Visiting Jordan has been on my “bucket-list” for sometime now. I wanted of course, to see Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world! However, Jordan has so much more to offer as a destination to explore! It is home to over 100 thousand archaeological sites! It is rich in history and biblical significance. It is home to the lowest point on earth, which also happens to be a natural spa, the Dead Sea. It is also a place of beautiful nature reserves just waiting to be explored, such as the Wadi Rum desert!
Jordan being a small country, it is easy to hit most of the major sites in a week, and there are many convenient round trip flight options into and out of Amman, the capitol city. My journey was a week and both began and ended in Amman. Other countries that pair well with a visit to Jordan are Israel and Egypt! I was part of a guided tour, which is a wonderful way to travel, as all of the details are taken care of for you, and you have a guide with you throughout the trip! Our guide was a native Jordanian, and also one of the very first women guides in the country! She was a wealth of knowledge, and it was so nice to be able to ask as many questions as we liked about the history and customs of the country! Guided tours are also great, because you make wonderful friends along the way with your like minded travel companions! Traveling in a group, can also help to curb your travel costs! We can of course, always design a custom independent trip for your visit to Jordan as well!
I had a non stop flight from Chicago to Amman, and upon arrival had the evening at leisure to rest up! I met some of my friends at our hotel and went to a lovely dinner of traditional Jordanian food! As a vegan traveler, food can sometimes be an challenge, not in Jordan! This was one of the easiest countries I have ever visited to find tasty and health vegan food options! I was in heaven with all the hummus, baba ganoush, and salads!
My first full day in the country was prior to our fully guided tour began, and we arranged for a guide to take us to the Baptism site of Jesus and to the Dead Sea. Our driver met us at our hotel and we were off to our first site. The Baptism site on the Jordan river is about 45 minutes from Amman, sometimes longer depending on traffic, so it makes for an easy day trip out of the city. We arrived at the visitor center and met a guide, who took us down to the river site. Visiting this historic site was awe-inspiring! We walked along the paths to the site where it is believed Jesus was baptized, and then to another site to take a step into the Jordan river ourselves. There are changing rooms there at the river, so if you want to fully submerge, you may do so.
Afterward, we took a very short ride over to the Dead Sea. We had a day pass to the Dead Sea Spa resort, which allowed us to use their facilities, and eat lunch, as well as float in the dead sea! There are many hotels along the sea and many will offer day passes. First on the agenda, we went down to the water to get our float on! It is a bizarre experience to float so easily in this water! They had tubs of the mud there for us, so you can slather it on, and let it dry. It is said to be great for the skin! It is advised, do not shave the day you are going into the sea, as the salt will sting your legs, also be careful not to get it in your eyes! We enjoyed a lovely buffet before returning to Amman to freshen up before meeting our larger group for dinner that night.
Our first full day with our guided tour we visited Jerash and the Citadel. Both are ancient cities dating back centuries and are some of the best ancient Greco-Roman ruins to be visited outside of Athens! Both sites are still under excavation to this day! Jerash is about 45KM north of Amman while the Citadel is right in the heart of the city. It is quite a lovely view from the Citadel and lovely contrast from the modern city surrounding these ancient ruins. Jerash is large site, so wear your walking shoes and be prepared for uneven cobblestone! We capped off our evening with a lovely dinner in a local family’s home! This was such a treat to get to spend time with this family and enjoy their wonderful home and hospitality! These type of dinners with locals, are some of the special treats you can expect when on a guided group tour!
The following day we visited Madaba, the mosaic city and Mt. Nebo where Moses was shown the promised land. Madaba is home to a very famous mosaic map of all of the middle east. It was found in the floor of a church and has been dated back to 500AD! It is so intricate and detailed and just a wonder to be hold! The entire city is now known for its mosaics, and many artisans carry on the tradition still today. We then made our way to Mt. Nebo, from atop this hill you can see all the way to Jerusalem, on a clear day. There is a church there as well, with more lovely mosaic floors. They are just gorgeous! We drove onto Petra, where we will overnight at a lovely hotel and were treated to a traditional bedouin dinner to end our night.
Today was the day to see one of the wonders of the world and we were excited! We left the hotel very early, to get to the site to try and beat some of the crowds. We entered the visitor center area and heard some of the history of this fascinating place! The site was a trading post of the Nabatean people, which were Bedouin tribes, and dates back to the 4th century BC. A large earthquake hit and destroyed much of the region in the 4th century AD and drove many people away. Over the years the Romans and eventually the Byzantines ruled the area, and eventually the ornate tombs built into the rock by the Nabateans were turned to churches. You can see evidence of when the Romans ruled with the roads, columns, and gates that are still evident. After the 8th century the ruins were left mostly untouched until they were rediscovered in 1812 by a Swiss explorer, which has since attracted archeologist, historians, travelers, scholars, and Indian Jones to this beautiful location!
It is a beautiful walk down the trail towards the treasury. You walk through a long slot canyon called the Al-Siq. It is a lovely walk, but they do offer golf cart rides for a fee, should you not be able to make the trek. It is downhill going in, and uphill coming out, for reference! There is something just absolutely breath taking about taking a step out of that slot canyon and seeing the treasury for the first time! It will give you goosebumps and bring a tear to your eye! It is busy there in front of the treasury. There is a small cafe and a store, and many guides asking if you want assistance going to a view point or a ride on a camel down to the Monastery. We took a moment just to take it all in and take some photos before finding a guide to take us up to a view point of the treasury. This was something I was looking forward to, I wanted that incredible view, and to get a some hiking/climbing in! It was not too hard of a trail, but it is steep, and you do need to scramble up the rocks. Once we made it to the top, there is a small tent there, with a lovely view down below, and you can have some tea if you like. There were also kittens, which kind of made my day! We took in the view and took our photos before having some tea and heading back down.
From there we walked down the path towards the Monastery. There are ruins all along the trail, and so very many trails to explore! You can easily spend a couple of days here exploring and hiking! The hike up to the Monastery is a steep one, which includes 800 steps up! But it so beautiful and well worth the effort! Once to the top there is a cafe where you can rest and replenish, and even more trails to explore! After making our way back down, I explored a few more side trails as I made my way back towards the entrance. There were hundreds of cruise passengers pouring in by this point, so highly recommend going early!
We made our way to Wadi Rum desert to overnight. This protected area is also a Unesco World Heritage site, and it will probably look familiar as many block buster movies such as Star Wars and The Martian have been filmed here! We stayed at Sun City camp, in a tent, but it did have heating, air, and running water! We participated in a star gazing night, which was very fun and educational. They offer night walks in the desert too, which I would have loved to do!
The following morning after a beautiful sunrise and breakfast we went on a ride out into the dessert to climb some dunes! This landscape is just stunning! You can also do ATV and camel rides here as well. We then made the drive back to Amman for our farewell dinner before our flights home the following morning. Goodbyes are never fun, but knowing you have made wonderful new friends and memories makes it a bit easier.
This adventure was one I will never forget and hope to return to and explore more some day! This country is beautiful and the people are friendly and welcoming. I would love to help you plan your Jordan adventure! I can recommend a guided tour or build an independent adventure for you! Please contact me here https://www.passportforadventure.com/ or send me an email at Maci@Passportforadventure.com. You can see videos of these beautiful locations on my tik tok @passport4adventure. Let’s plan an adventure!