If you're looking for a sunny, family-friendly holiday destination, then Jordan might not be the first destination that comes to mind – but this Middle Eastern gem is a treasure trove of adventures for young travellers.
For a relatively small country, Jordan packs in plenty of experiences for travellers – from sandy deserts to Mediterranean-style Red Sea resorts and the historical wonders of ancient cities such as Jerash and Petra.
Current advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is that Jordan is a safe destination, providing tourists steer clear of obvious trouble spots, such as the border with Syria.
The climate here is warm and sunny from May to October, with average temperatures around 23 degrees – although in July and August average temperatures can be more like 35 degrees in some parts of Jordan, so be sure to pack plenty of hats and sunscreen.
Top of the list of things to see in Jordan has to be the city of Petra. This ancient city is one of the seven new Wonders of the World, and rightly so. Founded more than 2,000 years ago, Petra was once home to 30,000 people who carved tombs and buildings out of the rose-coloured cliffs, and devised an ingenious irrigation system that helped them survive the harsh desert climate.
Today, Petra is Jordan's most visited attraction – and little wonder. The 90 minute walk down the main pathway through Petra gives glimpses of jaw-dropping buildings carved from stone, and kids can go inside some of the buildings and tombs, to explore.
The very best time of day to visit Petra is around 9am. This means you will arrive at the famous Treasury building just in time to sea the morning sun catching its façade – a truly breathtaking sight.
If the thought of a 90-minute walk uphill to exit the city is too much to think about in the hot midday sun, there are donkeys, horses and even camels available to ferry tired travellers back through the city. We stayed at the Moevenpick Petra, which is perfectly situated, just a minute's walk from the main gates at Petra.
Overnight Bedouin Camp at Wadi Rum
You can't go to Jordan without exploring the desert, and Captain's Desert Camp in Wadi Rum is a stunning place to do just that.
Arriving at the camp, which is set underneath two huge rocky peaks, you'll be given your own Bedouin-style goat hair blanket tent for the night. It's not quite glamping, but there are camp-beds and an electric lantern, with a small table to pop your things on.We headed straight out of the camp to meet our guides for a sunset camel ride through the sub-Saharan desert, which is the perfect way to appreciate the landscape.
I must tell you, though, taking this type of journey with kids means you'll probably spend less time appreciating the majesty of the desert vista, and more time listening to a running commentary of which camel has farted, and which is having a poo.
The camp also offers 4x4 jeep rides through the desert, if a camel isn't quite your speed. This is a brilliant way to explore some of the less accessible parts of the desert.
After our camel ride, we returned to the camp for a traditional zarb dinner. Zarb is a Bedouin barbecue – a large pit is dug in the sand, with a fire in the bottom. When the coals are hot, a selection of meats are lowered into the pit on metal trays, before being covered with foil and sand. Come dinner time, the Bedouins, with help from the children, dig up the meat, which is served as part of a huge feast, with fresh salads and hummus.
After dinner, there is music from the hosts, with dancing, and plenty of time to sit around the camp fire and look for shooting stars.
Diving at the Red Sea
The Red Sea is world-famous as a diving destination, and perfect for children because the red fire coral that gives the sea its name is so close to shore. There are numerous companies around Awaba offering half and full-day scuba diving and snorkeling trips for divers of all ages.
For younger children, snorkelling is a brilliant way to see some of the amazing fishes and coral up close. The boats carry flippers, snorkel masks and tubes in children's sizes, and life jackets for less confident swimmers. Ultimately, though, swimming in open sea can seem very daunting to little ones – if you have younger children, or nervous swimmers, you can just snorkel off the beach at the Radisson Blu in Aqaba.
Visit the Dead Sea
You can't visit Jordan without making time to see the Dead Sea – which is evaporating at such a rapid rate that it is shrinking by a rate of more than a metre each year.
For now though, visitors can still take a dip and float in the sea, which has a 33VIRTUAL-Gallery-190524%