I am just back from an amazing trip to Jordan & absolutely loved everything about it.. I definitely want to go back & would not hesitate to recommend Jordan to anyone that will listen to me go on & on about how great it is.
We (Sam & I) started off by flying with Air Jordanian on one of their new aircraft which has had the interior specifically designed for them.. the entertainment system was great, the leg room & space was wonderful & as Jordan is not a dry country we also managed to have our obligatory G&Ts – there is no better start to any trip!!
On arrival into Amman airport we were met by a chap from our ground agents who helped us @ the visa desk & then through to collect our luggage. The journey into Amman city took around 45 minutes but as it was late evening there was not too much traffic. As soon as we arrived in Jordan the people could not have been friendlier. The next morning we had a buffet breakfast, which was great & with lots of choice. Then we were off with our driver to start work & do all the main hotel inspections.. Amman is the capital city of Jordan & there is a lot of construction work going on so in a year or so I guess the modern part will be completely different. The main hotels are the big International hotels so really not a lot to report about them, they are the same the world over.. we even had time to wander around the shops & had a great lunch in a regular Jordanian cafeteria type place. Everyone was so helpful & patient as we choose our food, especially with our lack of Arabic!
The next day we have the tour of the historical part of Amman & the amphitheatre before heading north to Umm Quais & Jerash.. Jerash & Umm Quais are definitely worth a visit & it is so amazing how they have been so well preserved – you can really imagine how it would have looked in Roman Times & that makes history seen more real than just reading about it & having to simply believe what others have written – that was profound of me!! I even had a little sing along with the pipers to Amazing Grace.
We had another night then in Amman, which if you were having a private tour can be avoided by traveling down to the Dead Sea or Madaba.
Our next stop was the Dead Sea & oh my God what an amazing place and it is so bizarre to actually float on the water so easily. We went off to do our hotel inspections & fell in love with the Movenpick Spa Hotel – I so wanted to stay but alas we were not schedules to stay the night in the area & as it turned out the hotel was fully booked. This can be a problem in Jordan, especially for the Dead Sea & Petra – hotel availability can be a problem & early booking is generally essential. Jordan is only now becoming more known by tourists, & especially as Petra is now 1 of the New Wonders of the World more people want to visit but the country do not have the hotel capacity to cater for everyone.
So we did the Hotel inspections & then had time to rush down to change into our swimmers & have a float! I even took along a well known magazine to have my picture taken floating whilst reading it so they could publish it & I would win a new camera.. not heard back from them though, typical!!
If I had the choice I would stay here for 2 or 3 nights, depending on the routing of my itinerary. It is not far from Amman airport (the airport is quite a bit south of the city) so is ideal for the last few nights or even @ the beginning. It all depends on your preferences & unfortunately availability!
Next for us was Karak castle, which again is an amazing piece of living crusader history. Definitely was worth visiting & easy to visit en route to or from Petra or Wadi Rum..
We were on our way to Petra & were so excited we arrived @ the hotel & had time to quickly freshen up before we heading out to experience ‘Petra by Night’Â. I had no idea what to expect which added to the excitement.. as you walk down before entering the Siq the surroundings are strange as they look snow capped, entering the Siq was incredible . There were paper bags all along the route with candles in them, the candle light off the rocks was just beautiful & then the moon would shine through every so often.. Ideally it is best to see Petra first this way & then, as we did the next day see it in a completely different way in day light.. the night we visited it was really busy so we would have our clients hold back a bit & go down after the main group, then it is quieter (some nationalities just do not know how to be quiet!!) & makes it so much more special. Sam & I came back up before everyone else (there is music etc @ the Treasury) & it was much better in the quiet.. They are talking about extending this to more nights a week- which would maybe help keep numbers down a bit.
The next day we had a full day in Petra & believe me 1 day really is not enough. There is so much to see there that you could easily have 3 days. It all depends on how much walking you want to do but there is the option of riding the horses or donkeys. I am very proud to say that I made it up all 900+ steps to the Monastry & it was well worth the effort. Some people took the donkey but I took the challenge & even though at some points along the way I wondered what the hell I was doing, I carried on & got to the top.. It actually was not that difficult for everyone else but I am not the fittest person so it was a bit of a work-out for me..(another note to myself – must get fit for next time!!)
The following day we did all our hotel inspections so did not have the time to go back on to Petra to visit the High Place of Sacrifice, little Petra & many other sites we would have loved to have seen. But the hotels are also important so off we went.. Close by the entrance to Petra is the 5* Movenpick & the 4* Crown Plaza Hotels. The Movenpick is a beautiful hotel & the Crown Plaza has some rooms with a view of parts of Petra. But again these hotels are very popular so availability can be a problem. However, if you are staying in the area longer than just 1 or 2 nights to have 1 day in Petra it would be worth staying outside the town & we loved the Taybet Zaman Hotel. It was originally a Bedouin village & therefore has heaps of character. I would definitely have liked to have stayed there & you can get into Petra on a hike from here, taking one of the various routes to the Treasury.
Next for us was Wadi Rum, made famous (for me) by the Lawrence of Arabia film. I will be honest to say that I was a little concerned as to how basic the facilities would be @ our camp, especially considering it was my birthday the next day.. Well it was a very pleasant surprise & spending the night in the desert was fabulous. Waking up with a little bit of a G&T hangover (took supplies with us & drank around our fire) & to Sam singingÂ happy birthday was not quite so fabulous!! If you have the budget we can arrange a private camp for you as well to make it even more special (& yes there would be proper toilets!)
Nearly finished! Next we went to Aqaba & of all the areas it was my least favourite.. it is a very small coastal area & is absolutely packed with tourists as well as Jordanians in search of the sea & tax free shopping. When we first arrived my heart sank, that was until I saw the stunning Movenpick Aqaba Hotel. It is a great hotel, with beautiful gardens (designed by a UK company) & had a wonderful atmosphere & set up.. Aqaba is the ideal place for those clients wanting somewhere to relax, do some diving, be close to the ocean & like to have options outside the hotel for places to eat.
We finished this trip with 2 nights in Madaba, as this is the closest town to the airport closer even than Amman. This town is famous for its mosaics & the 6th century mosaic Madaba Map. Again this is worth a visit & the ideal start or end of your trip to connect easily with the airport.
To summarize, I had a fantastic trip to Jordan & I was already excited about it being our new destination, but after being there it surpassed my expectations & is definitely somewhere that I feel that clients, especially those that have travelled to some of our other countries, would really enjoy visiting. It is hard to explain all that Jordan has to offer & what makes it so special, as it is the actual experience of being there that makes it so wonderful & thought provoking.