by Sacha Bunnik
A trip to Jordan should be on everyone’s must do list (and bucket list) as it’s truly a unique and fascinating place to visit. I have fallen in love with Jordan, its remarkable sights, warm-hearted people and mix of cultures.
Wadi Rum is Lawrence of Arabia country and at times you feel like you are on the set of the movie – vast deserts, mountains and heaps of magical rock formations to delight you at every turn. We overnighted in a Bedouin Camp in the desert, which was a great way to experience the desert.
Imagine watching the sunset and sunrise with the granite rock formations and desert as a backdrop; well that is what you get when staying at a Bedouin Camp. On top of this you get a glimpse into the Bedouin life with some local foods and lively entertainment including dancing and music.
The next morning, after waking early to watch the sunrise over the desert, we were picked up by a local Bedouin and driven by jeep deep into Wadi Rum. Exploring the area by jeep is the way to go as it allows full access to this natural wonderland.
The Bedouin guide would stop from time to time to explain how they lived off the land, using native trees and bushes. He showed us how they used a certain leaf from a bush to wash themselves without water, truly amazing, the leaves once rubbed together form a soapy substances that cleans the skin.
At the end of our jeep safari, our guide stopped in the middle of nowhere, built a small fire and boiled some local tea, a great way to end our time in Wadi Rum.
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is approx. 425 metres below sea level, making it one of the lowest places to visit on earth. It’s like a massive salt lake, coming in at 65 by 18 kilometres. The weather is always a lot warmer at the Dead Sea compared to the rest of Jordan, and the water is warm (like a relaxing bath) most of the year, making it an ideal place to holiday at, lots of Jordanians have holiday homes here.
The water in the Dead Sea is many times saltier than other seas, making it a fun place to try and swim, as the water is so buoyant. When we visited, Dennis, Marion and I could not stop laughing as we tried to swim and go under the water. It’s hard to do anything except float and sit up in the water, not matter how deep you go out. A very strange feel to be 100 metres off shore in deep water and to have your body two thirds exposed out of the water.
Another strange feeling I had while floating on the Dead Sea was that I was on floating on water that made up the border between Israel and Jordan. We seemed to be so far removed from any hostilities or politics, just floating peacefully between these two historic and fascinating countries.
If you have the time, try one of the mud baths being offered at the Dead Sea at one of the many resorts as the salt and minerals are meant to be very good for your skin.
Of all the Roman cities I have visited in my years of travelling, I think Jerash is one of the best preserved and most interesting to visit. It was covered by desert sands for the most part of the last millennium and is now being slowly restored. It is also one of the least known, making it less touristy then the more well-known Roman sites in Europe and other parts of the Middle East. I personally think that this is a real advantage, as when we explored Jerash there were only a few hundred other tourists spread over the whole site.
Like most other Roman cities, Jerash has its fair share of amphitheatres, columned forums, stoned streets, baths and temples.
My favourites for Jerash include the impressive southern amphitheatre and the massive Hadrian’s Arch. We sat for a while in one of the amphitheatres, just pondering what life would have been like in the city during the peak of Roman times. It is hard to believe that such grand buildings have stood the test of time and are in such good condition after so many years.
Located close to Jerash in northern Jordan is the ruin of Ajloun Castle which was built to protect the local iron mine and trade route between Syria and Jordan against the attacking crusaders.
It’s a very imposing fortress perched on a hill with 4 main towers, thick walls and an impressive entrance gate. It suffered lots of damage during two earthquakes in 1837 and 1927 and is now being slowly restored to its past glories.
The nice thing about Ajloun Castle is you can explore it on your own, with all the different rooms, passageways and staircases that the castle has. It really brings out the kid in you, as you feel like an explorer walking around the old castle, not knowing what’s around the corner or down the passageway. The castle was creepy in parts, but very cool to explore.
Explore our Egypt & Jordan small group tours here.