Home to countless sites and stunning landscapes, Jordan is an ancient wonder that has delighted visitors for centuries. Every experience in Jordan is more enchanting than the last, whether it be camping in the vast, epic landscape that is Wadi Rum or hiking your way through Petra, with its well-earned title as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. It was all of these things and more that led me to book the Discover Egypt and Jordan tour, a combination of Intrepid’s Explore Jordan and Egypt Adventure tours.
I’d always wanted to visit Jordan, and jumped at the chance when I saw I could combine it with a trip to Egypt. Jordan exceeded my expectations and beyond: to-date, it’s my favorite country in The Middle East – and I’ve been to several of them. Jordan is truly the gem of The Middle East: more spectacular than your wildest dreams can imagine.
So without further ado: my review of the Intrepid Explore Jordan tour, complete with a day-by-day itinerary and a side-by-side comparison to some of Intrepid’s other Jordan tour offerings.
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A Review of the Intrepid Explore Jordan Tour
Out of all the trips I’ve ever done with Intrepid (I’ve been to Egypt, Turkey, Peru, and Southeast Asia with them), the Explore Jordan tour was my absolute favorite. I know that’s a big statement, but it was honestly perfect: I had some awesome travelers on my tour, my guide was the best I’ve ever had (no exaggeration) and Jordan itself doesn’t disappoint.
Because Jordan is small, this tour helps you cover the highlights of the country in just over a week. Yes, we did spend a few hours in the car everyday, but our guide Muhammad kept us entertained with stories of historical, present, and future Jordan.
Because Jordan isn’t a “typical” destination compared to others, it attracts travelers that are open-minded, curious, and respectful, and that’s exactly what I found with my fellow Intrepid travelers. Honestly, if you’re on the fence about Jordan for any reason, I strongly urge you to book one of Intrepid’s Jordan tours. You won’t regret it and I’m still talking about it two years later (I went in 2017).
Should you book a tour to Jordan?
Although you can travel to Jordan independently, it’s definitely challenging to do so. Jordan is on the more expensive side, and I often find that costs tend to add up quickly when traveling independently in an expensive country. There aren’t many hostels in Jordan, and transport, while inexpensive, can be challenging for travelers since there’s no official bus timetable. Given all of that, I highly recommend booking a tour in Jordan.
If it’s your first time visiting and you’d prefer not to worry about all the hassle of transporting yourself from place to place or are short on time, I highly recommend booking a tour. I did the Explore Jordan Tour but you can check out all the Jordan tour options from Intrepid Travel as well.
Why Intrepid Travel?
I’ve been on four tours with Intrepid Travel across seven countries on four continents, so I’ve been fortunate to experience how they operate all over the world. Yes, Intrepid is the world’s largest small group adventure travel company, but that’s not why I travel with them. These are just a few reasons I love traveling with them – including why I chose them specifically for Jordan (you can also read my full review of Intrepid Travel here).
- Small groups: As an introvert, I hate big groups with a fiery passion. Intrepid limits their groups to a maximum 12 people, which means you’ll have enough time to get to know everyone on your trip. On this group in particular, there were 5 of us in total – the smallest Intrepid group I’ve traveled with.
- Local guides: The guides are always from the country that you’re visiting, ensuring that you’re both supporting the local economy and traveling with someone who truly knows the country you’re visiting. Our guide, Muhammad, is from Madaba, and knew all the cool places to eat and hang out there.
- Responsible tourism: To Intrepid, responsible tourism isn’t just a buzz word. They carbon offset their tours, give back to communities through The Intrepid Foundation, promote gender-equity within their tour guide force, and discourage any and all plastic usage. You can read about their responsible tourism practices here.
- Safety: Traveling in a group always makes me feel a little more relaxed about my surroundings and frankly, I’m not sure how comfortable I would have been traveling in Jordan on my own.
Which Intrepid Jordan tour should you choose?
If you’re interested in only visiting Jordan on an Intrepid Tour, you’re in luck: Intrepid only offers two (three if you count the 18-29 year-old-tour) Jordan-only tours, making the decision on which Jordan tour you should choose relatively simple. If you’d like to visit Jordan as part of a longer tour, you have quite a few options to choose from.
Personally, I went on the Discover Egypt & Jordan Tour, which is a combination of Egypt Adventure and Explore Jordan. It was honestly the perfect way to see the highlights of both countries in a two-week period. Either way, every Intrepid tour has something different to offer, depending on your budget, desired travel time, and sites you’d like to visit. I’ve picked a few of my top recommendations and broken them down below.
I did the Explore Jordan tour as part of the combined Discover Egypt and Jordan tour and I loved it. Jordan is on the smaller side, so although this 8-day trip doesn’t include a visit to Aqaba, it’s still pretty comprehensive. You’ll cover the highlights of Jordan including Petra, Jerash, The Dead Sea, and Wadi Rum. Almost everything is included in the trip price (except for Petra by Night and any optional activities in Amman), meaning the majority of your expenses will go towards tips and food.
In all honesty, the main things that differentiate this tour from the Jordan Discovery tour are spending 1.5 days in Petra (instead of just one – huge bonus!), an extra day in Wadi Rum (great bonding time with travel buddies), minimal time in Amman (a bummer but easily remedied with a couple of extra days) and Madaba as the final stop instead of Amman (there are plenty of buses that go to Amman though). Psst: If you’re between 18-29 and want to travel with people your age, check out the similar One Week in Jordan tour instead.
- Duration: 8 days
- Cities visited: Amman, Wadi Rum, Petra, Madaba / Jerash
- Travel style: Original
- Price: starting at USD $1,040
If you’re keen on including Aqaba in your itinerary and you don’t mind spending only one day in Petra, then Jordan Discovery is the trip for you. It’s a Comfort trip (rather than the Original style Explore Jordan), which means your hotels will be nicer (think around 4*) and you’ll only camp for one night instead of two. Besides that and the fact that it ends in Amman, I would say the itinerary is quite comparable to Explore Jordan.
If I were visiting Jordan on its own, I’d personally lean towards this tour (it would have been cool to visit Aqaba). However, because I did the combined Egypt and Jordan tour, our first day in Amman actually included a guided tour to Amman (we visited the Citadel and Roman Theatre). Either way, you can’t go wrong with either tour option. Which you choose mainly depends on your preferences towards visiting Aqaba, time spent in Petra and Wadi Rum, and your hotel accommodation.
- Duration: 8 days
- Cities visited: Amman, Wadi Rum, Aqaba, Petra, Madaba / Jerash
- Travel style: Comfort
- Price: starting at USD $1,388
Discover Egypt and Jordan
Because Jordan is a small country (the highlights are easily covered in 7-10 days), you might want to consider combining Jordan with another country. That’s what I did when I took the Discover Egypt and Jordan Tour, a combination of the Egypt Adventure and Explore Jordan tour.
On this 15-day Original style trip, you’ll cover the main highlights of Egypt and Jordan, with about a week in each country. The Egypt portion includes two days each in Egypt’s three most popular cities (for historical sites) as well as one day cruising the Nile on a felucca.You’ll experience a good mix of optional and included activities (especially on the Egypt portion) and quite the variety of transportation. This was honestly an amazing tour of both countries and I strongly recommend it for those who want to see a lot in two weeks. Psst: If you’re between 18-29 and want to travel with people your age, check out the Real Egypt & Jordan tour instead.
- Duration: 15 days
- Cities visited: Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, Amman, Wadi Rum, Petra, Madaba / Jerash
- Travel style: Original
- Price: starting at USD $2,533
You can also combine a trip to Jordan with Oman, Palestine/Israel, or Egypt and Palestine/Israel together. Browse ALL Intrepid’s Jordan trips here.
Things to Know Before You Go to Jordan
Most people make certain assumptions about Jordan, knowing that it’s a Muslim-majority country that borders Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Well, I say throw those assumptions out the window. Instead, keep an open mind and know the following before traveling in Jordan:
- Overall, Jordan is safe and Jordanians are incredibly kind and hospitable. The only time you really need to be vigilant in Jordan is in Petra – there are a few well-known Bedouin scams that could happen.
- Yes, you should dress conservatively in Jordan (covering your knees and shoulders), but no you don’t have to wear a headscarf.
- PDA is a no-no.
- Jordan is a Muslim-majority country, but Christians, Jews, and people of various beliefs all co-exist peacefully.
- When greeting people from the opposite gender, let them take the lead. Some Muslims won’t touch people of a different gender unless they’re related by blood.
- It’s okay to eat with your hands, especially if it’s the national dish, mansaf.
- Bring plenty of cash as ATMs aren’t as readily available as you’d expect.
If you’re from The United States or Canada, you do need a visa to enter Jordan. However, you can easily obtain it on arrival at King Faisal Airport for 40 JD (USD $56.50 at the time of writing). Be sure to check your local embassy for up-to-date information about visas.
Intrepid requires its passengers to have travel insurance, but I wouldn’t even consider going to Jordan without travel insurance anyway. You honestly never know what could happen. My go-to insurance is World Nomads for every country I visit.
Packing for Jordan
Jordan is a Muslim-majority country, and I recommend dressing more conservatively there than you would at home – both men and women should cover their shoulders and knees. If you’re curious as to what sort of items I normally pack for my trips, check out my recommendations here and check out my dressing for conservative countries packing list here. Also be sure to bring:
- Bring a filtering water bottle to avoid single-use plastic and stay healthy.
- Always pack a scarf in case you visit a mosque or need coverage from the sun.
- Western toilets are readily available, but toilet paper isn’t, necessarily. Pack some.
- Bring sunscreen, even if you’re traveling in the winter (like I was). The sun is strong even when it’s cold out.
- Dress modestly – dresses like these ones (maxi, short or long-sleeved) are great for Jordan.
P.S. If you’re planning on using public Wi-Fi (likely), i strongly recommend purchasing a VPN subscription. A VPN (virtual private network) is a service that allows you to securely and privately route your internet through a server. Basically, it makes your internet think you’re in one place when you’re in a different one. Why do you need this? Well, if you want to access your bank account or any secure online account, the sites get super sketched out when you’re in a foreign country, making it difficult to access said sites. Additionally, you’re more liable to have your accounts hacked on an unprotected Wi-Fi network. NordVPN is powerful, secure, and inexpensive and a must if you’re planning to login to any account using public Wi-Fi.
Explore Jordan Itinerary, Day-by-Day
Day 1: Amman
The first official day doesn’t start until the 6 pm welcome meeting, but I recommend arriving at least one day before so you can spend some time exploring Amman. Because four out of five us were in Jordan as part of the combined Egypt-Jordan tour and the fifth person was arriving late, our guide, Muhammad, gave us a city tour around Amman, taking us around downtown and to the Roman Theatre and the Citadel.
Otherwise, your welcome meeting will be at 6 pm, where you will meet your new Intrepid friends and go out for an optional group dinner. I highly recommend Hashem, the best street-food style restaurant in Amman. It’s affordable, delicious, and loved by locals and visitors alike. Afterwards, the night is yours to do as you please – try some of Amman’s famous knafeh at Habibah Sweets, smoke some shisha (called argeela in Jordan) with your new friends, walk around Downtown, or call it an early night.
Day 2 – 3: Wadi Rum
You’ll wake up early on the first official day of the tour and start your day off with breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast, you’ll board a private mini-bus and start the 5 hour journey to Wadi Rum, one of Jordan’s most impressive landscapes. You’ll be spending the next day and a half here, so bring some entertainment (a pack of cards, Exploding Kittens, or other fun card games will do) and get to know your fellow travelers. On the first day, we explored some of the surrounding landscapes, went up to a couple of viewpoints, and enjoyed the spectacular Wadi Rum sunset before enjoying a home-cooked dinner by the Bedouins.
You’ll be camping in Bedouin tents on both day two and three, complete with mattresses, blankets, and communal bathrooms and showers. On day two, you’ll go on a trek around the Wadi Rum area in the morning, and the rest of the day is yours to do as you please. All your meals are cooked by the Bedouins and they’re delicious! Some people get a bit bored on this day, so I recommend bringing a book, journal, games, etc. I was close to my fellow travelers by this point, so we had a great time just hanging out. It was also winter when I visited (February), so the weather outside was quite pleasant as well.
Day 4 – 5: Petra
After a stop at the Wadi Rum visitor’s center this morning, you’ll continue your journey to Petra, one of the 7 New Wonders of the World and one of the most amazing sites I’ve ever visited. After checking into our hotel in Petra, we headed to Petra itself for a guided tour. Muhammad was honestly my favorite guide I’ve had with Intrepid for lots of reasons, but I especially appreciated his candid warnings about Petra. He mentioned that our ticket includes a “free” horse ride that we would have to tip for heavily later. He told us where in Petra to purchase souvenirs and refreshments if we wanted but that he would have to make a show of asking us if we wanted to buy things near the main entrance to maintain good relations with the vendors. We all really appreciated his candor.
Another thing to note about Petra (which I personally didn’t experience but have heard from many female travelers): be wary of the Bedouins who invite you to a party / dinner / the back entrance to Petra / etc. I’ve heard of various scams (some are guys trying to woo Western women, others are much more sinister), so just be a bit wary of overly friendly locals.
Anyway, back to Petra. On the first day, you’ll spend a solid few hours exploring the site with your group, led by your guide. You’ll get your first glimpse at the famous Treasury and be enthralled by just how majestic and impressive Petra is. It’s truly mind-blowing.
We opted to have dinner at our hotel that evening, since we knew we’d be waking up early the next day for a long day exploring Petra.
On day two in Petra, you’re free to explore on your own. There are tons of amazing hikes, viewpoints, and buildings in Petra (it’s the size of a small city) so bring plenty of snacks, water, sunscreen, and some sturdy shoes, and get ready for a full day of exploring. I separated from my group at various points, met up with them again, and so on. The day is yours to explore – the site is seriously amazing beyond words.
That evening, I’d pre-planned to do a cooking class with locals with A Piece of Jordan. I was beyond exhausted from the day of hiking but I’m so glad I opted to do it (a couple of my group members joined me as well). It was a great way to meet locals, learn how to cook some delicious Jordanian food, and just chat about culture and customs. I highly recommend doing an experience with them while in Petra!
Day 6: Dead Sea and Madaba
The next morning, you’ll head to Kerak Castle, where you’ll be enchanted by your guide’s tales of battles between the Crusaders and Muslim armies in the 12th century.
Next, you’ll head to the famed Dead Sea, a lake so salty that no animals or plants can survive in it. It’s the lowest point on Earth, and the density guarantees you’ll float, so go ahead and get those classic Dead Sea photos. Did I mention that the water also has healing properties? Just be careful not to shave for a couple of days beforehand – you’ll be extra aware of any cuts you have on your body! Also, don’t forget to bring a towel.
Next, you’ll head to Mt. Nebo, the spot where Prophet Moses is said to have seen the promised land and where he’s supposedly buried. Jordan is filled with tons of historically religious sites, making it extra fascinating for those that practice Christianity, Islam, or Judaism.
Your day will end in the small city of Madaba, famed for its beautiful mosaics and Ottoman-style houses. This is actually where our guide was from, so he knew all the good places to eat and hang out.
Day 7: Jerash and Madaba
The next morning, you’ll drive an hour and a half to Jerash, one of the most impressive Greco-Roman ruins I’ve ever seen. It’s huge with tons of nooks and crannies to explore – and explore we did, after getting the grand tour from Muhammad. Jerash has an incredible collection of theaters baths, archways and more, and you can easily spend an entire day exploring.
Back in Madaba, you’ll visit some of the iconic places in town (like the mosaic-filled St. George’s Church) and then the rest of the evening is yours. Dinner, dessert, and shisha is always a fun way to end the evening.
Day 8: Madaba
The tour officially ends after breakfast today. If you’re headed to the Amman airport, you can easily pre-book a transfer. However, I recommend taking the bus to Amman and spending an additional day or two in the city – there’s plenty to do, see, and eat!
What’s included and what’s optional?
This is an original style trip, but the majority of the activities are included – you mostly just have to cover your meals.
- 7 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners
- All accommodation (5 nights in a hotel, 2 nights in a desert camp) and transportation
- Wadi Rum – 4WD jeep safari, guided trek, and desert camp
- Petra – Guided tour of Petra, 2-day entrance pass
- Kerak – Kerak Castle
- Mt Nebo – Mt Nebo visit
- Dead Sea – Dead Sea visit
- Jerash – Roman ruins
- Madaba – St Georges Church
- Breakfast on the first day, most lunches (except on the second day in Wadi Rum), most dinners (except both days in Wadi Rum)
To be honest, almost everything I wanted to do in terms of activities is already included in this itinerary. The only additional add-ons I paid for were in Amman (the theater and the citadel) and the cooking class in Petra, which was independent of Intrepid. You can also optionally do the Petra by Night tour, which I’ve heard mixed reviews about. The main expenses on this trip are food-related.
The Tour Leader
One thing I love about Intrepid is that they always hire leaders that are native to the country you’re visiting. Muhammad was our tour guide on this trip and he was by far my favorite Intrepid guide to date. He was incredibly and impressively knowledgeable about Jordan – both in terms of history and current issues. He also went out of his way to make sure we weren’t scammed in Petra, which I appreciated. Lastly, he was fun. He joked around with us and made us all at ease with him and each other – the five of us were all so close by the end of the trip.
Overall Muhammad, along with my fellow travelers, made this trip truly unforgettable – seriously, I can’t say enough good things.
Who travels with Intrepid?
Intrepid Travel attracts people from all over the world. In my experience, most of the travelers tend to come from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. The age range varies wildly – I’ve been on trips with 18-year-olds and 80-year-olds, and everything in between (which makes for some seriously interesting perspectives and characters)! I have to say that the majority of the time, travelers tend to be curious about other cultures and genuinely interested in gaining new perspectives and experiences. Out of all my trips, I’ve only dealt with one unpleasant passenger (it happens) but have often left the trips with plenty of new friends. On this trip in particular, I traveled with four Aussies, all of whom were awesome.
What’s the transportation like?
This was an original trip and we took private, air-conditioned mini-buses as transportation everywhere. We also did a jeep ride in Wadi Rum.
What’s the accommodation like?
This is an original style trip, which means simple, tourist-style hotels (usually around 3 stars). We also glamped in desert camps for two nights. The camps were really comfortable – we had access to bathrooms, showers, and mattresses.
Our hotel rooms were all clean and comfortable – boutique-style and budget-friendly hotels that I would be happy to stay in again. Most of them were walking distance from the downtown area with friendly staff and all the amenities you’d need. Overall, the hotel accommodation was good – neither bad nor amazing.
What’s the food like?
Jordanians take eating very seriously and it’s no wonder: their food is some of the best in The Middle East (in my opinion). The food is fresh and flavorful, influenced by spices and cooking techniques from both Africa and Central Asia.
Ask any Jordanian what the best dish is and they’ll tell you mansaf, a spiced rice dish made with lamb and fermented yogurt. It’s not for everyone, but definitely worth trying.
Other delicious dishes include kibbeh bi laban (fried meatballs in yogurt), mujadara (a rice and lentil dish), and fattet hummus (a bread, yogurt and chickpea dish) amongst many other delicious eats.
Is Jordan safe?
I know that Jordan tourism suffers due to its location, but don’t let that deter you from visiting. Jordan is at peace with its neighbors and the only areas you shouldn’t visit are the borders between Iraq and Syria (and you have no reason to). I felt incredibly safe the entire time I was in Jordan. I wandered solo in both Petra and Amman without thinking twice. Men do have a tendency to stare, but I didn’t experience any catcalling or harassment.
As a word of caution, I’ve heard of a few concerning incidents from fellow female travelers (especially those traveling solo) in Wadi Rum and Petra – especially Petra. I did not experience this myself despite wandering through Petra on my own for most of day two (it helps that I’m ethnically ambiguous and blend in). However, I’m not discounting these experiences – please do not wander off with local men in Jordan. Yes, hospitality is a thing, but so is scamming foreign women, and a quick Google search will show you the common Petra scams that foreign women sometimes face.
Overall though, I’d say that Jordan is safe for travelers as long as you follow your gut and use common sense. Be sure to get travel insurance too – you never know when you might need it.
Would I recommend the Explore Jordan tour with Intrepid Travel?
Yes, yes, yes, I would definitely recommend the Explore Jordan trip with Intrepid. It was incredibly organized and fun, and covered the highlights of Jordan. It’s nice that basically all the activities are already included, making it easier to budget ahead of time, especially considering that Jordan is an expensive travel destination. Jordan is really a country where a local guide / organized tour is a seriously beneficial addition to a trip – public transportation is difficult for tourists and expenses as a solo traveler tend to add up.
In terms of improvements, I really don’t have much to critique about this tour. Some travelers online weren’t too happy with the day three itinerary (a full day in Wadi Rum), but I loved it and had no qualms about spending a relaxing day in the desert. Additionally, although I arrived in Jordan early enough to do a little tour of Amman, I think it’s a shame that an Amman city tour isn’t included as part of the itinerary. Lastly, it’s a tad annoying that the tour ends in Madaba rather than in Amman, since there isn’t much more to do in Madaba at that point. However, this is a relatively painless problem as you can always take a bus or taxi back to Amman (or book a transfer if you’re heading directly to the airport).
Overall, this is an excellent tour for those looking to explore the highlights of Jordan on a budget-friendly tour. If you want to read even more reviews of the tour, check it out here.
Other Essential Information
The tour starts at USD $1,040 but averages around $1,350 depending on the departure date.
Best Time to Visit Jordan
Jordan is more or less a year-round destination, but hot summers and fairly cold winters make it a country best enjoyed in the spring and autumn. For budget travelers, winter is a definite option as long as you dress properly (I went in February and it was a little cold but fine overall). Note that you can still enjoy the water in the winter since the Dead and Red Seas are warm year-round.
March – May: Springtime is the best time to visit Jordan. It’s warm but not unbearable and the country is covered in wildflowers. Because the climate varies widely depending on where you are, this is the best time to enjoy temperate weather everywhere.
September – November: Weather starts to cool slightly in autumn, but stays pleasant until November, when it starts to cool into the low 60s F – still temperate by most standards.
The official language of Jordan is Arabic, which is spoken by everyone. In most touristy places, you’ll find that many people have a decent grasp of English, but you’re better off learning some Arabic phrases just in case you find yourself in a jam.
Jordan uses Jordanian Dinars (JD) and at the time of publishing this post (July 2019), the rate was about USD $1 to .71 JD. Credit cards are widely accepted in Jordan at touristy places (but not in smaller establishments and towns). You should still bring some cash to exchange or use one of the many ATM machines while there.
Want to extend your trip?
Although this itinerary is pretty thorough, it lacks sufficient time in Amman and doesn’t include a visit to Aqaba. Even if you’re short on time, I recommend spending at least an additional couple of days in Amman. Here are my recommendations if you want to spend some extra time in Jordan:
- Explore Amman on a city tour
- Learn to cook some Jordanian food or eat your way through the city instead
- Trek to Wadi Mujib Siq
- Relax in some hot springs
- Visit Eastern Jordan’s castle ruins
Discover Egypt and Jordan was my second trip with Intrepid Travel (I’ve now been on four total). You can read my review about why I like the company so much here. I don’t think group tours are necessary for every country, but I highly recommend doing one in Jordan.
Although I felt safe the entire time I was in Jordan, there’s something to be said about having all the details of your trip already planned and having an awesome guide that is knowledgeable both about the history and the customs. Transportation can be a challenge in Jordan and the same goes for keeping travel costs down (especially for solo travelers).
After spending 10 days in Jordan, my resounding conclusion is this: it’s time for you to get to Jordan. With its welcoming and fascinating culture and awe-inspiring sites, Jordan will surely shatter any misconceptions you have about visiting.
More Jordan ResourcesPlanning a trip to Jordan soon? Check out ALL my posts on Jordan below:
- Jordan Travel Guide
- Shattering Stereotypes Over Food With A Piece of Jordan
- Exploring Jordan with Intrepid Travel: A Review
Tell me: Would you consider taking an Intrepid Jordan tour? Why or why not? Share in the comments below!
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