|Downtown Amman and the
|Wadi Rum in Jordan
Despite visiting almost 30 countries across 4 continents till now, we had never been to either the middle east or the continent of Africa. This was about to change after we booked our flights to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Arab republic of Egypt, via EgyptAir, and planned our itinerary there.
Jordan has always had a visa on arrival policy for most countries, including India. Also, it is worth mentioning, the Jordan Pass, which gets you access to Petra and several other sites in Jordan, also waives off the 40 JOD visa fee on arrival, so it is definitely worth buying in advance (I think, it's required to be purchased at least 48 hours before arrival to be recognized by their systems), if you're planning to visit Jordan.
|Roman Theater from the citadel
|Roman Hercules Temple
After checking into our room, we rested for a few hours while catching up on lost sleep.
Afternoon, we made our way to the Amman Citadel, which is about 1.5 km on curvy uphill road from downtown Amman. The citadel boasts a diverse range of previous occupants: from the Assyrians to the Babylonians and from Persians to Greeks and Romans. Visitors can trace the great ancient civilizations through the remnants of a Roman Hercules Temple, a Byzantine church, a spectacular Umayyad palace.
The citadel also offers a panoramic 360 degree view of the Amman city. From the citadel’s vantage point, situated atop the highest hill in Amman, you can see far out in every direction across the beautiful city. As you look west, the tallest freestanding flag in the world flies proudly in the wind. At the foot of the hill the amphitheater and downtown Amman buzz with life.
The citadel is also a nice place to relax and just admire, away from the Amman traffic.
Afterward we made the stroll downhill to our hotel, getting some water for our trip along the way. Ramadan is a very different time in Amman, all restaurants are closed during day time but open all night along till sunrise, and people remain awake for most of night time.
|Earth or Mars?
|Jebel Burdah Bridge in Wadi Rum
|Our camp in Wadi Rum
The 4x4 Jeep made stops at all of the famous sites of Wadi Rum including Lawrence’s Spring and Khazali Canyon where you can visit ancient Nabatean inscriptions which are about 2000 years old.
After the jeep tour we were taken back to the campground for some traditional Bedouin tea and relaxation.
After sunset, the men showed us the traditional preparation for dinner, for the meat, which is cooked underground.
We enjoyed dinner in a grand tent, where everything was served buffet style for all members who were staying in the tents at the campground. The beauty of wadi rum is very different during night time, were you can see the stars, across the desert landscape. It's a scene that resembles a different planet because of the landscape.
|Siq, entryway for Petra
In the afternoon, after a bit a of much needed rest we drove to the Petra parking lot, which was about a 10 min winding down-ride from our hotel. As we had taken the 2 day Petra access option with the Jordan pass, we were able to visit the site comprehensively across two days.
|The royal tombs
The treasury is definitely a sight to behold and appears almost as surprise, out of nowhere, at the end of the Siq.
After taking a photo from a vantage view point near the treasury, we made our way about 1/3 way through the city, crossing the street of the facades, royal tombs and the Roman theater along the way, before making our way back due to the excruciating heat.
We ended our day with a traditional Jordanian dinner at the hotel, prepared by the owner's wife.
|Al Deir, Monastery
|Qasr al bint, main temple
|The scenery along the hike
The reward at the end of the journey is that you can see the Al Deir, Monastery, which has only a few people compared to the myriad of people at the Treasury.
There is also a restaurant opposite, where we sat down for some tea, while admiring the Monestary and taking some rest, before restarting our hike to the Treasury. After sufficiently admiring and taking some photos at the monastery, we were along our way.
|Dinner at Aswar Al Balad
While it is perfectly possibly to visit the Monastery from the main entrance, visiting it from the back side gives one a unique perspective and a different experience than the latter.
We ended our day with dinner at a local restaurant.
|The Dead Sea
|Drive along the dead sea,
with Palestine/Israel across the coast
|From top of Ajloun Castle
Our next stop was the Ajloun castle, situated right on top of Mount Jabal Auf. The castle towers above the historic town of Ajloun. The castle was constructed between 1184 and 1188 AD by the nephew of the Muslim military leader Saladin. Saladin fought against the Christian military during the Crusades in the 12th Century. The strategic location of the castle enabled Saladin’s army to look out across the Jordan Valley for invaders.
Although the castle does not contain many original features, it does boast magnificent views of the city below.
We ended the day at the Hadrian's gate hotel in Jerash, where the owner, Ismail, welcomed us with some Turkish coffee and watermelon.
|Oval Plaza from the top of the
The Roman ruins in Jerash the most well preserved Roman ruins outside of Rome. It was actually founded as a Greek city by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC. But it was under the Romans about 300 years later that it truly began to flourish.
Jerash and Petra both existed at the exact same and were just 300 kilometers apart. And they were both in this economically-glorious position of being in the middle of overland trade routes connecting the India and China to Europe.
At the entrance is a large arch and then the site stretches out in front of you. You can't see the end of it from the entrance, it's that big.
|Temple of Artemis
Stretching out from there is the Cardo, the main axis street that is 800 meters long and has columns all along its length. There are few things in the world straighter's than a Roman street and this is a perfect example.
At the extreme south of the site is the striking Hadrian’s Arch, also known as the Triumphal Arch, which was built in AD 129 in honor of the visit of Emperor Hadrian. Behind the arch is the hippodrome, which hosted chariot races in front of up to 15,000 spectators.
|View of the promiseland
from Mt Nebo
After leaving the site, steeped in Roman history, we went back to the hotel where we'd parked the car. The owner had offered us some Turkish coffee, even though we had technically checked out, which was too tempting of an offer. After the coffee, we were on our way to Mount Nebo.
Mount Nebo is significant to Christianity as The Bible says that was where Moses lived out his final days and saw the Promised Land, which he would never enter. It is said that Moses’ body may be buried here, although that has yet to be proven. After Mt Nebo, we made a brief stop in the small town of Madaba, before making our way back to the rental car office near the airport to return the car.
This brought to an end an amazing 6 days in one of the most interesting country we've been to. I was amazed and the amount of diverse and interesting things Jordan has to see from a traveler's perspective, and should be on everyone's bucket list.
What businesses did we use?
Rental Car: Reliable rental car
Hotels: Amman Pasha, Petra Princess Hotel, Hadrian's gate
Excursions: Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp
Flights: Egypt Air