Arriving in Jordan:
- Most will at Queen Alia Airport near Amman
- Coming from/going to Israel you will likely use the Allenby Crossing – be patient! It might take time and Visa options in advance likely needed (you’ll also need meeting)
- Once I arrived from Egypt, crossing Eilat, in Israel (just 20 minutes by taxi) and entering Jordan near Aqaba. (again you’ll need meeting ).
- Read up about the background history of Jordan. As it has been at the crossroads for years the regional history really impacts Jordan today
- Decide how you are going to explore Jordan and consider Guides for some of the trip
- Appreciate and respect the local customs, know if you will be there in Ramadan. Learn about the Bedouin community
Jordan – the place with “noisy neighbors”
Jordan is in the Middle East and sadly nowadays that always rings alarm bells among many in the Western world. Their suspicions might be further aroused if they happen to look at a map. Jordan has borders with Syria, Iraq, Israel and Saudi Arabia. So when talking, in Jordan, to some local folk about the regional situation one summarized the situation and said that Jordan was stable, with good infrastructure, a cosmopolitan capital, is safe, but conceded that ‘we do have noisy neighbors’. Traveling around Jordan one does not sense , at all, of the challenges, not that many miles away, as it is serene, welcoming and very interesting.
Most of all Jordan is surprising, largely because it has some remarkable sights but also because it is quite small and overlooked.
The Surprise That is Petra
The Pyramids, Macchu Pichu etc. well, you are very likely to know what to expect and they are marvels indeed. Petra on the other hand, some may have heard of, but few will not be surprised as you walk through The Siq and are faced with The Treasury! Yet that is merely the entrance: Petra is absolutely vast. We walked over 10 miles that first days visit and saw but a part of this historic site. The Nabateans, over 2000 years ago created this city as a trading post effectively. In the Middle Ages it was lost and it was only in about 1812 that a Swiss traveler wrote of this location and it is only fairly recently that it has become well known.
Stay in the town of Petra (the Movenpick is literally at the entrance) and enjoy easy access. Perhaps one evening pay a few ‘JD’s and visit Petra by Candlelight in the evening. Whatever, allow time to explore. Consider a side trip to the nearby Little Petra, almost as beautiful.
Petra may well be what bought you to Jordan, but try to see the following:
- Mt Nebo, where Moses was buried and he looked across to what is now Israel
- In the same area, Madaba, with is Byzantine Mosaics and St Georges
- Wadi Rum, a maze of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ fame
- Karak a real Crusader castle
- The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth
In Amman you’ll question the fact that you are in the middle of the Middle East and enjoy the feel of a different yet secure environment. (I don’t often feel it vital to mention food but I enjoyed the fayre in Jordan, as I do much of the Middle East).
Outside of Amman you’ll need a car, and to get the most out of your visits to the many historic sites a Guide is needed too. In Petra whilst you can look at all the beautiful rocks and views you really need help to appreciate it all and its significance, let alone to get to minor routes.
So OK, Jordan dallied with the 2011 Arab Spring but still retains a pretty popular monarchy and you have to admit, that with a bit of support from its allies, it seems to work pretty well. King Abdullah ll is spoken highly of for the most part (although the King has loosened the reins in recent years and adverse press is contained).
What does the future hold for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s 6million inhabitants, with is vast population of Palestinians though? What will it do about the serious scarcity of water? Can it continue to economically thrive? The answer seems to be that, thanks to its educated citizens and its international relations, it will do just fine.