Why We’re Going to Jordan. Now.

Petra, Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea. Jordan.

In a twist of schedules, we’re headed there in just over a week to experience it all for ourselves.

Jordan? How’d That Happen?

We’ve always been interested in visiting Jordan. It’s long had a firm spot on our itinerary for the Middle East.

Then, enter an invitation from the Jordan Tourism Board just a couple of weeks ago.

In light of the media’s rather predictable painting of the entire Middle East with the brush of what’s been happening in Egypt, we figured a visit to Jordan at this time makes a point: don’t make assumptions, don’t avoid an entire region based on what’s happening in a few countries.

This backdrop also gives our trip to Jordan added context, story.

Jordan Itinerary: History, Culture, Adventure, Food…People

Jordan is not very large (in fact, it’s about the same size as the U.S. state of Maine or Indiana), but its history is long and deep. If our itinerary is any indication, there’s absolutely no shortage of fascinating stuff to do there. As Uncornered Market itineraries go, this one is going to be chock-full. Here’s a rough idea:

  • Petra
  • Scuba diving in Aquaba
  • Trekking overnight in the Wadi Rum desert
  • Ruminating on life in the Dead Sea
  • Castles galore (Crusader Castles Karak and Showbak, Desert Castles, and Ajlun Castle)
  • Roman ruins of Jerash
  • Amman, the Citadel and the Roman amphitheater

Wadi Rum Desert

We are also looking forward to getting to know Jordanian food, with dishes like mansaf (lamb in yogurt sauce topped with a bunch of amazing Middle Eastern bits, nuts and herbs) and stews like maglouba. To that end, we’ve also managed to include a cooking class as part of the itinerary.

Since this will be our first visit to the Middle East, we’ll also consider this the beginning of a very long, drawn-out firsthand investigation into who actually invented hummus. (In case you’re unaware, this unresolved argument has stewed in the region for ages.)

And as excited as we are about what is planned, we understand that some of our most transcendent travel experiences often take place when we get lost, meet random people on the street, and explore the local culture in fresh, open markets. So we’ve negotiated a good bit of free time to do what we do best: wander, talk to people, discover.

To say that we are excited by all this: an understatement.

The Dead Sea

Is Jordan Really Safe? (you know, with all those protests in the region)

Anticipating some anxiety from our parents and friends — and understanding that the reality on the ground may not always match what circulates as news — we contacted a friend who has lived and worked for years in Amman, the capital of Jordan. His response: “Safety shouldn’t be an issue when making a decision whether to take this trip.”

More generally, the Middle East tends to fill the news too often for all the wrong reasons. We have long hoped to fill a few of our pages with the right reasons, including the experiences we’re known for having and the human connections we’re known for making.

The Wrap and What’s Up After Jordan

We are scheduled to fly to Jordan on Royal Jordanian Airlines on February 25th from our current perch in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

So if you have any questions, any recommendations, any contacts, any anything with regards to Jordan, now’s the time to speak up. We’ll have two weeks in country to seek it out.

You can also join us on our trip virtually. We will have internet access, so expect us to tweet (#dna2jordan) and post updates and photos to Facebook as we go.

Finally, in case you are wondering, “What’s up with your trip to Bangladesh?” We are headed to Dhaka straight from Amman. After all, we’ll need someplace laid back to absorb all that we experience in Jordan.

———

Disclosure: Our trip to Jordan is sponsored by the Jordan Tourism Board, but the opinions expressed here are entirely our own. Photos above are courtesy of the Jordan Tourism Board. We look forward to filling these pages soon with images of our own.

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Comments

  1. says

    Your assignment before going to Jordan is to watch Lawrence of Arabia. TE Lawrence didn’t actually go through Wadi Rum, but they did film it there. Absolutely beautiful.

    For the love of God, DO NOT shave any part of your body before going into the Dead Sea.

    Swimming in the Dead Sea is really overrated. You can’t really swim. All you can do is awkwardly float. You got to do it to say you did it, but …….you’ll see.

  2. says

    You are going to love Jordan. I was going to send you to Sherry Ott’s recent post on Jordanian hospitality but you already commented!
    It’s one of our favourite countries. The people are warm and friendly, the food is fantastic and diverse, the ancient landmarks are out of this world and the Red Sea diving is some of the best in the world.
    Look forward to reading about the adventure and seeing some pics! Cheers

  3. says

    Awesome guys! I love it when travel plans take a 180 and turn you all around. We’re pretty envious about you going to Jordan, we want to go and have heard nothing but great things. Hopefully we will get there next year and we will have your posts to read about and do all our research with!

  4. says

    Have a great trip, and try and get a copy of T.E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, especially before you get to Aquaba. Much of it is set in modern-day Jordan — it’s a great book.

  5. says

    So Jealous! I was supposed to be there right now but we had to cancel since most of our trip was in Egypt… I look forward to following your trip!

  6. says

    Yes!!! This is so exciting, you’re going to love it! I studied abroad in Jordan and did all of the activities on your itinerary. Wadi Rum was definitely my favorite, but scuba diving in Aqaba is a close second.

  7. says

    @Gary: I’m laughing at your comment regarding don’t shave anything before going into the Dead Sea. Don’t really want to imagine what spurred that…

    I saw Lawrence of Arabia moons ago, but will find/download a copy in Kuala Lumpur to watch before we go. Thanks for the advice.

    @Cam: I’ve been watching Sherry’s posts on Jordan with special attention these last couple of weeks. I got in touch with her for some other ideas and suggestions she might have from the time she spent and volunteered in Jordan.

    We’ve heard such great things about Jordan from other travelers. Really looking forward to experiencing it ourselves.

    @Akila: Thanks for your excitement for our trip! We’ll do our best to keep everyone updated with stories and photos as we go.

    @Dave & Deb: You guys know well how staying flexible is the way to allow for 180 turns like this. You’ve had a few of these yourselves this year :) Thanks for your excitement and support!

    @Ian: Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll add it to my reading/kindle list and hope to get started on it before we leave. If you have other book recommendations, please pass them on as well.

    @Kristian: Definitely sounds like Jordan really had an powerful effect on you. Looking forward to seeing it for ourselves soon.

    @Steve: Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about your canceled trip because of Egypt. But, Jordan will still be there for the next time you want to travel there.

    @Christy: Thanks for your excitement for this trip! I’m with you – don’t care too much who invented hummus, just that it’s good and plentiful.

    @Kirstin: It must have been quite fascinating studying in Jordan. If you have other suggestions of things to do (or eat), please pass them on to us!

  8. Bo Wixted says

    You guys will love the graciousness of your hosts, the Jordanian people. Give Petra at least two days, to walk slowly, scramble up the rocks, and get lost in thoughts of what was.

  9. says

    @Bo: We’ve heard and read lots about the hospitality of Jordanians – this is one of the things that is drawing us to Jordan. We have two days in Petra, including an evening visit with candles. It sounds like a pretty incredible place.

    @Verity and Ruth: Thanks! Hope you enjoy following along with us on our adventure through Jordan.

  10. says

    Jordan’s my favorite spot in the Middle East (among the places I’d been, that is) – gorgeous natural landscapes and amazing people! I’d highly recommend an overnight stay in Wadi Rum – we stayed at a camp in the desert and watched Jordanian tourists dance like there was no tomorrow. ;)

  11. says

    No, what Gary said is very true. To get myself bathing suit ready after months of cold weather, I shaved my legs in preparation. All I can say is ouch, salt water stings!

    I really enjoyed our time in Jordan. There is a variety of things to see, that’s for sure. Be prepared to here the phrase “Welcome, welcome” over and over, but we found that I was a little more welcome than my husband! The guys were never threatening, but I always felt more comfortable covering up a bit.

    p.s. The food was pretty tasty in Jordan. The best meal we had was at Haret Jdoudna in Madaba. Don’t get too excited about the hummus though unless you love it with TONS of tahini.

  12. says

    @Nellie: All the photos we’ve seen from the desert, sea and historical sights have been gorgeous. I’m waiting for the final itinerary, but I do know that we’ll be staying overnight at Wadi Rum. Now, if only we can get Jordanian tourists dancing like crazy then our trip will be complete – sounds like fun!

    @Amy: Making note to self with a reminder in the iPhone: NO shaving prior to the dead sea. I also tend to be a bit more welcome than Dan in most places, too :) I usually err on the side of covering up more rather than less when we travel and given some of the temperatures I’ve seen it looks like I’ll be wearing multiple layers.

    I do like a tahini taste in my hummus, but it’s all about balance and complementing tastes.

    @Layne: I knew you’d pick up on the origins of hummus bit! Food-obsessed minds think alike :)

  13. says

    Daniel and Audrey looking forward to having you in our country and waiting to hear your feedback on your trip. As you said we at Jordan Tourism Board are sponsoring your trip with Royal Jordanian, but we definitely want your personal opinions expressed believing that your experience and own opinion will best describe what Jordan is all about.
    See you soon

    Nayef AL-Fayez
    Managing director

  14. says

    @Connie: We’ve heard really great reports of Jordan from other travelers – really looking forward to seeing it for ourselves!

    @Nayef: Thank you again for the invitation from Jordan Tourism Board to visit your country and experience for ourselves what Jordan has to offer. And thank you for emphasizing our editorial independence. Our goal with this trip is to be able to share our experiences with our readers, both tour-related and the “off the tour” experiences we’re known for finding on our own. We appreciate the flexibility to allow us some free time to do this.

    Look forward to meeting you soon!

  15. says

    I spent four nights in Wadi Musa and enjoyed myself immensely. Two days in Petra is good. Try to get out to Little Petra. Not as exciting, but it’s free and make sure your cab driver stops at the elephant. There’s a really cool rock formation that looks like an elephant from afar. I wish I could remember the name of the bakery I went to, but it’s not far from the “Circle” in Wadi Musa, and I got a box of sweets to share with my hostel hosts for just a couple of dollars. The food was AMAZING! Petra After Dark is kind of cheesy, but I thought it was a lot of fun. I’m sure you’re probably staying in hotels, but if you aren’t, stay away from Valentine’s Hostel. The place is a total scam and the owner creeped me out. I also got a chance to go to Karak Castle on my way to Amman with two British girls I hitched a ride with and it was really neat. They’ve got a great little museum there with lots of historical information. Have fun!

  16. says

    We were just in Jordan and loved it! Make sure to hike up to see the Treasury from above – there is a staircase between the tombs marked 14 and 15 on the tourist map; follow them all the way up, walk past a stone hut, and then follow the path and cairns along until you are above the Treasury — best view in Petra! You can also apparently hike from Little Petra to Petra with a guide, which we heard was fabulous. There’s a great kebab place right by the traffic circle in Wadi Musa.

  17. says

    You can also consdier visiting Qasr al-Yahud at River Jordan. Its a site near border where Jesus was baptized.
    Looking forward to read you story of Jordan

  18. says

    Oh I am jealous. So very, very jealous! I went to Jordan many moons ago. The first time I hitchhiked was in Jordan. Most buses there take the Desert Highway, and not the more scenic and interesting King’s Highway. I ended up getting rides from (in no particular order): a Syrian Orthodox priest, a trucker with a 5-year old named Saddam Hussein, and a active member of the Jordanian Armed Forces. Good times!

  19. says

    Thanks everyone for all the suggestions and excitement. Our preparation for Jordan may be as long, involved and deep as our visit to Jordan itself.

    @Gary: Don’t worry, I won’t shave before the Dead Sea. I’ll even let my armpit hair grow.

    @Ian: Thanks for the reminder about Seven Pillars of Wisdom. This has long been on my must-read list, somehow always getting displaced by something else. It’s a shame it’s not available on Kindle or Nook (yes, I’ve become one of those people). So we might be back to the weight of a paperback for this one.

    @Heather: Excellent suggestions and details. Really appreciate it and am looking forward to seeking these out.

    @Theodora: Syria is also on the list. On our next swing through the Middle East, we’ll definitely pay it a visit. And perhaps Jordan, again.

    @Ayngelina: Haven’t seen The Idiot Abroad in Jordan. Will have to look for it. Our pre-Jordan read/watch list is growing.

    @Jesse: Thanks for the tip. The climb above the Treasury sounds great. Will definitely check it out.

    @Ahsan: Thanks for the tip. The amount of historical sights in Jordan, a relatively small country, is pretty incredible.

    @Raymond: Capsules of experience like yours make me all the more interested to engage with the people we meet along our travels.

  20. says

    I’m so jealous to hear that you are off to Jordan, I’ve wanted to go for so long! One of the UK based budget airlines has just started flying out to Amman, so I have promised myself that this year is the year!

  21. says

    @Tom: I think I did see the other day that some European airlines have started adding Jordan to the list of destinations (was it Easy Jet?). So, your dream to go to Jordan hopefully will happen sooner rather than later!

    @Lola: Jordan has also been on our wish list for a long time, so we’re stoked to have the opportunity to see it now. Also, our hosts have included several visits to community organizations, which will make it even more interesting for us!

  22. says

    Yes, it is easyjet Audrey. They start flying there at the end of next month from London Gatwick. I get back from my trip to Africa at the end of March, so all going to plan I can buy Jordan tickets in April :)

  23. Don says

    Dan & Audrey: So glad that your world journey is continuing in this wonderful place called Jordan. I always look forward to your exciting posts and exquisite photos. In additional to all of your usual observations, can you consider adding some of the opinions of Jordanians about what is happening in many of the countries near them and in their own.
    Not looking for investigative journalism but some sharing of good old fashion ear to the ground kinds of things. For me it would complete the cycle of being in touch, through your eyes and ears, of all aspects of Jordan and its people. Ciao and best of luck.

  24. says

    So, what does an “invitation from the Jordan Tourism Board” mean? They’re paying your airfare? Just a short e-mail saying “hi – why don’t you swing by and see Jordan?”

  25. says

    @Don: We don’t intend to do any investigative journalism (well, except maybe when it comes to things like hummus). However, we’re certain to have conversations, and based on our experience, there are few people and cultures on this Earth who don’t enjoy chatting us up on what’s going on around them. In any event, we intend to be in touch — I like how you put it — with all aspects of Jordan and its people.

    @Michael: If our itinerary is any indication, we’ll leave more than a few footsteps to follow. Enjoy your travels!

    @Laura: Thanks!

    @Craig: We received an email saying that they had been following us for some time and wanted to know if we were interested in coming to Jordan. We’ve had an interest in Jordan for a while and the Jordan Tourism Board is interested in our particular approach to travel and the tone with which we share our experiences. So it seemed like a good fit all around. They are covering airfare and expenses associated with our activities and journey throughout the country.

  26. Brian says

    Good on you two for heading to the middle east now. I have a colleague who has just left for Yemen, which is, you know, kind of scary, considering everyone there has a gun, and taking tourists hostage is a bit of a past time. Luckily, he looks quite Arab after a few days of not shaving. I am looking forward to your take on Jordan.

    Be safe and enjoy!

  27. says

    I like the itinerary and look forward to update specially on the current situation. I’m planning to go to middle-east (Israel, turkey, egypt, jordan) in a april-may. cheers!

  28. Pete De Ritter says

    A few years ago Calvin College had a Petra exhibit that my daughter and I went to. They served Jordanian food in the dining hall afterward. The exhibit and the food were excellent. I’m jealous that you are going to see the real thing. Hope you have a great time. I would also second the recommendation to read The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Interesting insight into the Middle East and Lawrence.

  29. says

    @Brian: You are making me laugh when maybe I shouldn’t.

    @Lilliane: Photos and stories coming shortly. Our flight goes out tonight.

    @Pete: We are really looking forward to this trip for so many reasons, including how little firsthand context we have about the region. And the fact that it’s completely new to us. I hope and assume we can get our hands on a copy of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom while we are in Amman.

  30. Sanita says

    Hi Audrey,I am going to Jordan end of April..and in case you find a nice place in Petra to stay, to eat..anything, dont hesitate to recommend!Sanita

  31. says

    @Sanita, avoid Valentine’s Hostel in Wadi Musa. The owner is creepy and it’s a hole in the wall. I stayed at Saba’a Hostel, it’s just off the main roundabout in town and it was not bad for a hostel. The owners are a Jordanian husband and British wife and it worked well for me. They were very kind and helpful.

  32. Ma`moun Farajat says

    Dear Rebecca
    Iam abduin jordanain iam so glad to help you to answer your Q about your tour to Jordan

  33. says

    @Guy: Thanks so much for doing research for our trip and recommending these hikes. Unfortunately, many of the treks and canyons are closed until April because of risk of flash floods. But, we do plan to return to Jordan one day in April/May so we can take advantage of more of its trekking and natural offerings. And, we’d be able to visit Israel then as well – hope you’re not planning on moving anytime soon!

    @Sanita: Our accommodation was provided by Jordan Tourism Board so we stayed at the Movenpick near the entrance to Petra. However, it’s not the cheapest option out there. We also took a cooking class at Petra Kitchen which was a lot of fun. I don’t think you can go wrong with eating in Jordan – every meal we had was quite delicious!

    @RP: Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience at Valentine’s Hostel, but thanks for recommending an alternative (Saba’a Hotel) for people.

    @Ma’moun: We really enjoyed the tour we had with you as well at Petra and especially enjoyed hearing some of your experiences teaching American troops about Bedouin culture. Wish we had more time to chat after the tour. Thanks for your offer for helping others plan their trip to Jordan.

    @Rebecca: After almost two weeks zipping around Jordan, I can definitely recommend it as a great destination. And it’s so much more than just Petra. We’ve posted a few things already on Jordan, but keep checking back over the next weeks as we’ll be writing more articles and posting more photos.

  34. says

    @Ken: Jordan is a great place to visit. Floating in the Dead Sea was quite fun – it’s almost impossible to sink and the minerals leave an oily film on you. The mud was great, too.

  35. Guy Kohane says

    about trip in Israel- now its the best time of the year if you want to see IL in its green and blooming state.
    between April 18th-25th its passover, so you wont really enjoy Culinary (cause of the lack of flour throughout that time -religious thing)

    May may still be greenish, but gradually becoming hot(but still quite comfort deg)- it has a lot of advantages as well.

    if things go my way- I’ll go on a trip in Italy visiting my older brother, who study over there, between the 15-23.4, which is actually my all passover vacation from the Uni.

  36. says

    @Guy: Thanks for all the info. “cause of the lack of flour that time – religious thing”. Made me laugh…we understand. We would definitely look forward to visiting the region again for a longer trip. Hopefully we can time it in the spring or fall. Safe travels!

  37. Sharifah Salwa says

    Thank you for all these reviews.I will be in Jordan next month.I have been reading a lot about Jordan and I just fell in love.I first thought about going there last year, and thank God..I am able to realize my dream in about 3 weeks time.I pray that God will saves this country and protects the people from any political turmoil.

  38. says

    @Sharifah: Have a great time in Jordan! We’re sure you will love it. We’ll look forward to hearing about your travels after you return. In the meantime, if you have any questions, let us know.

  39. Saha says

    Warning.. Beware of the Jordan Bedouin bezness.
    All the boys from the bedouin village by Petra, Wadi Musa, Wadi Rum are scammers and liars!
    Eamad, Ghassab, Khaled Albdoul, Athman Salm, Ahmed Alfaqeer, Mohammed Alfaqeer, Mohammed Ali Albdoul and Ahmed known as Johnny Deep.
    Their business is to fool and cheat all the girls they can into falling in love with them.
    They do it for business – to get sex and money.
    They often have 2-5 foreign girlfriends at the same time. Their family knows and lies as well. All the “nice” people you meet lie! They all lie for each other because they all want something… Gifts, sex, money, phone, computer, cloths, gasoline, a donkey, even camels…The money they get from girls they use to get other girls.
    They will make you believe that they are different from the others and you will see the love in their eyes. But it is not true! Don’t ever trust them! They are all the same. They do anything to fool you!
    They will take you to caves in the mountains, to the most beautiful views, they will make fire and cook for you, take you to their family, dance, drink, watch the sunset and sunrise on a blanket under the ‘shooting stars’.
    They do business with girls! They go with tourists and then they charm the girls to believe that they are in love with them. The truth is that they just want sex. When the girl goes back home, they will make friends with her on facebook, messenger, skype, email or phone. They are on all social media and have a lot of different accounts and names, so all the girls they trick don’t know about all the other girls. They will try to get you to come back to Jordan. And if you go back – they will pick you up in the airport or hotel, but when you leave they go pick up the next girl or a new tourist. If you had sex with one of them please go to your doctor and get tested for all sex diseases (HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea etc.) and Hepatitis B. They are whores, gigolos, scammers, trick thieves and they have sex with all possible. It is like trick **************, so don’t ever think that is true that a Bedouin boy from Petra loves you or want to marry you!
    They will all tell you that you are special and that they love you, but also tell you lies about that their donkey died, their car is broke, their motorbike was stolen, they have to go to the hospital, someone complained about them so they have to go to jail. They often pretend to get into trouble and want you to send money through Western Union. They come up with the craziest stories – Only to get the money from you!!
    They look like Johnny Depp (Jack Sparrow), most of them have kohl in their eyes, wear scarf’s or have long hair. If you are with your husband or boyfriend they will fool him too, they will let you believe you are his best friend but also try to **** your wife or girlfriend!
    Names of boys doing this for fulltime business (with variations of their names): Eamad, Ghassab, Khaled Albdoul, Athman Salm, Othman Salm, Mohammad, Ahmed Alfaquer, Alfaqeer, Alfageer, Alfakeer, Mohammed Alfaquer, Alfaqeer, Alfageer, Alfakeer, Mohammed Albdoul, Albdool, Bdool, Bdoul, Mohammed Ali and Ahmed known as Johnny Deep (but they are not the only ones). They are all the same.. All the boys, men, girls, women and kids in the village is making business and living by cheating tourists.
    And you will believe every lie they tell.. They are really good at this business!!
    There are thousands of stories from girls around the world who experienced this, but-
    The government in Jordan knows about this problem but they don’t do anything about it!
    The police know about this problem and should warn all tourists especially in hotels, in Wadi Musa and around the main gate to Petra about these people, but they don’t.
    The embassy and the airport of Amman and Aqaba should warn all women who come, and especially the women that come more than one time, but they don’t!
    Jordan is the ‘peace’ safe country in the Middle East, so they don’t want to destroy that image for the rest of the world.
    It is also good for the Jordanian economy that all these girls keeps coming and it is very bad for tourism if the world knew the truth about the secrets of beautiful Wadi Rum and Petra.
    Join the new group that wants to stop this and tell your story – Share the names and the lies:
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-…90518707632478
    We understand if you want to be anonyms, so create a new anonyms facebook account (like they do!) and join the group. Together we will open this story to the world and try to get the authorities in Jordan to warn about this and stop it!

  40. says

    @Saha: There is always a risk in heavily touristed areas that people will take advantage of tourists, especially young tourists who perhaps do not have life experiences to judge sincerity or character. Thank you for trying to bring awareness so that young women visiting Petra or Wadi Rum will perhaps be more aware when going out with a local man or giving of themselves while visiting these areas.

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