Jordan is a country located in the Middle East. It’s full of culture, beautiful landscapes and lots of history. The capital of Jordan is Amman. This is also the largest city of the country. Other big cities are Akaba, Kerak, Ma’an, Madaba and Jerash. Within a short time, the country will make you fall in love with all her beauties and her people. The inhabitants, especially outside of the tourist areas, are very hospitable and they are proud of their Nationality. Don’t be surprised if the shop assistant asks you to take it easy and then invites you to his terrace to drink tea and coffee with him (true story). Jordan has several religions, but the majority of the population is Muslim. In general, the country is easy and safe to travel, both on private and public transport. It shares the famous “dead sea” with its neighbourcountry Israel. Jordan is also known for “Petra”, a large area with ancient temples carved out of rocks and of course for the beautiful desert “Wadi Rum”. The currency in Jordan is the Jordanian dinar (JOD). 1 JOD is about 1,25 EURO. Btw: do not make the mistake to think that the JOD is approximately equal to the Euro.
I entered Jordan by land as I was travelling from Israel. Because my last stop in Israel was in Eilat, I crossed the border at Eilat-Akaba. By the way, there are several border crossings with Israel, like the border crossing Sheik Hussein Bridge. Some nice stops on the route:
My travel route through Jordan
“The country will make you fall in love with its beauties and inhabitants”
“Petra is one of the must sees of Jordan”
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is one of the most famous seas on the planet where you can effortlessly read a newspaper while you peacefully float above the surface. The salt concentration is with an average of 33% so high that no fish can survive and it rightfully is called the dead sea. The water feels like some kind of crazy gel and you really need to rinse it off with a lot of water pressure. The dead sea is shared with Israel and can be found in the west of Jordan near the (larger) cities of Kerak and Madaba. Unfortunately the coastline is dominated by large hotels and Spas. If you don’t want to pay for it, you have to do a good search. There are some public free places I’ve been told… however; because I experienced the dead sea in Israel a week earlier, I skipped it myself in Jordan.
Wadi Rum Desert
Wadi Rum is an absolute must! In fact. I forbid you to come back if you haven’t spent at least one night in the desert! (note: I’ll verify this). You feel as small as a grain of sand when you experience the power of the desert around you. The views are grandiose, both from the ground as well as from the climable rocks. The further you go into the desert, the less activity you see around you and the quieter the environment gets. It’s back to basics and you’ll be completely relaxed. When you have enjoyed the sunset at 4pm and the desert is coloured from yellow to red to black and the moon then disappears over time (around 2am) you will be surprised by the number of crystal-clear stars. Oh; and make sure you install “Sky View Lite” on your mobile to identify the stars at night!
There are several “desert camps” to book via Booking.com for example. These are camps where you sleep in a spacious tent and often breakfast, lunch, dinner and some evening activities are included. The camp where I was staying, Candles camp, lit the campfire after a joint dinner, poured delicious tea and performed cool Arabic live music. An awesome experience which draws you into the whole experience even more. During the day you can go on excursions in the desert or just make a big hike around the camp yourself and feel like a real nomad for a while. We paid for 2 nights (all-in) + a full day Jeep tour for 2 persons (EUR235). Attention: don’t try to drive a normal car into the sandpit. Only with a 4×4 will you make it out of this place. Often the camp arranges a pick-up from a village on the edge of the desert.
MUST-DO: If you have the opportunity (if it’s not to cold at night): drag out your mattress and some thick blankets! Just sleep under the bare starry sky and wake up with the sunrise at 5am! Trust me, just do it!
“at 6am Petra opens and you’ll be (still) able to enjoy all the beauty without being disturbed”
Petra & Little Petra
The second thing you absolutely cannot skip is Petra. Admission is 50JOD for 1 day (or free with the Jordan pass). Here you will be amazed by the beautiful ancient temples which are carved out of rocks. There are several trails. Through the “main” trail you come across most major works such as (one of the most famous) Al-Khazneh Treasury … remember Indiana Jones? The end of this trail is a climb to Ad-Deir Monastery! At the start of the climb there are a lot of guys who offer you to do the climb on the back of a donkey. DON’T DO THIS! They treat the animals very badly and the donkeys have great difficulty doing the climb with a human on their back!
When you enter Petra, grab a map with all the trails on it (or take a picture of the trails that are drawn on the wall), as there are also cool trails that lead you to great hights where you can enjoy a view of the works under you while you have a nice breakfast in a cool tent with Arabic coffee. How cool is that!? Make sure you have a hotel in the adjacent Wadi Musa and get up before dawn. From Wadi Musa you can walk for 20 minutes (or 2JOD taxi) to the gates of Petra. At 6am Petra opens and you can (still) enjoy all the beauty without being disturbed…. By 9am it starts to get filled with busses full of tourists and then I wish you all the best in being able to take a nice picture while excluding 48 nationalities. If after the arrival of an average of 3000 visitors per day you are done with Petra, you can go to the adjacent museum (included in the price) or you take a 15 minutes taxi-ride for 15JOD which will drop you off (and bring you back) at Little Petra. One hour is enough, and the taxi will be waiting for you during that time (after you’ve make an arrangement with him). The name says it all; small scale but above all: almost quiet.
The capital of Jordan is Amman. A busy city where you will find markets, nice food spots and ruins. If you end up in the city and you’ve ‘done’ the desert and Petra before, you gotta have to climaticize again. Luckily you can easily do excursions from Amman to Madaba and Jerash. Once out of the busy capital it’s easy to navigate through the traffic with a rental car, but in the capital itself it can cause some serious perspiration. Not to mention finding a parking space… In the evening you can eat falafel at the most famous falafel restaurant in Down Town Omman (Hashem restaurant) and end the evening on one of the balconies where you smoke Sisha while you see crowds of people strolling down the street below you.
“The further you go into the desert, the less activity you see around you and the quieter the environment becomes.”
Visa – Residents of the Netherlands need a visa for Jordan. This visa costs about 40JOD and can be obtained “on Arrival” (If you have another nationality please check the up-to-date information at the Embassy or Consulate). What’s even easier, is applying for the Jordan Pass. With this pass the visa (40JOD) and Petra (50JOD) are included + 40 other attractions in Oman. The pass costs 70/75 or 80 JOD (1 day Petra/ 2 days or 3 days). So if Petra is on your To-Do list, it’s immediately cheaper. Buy your ticket on the official site of the Jordan Pass.
Accommodation – Hostels are limited, but can generally still be found. Even in the desert. Prices start from about 5JOD for a dorm and 14JOD for a double room. Spending the night in the desert is of course special, and that’s what you pay for. Do not hesitate to negotiate the price with the hotel, this is possible. Of course there is also plenty of expensive accommodation to be found. The sky is the limit – also in Jordan.
Food & Drinks – After a day of hiking or visiting temples, you’ll have to quench your thirst with tea, Arabic coffee, soda or malt beer. Alcoholic drinks are hardly available with the exception of tourist-oriented, more expensive restaurants and hotels (for this you’ll have to go deep into your pockets; a beer will cost you 6JOD). The food and drinks in Jordan are safe and tasty. On every corner you can score delicious Falafel but also try the Baba Ganoush, Mansaf or Kibbeh! It is claimed that the Hashem Restaurant in Amman ‘invented’ the falafel. I don’t know if it’s true, but the falafel were delicious! By the way, let yourself be surprised with any dish and believe me that you will like it. Make sure you try the Arabic coffee as well! It is a creamy caramel-like coffee and is prepared right in front of you.
Some examples of prices:
Transportation – If you enter the country by plane, it is best to fly to Queen Alia International Airport. Once you have arrived there, you can take a taxi to Amman or you can rent a car. We have rented a car for 135JOD for 3 days, including the drop-off in another city. Driving in Jordan is sometimes very exciting in the big cities, they don’t give each other an inch, but it’s easy to do outside of the big cities. Note that finding a parking spot in Down Town Amman can be difficult. On your way you may encounter police checkpoints. With a big smile you get a big smile back. Public transport is available in Jordan, but the local minibuses do not run at fixed times. The minibus will only drive when it is full. It is that simple. If you are lucky it will take 15 minutes and if you are less lucky 3 hours. You pay about 7 JOD for a 2 hour bus ride (e.g. from Akaba to Wadi Musa).
When you cross the border from Eilat (Israel) you take the bus to the border, then you walk in 2km to the border (no bus) you cross the border, you take the taxi to Akaba (no bus) and in Akaba you take the bus to the next destination. The taxi driver will claim that the bus is not present or will not drive that day = nonsense. For this taxi ride you pay 12JOD with some negotiation. Between Wadi Musa and Wadi Rum there is a good bus connection. make sure you book in advance (at your hotel). Departure time from Wadi Musa to Wadi Rum = 6am.
Climate and season – On average, the warmest months are June to September. This period has an average temperature of 34 degrees and can sometimes rise considerably. These are also the dry months. March to May, October and November are the best months to visit the country, in which the autumn is a lot drier than the spring. In these months you’ll experience a nice temperature of aprox 22-28 degrees on average, in which you can do excellent hikes.
“No struggle at all do the camels seem to have with the climate.”
Suggested daily budget – EUR35 per day (low budget) EUR60 per day (medium budget) EUR 60+ (high budget)