Our final stop in our tour of Jordan was a visit to the Dead Sea. We spent an afternoon experiencing the unique and amazing feeling of floating on the Dead Sea, as well as a few hours spent relaxing by the pool of a Dead Sea holiday resort. Prior to arriving, I was expecting to spend the afternoon on a beach, and was pleasantly surprised to arrive at an amazing resort – with beautiful pools and a endless supply of sun-lounges. After a week spent sitting in a mini-bus, exploring ancient ruins, and discovering new landscapes and cities, it was nice just to relax by the pool, even if it was only for a few hours.
After an amazing day spent in Petra, we spent an incredible afternoon and evening in the desert of Wadi Rum.
Before heading towards Wadi Rum, we made a quick stop at Little Petra, a less known and less visited archeological site, close to Petra, but on a much smaller scale.
In Wadi Rum, we took a two hour drive through the desert and watched an incredible sunset. We spent the night in a well equipped campsite in the desert, and after a sumptuous feast, we partied the night away with the locals.
Petra is such an amazing place. I have travelled a lot and seen some incredible places, and Petra is up there as one of them. It is incredible that this site, which once once a vibrant and lively city, was not ‘discovered’ until 1812, as the site is huge and there is still much of the city to be uncovered. But the city is well ‘hidden’ between the mountains in which it is built. Driving into Petra and looking out onto the mountains, you cannot even detect any semblance of the city.
It is thought that Petra has been inhabited since 312 by the Nabataeans and was the centre of their caravan trade. They built some incredible structures in the red rock of Petra, which still stand today. The city was inhabited by the local bedouins until 1985, when it became a world heritage site and the bedouin people were relocated in a village nearby. Today these people work in the site, offering camel and donkey rides, selling souvenirs and running cafes.
Petra is one of those must see places and of course the highlight of any trip to Jordan.
There are many tours from both Amman and Aquaba which offer day or multi-day tours to Petra. Once in Petra village, the site is only a short walk away.
Have a chat with the bedouin/kiwi guy selling copies of his mother’s book “Married to a Bedouin” by Marguerite van Geldermalsen. In 1978 his mother made a trip to Jordan and ended up marrying a bedouin man and living there. Her son has since lived in New Zealand and Australia and is a great guy to have a chat to. He sells copies of his mother’s book and some beautiful locally handcrafted jewellery.
On our way to Petra, we took a few stops to visit Mount Nebo and Shobak Castle.
Mount Nebo was the site where, according to Christian and Jewish teachings, Moses was given the view of the promised land. According to some traditions, it is also the burial site of Moses. From Mount Nebo, there is a panoramic view of Jerusalem, the Jordan River and Jericho, which can be seen on a clear day.
After a few hours drive, and just before we reached Petra, we made a quick stop at Shobak Castle to explore the ruins of the 12th century crusaders fortress. Unfortunately, much of the site was destroyed, so what you see today is largely the reconstruction.
Known as Pompeii of the East, Jeresh was our second stop in Jordan. I was very impressed with the size of the archeological site and the quality and quantity of ruins to be found there. This once spectacular city was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 749AD, with further earthquakes and war further decimating the city, it was not until 1806 that is was discovered and excavation and reconstruction work began. The remains of Greco-Roman Jeresh which can be see today include: The Corinthium column, Hadrian’s Arch, the circus/hippodrome, the two large temples (dedicated to Zeus and Artemis), the nearly unique oval Forum, which is surrounded by a fine colonnade, the long colonnaded street or cardo, two theatres (the Large South Theatre and smaller North Theatre), two baths, and a scattering of small temples and an almost complete circuit of city walls. Spending half a day is more than enough to more than adequately explore the ruins of the old city.
The visit to Jeresh was part of my tour, but being so close to Amman, not more than an hour’s drive, I’m sure that there would be public transport services between Amman and Jeresh, making a day trip to see these amazing ruins quite easily achievable from Amman.
This is the first post from my recent trip to the Middle East, namely Jordan, Turkey & Israel. I made a reasonably short trip to this area (when I travel, I tend to like going for at least a month or two, so three weeks for me is quite shirt), but absolutely loved it.
I began my travels in Amman, joining a seven day tour of Joran with Topdeck – http://www.topdeck.travel. I arrived in Amman early on the morning prior to the day of the tour commencement, do I had a day to explore the city.
The staff at the hotel were very helpful in advising me how to get to the centre with a taxi, ensuring me that it was perfectly safe. Even though Jordan is situated in a area of the world which is currently full of turmoil, Jordan has a surprisingly low level of crime and Amman is quite a safe city to navigate alone. So I spent the day exploring downtown and visiting the citadel and roman theatre.
Taxis are the best mode of transport in Amman – they are cheap and are everywhere. A trip anywhere in the city shouldn’t cost you more than a few dinars.
I found a awesome street vendor in downtown selling felafel sandwiches (pita bread stuffed with felafels, hommus & french fries) for a dinar. Also head to the downtown fruit markets for an amazing array of fresh fruit, from figs to pomegranates, peaches and dates.
Head to Rainbow Street for a night out on the town. Full of both local and international people, the vibe is young and upbeat. There is a plethora of bars, restaurants and cafes, with friendly staff and great atmospheres. This seems to be the place to be if you are anyone and everyone.