“Welcome to Jordan” was my immediate greeting on arrival at Amman Airport and this message epitomises the friendliness of the Jordanian people: from our tour guide to police officers, car drivers, and even a passing Bedouin, everyone wants to welcome you to their country.
And it is no wonder that they are so proud to show off their home: with ancient cities, spectacular scenery, delicious food and so many unique sights and activities, Jordan has a lot to boast about.
Our first stop was Amman – the capital of Jordan and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
The area known as the Citadel sits on the highest hill in Amman – Jebel Al Qala’a (about 850m above sea level) – and from up here you have a panoramic view of the city with its limestone buildings stretching out before you. There’s so much to see, including the Temple of Hercules, the Ummayad Palace and the Roman Amphitheatre.
Jerash is about an hour away from Amman and has some of the best preserved Roman and Greek ruins. Jerash was conquered by General Pompei in 63 BC and so it came under Roman rule and, thanks to the sand that covered the city for centuries, it is amazingly well preserved! It was excavated about 70 years ago so you can now walk around the city and it is easy to imagine how people lived 2,000 years ago.
The drive from Amman to Petra can look quite daunting on the map but along the way there are dozens of interesting sights: from the grave of Moses to biblical mosaics to crusader’s castles.
Petra is without doubt the most visited sight in the country – and with good reason!
From the entrance, you walk for about 1 km through a narrow canyon (called Al Siq) until you emerge and are greeted by the magnificent building called Al Khazneh (the Treasury). This awe-inspiring sight was carved out of the sheer, pink rock-face as the tomb of a Nabataean king. It also featured prominently in the film “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”! From here you can explore the whole of Petra – which is MASSIVE!
In the south of the country you will find Wadi Rum Desert: the setting for Lawrence of Arabia. Imposing rocks jut out of the sand dunes, creating an impressive scene. A sunset jeep tour will take you to a Bedouin tent where you will be treated to their traditional tea – flavoured with sage, cinnamon and cardamom – and classic Jordanian hospitality.
I can certainly recommend an overnight stay at Wadi Rum in a Bedouin Style Camp. You can choose either luxury tented accommodation with a comfy bed and en-suite bathroom or one of the more quirky domes with glass windows. But, whichever you choose, the absence of light pollution means that the stars will never have looked so bright!
Jordan was not at all what I expected: what struck me shortly after arriving – apart from being welcomed by absolutely everyone! – was the feeling of security and safety. The country seems a world away from some of its more troubled neighbours and at no point did I ever feel uncomfortable walking alone, not even at night in Amman.
Jordan has something for everyone but it is the warmth and hospitality of the Jordanian people which will make you want to return again and again!
Time Difference: + 2 hours Currency: 1 Jordan Dinar (JOD) = £1.05
Flying Time: 5 hours +
· With long road trips and lots of walking, comfortable shoes and light clothing is a must.
· Do try the local speciality kunafeh – a delicious pastry top with crushed pistachios.
· If you only have one day at Petra, make sure you get an early start as there is so much to see.
· Cover yourself in mineral rich mud and float in the Dead Sea!