5 Reasons why Jordan should be the next country you visit
June 24, 2015
We recently wrote about uncovering a few of Jordan's lesser known natural attractions. In our opinion those alone were worth a visit to Jordan, but below are 5 more reasons to visit Jordan which further cements it as a country full of attractions and diversity…just in case you needed that extra nudge to add it to your list of upcoming travel spots ;)
1. The People
Not what you were expecting to be top of the list? I’m sure you were assuming Petra or Wadi Rum to be up here but when you visit Jordan you’ll realise that everything you’ve heard about how friendly the Jordanian people are, leading up to your trip, is completely and utterly true. Everyone you meet, from the airport staff, to the drivers, the tour guides, the hotel staff, the Bedouin and the people you bump into along the way, its staggering how one nation of people can be so friendly and always willing to greet you with a big smile and welcoming hand. Special mention has to go to our guide, Ibrahim, and our driver, Saleem, who were always in brilliant spirits and two of the kindest people we’ve ever met.
The site of Petra has to be one of the most stunning locations in the world. It’s one of those places that’s so vast and grand that you really have to see it in all its glory to believe it.
Deservedly chosen as one of the 7 wonders of the world, it’s an undeniably unique city carved into sheer rock by the ancient Nabataeans. These industrious Arab people settled in Petra over 2,000 years ago and transformed it into a vital junction for silk, spice and other trade routes that linked China, India and southern Arabia with Egypt, Greece, Rome and Syria.
Once you get past the camels and the guards you still need to contend with the donkey
Petra is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site with tourists pitching down in Wadi Musa right next to the ancient cities entrance. A 10 minute walk in and the stunning cliff faces start to rise up around you as you stroll your way through the vibrant canyon. Another 20 minutes and a thousand photos later you will reach the treasury in all its splendour. Its a glorious site and you’ll be glad you made the trip just for this! *Tip: Make sure you visit the treasury in the morning when the sun is on it for maximum effect.
The city of Petra is actually pretty big with the treasury being only the beginning. There are many treks and trails available or you to explore and our advice is to start early and spend the whole day seeing and doing as much as you possibly can. If you want to do it at a bit more of a laid back pace our advice would be to explore it over 2 days so you get to see everything. And if you’re fairly fit, make sure you don’t miss the trek up around 850 steps to the monastery which once you’re up there provides spectacular views over the whole area.
Before we arrived at Wadi Rum, we had heard of it’s beauty but nothing could have prepared us for the grandeur and somewhat mythical landscape that greeted us. It was a place we were extremely excited to visit and I’m thankful to say it didn’t disappoint.
Wadi Rum, meaning Valley of the Moon, is the largest and most magnificent of Jordan’s desert landscapes. This silent and timeless place is still virtually untouched by humans, although it has been inhabited by many cultures since prehistoric time. It is an explorers dream with countless canyons, water holes and sand dunes all waiting to be discovered.
If the mesmerising landscape wasn’t enough, the friendliness and hospitality of the local Bedouin people is literally second to none with everyone you meet inviting you for tea and food. At night the place really comes alive with a spectacular display of shooting stars that give the vast cliff faces a radiant glow making you feel like you could almost be on another planet.
We couldn’t leave Wadi Rum without the obligatory camel ride which turned out to be an experience to savour. Sitting back and pretending that we were acting out a scene from ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ with literally no one else around. In the words of T.E. Lawrence Wadi Rum is a ‘vast, echoing and God-like’ place and not to be missed.
The luxury tents give a great morning view into the stunning landscape
Jordan's seaside town of Aqaba is nestled on the coast of the red sea and during the summer months brings a refreshing respite from the heat of the red desert to the north. It’s only an hour away from Wadi Rum making it a must-do inclusion for any itinerary.
The town of Aqaba itself doesn’t really offer too much; the real attraction lies when you enter the rich and colourful water world of the red sea. With pristine waters and an array of coral reefs this is home to an abundant and diverse marine life. It boasts some of the world’s best scuba diving by day or night as well as offering snorkelling, fishing and sailing trips to keep you entertained if you chose to stay for longer.
If you don’t have a lot of time or energy to go scuba diving we highly recommend just going for a snorkel as you can see a lot in some pretty shallow waters. Snorkelling in the crystal clear waters just off the Berenice Beach club we immediately came across layers of vibrant coral and shoals of fish. We even bumped into a big puffer fish and a few absolutely stunning lionfish just under the docks. A must do for all water lovers!
The road towards the Dead Sea from Aqaba is a beautiful coastal drive that actually reminded us a bit of the coastal road in the Musandam from RAK to Khasab. The Dead Sea is situated at the lowest point in the world at a remarkable 400m below sea level. A number of rivers flow into it which, once reached, are then landlocked and have nowhere to go. This means the water evaporates and results in a dense, rich cocktail of salts and minerals that supply industry, agriculture and medicine. It is in fact around 9 times saltier than the ocean…amazing!
The Dead Sea today has evolved into a spiritual landscape and a hub for health and wellness tourism. We were lucky to stay at the beautiful Movenpick hotel during our visit and from there you have direct access to the Dead Sea as well as some amazing views.
We found the experience of getting into the Dead Sea quite strange at first as the hype leading up to it made us a lot more cautious than we’d normally be! The first thing that struck us was the smell and taste of the salt and mineral rich water, which was soon followed by the realisation that we were floating around with no effort at all. Rather bewilderingly the extra buoyancy of the salt rich water actually made it harder to swim properly as our legs were never below the water. It is however, extremely relaxing albeit only for a short amount of time as after a while the salt can get bit too much and even started to sting a little.
Soaking yourself (and each other!) in mud provides the fun factor before heading back in to wash it all off. Overall it’s a fun and novel experience but probably not one that we’d like to do every day.
Wild Arabia would like to thank the Jordan Tourism Board for their generosity in organising this trip and hosting us in their beautiful country.