1. Feynan Eco-Lodge, Dana
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Dining under the stars at Feynan Eco-lodge (Bashar Alaeddin)
A view facing Jordan’s largest nature reserve is what you’ll find at this ‘green’ retreat on the solar-scorched edges of the dust-blown Dana Biosphere Reserve. But this eco-lodge isn’t just powered entirely by the sun: saving 4,000kg of trees a year, it also uses treated water for irrigation and clay jugs in place of plastic bottles.
Go mountain biking, trek to copper mines and become the guest of local Bedouin tribes – spend a day with a shepherd, learn coffee rituals or how to bake bread.
Booking info: Lodges cost 150JD (£164) for one night, based on two people sharing. Price includes all meals, reserve entrance and activities. 2. Ma’in Hot Springs Resort & Spa, near Madaba
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Hot springs are located in the mountains near the Dead Sea (Shutterstock)
A long hike in that iconic Jordanian desert leaves you satisfied, dazzled and… dusty. This Dead Sea retreat will not only refresh weary trekkers but let them indulge further in the country’s natural delights.
Look over mountains from your room, or spy sparrows and eagles flitting about from the blistering hot spring waterfall, which heats the waters of a pool. Take a dip or make your way over to the spa’s steam cave to detox and then at dusk, dine beneath a canopy in the lantern-lit Olive Restaurant, which serves zarb, a Bedouin dish of vegetables and lamb or chicken slow-cooked on a grill in a pit beneath sand.
Booking info: Prices start from 174JD (roughly £190, until March 2020) for one night, based on two people sharing. Price includes breakfast.
Related Slideshow: Amazing tourist attractions that were discovered by accident (Provided by Photo Services)
Estimated to have been established around 300 BC as the capital of the Arab Nabateans, Petra has now become Jordan’s most visited tourist attraction. The city is renowned for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system.
(Pictured L) Mount Sinai, Petra, stairway to the great high place and funeral chapel, circa 1898-1946.
(Pictured R) Petra, funeral chapel of the Roman style, circa 1898-1946.
Described by UNESCO as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage,” Petra remained hidden to the wider world for over 2,000 years until it was discovered by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. Burckhardt had to visit the site disguised as a Persian tourist since it wasn’t safe for a Christian to travel so far deep into the territory.
(Pictured) The Treasury in Petra, Jordan.
The city of Nabateans, formerly a nomadic tribe, had a population of around 30,000 at its peak, and the architecture of Petra incorporated influences from Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia and India.
Terracotta warriors, China
As the name suggests, it is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang, who unified all of China in 221 BC. The terracotta army was a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210-209 BC with the aim of protecting the buried emperor in his afterlife. The sculptures buried in the third century were not discovered for about 2000 years until local farmers in Lintong District, Xi’an, Shaanxi province made the accidental but historic discovery.
(Pictured) Archaeologists excavating the terracotta warriors and horses at the tomb of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang Ti in Xian, in September 1979.
The sheer scale of the terracotta army has astonished archaeologists, with an estimated 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses making up the infantry. The majority of the figures still remain buried under Qin’s mausoleum. The figures are now a major tourist destination.
(Pictured) A general view of the terracotta warriors.
The underground city of Derinkuyu extends to a depth of approximately 200 feet (60 meters). Astonishingly, the depth and size of the city is such that it could have housed as many as 20,000 people complete with their houses of worship, food stores, ventilation shafts, wells and a religious school.
(Pictured) A view of the insides of an underground dwelling.
The year of construction of the historic site is yet to be ascertained; some attribute its construction to the Phrygians in 800 BC, while others believe it was built by the Hittites in 1000 BC. The site remained undiscovered for close to 3000 years and only saw the light of day in 1963 when a nearby resident came across a mysterious room behind a wall in his home. The site was opened to the public six years later.
(Pictured) An interior view of an underground dwelling.
Dead Sea Scrolls, Qumran Cave, Israel
Also known as the Qumran Cave Scrolls, these are believed to be the oldest remnants of the Hebrew Bible known to mankind. Dating back to 150 BC to 70 AD, the texts are considered to be of great historical, religious and linguistic significance.
(Pictured) An intricate and delicate operation of restoring the Dead Sea Scrolls is performed by Professor Bieberharant in 1955 at the Israel Special Museum, House of the Book, Jerusalem, Israel.
The discovery of the ancient text was made on the banks of the Jordan river by three Bedouin shepherds between November 1946 and February 1947. They initially found seven scrolls housed in jars in a cave near the Qumran site.
(Pictured) This is a close-up of pieces of the Dead Sea Scroll, called ‘The Manual of Discipline’ which describes ‘A Covenant of Steadfast Love’ in which members of a dedicated community are united with God.
The initial discovery prompted the excavation of the Qumran caves, leading to the discovery of more artifacts. The majority of the Scrolls can be visited today at the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
(Pictured) The Temple Scroll, from the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran, scroll number 11Q20, late 1st century BC – early 1st century AD, ink on parchment, Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
In its heyday, Tikal served as the capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. Dating back to 300 AD, Tikal was one of the most important cities in the Maya region, controlling vast territories and ruling over smaller city-states.
(Pictured) Tikal uncovered in 1955 (left); drawing of what it was expected to look like after excavation (right).
The city is believed to have been abandoned by 950 AD. Locals knew about it but the remoteness of the location made it difficult to access. The first archaeological teams arrived at the site in the 1880s.
(Pictured) The ruins and surrounding tree tops around Tikal.
It has since become one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
(Pictured) The Grand Plaza in the Tikal National Park.
The Rosetta Stone, Egypt
The Rosetta Stone is a rock stele that is inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis, Egypt, in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script and Ancient Greek. The same text appear in all three scripts, providing a key to the understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs.
(Pictured) A general view of the Rosetta Stone.
The ancient stone was discovered in July 1799 by a French soldier named Pierre-François Bouchard, who was part of Napoleon Bonaparte’s campaign. Since the defeat of the French troops by the British in Egypt in 1801, the stone has been in the possession of the British and remains the biggest attraction for the tourists visiting the British Museum.
(Pictured) A tourist examines the historic stone at the British Museum.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Situated on a mountain ridge 7,970 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level, this 15th century Incan ruin is believed to have been built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti, who reigned from 1438 until 1472. Machu Picchu was built in 1450 in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls. It was abandoned only a 100 years later; the relatively quick abandonment is attributed to a spread of smallpox, brought by travelers before the Spanish conquest, among the native population.
(Pictured) Inca ruins at Machu Picchu in Peru, circa 1930.
During their conquests, the Spanish conquerors never found the site and as a consequence it remained free of pillaging. Machu Picchu remained largely hidden to the wider population and it wasn’t rediscovered until American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to international attention in 1911. Bingham chanced upon the site while he was on exploring other areas of historical importance.
Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and has become one of the most visited places on earth. In fact, the overwhelming foot traffic has put the site under a serious threat of deterioration.
(Pictured) A general view of Machu Picchu.
Pompeii was a thriving ancient Roman city near modern Naples, but it met an unfortunate end after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. So voluminous was the lava spouted by the volcano that the entire city was buried under four to six meters (13 to 20 feet) of ash. The city is believed to have been founded around seventh or sixth century BC by the Osci people of Camapania, Italy, and by the time of its destruction the population of Pompeii was around 11,000. The city had a complex water system, an amphitheater, a gymnasium, and a port which were all buried after the eruption.
(Pictured) Ruins of the Pompeii amphitheater after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
The city remained hidden for over 1500 years before its initial rediscovery in 1599 when some workers discovered ancient walls while digging an underground canal. Domenico Fontana, the architect heading the project, didn’t pay much attention to the discovery and ordered them to be re-buried.
(Pictured) A general view of Pompeii.
Pompeii ultimately saw light of day when a Spanish engineer named Roque Joaquín de Alcubierre stumbled upon the site in 1748. The discoveries were astonishing; the thick ash had preserved the bodies of the inhabitants in their last acts before they died. It also uncovered a plethora of artifacts and gloriously decorated frescoes.
(Pictured) A view of a street in Pompeii.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Measuring 162.6 hectares (402 acres), the Angkor Wat temple complex holds the distinction for being the largest religious monument in the world. Built in the early 12th century during the reign of King Suryavarman II, it served as a central religious site for the Khmer kingdom. Angkor Wat was dedicated to the Hindu deity Vishnu.
(Pictured) Walkway leading toward a temple dedicated to Vishnu at the Angkor Wat ruins.
The site once had a thriving population of 750,000 inhabitants but was eventually abandoned and remained dormant before it was accidentally discovered by Portuguese missionaries in the late 16th century. To this day, the reason for abandonment of the site has not been established with certainty.
(Pictured) A view of the Angkor temple, circa 1910.
Angkor Wat has now become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its flag, and is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, with more than a million visitors every year.
(Pictured) An aerial view of the Angkor Wat temple.
Abu Simbel temples, Egypt
These are two massive rock temples at Abu Simbel, a village near Nubia in Southern Egypt, near the border with Sudan. The twin temples were carved out of mountains during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in 13th century BC. The temples were a dedication to himself and his queen Nefertari and were in commemoration of his victory at the Battle of Kadesh.
(Pictured) A woodcut engraving with the Abu Simbel statues published in 1880.
The two statues eventually fell in disuse and became covered by sand. The temple was forgotten until 1813, when Jean-Louis Burckhardt found the top frieze of the main temple. The tour guides at the site tell an apocryphal story of a boy named Abu Simbel guiding the re-discoverers to the site. Eventually, the complex was named after him.
(Pictured) The facade of the temple of Abu Simbel with four figures of Ramses II.
Threatened by the rising waters of the Nile River, the Abu Simbel temples were relocated from 1963 to 1968 to the plateau of Abu Simbel, where they attract a steady stream of visitors from across the globe.
(Pictured) Abu Simbel temples.
3. Wadi Rum Night Luxury Camp, Wadi Rum
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Bubble tents in the UNESCO-listed Wadi Rum desert (Wadi Rum Night Luxury Camp)
If you’ve ever wanted to sleep under a million stars, this camp, in the heart of Wadi Rum, is the one for you.
After a day packed with adventure, stargaze through the roof of your luxury dome, or return to a Bedouin-style tent, woven from goat hair. If you’re lucky, you may spot a jackal or hyrax from your deck, before taking on camel and hot-air balloon rides through the Martian wilderness.
Booking info: Tents start from 150JD (£164) and bubbles start from 225JD (£245), for one night, based on two people sharing. Prices include breakfast and dinner. 4. Ajloun Forest Cabins, Amman
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Orjan Village Trail in the Aljoun Forest Reserve (Aljoun Forest Cabins)
Jordan’s not just about the desert – give forest bathing in the Ajloun Highlands (north of Amman) a try as well. While rustic, these chalets face sylvan glades dotted with carob and strawberry trees.
Start early on the Roe Deer trail – a half-hour stroll – and you might spot its namesake; or you can hike the six-hour Orjan trail if you dare. On the way, you’ll interact with farmers and spy pistachio and pomegranate trees, before visiting the cultural centre to learn how to write your name in Arabic calligraphy.
Booking info: Prices start from 82JD (£90) for one night, based on two people sharing. Prices include reserve entrance, conservation fee and breakfast. 5. Mujib Chalet, Ath Thughrah
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Chalets with hammocks and sunset at Dead Sea coast (Shutterstock)
Set on the shores of the Madash peninsula, these bungalows all have private terraces with hammocks – a fine way to see the sun set over the Dead Sea. The main reason to stay, though, is that it’s a short stroll to Mujib Biosphere Reserve.
The sandstone canyon is home to rare cats and ibex (goats), and wet and dry trails. Recommended for the adventurous, the Siq trail can be hiked solo in two to three hours, but you must be reasonably fit and able to swim. The chalets are sustainable, too, placing the protection of nature and local communities at its heart.
Booking info: Prices start from 76JD (£83) for one night, based on two people sharing. Prices include conservation fee, use of the beach and breakfast.