I'm not surprised that Lonely Planet has named Jordan one of the top ten travel destinations for 2012. For many years, Jordan has been like a second home to me.
Would you like to see Jordan's historic beauty for yourself? Come with me on a journey to the enchanting city of Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Bring your camera to improve your landscape photography skills.
We’ll visit key historic sites in the Jordanian capital Amman, including the Citadel and a museum housing the Dead Sea Scrolls. You'll have the opportunity to explore Roman amphitheatres in Amman and Jerash and Saladdin's mountain-top castle in Ajloun. We'll see ancient mosaic-filled churches in Madaba and watch artisans create mosaics in a nearby school.
We'll enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Mount Nebo, the Memorial of Moses and sweeping views of the Jordan Valley. We'll also take a trip to the biblical Dead Sea below sea-level and visit the site at the environmentally-endangered River Jordan where Jesus Christ was baptised.
You'll visit the walled village of Kan Zaman and have the unique opportunity to watch talented women weavers dye wool and create hand-loomed rugs in the Bani Hamida mountains.
In downtown Amman, we'll trawl the Aladdin's Cave of souks, selling spices and gold. At a famous third-generation family-owned bazaar, we'll shop for intricate silver, antique jewelry, hand-blown glass, ceramics and other fine examples of local craftsmanship.
We'll cross desert sands in Wadi Rum and meet Bedouin nomads. We'll visit a stone castle in Azraq, where soldier and adventurer T.E. Lawrence was based during World War I. Lawrence wrote about the castle in his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom. We'll see Lawrence's room over the castle gate and the re-used sleepers from the Hejaz Railway - which Lawrence and his Bedouin cohorts blew up, as depicted in David Lean's film Lawrence of Arabia.
A few surprises and unexpected treats involving local contacts are planned to enhance your journey.
Tara Bradford is a writer, photographer and former Middle East correspondent, based in Amsterdam. Tara spent many years living and working in Amman, Jordan. She'll share her insider's knowledge of the desert kingdom and take you to some special places off the tourist track.
Dates: March 1 - 9, 2013.
Registration details: Space is limited to 12 persons, so act now! The fee is €2,685 (euros) or $3,800. A deposit of €750 ($1,050) - which includes a registration fee of €35 ($50) - is required to hold your space. The balance of payment is due 60 days prior to departure. Fees include trips to tourist sites and special private events; photography instruction; hotels; taxes; ground transportation to and from the airport and throughout your time in Jordan; as well as entrance fees for tourist sites. Rates are reduced for family members traveling together.
To register, please send an email containing the subject line "Journey to Jordan" to Bradford.Tara@gmail.com. You will receive an email confirmation within 48 hours.
You are responsible for costs of your roundtrip airfare to Amman, your visa and travel insurance (recommended). While we will dine together as a group at various locations, you are responsible for the costs of your meals, with the exception of breakfasts at the hotel in Amman and a special evening during which you will be my guests.
Accommodations: Your accommodations will be a private room at a well-known luxury hotel in Amman and at private tents in Beidna near Petra, weather permitting. You will be met at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman and driven to your hotel.
Visa information: American and Canadian passport-holders and residents may acquire a single-entry tourist visa at the airport in Amman for 10 Jordanian dinars. Please note your passport expiration date must be a minimum of six months beyond your travel dates. You may contact the Consulate at the Jordanian Embassy in Washington, D.C.; Ottawa, Canada or London, England to secure a visa in advance of your travel.
Please note that you are responsible for acquiring your own visa.
Clothing guidelines: As Jordan is a Muslim country, participants are urged to dress discreetly, respecting local traditions and culture. Please do not bring strapless or spaghetti-strap tops, shorts or miniskirts or tight jeans. To avoid standing out as a tourist, please leave "fanny packs" and tennis visors at home.
You will need sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat or scarf to protect you from the sun. Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes are essential. A jacket or sweater is necessary for evening, as the desert climate can be quite cool at night.
Camera gear: A dust-proof case or cover for your camera and a wide-angle lens is recommended for photographing Jordan's magnificent landscapes.
Suggested reading: The National Geographic Photography Field Guide for Landscapes and Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence.
All photos by Tara Bradford.