From the bustling capital city of Amman and the Roman ruins of Jerash, to the archaeological wonders of Petra, the vast red landscape of the Wadi Rum, and the buoyant waters of the Dead Sea, Hollie Youlden takes us on a journey through Jordan.
We kicked off our Jordan adventure in the pulsating capital of Amman. Bustling with activity and noise, it’s the country’s showcase of modern Jordan where shop fronts spill out on to the road and back streets are crammed with everything you could dream of buying. With coffee houses on practically every street, many offering balconies for twilight views, spend your evenings soaking up the city vibe over a refreshing lemon and mint drink.
From Amman we spent a day exploring the incredible Roman ruins north of the city. First on the list was the sprawling Roman city of Jerash, over 2000 years old and surprisingly well-preserved. Columns tower over chariot-marked stone streets and the city is home to a magnificent theatre where would-be performers can stand on stage and address an imaginary crowd. So clever were the old Romans that a specific spot on the stage where the stone is hollowed slightly allows magnification of your voice giving the impression you’re speaking through a mic!
The next day we left Amman for Petra – the legendary Rose City. Following the main route into the ancient city we snaked our way through the high siq, anticipation growing at every turn waiting for the Treasury to reveal itself. When it finally did, all the photos in the world could not prepare you for the sight. Standing impressively tall in the cool shade of the canyon’s walls, smooth walls supported perfectly formed columns despite the city’s old age. Camels knelt on the ground in front of the façade creating the ultimate exotic view of the Treasury.
We continued past royal tombs and a superb theatre to the centre of the ancient city. This route is open to everyone and easy to navigate but to make the most of Petra, hire a guide and take the back routes into the city. On our second day we got up early to avoid the worst of the heat and followed the back trails to reach a mountaintop overlooking the Treasury. If it was spectacular from ground level, it was even more impressive from a bird’s eye view! The route, mostly void of other tourists, continued to the High Place of Sacrifice – more incredible views and the remains of obelisks. The highlight of day 3 of our time in Petra was taking the back route to the Monastery, Petra’s other most well-preserved Nabataean façade. We were the only ones on the route and arrived to find we had the Monastery completely to ourselves – perfect for soaking up the site in its peaceful entirety and even better for photo opportunities. This route also meant we only had to walk DOWN the 800 steps that lead to the Monastery and not UP!
To top off our time in Petra we visited the Petra Kitchen where we got our hands dirty preparing fresh Jordanian dishes including Baba Ganoush and tasty hot and cold mezzes. We all had a chance to dice vegetables and test our knowledge of spices and in the end we were rewarded with a feast fit for a king!
From Petra we continued to Wadi Rum – a vast desert landscape of red sands and rock formations. Our Bedouin guide met us at the entrance and took us on a 4×4 jeep safari stopping at mammoth sand dunes and precariously perched rock bridges. We stopped in the shade of the mountains for a spot of traditional Bedouin tea before continuing to our wonderful Rainbow Camp with tented camps and a welcoming outdoor dining/lounge area. The camp is perfectly placed behind a rocky outcrop where you can perch for sunset and watch the colours change hue in the waning light. It’s even more impressive at night when the desert is swallowed by the dark and twinkling stars punctuated the sky.
After a night camping in the desert it was time for a little TLC at the Dead Sea. Slathering ourselves in gloopy mud harvested straight from the Dead Sea, we let it dry in the sun before soaking it off in the highly salty waters. The Dead Sea’s salt content makes the waters so buoyant that it’s almost impossible to sink! You can just lie back and drift along without a care in the world – the perfect end to a perfect trip.