Just Jordan

By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel tips & opinions

Thanks to a new code share with oneworld partner Royal Jordanian, BA passengers can now fly directly to Jordan, while budget airline easyJet has also added Amman to its schedule and September – when temperatures are balmly, not blistering – is the best time to go. CD Traveller tells you how to get the most out of the Hashemite Kingdom, regardless of whether you have one week or infinitely longer….

Jordan in one week
Chances are that you’re introduction to Jordan will be the capital, Amman. While it’s much more of a modern city than its ancient Arab neighbours Damascus, Cairo, Aleppo et al, Amman has its own delights – namely the lively downtown district with its bustling souks and sheesha joints. Throw into the mix Roman ruins and the wealthy residential districts of western Amman – home to chic bars and hip restaurants – and you’ve got a convenient base from which to explore the rest of the country.

After a day or so in Amman, consider taking a day trip to the ancient ruins at Jerash and/or Madaba where you can marvel at mosaics from the Byzantine era. From Madaba, make for the Dead Sea – stopping off enroute at the Dead Sea Panorama for some stunning views and photo opportunities. Spend the afternoon bobbing about (the high salt content makes it impossible to swim yet alone sink) like a human cork at the lowest point on earth, and if you’re feeling flush, splurge on a night at the Dead Sea Movenpick Resort. This sumptuous five star hotel and resort has been designed to reflect Jordan’s cultural heritage owing to details like white washed walls and stone floors – making it a great retreat for travellers who value authenticity and luxury.

From the Dead Sea, your next destination should be Dana Nature Reserve – the Royal Society of Conservation of Nature’s (RSCN) flagship eco project. Hiking options range from the easy to the challenging, and pleasingly all guides and rangers are locals that have been trained and employed by the RSCN.

When you’re done with Dana, push on to Petra; it’s a cliché we know, but the ancient Nabatean city is truly awe inspiring. The fabled site could keep you contented for days so don’t skimp on time; be sure to factor in a minimum of two full days.

On a one week itinerary, you probably won’t have time to explore further afield. On your way back to Amman’s Queen Alia airport, allow a couple of hours to visit Karak – home to Jordan’s best preserved Crusader Castle – and Jesus’ baptism site at Bethany Beyond the Jordan.

Jordan in two weeks
Two weeks is the optimum amount of time in which to properly get to grips with the gem that is Jordan. When Amman, gets too much head north to Jerash and beyond, to the excellent RSCN run Ajlun Nature Reserve and the fairytale Islamic castle of Qala’át ar Rabad. Looping back to Amman, prepare to follow the same itinerary down to the Dead Sea as above, but allow for extra stop offs such as at Mt Nebo, where Moses is said to have died, and Mukawir; home to Herod’s Castle. Following a float in the Dead Sea, sign up for more adventure at the Wadi Mujib Nature Reserve where you can splash up the siq trail or, for real adrenaline seekers, engage in some hardcore hiking courtesy of the Malaqi Trail.

There’s more hiking to be had at Dana Nature Reserve before arriving at what is arguably Jordan’s piece de resistance, Petra. On a two week trip, you can afford to allocate extra hours here so buy the two day, if not, three day pass – you’ll be pleased you did. Reward aching limbs by having a hamman; the Turkish Bath at Taybet Zaman – the award winning upmarket hotel that recreates the atmosphere of a 19th century Ottoman village – gets our vote.

Continue south from Petra, your next destination du jour should be Wadi Rum – the classic desert landscape that so captivated TE Lawrence, or as TE himself put it: “This land can cast a spell, which no temperate climate can match.” To get a real feel for the desert, spend a night or two in a Bedouin camp – basically a long, low tent woven out of goat’s hair. What you do at Wadi is up to you…. there’s rock climbing, camel riding and superb hiking opportunities for the active, while the more idle can pass the time drinking endless cups of sweet tea, chatting to the local Bedouin or simply settle for watching the sun set slowly over the cinnamon coloured sand.

When you’ve had your fill of the desert, wander west and explore the underwater world at Aqaba. Jordan’s only resort is believed to offer some of the best diving in the world and anyone wanting to take the plunge will be rewarded with a rainbow of colourful sea life. But of course if you prefer a traditional sand, sea and sun holiday, then there are pristine beaches to laze on and start planning your return. Trust us, you’ll be back for Jordan is like coffee; it gets into your bloodstream, picks you up and leaves you wanting more…

Jordan in a month
If you’re travelling for more than a fortnight (lucky you), you can follow the same route as the two week travel plan, only at a more leisurely pace. You’ll also have time to explore the Eastern Desert and Azraq Oasis – the desert hideout of Lawrence of Arabia. Highlights include the desert castles of Qasr Kharana and Qusayr Amra, while the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve is particularly popular with children.

For more information on Jordan, visit www.visitjordan.com/


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