqaba Railway station located on the edge of the port city, hopefully with visit to the Aqaba Railway Depot. A late afternoon arrival at our Resort Hotel on the Red Sea coast allows for a relaxing evening as the sun sets behind the Egyptian coastline across the narrow seaway. Overnight at Marina Plaza Hotel Tala Bay OR La Costa Aqaba Hotel.


Day 10 Tuesday April 25 (B-L-D)

We have two options today:  firstly, either a short city tour to include the Aqaba Fort with its giant flag and the old town, or perhaps a morning on the beach, followed by an afternoon bus transfer for the short flight from Aqaba Airport to Amman. The second option is an all-day scenic coach return to Amman International Airport / Amman, via the Kings Highway and the Dead Sea. Of course, there is also the possibility to extend your holiday with an extra night or two in Aqaba. Overnight in our Amman hotel .


Day 11 Wednesday April 26: (B)

After breakfast end of tour


Rail And Ancient Wonders Of Jordan
Rail And Ancient Wonders Of Jordan


















Tour Price: All tour prices are subject to change without notice, at any time. All prices based on double room occupancy. Those people that use a credit card for payments a 3% conveyance fee will be added to the tour price. We reserve the right to change tour prices if necessary without prior notice.