We had a blast last week during our Spring Break trip to Jordan. It was a week jam packed of adventures, memories, and laughter that we will never forget. Here is a little insight into our trip: When we proposed the idea to my parents of taking a trip to Jordan, I think one of the first things they said was, “where is Jordan?” Many people, especially Westerners, haven’t even heard of it before. If you look closely at the map, it is a little country tucked in between Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It was never really high on our list of “Countries To See,” until we moved here to the Middle East. So many of our friends here have been, and highly recommended it!
Here is a little bit of a closer view. The capital of Jordan is Amman, in the northern part of the country. A majority of the population lives along the west side of the country, from Amman south towards the Red Sea.
Jordan is a Muslim country, however it is not as conservative as Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. Also, unlike their neighbors, Jordan has no significant petroleum resources of its own, so it is not as wealthy as some of the other Middle Eastern countries. Their country relies heavily on tourism, which has taken a major hit the last few years because of what we call the “CNN Effect.” Everyone in North America who turns on their favorite cable TV news channel, will hear nothing but negative things about the Middle East and the instability because of the emergence of ISIS. I will be clear, not one time did I ever feel unsafe in Jordan! It is a beautiful country and everyone was so friendly!
Based on our research, we decided that renting a car was going to be our best bet for our trip. We had so many places that we wanted to visit, and relying on public transportation and timelines was not going to work for us. We read online that the driving in Jordan can be scary, however I would consider it super calm based on what we encounter on a daily basis in Kuwait! Below is a map of the route we took. We flew into the capital city of Amman, then headed south towards the Dead Sea. After one night there, we continued south along the Israeli border to the resort town of Aqaba, located on the Red Sea. We spent two nights there, before we started our trek north to the Wadi Rum Desert for two nights of camping. We then headed to Jordan’s crown jewel . . . . . Petra! We spent two nights in this ancient city exploring one of the 7 wonders of the world, before we headed back to Amman to fly out.
Our first stop in Jordan was at the Dead Sea. Here are a couple of fun facts about the Dead Sea, courtesy of wikipedia.com:
- The surface and shores of the Dead Sea are 1,407 feet BELOW sea level, making it Earth’s lowest elevation on land.
- It is 997 feet deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world.
- In 2011 the salinity was measured at 34.2%, making it one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water. It is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean.
- Its high levels of salinity make for a harsh environment in which plants and animals cannot flourish, hence its name: the Dead Sea.
The cool thing about the high levels of salt, is that you float on the surface! Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a sinker, I cannot swim nor float! So I thought it was super cool when I walked in, and just started bobbing on the surface of the water. Here is a picture of me standing like a pencil, and just floating there without any effort. It was a super cool experience, that I recommend to everyone.
Before we headed to our next destination, we stopped at the site along the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized by John 2,000 years ago. For so many years it was a lost site, until recently it was discovered, authenticated, and now visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world.
After our time around the area of the Dead Sea, we headed south to Aqaba. We drove along the Israeli border for about 3 hours until we reached our destination. Aqaba is located on the point of the “right fork” of the Red Sea. We stayed in a beautiful resort area called Tala Bay. I highly recommend this place! We rented a condo on the beach, and had a relaxing couple of days.
After a few relaxing days at the beach, it was time to kick our vacation into high gear. We headed north to the Wadi Rum Desert, where we witnessed some of the most incredible views I have ever seen! It is a fairly flat desert with red sand, and gigantic rock formations scattered around hundreds of square miles. We spent a day and a half cruising around the desert and hiking through some slot canyons, to a natural water spring, and to the top of a few arches. We had a great time camping in the desert and playing in one of the coolest “sand boxes” in the world!
The last stop on our adventure through Jordan was at Petra, which is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. We spent two nights there and a day and a half hiking and exploring this ancient city, that dates back to as early as 300 BC. The first day there, we did the Petra by Night tour, where you could hike the path in, which was lit by hundreds of candle luminaries. The next day, we spent about 8 hours hiking around and visiting the tombs, caves, and of course the infamous Treasury and Monastery. Petra was my favorite part of the trip! It is absolutely incredible how they were able to carve such magnificent structures into the sides of mountains. It is estimated that approximately 20,000 people lived in this ancient city at one time. This is just a quick peek into our Jordanian adventures. We have lots of photos and memories that we will share with everyone soon. I definitely recommend everyone to add Jordan to your list of “Countries to Visit.”