MANARA FROM AYLA HEAVEN BE BACK ON A CRUSADE JOR-DROPPING AMMAN’S WORLD
Jordan’s relative compactness means you can enjoy much of the must-see stuff in a week or thereabouts. Witness the eight-day “Highlights of Jordan” tour sold by Steppes Travel, which goes all Greatest Hits on participants, flitting to Amman, Petra, Jerash, Wadi Rum – and the Dead Sea. From £2,270pp, with flights (steppestravel.co.uk). So, is Jordan a “Red Sea destination”? Well, yes, but only just. The country has just 26 miles (43km) of coast. Not quite enough for a marathon but more than enough for several beach resorts. Seven nights at the five-star Al Manara hotel, flying out on Jan 19, start at £762pp; easyjet.com/holidays. Not only can Jordan claim a slice of the Red Sea; it boasts a chunk of the Dead Sea. Which isn’t a sea – more a hypersaline lake so hyper in its salinity that you can pluck salt crystals from its bed. Still, this is fun. And yes, you are obliged to pose for that photo – where you float about reading a paper as the salt concentration in the water gives you extra buoyancy. Doubles at the Dead Sea Marriott Resort (marriott.co.uk) from £126. Aqaba is also an ideal base for dashes to Petra – the desert citadel that is very famous for popping up in 1989’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. Oh, and for being the first-century epicentre of the Nabataean civilisation, if you’re going to be a stickler for some actual historical facts. It’s a round-trip of 150 miles (232km) from the beach front. Memphis Tours (memphistours.com) deals in day-jaunts from £144 per person. Aqaba is perfect for a beach-and-city escape. The Ayla district is a glitzy marina zone of man-made lagoons and sands. The Aqaba Heritage Museum (see aqaba.jo; free) charts the port’s previous centuries in depth. If you want to wander farther, your curiosity will be rewarded. Capital city Amman is a gem, all fine eateries on Al-Rainbow Street and busy souks in Al-Balad (visitjordan.com). Three nights at the Hotel Kempinski start at £1,097, with flights – via kirkerholidays.com.