Howdy all. The destination of the month, this month, by my decree, is the Middle Eastern country (yes it’s a whole country today!) of Jordan. The Kingdom of Jordan – they still have a monarchy! Now I should say that it’s pretty warm in May there, I visited in October (many years ago) and it was, well actually the weather was perfect although visiting Petra was a sweaty experience and a half! Nevertheless, it does get even hotter in June/July/August, so I don’t think May is the worst time of the year to visit Jordan! So, let’s see why it has earned ‘Destination of the Month’.
Well, essentially I think Jordan is a great starting off point for the Middle East, for those who have never visited but want to see what the region has to offer. Lacking the craziness of Egypt (and especially Cairo) to some degree, and a drier, cooler and more bearable climate than the Gulf States, Jordan has a lot to offer in terms of natural wonder and historic sites.
Also, it’s cheaper than some of the countries around it, is stable and has a good relationship with neighbour Israel. It boasts a lively metropolis in Amman, ancient ruins in Petra, Red Sea access including diving at Aqaba, Roman ruins in Jerash and access to holy sites and the Dead Sea where you can float on some of the saltiest water the world has!
And the BEST thing in Jordan in my humble opinion, the true highlight for me, is the desert at Wadi Rum. You take a jeep (or camel if you feel the urge) into the desert, have dinner cooked for you the ancient way with ovens under the stand, explore the formations created by the sand and wind, and best of all, sleep under the stars. I’ve done a similar thing in India, from Jaisalmer, but this is the ultimate desert experience IMO.
Petra is one of the world’s great UNESCO sites, and I’m pretty sure one of the ancient wonders of the world. It’s an ancient city reached by walking a path right through huge rocks, and you are greeted when you emerge to the famous sight of the Treasury building. Easily worth a couple of days, this whole valley has ruins and buildings actually built into the solid rock. Perhaps not quite as impressive as the pyramids, it’s really one of the top sites in the region regardless and not to be missed.
I didn’t dive too much into Aqaba, staying just one night, but I did find it a pleasant place on the Red Sea where you can see Israel and Egypt at the same time, and not too far along the coast you have Saudi Arabia. There are resorts there and very comfortable lodgings of a similar ilk, and if you want access to the Red Sea from Jordan, this is the place.
Jerash in the north has an amazing old Roman city just brimming with columns to explore, and is an easy day trip from the capital Amman.
Amman itself is an agreeable city I found, with lots of hidden architectural gems (mostly Roman) hidden amongst the buildings. Check out the Amphitheatre and climb to the citadel above Amman for great views of the city.
I took a day trip that included a visit to the River Jordan and the spot where apparently John the Baptist baptised (well, it’s in the name) Jesus. Also it took me to Mt Abu where the views are spectacular and you can see several religiously significant places in Jordan and Israel. The Dead Sea sits on the border, and we checked that out on the way back. It’s incredible popular but I declined to cover myself in mud!
All in all, you can fill two weeks easily in Jordan. It’s easy to get around by bus or hire a taxi, generally the people are friendly and welcoming and all in all, it’s the perfect Middle Eastern country to visit. However – I will say that I have heard (not when I was there) that female travellers may find they face some harassment and inappropriate actions and advances from men in Jordan. I have this only anecdotally and I met plenty of female travellers in Jordan who didn’t report this. It’s back here in Australia I’ve been told by people I’ve met they had a tough time of it in Jordan.
Otherwise, I think there are few reasons NOT to recommend Jordan. Oh – it is a popular destination, so there can be crowds and you certainly won’t be the only one at Petra when you visit. But there are plenty of countries in the world that see many more tourists than Jordan. Last time I checked most people needed a visa, so check up on that before you go, but if you were feeling like taking a dip to see what the Middle East offers and haven’t been there before (or even if you have) you could do a lot worse than choosing the incredible Jordan!
Thanks as always for popping by – May the Journey Never End!