Jordan, a country right in the middle of a rather unstable part of the world, commonly referred to as the Middle East. Having neighbors like Syria, Irak, Saudi Arabia and Israel / the Palestinian Territories doesn’t really make it easy to allure potential visitors to come to your hood. Whenever one of Jordan’s neighbors is the main topic in western news, it isn’t exactly to point out its ambition as an upcoming tourist destination (maybe Israel is an exception).
But how often do you actually hear the name Jordan in those news? Not too often right? That problem is, that people are consuming the news , having a look at a map and then deciding that Jordan isn’t safe to travel to. But that’s like excluding Poland from a Euro-Trip cause it shares a border with the Ukraine. Or not going to Canada cause their neighbor is currently involved in several conflicts worldwide.
What I wanna say is, that living in a shady neighborhood doesn’t make you a criminal. And after spending an awesome two weeks in this country over Christmas and New Years of 2017 / 18 I can’t recommend enough to add Jordan to your bucket list for 2018. It is an amazing country and hopefully the next ten photos will prove my point and inspire you to see Jordan with your own eyes.
10 Photos that will put Jordan on your bucket list
A compilation of photographs that will make you want to travel to Jordan immediately
Over 100 million people voted on the New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007. And besides heavyweights like the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal, the ancient Nabatean city of Petra was announced one of the lucky winners. Therefore it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Jordanian tourist industry uses Petra as their number one crowd-puller. Attracting almost half a million visitors per year, Petra is the most visited tourist destination in all of Jordan and probably pretty high-ranked on most people’s bucket list. And well, no trip to Jordan is complete without a visit to Petra, The Rose-Red City.
2. Little Petra
Little Petra shouldn’t be missed if you’re in the area. Although it’s only a 20 minute drive away from Wadi Musa, it feels like what Petra probable felt like before it became one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Visiting Little Petra is free and there’s only a handful of tourists here. Nobody tries to shove your tourist-butt onto his camel or donkey and you won’t hear a constant mumbling about the upcoming happy-hour-prizes for tourist knick-knack. Just wander around the age-old ruins, have a tea with one of the locals and enjoy the fact, that places like this still exist.
3. The Dead Sea
I travelled quite a bit over the last 8 years but never have I been to such a surreal place. The Dead Sea is like a desert filled with water. And unfortunately it shrinks incredibly fast (around 1m per year) and therefore constantly creates a new “lowest point on earth” (bucket-list-alarm again :). If you drive along the Dead Sea highway, pull over from time to time and just admire the vista.
It is also definitely worth it to walk down right to the edge of the water. Although it might not look like this from afar, but getting up close to the super salty shoreline reveals all the abstract shapes and patterns created by the hypersalination of the water.
If you feel adventurous and wanna experience the Dead Sea like a local, including floating, a mud-pack and bathing in a hot spring, without breaking the bank, then check out this Budget Guide to the Dead Sea.
Madama is a small city about a 40 minute drive south of Amman. It is most famous for its many well-preserved mosaics, most notably the “Madaba Map”. A depiction of Jerusalem and parts of the Holy Land dating back to the 6th century. The “Madaba Map” can be found in St. George’s Church, a Greek Orthodox Church located right in the old town of Madaba.
5. The Desert Castle Circle
East of Amman there are several so-called Desert Castles that can be accessed within a one day trip. You can either book a tour in Amman or do it with a rental car. The small Desert Castle Circle includes the following: Qasr Mshatta, Qasr Kharana, Qasr Al Amra, Qasr Azraq and Qasr Hallabat. I’d suggest to start in the south and make Qasr Hallabat the last stop of your day trip since it’s a great place to enjoy the sunset while the prayer calls of several muezzins sound in the distance.
6. Dana Nature Reserve
Established in 1993, The Dana Biosphere Reserve boasts a variety of geological formations and habitats. It’s best to explore the by foot. Several hikes with different degrees of difficulty meander through breathtaking scenery. Caves used as shelter by the nomadic tribes still living here penetrate the rocky terrain. Sheep and goats wander around and underline this amazing scenery with their bleating.
If you decide to spend some time exploring the Dana Nature Reserve on some hikes and you’re wondering where to stay, then look no further than Al Nawatef Camp. The facilities might be basic but hey, it’s a camp. And the owner Ali built everything with his very own hands. He, as well as the other guys working there (Mohammed and Saleh) are extremely hospitable and will do anything to make you feel at home.
7. Wadi Rum Desert
Wadi Rum was my absolute favorite place in the whole of Jordan. The silence of the desert, the colors of the rocks when the early morning sun hits them, the insane amount of stars at night. Wadi Rum is a magical place. Although you can stay in Rum Village, I’d suggest to spend at least one night (two nights are even better) in one of the numerous desert camps.
Here you can really kick back and enjoy some quality-nature-time without cell phone service and the otherwise omnipresent distractions of the modern world’s daily grind.
Check out this in depth Travel Guide to Wadi Rum with a lot of information on transport, accommodation and sights.
Aqaba doesn’t really enjoy a hype if you thumb through Jordan travel guidebooks since it’s not exactly plastered with world-class sights. However, if snorkeling, diving and some beach time is what you’re after, I’d still suggest to stay in Aqaba. It just provides more opportunities to dive a little into everyday Jordanian life than the resort-like structures in the south. Furthermore accommodation is cheaper in Aqaba (hotel Al Amer Chalet 2 offers really good value for money if you negotiate a little) and the 10 minute taxi ride to the beaches only costs around 2.5 dinar.
9. The Red Sea
Clown fish, moray eels, turtles, colorful coral, even shipwrecks. The diving around Aqaba (Jordan’s southernmost city) and along the Red Sea’s shore in the south is not only magnificent but also very affordable. And if exploring a tank while diving or snorkeling was always on your bucket list, then you can cross it off in Jordan. If you got a license, a one-tank-dive only costs about 25 dinar including all the equipment and even a pickup from your hotel in Aqaba (another reason to stay at Al Amer Chalet 2 ;).
10. Jordanian People
The last but definitely not the least reason to visit Jordan are the Jordanian people. Rarely have I met more welcoming, more genuine, more open-hearted and hospitable people. Be it Ali, the owner and founder of Al Nawatef camp who lives his dream up in the Dana Nature Reserve. Or Amer, the owner of Al Amer Chalet 2 who invited us on a boat ride including a huge feast of delicious sayadieh, just to have a nice afternoon with some of his guests. Or Mahmoud, a security supervisor at the Amman airport whom we gave a ride and who invited us over to his house for tea and coffee and even offered us to stay there for free.
So if you’re considering to visit Jordan but this nagging media-voice tries to stoke fears about the overall security situation, then stop procrastinating and just book a flight. There wasn’t a single situation where I felt unsafe. Jordanian people went out of their way to help wherever they could and be as welcoming and hospitable as humanly possible.
I can’t wait to go back to this wonderful country.
Do you have any questions or comments? Did you visit Jordan or do you plan to do so?
I’d really like to know what you would recommend and hear about your experience. Just drop me a comment below. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
And if you like what you see, feel free to connect on Instagram for more photos from Jordan and around the world.