For your first full day in Jordan, you’re heading two hours north of Amman to explore Umm Qais and the ruins of the Decapolis city of Gadara. With four hours of driving ahead of you, make breakfast easy by dining at Colours Restaurant in the Landmark. It’s an all-day buffet that starts at 6:30 am, so you can have a feed-up and get rolling on the road.
Umm Qais is located in the far north of Jordan on a ridge 1,240 ft above sea level, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, the Golan Heights, and the Yarmouk River gorge. As you’d expect, the region has always been of strategic importance, including one of the most decisive battles in the history of the world, the Battle of the Yarmuk, which effectively ended Christian control of the middle east for over a thousand years.
We recommend hiring a knowledgeable local guide when visiting Umm Qais to enhance your experience. To fully maximize your day, you can book additional experiences from Baraka Destinations, including olive picking, beekeeping, basket weaving, and stone masonry. These activities were essential to ancient Umm Qais and are preserved today through eco-tours like Baraka.
I stopped in to use the restrooms at the famous Umm Qais Rest House. The food looked so good that I was tempted to stay, but I had booked a special lunch at Galsoum Kitchen, which was incredible. Our host, Galsoum Al Sayyah, cooked a full traditional Jordanian meal, but I fell in love with the Makmoura. The dish translates as “buried,” but our hostess described it as “Jordan lasagna.” Makmoura is dough with chicken and onions and slow baked to a golden brown. She said it takes five hours to prepare a meal like this, and she employs local women to keep these traditions alive.
You will split your Umm Qais day between touring the ruins and Baraka Destinations activities, but be sure to notice the start of the Jordan Trail. It’s a long-distance hiking or biking trail that takes you from the far north of Umm Qais to the Red Sea coast at Aqaba.
With four hours of driving time and a full slate of activities, this is a long day, so it’s a perfect time to take advantage of the six on-premise restaurants waiting for you upon your return to the Landmark Hotel in Amman.
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