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How to Experience the Middle East
Our new collection of immersive experiences in the Middle East will take you to the heart of these spellbinding destinations thanks to expert planning and local driver-guides with all the insider knowledge you need to really get you under the skin of one of the world’s most intriguing regions.
8 Day Highlights of Jordan
Arriving into the capital Amman, you’ll begin your exploration of this beguiling country with its Biblical heritage, nomadic history, archaeological wonders and natural beauty by heading to Jerash, one of the Middle East’s best-preserved Roman cities. From there it’s on to Ajlun, nestled among olive trees and home to the restored castle of Qala'at ar-Rabad that protected trade routes linking Jordan and Syria and formed part of a chain of defence against the Crusaders.
The following day begins with a look at the Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics of Madaba and proceeds to an ascent of Mount Nebo, where Moses and his people are said to have discovered the Promised Land and where Moses’ tomb is said to lie. The rest of the day is spent visiting the imposing medieval fortress of Karak and the Dana Nature Reserve.
The ‘lost city’ of Petra is an iconic UNESCO World Heritage site that warrants a full day and more in its own right, and you’ll discover it in-depth courtesy of a guided tour, before enjoying free time to wander through the ancient Nabataean city at your leisure. The second day you can explore it further under your own steam.
Next up is Wadi Rum, Jordan’s largest and most majestic desert, with a timeless, untouched feel to its blazing red and orange landscapes. As well as taking an optional 4X4 picnic, you can again discover it at whim over the course of the day. Made famous through the exploits of Lawrence of Arabia in the early 20th century, it’s still crisscrossed by Bedouin leading their camels over the wild desert trails, and dinner is in an atmospheric Bedouin setting.
Afterwards you’ll get to know Aqaba on the Red Sea, feasting on local seafood in its café and restaurant terraces and perhaps going for a swim, taking a glass-bottom boat ride with a picnic, scuba diving or windsurfing. From here, it’s a breathtaking drive along the Wadi Araba to your final stop-off, the Dead Sea with its curative mud and the strange but delightful sensation of floating on the water
8 Day Highlights of Oman
One of the region’s under-the-radar destinations brings together mountains, desert wadis and sparkling ocean in one intoxicating mix. You’ll fly into the capital Muscat and take in its highlight, such as Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, before being driven by 4X4 to Birkat al Mawz, surrounded by banana plantations, for a walk through its palm gardens and the village itself. From there you’ll continue to Jabal with its lush cultures of pomegranates, apricots and roses.
Misfah al Abriyin is next up: an ancient village with charming Yemeni style mud-brick houses, agricultural terraces, lovely alleys and old houses built on top of solid rocks at the top of the mountain. Then it’s on to Nizwa, the former capital, surrounded by a lush palm oasis and some of the country’s highest mountains, with a unique traditional souk, the largest fort on the Arabian Peninsula and a unique livestock market.
From Nizwa you head to Al Hamra with its atmospheric abandoned houses that are particularly lovely when bathed by the rays of the setting sun. Jabal Shams, your next stop, is the country’s highest mountain, with breathtaking views over the neighbouring Wadi Ghul or ‘Grand Canyon of Arabia’, hiking trails and quaint villages. You’ll trek along a high-level balcony walk to another abandoned village, Sab Bani Khamis.
The village of Ibra is known mostly for its horse breeding and its women’s souk. Having discovered those, you’ll journey through the stunning Wahiba desert to experience both sunset and sunrise views. From here there’s a spectacular road through colourful rock formations to to Wadi Bani Khaled, an oasis nestled in the Hajar Mountains, with refreshing deep natural pools.
In the ancient city of Sur, you’ll get a glimpse of the daily life of an Omani fisherman and visit the old dhow factory to see the craftsmanship it takes to build one of these traditional boats. Lastly, you’ll head onto Wadi Shaabo for more swimming in natural pools and sunbathing on the nearby river rocks. Before flying out, there’s time to walk the Qurum corniche, the beach area in the heart of Muscat.
7 Day Highlights of Lebanon
Rebuilt after nearly two decades of civil war, this is a fascinating multi-faith gem with a rich history. You’ll begin in the dynamic capital Beirut, soaking up must-see sites such as Downtown, the National Museum of Beirut, Martyrs’ Square, Muhammad Al-Amin mosque, St George's Church, the pigeon cave and the ledge, and enjoying the sights and smells emanating from the street vendors and shisha bars.
After that, your first stop is the Jeita Caves, one of the great natural wonders of the Middle East, part of which is explored on foot and part by boat. From there you’ll be driven to Byblos with its crusader castle, narrow alleys and old souks. Next in line is Sidon (Saida), Lebanon's third-largest city, with, Ottoman relics, aromatic fruit stalls and sights including the Castle of the Sea, Khan el Franj, and the soap museum.
From Saida, you’ll progress to Beit Eddine Palace with is its sumptuous interiors and detailed mosaics, and from there to the traditional village of Deir el Qamar (Moon Monastery) a stronghold of the Ottoman emirs, with traditional Lebanese architecture and pure mountain air.
Also on the itinerary are the UNESCO-listed Baalbek Temples, the Middle East’s best-preserved and most impressive Roman remains, and the Ksara wineries with its Roman-era cellars, where you’ll enjoy wine tastings. The winding road to the famous Arz el Rab Cedars takes you into the magical world of the 1,000-year-old conifer, emblem of Lebanon; beyond that, the Gibran Khalil Museum is a beautiful tribute to the globally renowned Lebanese writer, painter and poet.
Your final stop is the Qadisha Valley, another UNESCO World Heritage Site dotted with the centuries-old chapels, hermitages and monasteries from the time when Christians were forced to take refuge in these mountains
To book your immersive Middle Eastern experience, get in touch today. You’ll benefit from full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and after your trip.
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