After a really long drive in Syria we entered Jordan via Jaber, which is probably one of the most used border crossing by visitors. The whole process with paper work took us around two hours. We got our visas at the border – 20JD (Jordan Dinar) = around 30 USD (and it is for most of the nationalities).
We needed to use our carnet again and we paid between 70 and 100 USD car fees including vehicle tax and car insurance – we took option valid for a week. I am not able to tell exact cost, which we paid for our Rusty as somehow we lost all receipts and slips from that border. It was cheaper than in Syria, but still expensive.
Significant issue – We needed to exchange our USD at the border as only Jordan Dinars were accepted as a currency.
When we sorted our papers out at the border it was already dark, we parked at the nearest petrol station and we went to sleep. In the morning we started feeling very hungry. First bigger town called Irbid positively surprised us as we were able to buy delicious bread (Naan) and funny buns with famous to that region spice – “zatar”
Amman is the capital of Jordan and also city of contrasts – a unique blend of old and new. There are plenty of modern buildings, hotels, restaurant, coffee shops and art galleries. The city is crowned by the Citadel and a hill with ruins of the Temple of Hercules. At the foot of the Citadel lies the huge Roman Theater. According to Lonely Planet – almost half of Jordan’s population is concentrated in Amman. The residential areas consist of three-lined streets and avenues with nicely situated uniformly white houses, which give a unique look of the city.
We didn’t spend much time in Amman, but we quite enjoyed it. It was crowded, but not touristy as we thought.
And we also discovered that Wi-Fi in McDonalds is seriously working, so when you need access to the internet, that place can be your first choice 🙂
Dead Sea Depression – definitely one of the most amazing places in the world. It is situated in beautiful landscape of the Jordan Rift Valley and it’s the lowest spot on earth at more than 400m below sea level. The Dead Sea depression is called by Jordanians the “Sunken Land”, however, it is been observed that the sea is shrinking – it has already shrunk by 30% in recent years. The water in the Dead Sea is extremely salty. No wonder that the sea name is derived from the fact that the water is too salinated for marine inhabitation. When waters evaporate, they leave rich deposits of salts and minerals, which are used in agriculture, medicine and other industries.
We were in Jordan at the beginning of July, which is not really the best time for exploring some of this country sites – Dead Sea is one of them. When we were getting closer to the sea it was getting warmer and warmer. The air was thicker and muggier. We were feeling like in Sauna – it was extremely hot!
When we arrived at the Dead Sea coast, it was getting dark. We wanted to find a nice spot for a night, but we got disappointed. GPS showed us lots of campsites, but there were located in Israel (!!!) We discovered that tourism at the Dead Sea on Jordan site is not well – developed. There are few 5 stars hotel (obviously expensive) and 2 resorts. We wanted to just spend a night at one of those two resorts’ parkings, but they wanted to charge us around 50 USD for a night (in our case this money that would be spent for usage of bathroom and sleeping at the not even secured parking space). We gave up and we started driving around, looking for a spot. We found a road going uphill, which led us to the Visitor Center Gate. We talked with a manager and he allowed us to park at his premises and take a shower for only 10JD (12 USD). We felt really relieved. Additionally, being much higher (above the depression) caused that air was fresher and it was much colder. In the morning we had a chat and cup of coffee with our host. After one hour talking he didn’t want any money from us. We were seriously grateful.
Later we of course decided to explore the Dead Sea Coast and surroundings. We didn’t want to pay for any resort beach, so we found a nice spot nearby (our private placeJ) and we had a dip in the sea. It was a weird experience. Normally, when you are taking a sunbath, waters cool you down – here was totally different – Water of the Dead Sea was hotter than the air – it was like taking a hot bath. Nevertheless, swimming? Hmmm…No, rather floating or walking (?) in the sea was absolutely amazing 😀
During our exploration of the Jordan Valley, we visited Machaerus (Mukawir) – the execution site of the John Baptist.
Mujib Nature Reserve is the lowest nature reserve in the world, with a spectacular array of scenery near the east coast of the Dead Sea. We were driving around Mujib Nature Reserve enjoying magnificent views created by the Mother Nature in that part of Jordan. Absolutely beautiful scenery!
We also did Canyoning – we were walking, climbing and jumping in water through a deep sandstone gorge of Wadi Mujib. It was absolutely great experience, we always wanted to do it and we got that opportunity in Jordan. We paid for two hours of fun only 25 USD for both of us.
Dana Nature Reserve is composed of a chain of valleys and mountains. We especially liked red and white sandstone cliffs of Wadi Dana, which create amazing scenery. This reserve contains a remarkable diversity of landscapes, which range from wooden highlands to rocky slopes and from gravel plains to dunes of sand. We were told that Dana is rich of (even rare) species of animals, however during two-hours trekking we saw only few lizards
Petra – I guess most of us have seen famous Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail. The most famous action of the movie was taken in that site. No wonder that Hollywood had chosen Petra as this is amazing place. Almost as spectacular as the monuments themselves are the countless shades and Neapolitan swirls formed in the rock. Petra is often called the “Rose-red City”, but even this hardly justice to the extraordinary range of colors that blend as the sun makes its daily passage over the site (Lonely Planet, 2009).
Petra is very vast, therefore exploring everything in one day is rather impossible. Unfortunately, every year entrance fee is rising up. Taking into consideration, the size of Petra we decided to take 2 days’ entrance ticket. 1 day ticket – 50 JD/person, 2 days ticket – 55 JD/person (78 USD). It was freaking expensive, but when we thought of it – being in Jordan without seeing Petra was like being in Italy without trying a pizza or ice-cream!
As I mentioned before, when we were in Jordan it was really hot. We barely managed to walk around the site. Even though July is not the touristiest time in the country, Petra was still crowded. The famous Al-Khazneh (Treasury), which emerges from the canyon, looked amazing. We were also expecting that, the interior of the monument would be beautiful, but we got disappointed – “the inside” was empty and additionally closed. In order to visit the second main attraction called Ad Deir, we needed some help as we couldn’t struggle with the heat. We rode on donkeys as we were not able walk up another 800 stars cut into the rock. To be honest we still feel very bad that we used those poor animals, but we left water and food for them. In the afternoon we felt soooo tired that, after small lunch (cous cous with tuna) instead of exploring we just found a nice, desolated place and we had a nap on the rocks! When we walked up, we noticed that there were no people around and it was about time to come back. We also discovered that we were running out of water (8 liters of water we took was not enough) We wanted to buy some, but on the top (around Monastery) they wanted 2 UDS for a liter of water. They explained tha,t they need to transport everything on their backs or on donkeys every day. We decided to buy something later. Going downstairs we met a nice guy, who was caring lots of water cases on a donkey and himself. He asked if we wanted to buy some water and we said that of course, but we didn’t have money. He just smiled and totally surprised us giving us two bottles of water for free (1). It was sooo great of him! When we were coming back there were no tourists at all. Even the fact that the Sun was coming down we were able to take some nice shots of beautiful sites of Petra without people.
In case of accommodation – there are no campsites around and hotels or guesthouses are very expensive – we spent 2 nights in our Rusty, sleeping on the secured parking space for little money, but to be honest we didn’t need more 🙂
Next day, in the morning we decided to skip Petra – yes, we pad for 2 days, but to us it was impossible to do the same walk as the day before. Instead of doing that we went to see Small Petra, which is totally for free and much smaller. We have heard that sometimes when you take a guide you can get to the proper Petra (after 6 hours walk) without a ticket, but we never checked that! We did like an hour walk, which ended with a cup of tea offered by local people.
Wadi Rum – (Wadi = dry river valley characteristic for the desert) also knows as the Valley of the Moon is a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rocks. It is the largest wadi in Jordan. A maze of monolithic rocks capes rise up very high (up to 1,800m) creating a natural challenge for hikers. This place looked amazing and tranquil. We didn’t want to pay lots of money for seeing the highest rocks, therefore instead of going for organized trip we just explore Wadi Rum on our own – we were driving around this wide and extensive area.
Aqaba – greatly prized as Jordan’s window to the sea. It brings a refreshing release from the rose-colored desert to the north. It is also the largest city on the Gulf of Aqaba and Jordan’s only coastal City. No wonder, that Aqaba in one of the major tourist attractions in the country. It is known for its sandy beaches, indigo-colored warm water and coral reefs.
To us Aqaba looked like tranquil, nice coastal town. When we were on the beach, we noticed that there were more local people than tourists. With curiosity we were observing how Jordanians were spending their holidays.
In terms of accommodation we were using parkings of public beach resorts. Additionally, there was a nice shower available for only 0.50 JD/ person 😀
Internet Issue – in Aqaba we were struggling with finding the internet. There was only one internet café, with very nice manager, who was giving water to his customers for free.
Leaving Jordan – Leaving Jordan was quite time consuming. Firstly we needed to buy a ticket for a ferry to get to Egypt. Going through Israel was impossible due to political situation among Middle East Countries. We bought tickets in Aqaba with ABMARTIME company (http://www.abmaritime.com.jo/en/passenger-info/tarrif), but we spent lots of money. Firstly we paid for slow ferry, but waiting so many hours in the hot harbor was a nightmare so we decided to paid a little bit more and get to a fast ferry. All together (for us and Rusty) we paid around 400 USD (!). Fast ferry was supposed be fast and the whole journey was supposed take only 3 hours, but it took for some reason 6 hours. This ferry’s delay was just a warning and preparation for another nightmare we experienced in harbor in Nuweiba (in Egypt)……