I’m not sure if it was the food, the friendly people, the historical heritage, the nature or the beautiful sea, but Jordan has definitely stolen our hearts the moment we laid our eyes on it. One thing is for sure, you should visit it as soon as possible and in this post I’ll try to explain why. This awesome trip started in the capital of Jordan, Amman. We flew from Amsterdam Schiphol to Amman Airport in about 7 1/2 hours with Turkish Airlines. We had an one hour stop at Istanbul and traveling with Turkish Airlines was a great experience. Starting with kind attendants, no delay and good food (as far as that’s possible on an airplane).
We took a taxi to our hotel and shared it with another passenger since she was also heading in the same direction. The first two nights in Jordan we stayed at the Jordan Tower Hotel. This is a low budget hotel (more of a hostel if you ask me) and you can get a room starting at €15,- per night. The room we had was really modest but very clean and had everything we needed. It’s a good value for money, just don’t expect any luxury. The breakfast in the morning was really good. There is a nice living room area where you can find books, magazines and meet other guests whom come from all over the world.
We only had two days in Amman and we didn’t want to waist our time figuring out everything ourselves so we hired a driver Khaled to drive and show us around. The costs were about €30,- per person for a whole day. Totally worth the money. Khaled turned out to be the most genuine, kind an honest man we’ve ever met. He told us a lot about Amman but also about his family and personal life.
In the evening we went to the Jerusalem Restaurant for some local food which was a recommendation from our driver Khaled and boy did we not get disappointed. We tried the lamb Mansaf which is a traditional dish made of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt and served with rice. For dessert we had some baklava and some kunafah. It is a Middle Eastern cheese pastry soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup. Definitely a must try.
Kings Highway and the Dead Sea
After the great first impression in Amman we hired a car and took off to drive the Kings Highway road heading to Kerak. During the hours driving we came across beautiful nature, mountains and of course the Dead Sea coast. We were in Jordan in March so it was still a bit cold-ish for us to take a swim but the salty rocks and beauty of the sea have still stole my heart.
About 24 km east of the Dead Sea lies the ancient town of Kerak, also known as Al-Karak. The castle located at Al-Karak is a nice example of medieval military architecture. In my opinion, definitely worth a visit. In March there were very few tourists there and we had a private tour with one of the locals. It’s not an official tour but the guy showed us around and explained a lot about the history of the place. The castle is built on a hill about 950m above sea level and gives nice panoramic views of the surrounding area. After the ‘tour’ the guide received a bit of money for the service provided.During our visit we stayed one night at a guesthouse just next to the castle. Very basic, but ok.
On our way from Kerak to Petra we were stopped by a military guard. They just wanted to know where we were heading to, showed us the direction and wished us a safe journey. The friendliness of the Jordanian people was overwhelming. The coming two nights we slept at Petra B&B. I highly recommend it. Patricia is a lovely lady from Belgium who is married to a local gentleman Eid. They love what they do and are proud of the area. Eid loves horses and you can go horseback riding and explore the area even more. The world wonder Petra is only a few minutes drive away form the B&B. Patricia can give you valuable tips and even make you a lunch that you can take with you when visiting Petra. You can find a lot of information online about Petra so I won’t bore you with common details, but believe me, you’ve never seen anything like this hidden city. Don’t go for the tourist camel and horse riding, just wander around, enjoy the beauty and explore the enormous city at your own pace. You’ll never forget the magic of it.
After a lovely and nutritious breakfast at our B&B we took off to the desert of Wadi Rum. Just make sure that you have enough cash on you when you go there. Not because things are expensive (the opposite is the case) but because there are no ATM’s there. We should know because we arrived there with (almost) empty pockets and a low gas tank just assuming that we would find a ATM. Not.
Anyway, we had just enough money on us to pay the accommodation, the food and the jeep safari. Again, the Jordanian people proved to be kind and helping since the owner of the Bedouin camp gave us some “discount” so we still had some money for gas upon departure. We were blown away by this gesture.
The camp was really lovely and we had a delicious dinner together with the other guests. They played music, some of us danced and just sat there by the campfire soaking in the magic atmosphere.
The foot they have prepared is called Zarb. It’s a underground roast of lamb, chicken, onions, carrots and potatoes. It’s placed in a hole in the ground, which is filled with flaming coals. The hole is covered with some layers of blankets and sand to preserve the heat. After several hours the meat and vegetables are cooked to perfection. The meat is fall apart tender and juicy. The dish is served with rice and salad. Zarb is traditionally a Bedouin dish, eaten in the desert of Jordan. One of the popular places to eat zarb is at Wadi Rum, and we had it at Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp.
I can also recommend the jeep safari that we booked through the camp. We had a jeep and a driver for ourselves and drove around for hours visiting traditional Bedouins. We even got the chance to drive ourselves. It was a great experience.
After the dustiness of the desert we arrived in Aqaba. We stayed at the Kempinski Hotel and have enjoyed our stay to the fullest. The food is great there and the hotel is just awesome. To be honest we didn’t explore Aqaba at all. It seemed very touristic and we had the feeling that it would not add anything good to the wonderful experience of Jordan that we had so far. So after two relaxing days at the hotel where we just chilled and ate good food we packed our things and headed back to the airpot in Amman.