Jordan is nothing short of spectacular. Boasting one of the Seven Wonders of the World, ancient and uncrowded ruins, the lowest point on earth, moonlike desert landscapes, an excellent tourism infrastructure, friendly people and delicious food, not surprisingly so. Yet, the unfair and false mainstream media spin on the Middle East as dangerous has kept many away. It’s time to change all that!
After spending a week building with my Habitat for Humanity Global Village Team in the countryside, 12 of our teammates enjoyed a week of extended travel. This was our first time to Jordan so we hit the highlights, although there is much more to enjoy if you have time. If you are into Biblical history, Jordan is home to many sites!
[PRO TIP: When planning you’ll want to consider that the weekend begins on Friday. That means potentially heavy traffic on Thursday and shops and sites may be closed on Friday. Build your itinerary around the weekend and you’ll be okay.]
[PRO TIP: After much research and fielding proposals from several travel companies I used Jordan Select to arrange our tour. They are a Jordanian company, quick and detailed emails and itinerary and great price. Our guides were excellent. I highly recommend them. Feel free to contact me questions!]
[PRO TIP: Consider flying Qatar Airways. They have an incredible stopover program. Read my post on their program to take advantage!]
DAY 1 – Amman | Madaba | Mt. Nebo | Dead Sea
There’s a lot to see in Amman. One of the main attractions is the Citadel, which will afford you fabulous views of this sprawling and massive city.
The Roman Theater where the acoustics are amazing!
We also visited the King Abdullah Mosque, aka the Blue Mosque, on our way out of the city, which was an unscheduled surprise since we were not able to visit a mosque in the village where we were building and some folks really wanted to. [PRO TIP: There’s a gift shop on the lower level of the mosque and it’s worth poking around, but bargain and get your guide to help you if willing.]
Next stop: City of Mosaics, Madaba (MADA-ba).
There’s a lot to take in here, but we made the best of our time, stopping at the famous St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church to see and learn about the Byzantine mosaic map of the Holy Land dating to the 6th century.
We saw several more archeological sites and had a few minutes to spare in the shops lining our way.
Next Stop: Mt. Nebo. This is where Moses climbed from Moab and looked out from the summit onto the Promised Land, also his resting place. The site is very well done, with excavations of the church.
Last Stop: The Dead Sea. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea, and it was terrific! I mean, forget the name, this hotel was our favorite. After check in we quickly changed into swimsuits and headed down to the Dead Sea for sunset and a swim. You can slather yourself in the mud and then rinse off in the salty water. The beach closes at sunset, at which time you can head to the heated infinity pool where the warm water will take away any chill.
DAY 2 – Bethany Baptism Site | Kerak | Petra
After a late morning checkout we visited Bethany, the site of the baptism of Jesus along the Jordan River. It was interesting that when you walk all the way to the water’s edge just across the bank is Israel (or the East Bank). A stone’s throw away we watched many pilgrims begin baptized themselves.
Next Stop, Kerak and the Crusader’s Castle. As we turned off the King’s Highway toward Kerak we were met with some frosty weather – it was hailing! We dashed into a place for lunch and then miraculously it quit raining for our short visit inside the Castle.
We continued our drive to Petra. Stopped in town for dinner then checked into the Mövenpick Nabatean Castle Hotel, also well liked by our group. It’s a bit outside of the town, so we took our meals in Petra before retiring for the evening.
DAYS 3 & 4 – Petra
Two full days in Petra, if you have the time, is just right. If you are really into hiking, there’s more, but we saw a good 75% of this fascinating Nabatean “Rose-Red City Half as Old as Time.”
There’s so much more to see than the famous view of the Treasury through the Siq. It’s absolutely worth taking the time and effort to hike to the Monastery, the High Place of Sacrifice, and to get off the beaten path.
Don’t miss Little Petra, the old trading post, if you will. Our guide knew the area well and took us on many adventures. In fact, he seemed to know everyone everywhere went. Lucky us!
DAY 5 – Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum’s desert lunar landscape is widely sought after by producers, stargazers and tourists alike. You’ve seen the movies. Lawrence of Arabia, The Martian, Rogue One, Last Days on Mars, to name a few, all filmed here. And it is beautiful.
If you want to ride a camel, do it here, where your little caravan may be the only one in site. Thankfully our guide setup a picnic lunch for us, cooked by some Bedouin friends, and served in the shade of the boulders.
There are many types of accommodations here ranging from sleeping under the stars to luxurious surrounds with fine food and drink. Most likely your choice will be determined by your budget and your taste.
DAY 6 – Salt City | Amman
In the morning we departed via the Desert Highway on our five hour drive back to Amman. We detoured to see the old city of Salt, once Jordan’s capital. We took in the sites at the museum, had a wonderful lunch, again recommended by our guide, and a whirl through the market’s pedestrian only streets. We saw no other tourists and enjoyed a couple hours before checking in for the final night.
Several of us spent our last evening at the charming and lovely Beit Sitti to learn to cook Arabic food from the best local chefs. It’s also a social enterprise, begun by three sisters in honor of their grandmother, whose home is now the school. Make reservations in advance.