A week in Jordan

Simply put: go to Jordan.  This trip was as fulfilling as any I’ve had with the combination of activity and exploration, history and culture, and meeting wonderful locals.  Everyday was an unfolding adventure that we couldn’t have predicted and it’s so possible to see so much in a very short time.

We did an adventure road trip down the King’s Highway.  Renting a car was easy, navigating was easy, and we felt safe the whole time.  Click on the titles for a more in-depth report of each day!

Day 1: Madaba, Mt. Nebo, Machaerus, Umm Ar-Rasas, Grand Canyon of Jordan

The beginning of our road trip adventure on the King’s Highway through Jordan, we explored the mosaics of Madaba, and started our way down the King’s Highway to Mt. Nebo, Machaerus, Umm Ar-Rasas and the Grand Canyon of Jordan.

Madaba: Archaeological Museum, mosaic restoration school, and of course famous Madaba Map mosaic in the Byzantine church of Saint George.  This map of the middle east dating from 6th century AD contains the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Land and especially Jerusalem. 

Mt. Nebo: the site from which Moses is said to have viewed the Holy Lands. 

Machaerus: The once fortified palace and bath house of Herod, and site of the imprisonment and beheading of John the Baptist in 32 AD.  

Umm Ar-Rasas: UNESCO world heritage site ruins – multiple eras of use . . . Biblical settlement, Roman military strategic garrison, later inherited by Christian and Muslim communities.  Ruins date to Roman, Byzantine, and early Muslim periods. A lot of the area remains unexcavated/buried under debris . . . 

Comment: We drove on to Umm Ar-Rasas, partly because we read that Kerak castle was closed on Sundays.  In retrospect, going straight to Kerak was probably the better choice, and it doesn’t close Sundays! That said, Umm Ar-Rasas was pretty cool, kind of more-so because nobody was there and there was a lot of exploring to be had!!  Actually, I’m really glad we stopped and would recommend doing so.

‘Grand Canyon of Jordan’ from the road (Hwy 35) just south of Dhiban.  It was a cool spot to overlook and watch the sunset, but honestly not overly spectacular. Then again, it’s on the way so worth it!

We made progress south along Kings Highway in the dark, deciding to stay in Dana Village.  We’d heard it’s cool for hiking, and it was also the best location to hit Shobuk Castle in the morning, on the way to Petra.  

Day 2: Shobak Castle, Little Petra-to-Petra hike, Monastary, Petra-by-night

From our hotel in Dana, we drove the King’s Highway to Shobak castle, a crusader castle built in 1115.

Pretty impressive fortification!

Little Petra and the hike to the Monastery and Petra . . . exploration of Little Petra to the ‘best view in the world’ and then up the wadi and eventually to the Monastery of Petra (didn’t find the primary/correct route!).  Albeit less famous than the Treasury, we thought the Monastery was at least as cool.  Walk through Petra at dusk.

And then we found it! So cool to come up on this view after walking through such cool natural terrain. We agreed we were so glad to arrive at Petra in this manner!  Celebratory handstand a must!

Petra-by-Night cool, but not epic, glad we did it!

Day 3: Petra exploration, Wadi Rum arrival

15 miles, countless stairs, and 9 hours of walking around Petra from the 6am opening . . . Siq, Treasury, Street of Facades, Theater, hike above Treasury, Byzantine Church, Great Temple, Garden Temple, High Place of Sacrifice.  We covered SO MUCH GROUND and saw so much, staying away from crowds for much of it.

We left Petra at sunset and drove to Wadi Rum where we made the pickup and to the Bedouin camp (Martian Camp) by dinner.  Again, totally worth it to spend the evening under the stars and by a lovely campfire after a day in zany Petra.  

 

Day 4: Wadi Rum – sunrise hike, jeep tour, Um Froth, Burdah Bridge, camel ride to ‘sunset spot’

Wadi Rum is rad.  Sunrise hike, Jeep tour with Umm Froth (Mother’s Bridge) and a hike to Burdah Bridge.  The views from Burdah Bridge and the adventure of hiking it were high points of the trip.  Camel ride to sunset spot and stunning walk back to camp . . . a perfect day!

Umm Froth (mother’s bridge)

View of Wadi Rum from Burdah Bridge

Burdah Bridge!

 

Day 5: Wadi Rum ‘sunrise spot’ hike, Kerak Castle, Dead Sea

We walked the next morning to the ‘sunrise spot’ before leaving Wadi Rum and stopping at Kerak Castle, back on the King’s Highway.  It’s another crusader castle (like Shobuk), but it’s walls are still in use by the city and it’s much less rustic. It’s a much better preserved and a lot bigger by virtue of more being intact.

From there we were on to the Dead Sea.  We stayed at the Marriott and enjoyed mud baths and floating in the salty water – what trip!

   

Day 6: Bethany, Jerash, departure

Coffee by the Dead Sea, then on to Bethany, the baptism site of Jesus Christ along the River Jordan. Bethany is downplayed on a lot of travel websites, but I really enjoyed it. The tour is into the military area because Israel is literally over the River Jordan (Palestine, even). It was eery to know we were looking at one of the most contested pieces of land on the planet, and yet it felt so serene and holy really.  

Then on to Jerash, the Roman ruins just outside Amman.  Jerash is rad. The history of the city is a blend of the Greco-Roman world of the Mediterranean Basin and the ancient traditions of the Arab Orient, and it’s still being excavated and studied today.  There’s a cool temple to Zeus and Artemis, coliseums, bathhouses, lots of columns and just cool and big and well preserved.  

Overall, it think we did a really good job at Jordan.  For 6 days, we covered A LOT of ground, got a lot of great context on the extremely rich history, and really enjoyed the hospitality of the locals we met.  I would highly recommend a trip to Jordan to anyone . . . there’s something for everyone. I’d go back and do a more proper adventure in Wadi Rum, wouldn’t mind diving the Red Sea in Aqaba, and would have loved to explore some of the Wadis near the Dead Sea if we weren’t there in winter.  But, all in all I am very satisfied with our experience.  

 

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