From archaeological sites to desert landscapes, via the depths of the Red Sea, Jordanis famous for its tourist offering, but perhaps less so for its civilisation. Travelling with a local guide is undoubtedly the best way to explore and understand local culture!
Although it's perfectly possible to visit most of Jordan unaccompanied, particularly if you're an English speaker, you really need a guide if you're planning to go off the beaten track and see the more unexpected side of the country. For example, most tourists are happy to admire Al Khazneh when they visit Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage site which has featured in many films. However, it would be a shame to miss the the tombs, troglodyte homes and ancient amphitheatres which can be found nearby. With a good guide you can go beyond the standard tourist offering and move from the déjà-vu to the unexpected.
Jordan has been an independent (from British rule) country since 1946 and has known the successive passage of the Egyptians, Persians, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans over the centuries, and more recently the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire. In other words, Nabatean (first Jordanian people) civilisation has been profoundly marked by these influences, but has also adapted and been inspired by its invaders.
Using the services of a local guide will give you a better understanding of the archaeological periods of the buildings and enable you to discover pre-Islamic beliefs, a very rare thing in the region. In fact, gods and goddesses were worshipped by the Nabateans, particularly in Petra (the temple of Qasr al-bint Firaun dedicated to Dushara), in Medina and as far as Mecca (which no longer has any remains of the statues honouring the Nabatean goddesses, which were destroyed during the Hegira).
Although the population of Jordan today is 90% Muslim, the country's heritage has many remains of the polytheistic beliefs of the time which were similar to the more well known Egyptian and Greek divinities.
Although dromedary treks in the desert are very popular with tourists, 4x4 options are also highly sought-after. The thing they have in common? The presence of a guide. It's impossible to visit Wadi Rum without a local to escort you (you'd never manage it!), although you might find yourself on the standard tourist trail, particularly if you're short of time.
Make sure you choose a good quality guide who speaks your language and check the itinerary with him, so he can plan it to meet your wishes (photography, hidden canyons, archaeological remains, etc.). For example, an unusual tour would be to follow in the steps of Laurence of Arabia, from the rock of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom to Lawrence's Spring. Don't skimp on time spent on site replenishing water supplies and enjoy this guided tour!