A few years ago I travelled solo to Egypt for a bit of desert action, followed by a meet-up with a friend from home. Together we took a short flight across the sands to Jordan, where we would squeeze in as much as possible in a week. Using past emails to family from overseas, this is a recollection of our journey to a country that remains in my top 5.
As soon as Brooke met me in Egypt we set a cracking pace; deciding we can sleep when we get home, after-all, we didn’t have much time to explore. A revisit to the pyramids and a mooch around the main Cairo bazaar set the tone of the first day. Now, just over 24 hours in Jordan we have crammed in a lot, but we feel peaceful and free. We agreed immediately that having a driver was the way to go, as we can stop where we want and visit all the out of the way places that are inaccessible by local transport. It feels very decadent, but we can see way more in a short time.Our first afternoon took us to the Dead Sea where we doused ourselves in therapeutic black minerals and floated belly up in the saltiest water on Earth. You can’t spend long in the water before every cut starts screaming at you and dehydration begins, but it’s fun to float so effortlessly. Then we headed for the highest mountain pass we could find to watch sunset unfold. Later we ate an incredible traditional dinner inside an old mud brick home; the restaurant was from another world, with a fire side seat in the freezing town of Madaba.
Jordan is 90% desert and rock – sheep and campsites being the only life beside the highway as we drove along the ultra windy roads, the barren landscape changing with every peak and gorge. Our next stop took us to a rarely visited village perched above Dana Nature Reserve. Home to only seven families peering over a ginormous gorge, there is nothing to do in the village but watch the light change, and hike. The hotel we slept in is a government funded eco-tourism project to support the local Bedouin school, and the 1500 year old earthy buildings cling to a precipice below sandstone cliffs towering up to 2,000 metres above us. We love it!
The following day we set off for a guided hike with a local Bedouin through the canyon, clinging to coloured rocks, climbing our way through narrow canyons, clambering over wind eroded boulders, and totally alone. The landscape is starkly beautiful and the peacefulness washes over you with each step further in to the isolated wilderness.
Overall Jordan has greeted us with ease and an unhassled first impression; while being surprisingly different to Egypt next door. It’s great to be mixing effortlessly with the locals as we head further South with our driver Ahmed.
Next stop – the much anticipated ancient city of Petra.