Travel Review: Jordan (Petra, Wadi Rum, Ma’In)

We went all over Jordan: Petra, Wadi Rum, and Ma’In. We did not go to Amman.

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We decided a bit on a whim to go to Jordan. We knew we wanted to travel in February, but we didn’t have a place picked out yet. So, come end December, we decided on Jordan. Jake and I both really wanted to see Petra, and it was the perfect middle distance between the two of us. I planned the trip (I’ve planned most of our trips together), and I think it worked out well. Except for both my credit cards getting declined. Pro tip: Triple check telling your bank card that you’re traveling out of the country. Also, remember your pin! Without Jake, I would’ve been broke and living in the airport for four days. We were there for about five days – arriving in the early, early morning and leaving very late at night, so it’s hard to count “days and nights.” I also was a complete moron and forgot to charge my camera – so it only lasted for some of Petra. Jake has all the pictures, which I’m STILL trying to make into a picture book. -heavy sigh- (Note: all of these pictures are Jake’s since, as I said, I didn’t have my camera)

Because both of us got in so late/early, we first stayed at the Amman Airport Hotel. What was nice about this is that the hotel has a 24-hour meet and greet. So, I gave them both Jake and mine’s flight details, and someone was waiting for us right outside our gate. He helped us with our visa (on arrival, pay $56) and then got us on the shuttle to take us to the hotel, where Jake had already checked us in. He knew I was worried about Jake arriving okay, and told me that everything was fine and he was there. We then checked out early in the morning, about 9am, and headed to get our rent-a-car from Sixt (more below). The hotel itself is clearly for business guests and quick in-and-out travelers. No frills, good service, standard rooms. Nothing particularly nice about the rooms, but there was nothing at all to complain about either. They have a cafe and a shop in the arrival area too. It was perfect for what we needed.

The Treasury - Petra

We then drove about three hours south to Petra. In Petra, we used Airbnb (our first experience using the service) because of a sudden snow/wind storm that closed the Bedouin Place (The Rock) that we were originally going to. We stayed with Atllah. It was kind of cheap beds, but the experience was lovely. It’s new and he tries hard to entertain. We sat around a fire while he cooked Bedouin style (burying food in the coals), speaking about America and Jordan and Bedouin culture. It was a really nice time. We had lots and lots of Bedouin tea. Not only at Atllah’s place, but also while climbing through Petra and up to the Monastery (El Deir), which takes about 45 minutes one-way. We climbed to the Sacrificial Point right at sunset with the help of two bedouin guides and their donkeys, which we rode. It’s amazing how fast the bedouin guides can move, while we laze about on these donkeys. But it was a bit scary: very steep, a bit unstable footing. Jake’s donkey slipped at one point, but it was okay. The view was spectacular, so definitely go at sunrise or sunset. That being said…you’ll end up coming down the mountain when it’s dark, so be careful. Apparently – we learned this after – if you just stay around and near the Treasury, you’ll eventually hook up with the Petra After Dark tour and they’ll let you tag on for free instead of paying. But we didn’t know that. We just high-tailed it back to the entrance Sacrificial Point’cause I was afraid we were going to get into trouble and it was getting really cold. Really really so glad we went. I would love to go back – it’s just a spectacular place full of history and amazing structures.

The next day, we drove down about 2 hours to Wadi Rum. We nearly got lost and nearly ran out of gas, which was terrifying. We were later than we wanted to be because the hike up to the Monestary that morning took longer than expected, but made it in ok time. In Wadi Rum, we did a camel tour and then stayed in the desert overnight in a camp. The tour company is Bedouin Directions. Our camel guide didn’t speak much English, but he sang Bedouin songs while we traveled the desert, which was really cool. You’re supposed to stop at three sites along the way, but because we arrived late, we only stopped at two: one large sand hill and then this narrow passage between two mountains. Wadi Rum is amazing. These beautiful mountains just sprouting up in the middle of the desert. It’s just…one of the those peaceful, humanity, wow-holy-shit-where-am-I moments. The camp is simple, but has bathroom and shower facilities and the food and entertainment are both wonderful. The food was delicious and these local bedouins played as a group for us. I recommend a night camel tour too. The stars are stunning. Though there was a Jeep that stopped our guide and starting speaking in Arabic. I heard something about Americans, and then the Jeep left. Not sure if it’s a kind of National Park Patrol or if it was some Syrians trying to kidnap us. I’ll never know.

10994226_10100329937325171_1462586959379798424_nWe then stayed for two nights at Evason Hot Spring Ma’In Resort. How you get to it is pretty cool. We drove right along the Dead Sea Coast (about 4-5 hours), towards Mt. Nebo (where Moses received the 10 Commandments) and then you dive down into a valley between the mountains using all these switchbacks. Stunning. We had to go through a LOT of checkpoints, as you border Israel here. I think this is the best spa I’ve been too so far. The spa has a hot spring waterfall flowing right into it that you can relax in a pool near, and  then you can hear it while you’re getting your massage, which is just a really nice ambiance. They provide you with dates, nuts, and fresh tea when you’re done too. It’s a great facility. The restaurants are pretty good, with both Western and Mediterranean food. “How could you eat Western food?!” you ask. Well, it’s nigh impossible to get a good burger in Hyderabad, and after not having one for nearly 8 months, well…it’s what I wanted. The hotel managers really take care of you during your stay and the hotel is lovely. The rooms have a nice balcony overlooking the waterfall and have lovely modern bathrooms and comfy beds.

We drove, renting a car with Sixt Car Rental (they pick you up from the airport). The car was fine, automatic, and it was really easy driving all the highways. That being said: there are VERY few gas stations, so fill up when you see one; also, there are hardly any directions so either bring a gps, make sure the one you get from the company works, AND (not or) print out google maps/directions. That’s the only thing that saved us – thank God I’m old school sometimes.

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About ambfso

Currently in Portuguese language training. Next post: Sao Paulo, Brazil