09 May 8 days In Jordan
by Lizzie Powell from England
In October 2016 I travelled with my daughter and son-in-law to Jordan I recommend purchasing the Jordan Pass which gives free entry into many sights
We decided Madaba would be a good place to stay as we had a late evening arrival and the well regarded Mariam Hotel offered airport pick up. The hotel offers a range of tours at quite competitive prices but if you are a solo traveller beware that the opportunity to join with others and share costs is limited due to the huge downturn in visitor numbers to Jordan currently. As there were three of us it seemed a better solution to hire a car, costs are reasonable and petrol much cheaper than UK prices. Roads are generally very good and outside the main towns fairly traffic free. There were periodic police checks but we were always waved straight through them and felt safe at all times.
Our itinerary started with looking round Madaba, famous for its mosaics and then the second day we took advantage of the hotels driver to go to Jerash and Amman. We thought by mid October it would be cooling off a little but in fact it was still very hot so don’t forget a hat and water, these is barely any shade at Jerash although there are some shops and cafes at the entrance where you can get drinks.
Next morning the car was delivered and off we set. We had chosen to follow the scenic Kings Highway route to Petra, a full day with a couple of stops. Beware that sat nav will direct you to the newer, faster but very boring Desert Highway at every opportunity so you need a map. I would suggest that before you even set off you note the names of the places along the route and programme them into sat nav so you are navigating a stretch at a time as spellings are somewhat challenging and it’s hard to do en route. Also frustratingly the signage on straight stretches of road was excellent but non existent at junctions. The towns sprawling across these main junctions are busy so you need to keep your cool and have a good navigator.
THREE KINGS HIGHWAY
Highlights of the route include the viewpoint high above Wadi Mujib before you descend via some extreme hairpins to the valley floor then climb up again. We got a little lost around Karak. We had decided to visit the castle on the return journey so didn’t really need to head to Karak at all, although everything I read indicated the road passed through, in reality it’s several miles west. We hit some really bad roadworks passing through Tafilah where the advice to just follow the road straight ahead came unstuck at a T junction and we may or may not have been on the main road through the town.
Continuing south we reached the almost abandoned village of Dana where we had a late lunch cooked to order and big enough to feed ten. By late afternoon we arrived at the atmospheric ruined crusader castle at Shobak with its friendly guardian who was happy to point out his cave home at the base of the hill where goats grazed.From there it was a short drive into Wadi Musa where we checked into our guesthouse, Rocky Mountain Hotel, in time to experience the sunset.
Next morning was an early start to beat the heat of the day and the crowds at Petra. We arrived at opening time, parked and walked the dusty trail to the entrance then we plunged into the Siq. It’s a 20 min walk through this narrow shady gorge till suddenly there ahead we glimpsed it, a sliver of a wonder and the magnificent Treasury reveals itself.
Whilst this is no doubt the most famous sight it’s just the first of many wonderful buildings stretched along the valley floor and ending at the high point of the Monastery. The latter is best climbed to in the afternoon when the path is in the shade and takes about an hour each way including ascending 800 steps.
The next morning we went back and followed the path up to the High Place of Sacrifice for amazing views. Late morning we returned to the car for the drive to Wadi Rum which we reached mid afternoon. Beware that eating options are very limited there as many places are closed and we had both the dearest and worst meal of our trip.
We met our Bedouin guide, from our camp, for a late afternoon 4 wheel drive through the red sands and dunes of this surreal landscape of wide open spaces, punctuated by towering rocks, gorges, rock bridges and imposing cliffs, finishing with a stunning sunset before heading to Salman_Zwaidh_Camp for the night and some stargazing.
Next day we drove the Desert Highway north, taking the turnoff to Kerak for a quick visit to the castle before heading down to the Dead Sea. This is the one place we could not find budget accommodation and we stayed in a resort hotel which offered a shuttle to the beach which is where we spent our last morning slathered in mud and floating about. Time for a shower then back to the airport for the flight home.