Jenny's Journey Through Jordan
“Welcome to Jordan!”, “You are welcome!”, or even just “Welcome!” – whether it’s the tour guide, a Bedouin on the edge of the path drinking tea, one of the many friendly (if slightly bored looking) police officers, or just a passing driver with his window wound down, every Jordanian wants to welcome you to their country. It is no wonder they are proud to show off their home – with ancient cities, spectacular scenery, delicious food, and so many unique sights and activities, Jordan has a lot to boast about
On any tour, your first stop is likely to be Amman, where the ancient citadel takes pride of place. Here you can see the remains of the ancient statue of Hercules, and visit the museum containing thousands of artefacts which showcase Jordan’s rich history.
Just 40 minutes north of Amman is the spectacular ancient city of Jerash. Originally built by the Greeks, this city was taken over by the Romans and has features of both cultures. The city is very well preserved, and even features an active hippodrome where horse chariot racing still takes place on some days!
The drive between Amman and Petra can look quite daunting on the map, but along the way are dozens of interesting sights – from the grave of Moses to biblical mosaics to crusader’s castles, there is always something to stop and look at!
There is something really quite special about visiting the ancient Nabataean city of Petra first thing in the morning. Forget tourist crowds vying for the best spot to take photos from - despite being one of the seven new wonders of the world, the city feels almost deserted. As you wander through the canyons of natural hewn sandstone, you can turn around and marvel at how the carvings are all positioned so that the city is completely camouflaged from the outside. Discovering the maginifcent Treasury as you round a corner inspires a feeling of adventure, like some modern day Indiana Jones.
When in Petra, you absolutely must not miss the climb to the Monastery. Whilst the monastery is impressive in itself, the real attraction are several paths leading further up the mountain side, each terminating in a small café which proudly declares itself, on a large painted sign, to have the best view in Petra (or Jordan, or the world). The views of the desert mountains are incredible, and my personal favourite is the first one on the left, past a little stall run by a lady called Rosa.
You could spend days, even weeks, in Petra, exploring all the different paths, buildings, caves and tombs; but we were whisked away the next day to the Wadi Rum desert. The setting of Lawrence of Arabia (there are actually carvings of T E Lawrence littered around), imposing rocks jut out of the sand dunes, creating an impressive scene to watch the sun set over. A sun set jeep tour will take you to a Bedouin tent so you can be treated to the traditional tea (flavoured with sage, cinnamon and cardamom) and classic Jordanian hospitality.
No trip to Wadi Rum is complete without a night spent in one of the Bedouin style camps. This is camping at its most luxurious – with sumptuous interiors and ensuite bathrooms. But just outside your tent is the raw expanse of desert, with nothing to interfere with the clear view of the stars.
Finally, no visit to Jordan would be complete without visiting the lowest point on earth at the Dead Sea. Nothing quite compares to the strange feeling of floating unaided in its mineral rich waters, and it is a must to try the natural mud masks! There are many excellent spa hotels to choose from along this unique stretch of coast, each with their own private access to the sea.
Jordan is not what you might expect. What struck me shortly after arriving (as well as being welcomed by everyone!) was the feeling of security and safety – the country seems a world away from some of its more troubled neighbours. At no point did I ever feel uncomfortable walking alone as a female traveller, not even at night in Amman.
Whether you’re an intrepid explorer, a history buff, a spa enthusiast or a family looking for some adventure, Jordan has something for everyone. You should visit for all these reasons and more, but it is the warmth and hospitality of the Jordanian which will make you want to return again!