After pickup from your Dead Sea hotel, journey by private, air-conditioned vehicle to the ancient site of Umm Qais in the northern reaches of Jordan.
On route, take in the views of the towns, villages, and desert landscapes. Your driver will point out places of interest but will not act as your guide at Umm Qais or Ajloun.
When you arrive at Umm Qais, enter the archaeological site, home to the ruins of Gadara, an ancient city that was one of the Roman Decapolis league. Meet a local guide and head up to the ruin-littered hillside that commands stunning views over the north Jordan valley, Golan Heights, and Sea of Galilee.
Stroll around the relics, some in black basalt rock and mixed with the remains of an abandoned Ottoman-era village, as your guide shares tales of Gadara’s inhabitants and 2nd-century golden age. Admire highlights such as the theaters, mausoleum, and Byzantine-era Basilica terrace, and stride along Roman roads that still bear the marks of chariot wheels.
Next, visit the site museum, housed in the restored Ottoman governor’s residence. Admire the artifacts here, including mosaics and statues, and then continue through pine forests and olive groves to Ajloun, a medieval Muslim castle built to guard local iron mines and defend against Crusader incursions.
Dating from 1184, it’s believed this honey-stoned fortress is named after a monk that lived in the monastery that preceded it, or the local deposits of iron, known as ‘ajlun’.
On arrival, either explore the ruins independently, or hire a local guide (additional cost). View the chambers and galleries, and climb one of the towers to absorb the spectacular views over the surrounding countryside.
Afterward, return to the Dead Sea where your tour ends with a hotel drop-off.