Jordan translates into a deep sense of magic, adventure and nature which was strongly felt as soon as we landed in Amman. I was awed with Jordan right from the time I fell in love with the movie of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. And then it happened – Our much-awaited Petra vacation!
And from my experience—
These are the top things to do in Jordan!
1. Swim in the Dead Sea
The whole place was a magic land! While planning the trip to Jordan, I didn’t want to miss the place I’ve been dreaming about since childhood. We stayed at the Holiday Inn resort and spent all of our time floating in the Dead Sea or sunbathing in the therapeutic mud. Our skins were much softer by the time we left the Dead Sea area!
The people of Jordan use Dead sea mud in a lot of bath and beauty products and needless to say, we didn’t hesitate to load our suitcases with a plethora of those products! They work like a charm!
2. Wadi Rum desert adventure
Arriving at the Wadi Rum valley & desert felt like we’d left Earth and arrived in a surreal alien country. The desert’s dramatic landscape thanks to the giant sandstone and granite rock mountains interspersed with red sands made us feel that we were Indiana Jones or Lawrence of Arabia ourselves.
We took a 4X4 jeep ride into the interior of the desert where we drove past and bounced around sandstone mountains, imposing stone facades, sand dunes, and moon-like panoramas never seen before. Our sweet driver and guide showed us the places where famous movies like Lawrence of Arabia and The Martian were shot (no surprises there considering the landscape!) the best panoramic views and even the ancient Nabatean rock carvings & petroglyphs illustrating 12000 years of Wadi Rum living!
We stayed at a local Bedouin campsite, nothing short of luxurious though with all the modern fittings, central heating, en suite bathrooms and sunrise views. Our experience was made complete with the traditional dinner of the local Bedouins called Zaarb where they BBQ meats, vegetables and rice by burying it all in the sand and slow cooking it for many hours. The bedouins were amazing hosts.
3. Eat Jordan’s local food
Trying out Jordan cuisine is a must-try experience there. Apart from the must-have exceptional fare like Hummus, Baba Ganoush, Falafel, flavoured olives, local cheeses, Kebabs, stuffed vine leaves and Tabbouleh, we also tried Mansaf (a communal dish of lamb meat with rice, almonds and a yoghurt sauce called Jameed – often dubbed the “national dish” of Jordan!) and Shawarmas, Turkish Baklavas, Arabic Kaek, Ful. We drank the freshest of fresh fruit juices, refreshing herbal teas and my favourite traditional cold lemon-mint drinks whenever we could!
Don’t forget to pick up some local spices like Za’atar & Sumac to take a bit of Jordan back with you. These will elevate the flavour of your food to a whole another level!
The Jordanians are wonderful hosts and love telling guests about their foods, their eating traditions and can often spend hours around the meal table with their communal dishes, swapping stories, explaining traditions, and enjoying their meals.
4. Explore the history of Christianity
We visited the place where apparently Moses first discovered this Promised Land. There laid the remains of an ancient Byzantine church in a museum on the top of the hill, framed by a breathtaking panoramic view.
We also visited the city of Madaba that has taken up this mosaic art and technique and keeps it alive with beautiful mosaic murals, furniture and decorative items.
Another important pilgrimage venue is Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan, a holy site at the Jordan-Israel border, which is supposed to be the Baptismal spot of Jesus Christ. It is hard not be moved by the serene atmosphere of this place, simple as it is, irrespective of your religious inclinations and I left feeling blessed.
5. Exploring Petra
We drove up the Kings Highway to Petra, an ancient roadway, nestled between 2 modern North to South highways of Jordan, meandering through scenic vistas, tiny villages and mountainous roads dotted with numerous small ruins & sites.
Petra…. Sigh! The other-worldly rose city, the lost city, the fabled ancient Nabatean city in the middle of the Wadi Musa, the city of breath-taking grandeur and legendary ruins, carved right out of immense Sandstone rock walls… Petra!
We walked through and saw the Street of Facades, the Roman Theatre, the Royal Tombs and many more marvels. And when we couldn’t walk anymore, we hired donkeys to take us up the 800+ steps to the Monastery. The walls of Petra were drop-dead gorgeous.
We also came back for the Petra by Night tour where the way through the Siq all the way to the Treasury is lit by thousands of candles in the sand. Everyone was quiet, absorbing the unnatural beauty of the place. We were so fortunate as we encountered a local Bedouin tribe playing soulful music on their traditional instruments. We all left in silence too, unable to process the divine experience we had just had.
Petra was everything and more that I had expected and hoped it would be. No wonder it has been declared a ‘World Heritage Site’ by UNESCO and of course one of the ‘7 Wonders of the World’.
Fondly called as the “oasis of stability in a turbulent region”, Jordan is spectacular, safe and secure with warm and hospitable people. I can’t thank Pickyourtrail enough for crafting this heavenly experience for me.