TRAVELING TO JORDAN WITH A LITTLE INDIANA JONES ON YOUR SIDE IS A GREAT ADVENTURE!
I just got back from one of our most adventurous trips ever: JORDAN! It is such a beautiful and friendly country and I really enjoyed discovering new sites and locations every day. I hope the above video compilation captures all the fun and excitement we had. Let me break down the 10 greatest things we saw in Jordan.
One of the most famous locations in the world! This ancient city was likely the capital of The Nabataean Kingdom and is known for it’s rock-cut architecture. It was seen in numerous motion pictures and television shows, most notably in the climactic scenes of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade.
A lot of people explore Petra by walking the main trail, which starts at Petra’s Visitors Center, moves through a 1.2 kilometers long gorge known as The Siq leading you directly to The Treasury and ends at The Monestary, covering a total distance of 4.5 kilometers. The last kilometer to The Monastery is a lot of steps and moving upwards may take up to 40 minutes, but it is definitely worth the effort.
I was in the child carrier most of the time. Not only because the distance -roughly 9 kilometers back and forth- is too intense for a 4 year old, but also because the main trail leads to many exciting hiking trails which are quite dangerous, especially for a little daredevil like me to do on his own. My parents succeeded by taking enough breaks and taking turns in carrying me. At times I was able to walk around on my own, at The Treasury and The Monastery for example, and I greatly enjoyed it.
2. WADI RUM
We went here on our very last day in Jordan and boy we saved something good for the end! Wadi Rum is a gorgeous valley cut into sandstone and granite rock.
It is very common to go out in a jeep with a driver and guide and stop at several places to do a short hike and make pictures. Like at Petra, it was wise that I was safely buckled up in the child carrier and some hiking paths proved challenging even for those without an extra 21 kilograms hoisted on their backs.
Since I love driving, the ride across the valley was an amazing experience for me.
3. THE DEAD SEA
I love the water, as you undoubtedly know by now. Yet, this past year I’ve grown especially fond of swimming pools and a bit wary -scared even- of open water, like the sea. Pools are more predictable. I can see where they start and end, and the water is calm and peaceful. Usually, I can even estimate how deep the water is.
The sea has become difficult for me. I don’t trust it anymore. It took me about 40 minutes to find the courage to take some steps into The Dead Sea. In the end, I only walked up and down where I could clearly stand. I did not want to go into ‘uncertain territory’. So no ‘Hey look I'm floating in The Dead Sea'-pictures for me to show off. And this was probably for the best. The water is so extremely high in salt that just a mere drop into the eyes gives an immense burning sensation and the taste of the water borders the taste of battery acid. Grown ups can prevent and anticipate this kind of contact, but for a four year old autistic child it is much harder to do.
Still; I had a great time at The Dead Sea and the weather was great, despite the fact that it was December.
Jerash beholds the ruins of the Roman city of Gerasa. It was great to walk around this huge place and I could freely walk around on several instances. I had a fabulous time!
Amman is the capital of Jordan and although most people advice against driving in this chaotic place, daddy was able to drive around effortlessly. Since I love driving, this was clearly no problem for me. The thing that made the most impact was the Amman Citadel, from which great panaroma views can be seen of the city.
6. BETHANY BEYOND THE JORDAN
A relatively new discovery, the alleged baptism site of Jesus Christ is visited by thousands each year. This was one of the first things we saw and although I didn’t understand its meaning or importance, I did great on the tour. I was happily making sounds, talking and shouting in my own way while the guide was explaining some things, but this didn’t seem to hinder to the group. I hope not at least.
Aqaba was the first city we stayed at and it’s beautifully located at The Red Sea overlooking Isreal’s Eilat. They even had a McDonalds with a playroom, which I greatly enjoyed! At the gorgeous boulevard, I was able to walk around freely a couple of times, witnessing one of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve ever seen.
8. AL KARAK CASTLE and SHOBAK CASTLE
Two castles about 130 kilometers apart from each other. Both castles have their own unique history and I was really at ease seeing the ruins. Although I was in my child carrier basically the whole time, I really enjoy these moments.
9. MA'IN HOT SPRINGS
The springs are a series of hot mineral springs and waterfalls with temperatures ranging from 45 to 65 degrees Celsius. Like with The Dead Sea, the falling, streaming water made this a scary place for me, but after mommy and daddy gave me some time to get used to the situation I spend some time in the hot water which I found very soothing.
10. MOUNT NEBO
Mount Nebo is mentioned in The Bible as the place where Moses overlooked The Promised Land and according to Christian tradition, Moses was also buried on this mountain. I got to walk around a lot on this site and I had a blast! It was one of the places where I felt most comfortable.
Lastly my parents wrote down some things below for those who are planning to visit Jordan and want to be prepared well.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN YOU TRAVEL TO JORDAN
As most travelers know, December is usually a very expensive month to go abroad, but we’ve noticed that prices tend to drop late November and early December, a good time to catch a last minute deal. We were lucky to find book an affordable trip to Jordan! We just had a few weeks to properly prepare and we stumbled upon valuable information that we hope will benefit people planning to visit Jordan in the future.
There are several ways to enter Jordan. The best way is probably to book a flight directly to the capital city Amman, but we found the flights from Amsterdam to be quite pricey during the holiday season.
Therefore, we opted for a flight to Israel and cross the border from there into Jordan. There are several border crossings, all with different rules and regulations (for example: when crossing at The Allenby/King Hussein Bridge, 57km away from Amman, you need to pre-arrange a visa). For more information see this helpful link.
We decided to book a flight to Ovda airport, about one hour away from Eilat. Since there are no car rental offices at Ovda airport, the best ways to get to Eilat is either by taxi (about 100 USD) or a shuttlebus (which we pre-booked at Flo Shuttle for about 8 USD per person). From Eilat, you need to get to the Yitzhak Rabin border crossing and enter Jordan from there, which costs about 30 USD per person (Israeli exit fee). Since we all have EU passports, we are able to get a visa upon arrival and wouldn’t have to arrange anything beforehand.
There are several shuttlebus companies active in Israel. We booked one at Flo Shuttle which is part of Fun Time, one of Israel’s leading tour operators.
Fun Time operates under the names Flo Shuttle, Eilat Shuttle, etc. A shuttlebus can take you directly to the border crossing, but be advised to make sure the driver -who does not always speak English properly- takes you to the RIGHT crossing. Yitzhak Rabin takes you to Jordan, but the Menachem Begin border crossing is Eilat’s gateway to EGYPT. The two crossings are just a few kilometers apart from each other, so if the driver merely states: ‘Border crossing here!’, make sure you’re not accidentally on your way to see the Great Pyramids.
This differs depending on your nationality. EU members are able to buy a visa upon arrival, or even beforehand by acquiring a Jordan Pass (see below).
Access to many of these places can be purchased by acquiring a ‘Jordan Pass’, which is something like an entrance voucher and costs about 100 USD (these include the costs for an entry visa). If you intend to make the most of your trip and visit many sites which are covered by the Jordan Pass program, we highly recommend you get one online before you embark on your journey.
Take note: almost all the sites in Jordan have free access for children younger than 12 years of age, so if you are traveling with kids make sure you check whether a Jordan Pass is necessary or not.
After reading a lot about when is the best time to visit Jordan, we decided to visit during the Winter season. We visited the last week and first week of December and January. We were very happy we did so, as we had great weather. It is quite cold, but we find this ideal as we walked a lot and you'll enjoy lots of sunshine.
1 JOD = 1.2 EUR or 1.5 USD
During the planning of a new trip, we usually do research on what is the best form of transportation to explore the country we intend to visit. We love renting cars and just enjoy the freedom to see what you want and when you want. However, in some instances it is way more convenient or safe to book organised tours or use public transportation. What we read about Jordan however is that it is an easy and friendly country to drive around in, with the exception of the chaotic city Amman.
Although most of Jordan can be perfectly explored on your own, there are some instances when a guide is necessary. For example at Petra: if you want to get that really cool shot of The Treasury from a high viewpoint, it is only possible with a guide. He will ask ask about 10 JOD per person for this journey, which will take you about 30 minutes. At Wadi Rum, most people go out in a jeep with a guide. This will cost 67 JOD per jeep for 4 hours and these prices are basically fixed.
Finally we like to share some of our experiences and observations about Jordan:
-The people of Jordan are extremely kind and hospitable. We know neighbouring countries like Syria and Iraq are plagued by great political unrest and instability, but let this not make you avoid Jordan as we found it such a joy to explore. The country radiates peace and balance, and the people are its greatest treasure.
-Driving in Jordan is a piece of cake, but there are things to be aware of. Although we had no problem driving around in Amman, we understand it may be a bit chaotic for those who have never driven in places like this. Secondly; indicating or even turning on your headlights at night are not a given for the Jordanian people.
-December is a really nice time to visit Jordan! Temperatures range from 5 to 15 degrees up north to about 10 to 25 degrees in Aqaba.
-The Jordanian Dinar (JOD) is a really strong coin, one of the strongest in the world. Like we mentioned above, 1 JDR equals about 1.5 USD. Essentials such as bottled water or gasoline are affordable nonetheless and for about 2 JOD you can have a good take out meal.
-Petra at night is a great experience (not covered by the Jordan Pass and costs about 17 JOD per person). Taking good pictures of the candlelit Treasury is a challenge though.
-The security procedures at Ovda in Israel take ages. If you happen to fly out of Ovda, make sure you are about three hours before your flight at the airport.