A Mini-break in Jordan
We decided to visit Jordan for a few days in October, having heard a lot about its history and various attractions.
Day 1 – Arrival
We arrived early morning and decided to relax and recover from our journey and jet lag.
Amman Airport arrivals
Stayed in Days Inn for the night. It was a reasonably priced hotel with all facilities and good food.
Day 2 – Petra
Left Amman at 9 am after breakfast for our three hour drive to Petra. Reached Petra after just 12 noon.
Road to Petra
Petra is quite well organized for tourists. You need to go to the Visitors Center and buy your tickets to enter. Tickets cost 50 JD per person. The person at the counter was very helpful. There is also is the option of hiring a Guide which we did for an extra 50 JD.
I would advise taking a guide as they are very useful and informative.
Petra is an ancient city which had many rulers dating back to almost 9000BC. I will leave the rest of the history for your visit!
The walk is around 3 to 4 km each way for the normal tour. Three of us walked and two took the option of the Horse carriage, which costs 20 JD plus an additional 10 JD tip, as walk to the Treasury is not too taxing as it is downhill.
On the way you see a variety of caves which are actually burial grounds.
Then you walk through the Siq which is a narrow gorge between sandstone rocks. This was a very interesting walk as you see the water conduit system, effects of earthquakes and erosion.
Some of the rock formations were amazing as you can see from the photos below. Use your imagination to name the shapes.
After about 2 km we reached the Treasury. This is actually not a Treasury (it got this name from local Bedouin tribes who believed that riches were hidden inside), but a royal tomb.
Then there is another 2 km walk wandering past the amphitheater and ending in the temple.
The whole walk took two hours including all the stops and explanations by the guide.
If you have time there are other options to climb up to various points of interest as per your interests.
We did not have the energy or time to do any of these. So we turned back at the temple and came to the Visitors center which was a one and half hours’ walk. This part was tiring as there were certain steep climbs.
Got back at about 5pm, had a bite to eat and then drove on to Aqaba where we planned to spend the night. This was just about two hours drive. We spent the night at Lacosta Hotel located in the city center.
Sunset over Petra as we left
This is a new reasonably priced hotel. Staff were extremely friendly and helpful. Buffet breakfast was fine, but not as wide a spread as in Days Inn.
There were lots of restaurants nearby with good variety to choose from. We went out to dinner at the Ranch – a nice Pub with decent food choices.
Aqaba at night
Day 3 – Aqaba & Wadi Rum
After a good nights sleep, we had breakfast and then went for a walk around Aqaba. Walked down to the Beach and took a boat ride in the Red Sea. The one hour boat ride cost 45 JD and takes you to see some corral for about 20 minutes and then around the Aqaba port and bay for us to have a look at Israel and Egypt on the opposite shore. We could see the towns of Eilat in Israel and Taba in Egypt.
Coral seen through Glass bottom
Coast of Israel
We then drove to Wadi Rum which took just over an hour. Got there just after four.
Road to Wadi Rum
You need to get to the Visitors center to hire a four wheel drive vehicle to enter the park. We hired a chap for 75 JD for five of us.
Only greenery seen (of medicinal value for the Beduins)
Wadi Rum has wonderful rock formations left over from the Iceage. The guide took us around, stopping at Lawrence Spring where there is a Spring high up on the hillside. The Spring is marked by a fresh looking tree. There is also a rock with inscriptions dating back to before Islam.
Lawrence Spring (Near the tree)
Pre Islam Inscriptions at Lawrence Spring
We then went to the Red Dunes which is a huge dune which we climbed up to get a view of the desert. This was quite a difficult climb.
View from the top
From there we went to Kazali Canyon which is a narrow pathway between two rock formations. This pathway was used by the camel caravans. Inscriptions on the rock surfaces were both of early Islamic period and Pre Islam. The inscriptions were mainly instructions for other travelers on location of drinking water.
He then took us to a viewpoint to see the sunset. This was a wonderful experience. Photos tell the story better.
After sunset we went on to our desert camp – Rum Magic Camp. Fairly decent clean place to stay with basic facilities. They served a simple dinner and breakfast. No WiFi and hot water supply was minimal. Don’t expect WiFi in most camps.
There are lots of these desert camps both outside and inside the park. Those inside are run by the government and charges are according to type of accommodation you want – dormitory, simple rooms with shared WC or en-suite rooms. Some private camps have individual tents as well.
Day 4 – Jesus’s Baptism site & Dead Sea
After breakfast we left at 9 for Jesus’s Baptism site. The drive took nearly five hours.
It is a nice drive passing the Rift Valley, salt beds and the Dead Sea. We drove up to the Panorama View Point to an have overview of the Dead Sea.
Showing various points visible from the view point
We then drove to the Baptism site. You have to buy entry tickets at the gate. This includes a multilingual Guide. They take us from the start of the walk by bus, pointing out a few interesting locations in Israel including Jericho, Jerusalem, mount Olives, etc.
At the start of the walk there are souvenir shops where you can buy items to bless in the holy water.
The walk takes about one hour. On the way you pass the actual Baptism site which is dry now.
Actual Baptism site & depiction of how it was
You then walk down to the Jordan river. On the way you pass the Greek Orthodox Church and can see the Catholic Church & Russian Orthodox Church.
The Jordan river is interesting since the Israeli bank is just a stones throw away. The border runs through the middle of the river with a strip of ‘no mans land’. There are steps on either side for you to go down and have a dip.
Pool for Baptising children
After that visit we drove down to the shores of the Dead Sea to get a closer look and check out the water. The water is extremely saline as one would expect. We also saw the crystallization of salt on the banks. Did not try the floating as we were vary of the water. Other tourists were floating nearby!
Sunset over the Dead Sea
This was full day out and we returned exhausted to the Days Inn for the night.
Day 5 – Amman
We left seeing Amman for the last so that any shopping could be done before leaving.
Amman is a pleasant city with medium traffic, located at an altitude of about 3000 ft above sea level. It is therefore quite cool at night.
We hired a car for the day and after a leisurely breakfast we started out at about 11.
We first went to the Citadel which is located on one of the seven hills which make up Amman. It is also known as Jabal al-Qal’a which is translated to ‘hill of the citadel’. It was built and inhabited from the Neolithic period, through the Bronze Age and is one of the worlds oldest inhabited places. It also had the temple and statue of Hercules. Only fragments of these remain.
Temple of Hercules
Open Cistern – Birka
Bronze Age Cave
From the Citadel you also get a great view of the Amphitheater below. In fact this view is so good that you don’t really need to go inside from the street level unless you are really interested in close up viewing.
Panoramic view of Amman from the Citadel
From the Citadel we went down to the Downtown area. This is well known for shopping for budget items, jewelry, nicknacks and good street food. It was an interesting walk around the streets.
Umbrella Street in Downtown area
We then drove on to Rainbow street. This is located in an old area of Amman and has a number of nice shops with antiques, cafes and some fancy dining restaurants. It is a nice walk.
Another interesting place to visit is the Car museum which was unfortunately closed since it was a Tuesday.
Overall, I would say a well spent five days. You could extend your visit in Petra to really investigate. There are also trips to Israel from Amman of various durations.