Q. We would like to take our son, who is not yet two, and his four-year-old sister away, preferably somewhere warm.
Q. We would like to take our son, who is not yet two, and his four-year-old sister away, preferably somewhere warm. We were thinking of somewhere in the Middle East where we could visit some cultural sites and taste local cuisine, but also pass some time by the pool. We've heard that Jordan is both quieter and better value than Egypt, but have no idea how Jordanians would cope with young families.
M Cook, Kingston-upon-Thames.
A. Now is definitely the right time to visit Jordan, as the often bitter winds of winter are abating, but the worst of the summer heat is yet to come. In April, temperatures hover at about the mid- to upper-20Cs, although be sure to bring something to wrap up in at night. Prices in Jordan are not as low as in Egypt, but still represent excellent value. Regarding safety, check the advice on the Foreign Office website ( www.fco.gov.uk)
You will find that most Jordanians are very hospitable and treat young children like royalty. Plus, unlike in some parts of the Middle East, there is no segregation of men and women in restaurants.
Start with a couple of days in the capital, Amman. Though quite ugly, it's lively and safe, and makes a good base for day trips, either by taxi or via minibus from Abdali bus station. The Dead Sea, two hours' travel west, is fun to float in, while just over an hour's drive north gets you to the beautifully preserved Roman city of Jerash, with its colonnaded streets, two temples, forum and giant amphitheatre.
A two-bedroomed apartment with kitchenette and living room at the Crystal Suites (00 962 6 569 2672; www.crystal.com.jo) in Amman's Fifth Circle district costs 53 Jordanian Dinar (£41) a night throughout April. If you would prefer a hotel, ask for a cot and a child-bed to be added to one of the large bedrooms at the four-star Amman Days Inn (00 962 6 551 4068), which will cost JD50 (£38.50) per night including breakfast.
I then suggest moving south to Petra (pictured), the ancient, rose-tinted stone city that is Jordan's best-known cultural attraction. There are some attractive alternatives to the standard international hotel. Take, for example, the individual "guest houses" of the small but beautifully-formed Taybet Zaman (00 962 3 215 0111), an ingenious conversion of an old Bedouin village five miles from Petra which has two pools. A double-bedded suite, with room for a cot and a child-bed, will cost JD130 (£99) per night, including breakfast, throughout April.
Once you've exhausted Petra, take a taxi or catch the daily early-morning bus for the one-hour drive south to Wadi Rum, a beautiful desert landscape of sandstone cliffs, scrub and dry riverbeds. The valley is home to about 20 Bedouin tribes, whose members now list playing host to tourists alongside goat-herding on their CVs.
To book a guide, contact Wadi Rum Mountain Guides (00 962 3 203 5844; www.bedouinroads.com). About JD25 (£20) per head will get you a full day exploring the desert in a 4x4, spending the night in a Bedouin family's tent, with all your bedding and food included.
British Airways (0870 850 9850; www.ba.com) and Royal Jordanian (020-7878 6300; www.rja.com.jo) fly direct from Heathrow to Amman. The best price I could find was with Airline Network (0870 241 0011; www.airline-network.co.uk), flying Lufthansa from Heathrow via Frankfurt on 11 April and returning on 18 April, at £292 per adult, £287 for two 11-year-olds, and £70 for infants.
Alternatively, Arabian Odyssey (01242 224 482; www.arabianodyssey.co.uk) can arrange a week's holiday with a similar itinerary to the one above for £689 per adult and £340 per child. For more information about visiting Jordan contact 020-7371 6496 or visit www.see-jordan.com.
Send your family travel questions to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or email firstname.lastname@example.orgReuse content