Right slap bang in the centre of all the Middle Eastern protests, you’ll find yourself in an unexpected haven. Jordan, a country I had barely heard of prior to my visits, has turned out to be a goldmine for opportunities…
Whatever you want from a capital city; ancient ruins, up market bars, traditional street markets, or affordable authentic cuisine, Amman has got it all. With a population of just over 6 million this is definitely a city you’re going to want to visit. With the opportunity to practice your bartering skills downtown you will make friends for life with the locals and end up coming back with all sorts: Aladdin lamps, shisha pipes, silver tea sets, maybe even a bejeweled sword. The Jordanian people bring the city to life and Amman is the perfect setting to delve head first into their vibrant culture. Definitely get involved with everything, the people will love you for it.
Located at the lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea is a must-see sight of Jordan. I’m not going to get all scientific on you, but let’s just say this sea is salty. It is so salty in fact that you will find yourself becoming a graceful synchronized swimmer bobbing along the surface of the water in no time. There are several private hotels with access to the beach, but my personal recommendation goes to ‘Amman Beach’ where you can enjoy access to the Dead Sea, showers and swimming pools without spending an arm and a leg whilst doing so. Make sure you take a newspaper so you can get that cliché holiday ‘look I’m floating and reading at the same time’ snap.
If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ then you will have witnessed the stunning setting that is Wadi Rum. The opportunities here are literally endless: why not take a hot balloon ride over the desert? Or maybe sand board down some sand dunes? Maybe even go for a ride on a camel? A personal highlight for me was a campout at one of the Bedouin tourist camps. After a day of exploring the desert by off-roading in jeeps they provided us with a traditionally cooked meal. You can then choose to fall asleep under the stars or in a hut and wake up to a sunrise, which is simply breathtaking. With such reasonable prices this is an experience not to be missed by anyone.
As one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, there is no doubt about it, Petra is pretty spectacular. I would personally recommend staying in a hotel nearby so you can be there early and get ahead of the coach loads of tourists arriving mid-morning. The entrance fee is pretty steep and they do not have the facilities to accept debit/credit cards so make sure you have the cash available. However, all this aside Petra is something not to be missed. On your way out make sure you pop into Cave Bar (A bar in a cave- what more could you want?) for a refreshing cold beverage and a fantastic view of the valleys surrounding you.
The beautiful Gulf of Aqaba, at the top end of the Red Sea, is where Jordan has its only access to the sea. There is only 26 miles of coastline and access to the sea is limited by ports, private hotels and Coral Reefs, but tucked away in Tala Bay (Near the Saudi Arabian border) is a little gem of a surf centre. The Aqaba surf centre located in Tala Bay Beach Club is situated right on the beachfront, a mere stride away from the sea. The winds blow consistently at force 4 and above during the beautifully hot summers and with the international shipping lanes being miles away there is acres of spaces available for the few windsurfers and kite surfers that choose to take advantage of these perfect blasting conditions. The ideal setting for working on those planning carve/duck gybes. If the wind isn’t up to scratch there is still plenty to do. The snorkeling and diving in the Red Sea are famous world-wide for their beauty, or if that doesn’t take your fancy you could always hop on a Jet Ski or banana boat. Some activities are more expensive than others, but heck you’re on holiday!
Flights: Flights are available all year round and fly into Queen Alia Airport in Amman or at peak-season charter flights operate to Aqaba Airport. EasyJet operate from Gatwick to Queen Alia and they charge the most reasonable prices.
Taxi: Very cheap and easy to come by in Amman and Aqaba. Make sure they either turn the meter on or you settle a price before starting the journey. In Amman expect to pay no more than 2.5JD for a cross-town trip.
Car Rental: Fairly easy to organize and a variety of car rental companies are available in tourist areas such as: Amman, Petra and Aqaba.
Bus: There is a Jet bus that runs from Amman to Aqaba, which is cheaper than renting a car and very reliable. However, be prepared to wait until the bus is full before it departs.