Road Trip Around Jordan
Jordan is such a beautiful country with areas of outstanding natural beauty. What better place to road trip around with your best friend!
We started our adventure at Amman airport. We arranged to pick up our hire car from Sixt at 10 am, an hour after we landed. However, we were a little late due to the line at passport control being so long. With British passports, we were able to buy our visa at passport control. I recommend you check the visa requirements for your passport ahead of your trip.
Once we picked up the car and were informed that if the car were to get a flat tyre we should, I quote "google it" we got on the road. We paid a little extra to get satellite navigation so keyed in our first destination.
We had booked a room at the Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa which we knew had incredible views of the Dead Sea. The 'Sat Nav' calculated that our journey would take approximately 1 hour so we took our time knowing that we couldn't check in until after 1 pm. On the drive, we saw some beautiful views and stunning scenery. One particular vista caused us to stop and take pictures however our car became surrounded by people asking for money and attempting to sell us items from their bags. Please be careful of this if you do stop in busy public areas.
Once we made it to our hotel we were greeted by the staff and informed that our room was not ready. We decided to leave our bags and head out to Jesus Christ's Baptism site as 15 minutes from the hotel we had passed a sign for it. This wasn't something we had put on our initial list however with it being so close we made a mental note to visit before we moved on.
Once we arrived we were ushered to the ticket office to pay the 12 Jordanian Dinar which entitles you to a tour of the site. We had arrived just in time for the next tour so we hopped on the bus with our tour guide. Please be aware if you are intending on seeing the site briefly and then heading back unfortunately you will be disappointed. The whole tour lasts around 2 hours and you are unable to leave the tour early due to the area being militarised. The tour takes you to the site Jesus was baptised and other notable religious points and ends at the Jordan River where you can, if you want, be baptised. The river runs along the border of Jordan and Palestine, hence the heavy military presence.
- It was really interesting to see and visit however be prepared with comfotable shoes as you will be doing a lot of walking
- Ensure you have water with you especially during the summer months.
Once we were back at the car park we collected our car and set off to find food as we were rather hungry at this point. We decided to go back in the direction of the hotel and happened upon a small shopping centre where we found a lovely Arabic restaurant. There were also some small shops selling dead sea salt products which are a lovely souvenir to take home.
When we finally got back to the hotel it was 5pm and sunset was imminent so we dashed to our room, changed into our swimwear and rushed to the Dead Sea. Once down there we wandered a little off the beaten track and found a secluded section where we could swim uninterrupted. The rumours are true, you really do float. It's a hard feeling to describe but something worth experiencing. It's like nothing I've ever felt before.
- Do not shave directly before going in the dead sea and watch out if you have any cuts on your body. The Dead Sea is 9.6 times saltier than the ocean and believe me when I say, it hurts a lot (I had cuts on my knees so I found out the hard way). Our hotel had showers available by the beach to wash off the salt but if you go in the public sections beware.
- Take sea shoes or neoprene booties as the bottom of the dead sea is rocky and due to the salt crystalising on the rocks it can get very sharp. If you didn't have cuts before you may have them after.
- Try the Dead Sea mud on your skin, it has been known to improve the skin's appearance and help with some conditions such as Psoriasis.
Our next stop in Jordan was Petra but as it was dark we decided to leave bright and early the following day to embark on the 3 hour drive down the country.
The drive to Petra was a little more eventful than anticipated, with the regular police checkpoints, poorly maintained roads and unexpected/unmarked speed bumps. However, if you pay attention to the road signs and allow yourself time in your itinerary for regular stops by the police then it is a relatively easy trip. Also be aware that some of the roads through the mountains are narrow and rocky so take this into account when booking your hire car. A small low to the ground car may not be the best choice.
- Have your passports in the front of the car with you so when asked for them at the checkpoints you can access them easily. The same goes for your license and registration.
- Pay attention to the speed limit, a lot of the roads are monitored by radar so if you exceed the limit you will get fined.
- Don't do the drive when it is dark. The roads can be hard enough in the light, so in darkness, off the highway, the roads are trickier to navigate.
Once in Petra we parked our car and set off down the hill to the lost city. We had been extremely excited for this section of our trip and we couldn't wait to get stuck into the trek. It is about a 20-minute walk down the initial stretch before Al Siq (the narrow cannon approaching The Treasury) however don't rush it, every section is beautiful and shouldn't be missed.
As you get to the end of Al Siq you will catch a sliver of The Treasury, when the sun is shining down, illuminating the carved rock it is truly something stunning.
Tour guides say that you need approximately 7 hours to see all of Petra including climbing up to view the city from above. My friend and I did everything we could in around 5 hours, however a huge chunk of that time was taking photos and exploring some of the market stalls along the way.
- Take plenty of water with you, there are shops along the way but it is always helpful to have water on the initial stretch as it can be very warm.
- Wear comfy, suitable shoes. The section of Petra after The Treasury is a hill made entirely of rocks. If you are wearing flip flops there is a very good chance you will fall and injure yourself.
- It is very dusty, whatever you choose to wear on your feet and body, be prepared for it to be dirty afterwards.
Once back at the car we set off to Wadi Rum (The Red Desert) for our final stop. The journey was relatively easy and only took us 1 hour. After turning off the highway and travelling approximately 15km into the desert we approached the gates to the Wadi Rum Protected Area where we paid the 5 JOD fee for local tourism development. Here we were then directed to a car park around 7km down the road.
We parked up and Rasheed from Wadi Rum Luxury Night Camp met us and helped us into the back of his pick up truck. It was kitted out with cushioned seats so we could enjoy the open air tour of the desert in style. Rasheed even let me drive for a bit, bashing the sand dunes and exploring the desert.
Once we arrived at the camp we were shown to our stargazing pod. It was a spherical bubble tent with a transparent roof so that you could watch the stars as you fell asleep. No wifi, no cell signal just peace and quiet, perfect! The views were stunning and as the sun was finally setting behind the red rocks that surrounded us we went to explore the camp.
Once the moon was out we found the dinner tent and enjoyed a lovely traditional 4-course banquet with Arabic sweet tea before sitting by the fire. The evening was perfectly peaceful and ideal if you want a technology-free escape from the real world.
Once back at our pod, we sat outside on beanbags with blankets, watching the shooting stars soar above us. Thousands upon thousands of stars littered the night's sky and we sat for hours completely mesmerised. Then once inside we drifted off under the natural twinkly lights, excited for the sunrise we knew would be just as spectacular.
As predicted our sunrise wake up was gorgeous! As the orange glow rose from behind the red rocks we sat in awe, gutted that we had to leave in only a few hours. The Wadi Rum Luxury Night Camp was my highlight of the trip. I can't recommend it enough and would urge anyone thinking of travelling to Jordan to add it to the itinerary.
- Book the Star Gazing Pod, they are truly worth the extra money.
- Take a good book - without wifi, you won't be able to scroll through Instagram to pass the time.
- Speak to the Bedouins who run the camp, they arrange tours of Wadi Rum and activities for all times of the day.
Once we were back at the car, a little later than expected, we set off on the very long drive back to Amman Airport. We had driven the length of the country since our first day and so had a lot of ground to cover. The journey back was tedious as the Amman-Aqaba highway was far from picturesque. There were many farms and plenty of arid desert, however, if you have a friend and some good music, the time flies by.
As we were approaching the end of our drive, we hit a speed bump a little too hard (as I mentioned they weren't clearly marked) and one of our tyres burst. Luckily we were in a small village at the time and even more luckily outside a tyre shop. A wonderful man came to help us fix it as Google was no use without a jack (which was unsurprisingly missing from the back of our car). Had this happened any earlier on our trip we would have been in more trouble. This was the first village we had passed in over 35 miles.
- Always take an AUX cable with you or CDs as your hire car may not be kitted out with Bluetooth.
- Make sure you check the hire car before leaving the airport to ensure it has everything you need should you break down or puncture a tyre.
- Get international data or minutes for those emergency situations should you need to use a telephone.
- Take snacks and enough water to last you a few days. If you get stranded in the middle of nowhere that extra preparation will be crucial.
Our Jordan road trip was by far one of the best travel experiences i've ever had. I would highly recommend seeing Jordan like this. With all of the best things to see being so far apart, hopping in a car to go place to place is the perfect solution.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch
All opinions in this blog are my own.