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Jordan is more than just Petra's red rocks

Jordan is more than the capital Amman and the ancient city of Petra. Much more even! Antiquity is everywhere and so is the modern lifestyle. Get to know the many exciting things you can experience on a trip to Jordan here.
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Jordan is more than just Petra's red rocks is written by Anita N. Olsen

Jordan - Petra Temple - travel

Historic and hospitable Jordan

The Middle East, "hmmm" you think, "it just sounds legally exotic and insecure". But here you are wrong. Jordan is a small and safe butter hole in the Middle East. The country offers fantastic nature experiences, one of the seven wonders of the world, a hospitable population and a veritable historic do-it-yourself table.

The journey there is affordable. The climate is warm all year round. And the country is not very big, so you can easily reach your favorite destinations. My husband and I had even planned the trip to Jordan with nine full days of experiences. Here are my personal favorites.

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The dead Sea in Jordan

I've never been particularly fond of bathing beaches, but playing cork in the Dead Sea is different. It can be advantageously combined with a mud bath. It is healthy because of all the minerals and who can resist something that is both healthy and fun! At least I could not. At the same time, it is possible to choose more luxurious overnight stays and spa treatments.

If you are still heading south on the Dead Sea Highway, it is also worth taking a detour past the 'Dead Sea Panoramic Complex'. There is a great view of the sea, (which is actually a lake) and to Israel.

To learn more about the nature of the area and the development of the Dead Sea in Jordan, there is a whole exhibition to tackle. The food from the on-site restaurant is recommendable. And as one of the few places, you can get a glass of wine or a beer for the meal.

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Jordan - Wadi Mujib - travel

Wadi Mujib and Dana Biosphere Reserve

If you have only a slight weakness for nature, water and physical activity, then you should try the Wadi Mujib gorge in Jordan. Here you are guaranteed a great experience! Equipped with life jackets, you walk through waterfalls, climb large rocks, fight with the current. In some places you swim freely in the water.

It is a self-guided tour, but there were people to lend a helping hand at the more challenging obstacles. Arrive early in the morning and avoid queues in the gorge, although it can not be completely avoided on the way back.

 In the 'Dana Biosphere Reserve', Jordan's largest nature reserve, Rummana Camp is a good starting point to experience the area's unique rock formations. The small, chubby formations are reminiscent of a Star Wars universe or the Barbapapa characters - for those who can remember them.

We combined a day in Rummana with a day hike through the Wadi Dana gorge, which starts in Dana Village. These are some of the few routes that do not require payment and booking of a guide in advance.

Be sure to book stays and hikes well in advance if you want to experience the Wadi Dana and Wadi Mujib areas. There are only a few trails to take on your own, and accommodation at the area's Ecolodges is popular.

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Jordan - Petra, temple - travel

Petra in Jordan - one of the seven wonders of the world

It's not just in the history books or in Indiana Jones that Petra is amazing. It's one of those places where you get a suck in the stomach when 'The Treasury' reveals itself for the first time. The expectant ride through 'The Siq', the narrow gorge and the access to Petra, is an experience in itself.

Seat two days off if you really want the full experience: Petra is a huge area, and even for the most enthusiastic hiker, Petra is a big mouthful. Do not be fooled by the trips to 'High Place of Sacrifice' and 'The Monastery', even though they are long and involve many steps.

You can also buy a ticket for Petra by Night. It is an evening event where the walk through the Siq and the square in front of The Treasury is illuminated by small, fine light bags. The performance itself is short with a little historical introduction to the area and music played on instruments from the time of the Nabataeans (the Nabataeans were the people who created Petra). No, you are definitely not alone - and no, the show is not particularly spectacular.

I would still recommend it though, but as your first encounter with Petra in Jordan. It is a very special atmosphere and a very different experience to walk in pitch darkness - while you get lifted a little tab of all the exciting things that await you until the next day.

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Jordan - Wadi Dana - view cliffs - travel

Wadi Rum - a Lawrence of Arabia adventure

The Wadi Rum desert is an almost spiritual experience. It is supernaturally beautiful and quiet in the desert, and at night the starry sky shines brightly. Here I got my camel debut and a sore butt the day after, but it was worth it.

We had booked two days, and after the camel ride it was on a jeep safari with lots of stops along the way: Climbing huge sandbanks, up on viewpoints and climbing to natural stone bridges and with a blood-red sunset as the perfect end to the day.

We stayed in a Bedouin camp inside the desert itself, which I can highly recommend. All meals and tours were provided by local Bedouins. In the evening we got delicious local food, which was prepared on site. So did our lunch in the desert. A Bedouin can obviously always conjure up the most delicious meal of food over an open fire, not to mention sweet spicy tea that you are offered everywhere.

Before bed we sat by the fire and came into the lives of a lot of lovely people from all over the world - but all with a desire to travel in their blood. I got the best sleep here in a long time; completely quiet - and with a cooling temperature and breeze at night.

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Snorkeling in the Red Sea in Aqaba

Are you for underwater experiences, diving or snorkeling, then it is so lucky that Jordan has 27 km of coastline to the Red Sea. A little pressed for time and with rented equipment we only reached half a day on our own.

Despite strong winds and waves, we made our way to 'The Japanese Garden' in Jordan, which is recommended as the best snorkeling spot by Lonely Planet. It is easily accessible directly from the beach and there are small fine coral islands with colorful fish. However, I would recommend going on an arranged tour so you get around more.

The area was not so large and the selection of fish not so diverse compared to previous experiences in Egypt, Mexico and Florida. I ended up being a little disappointed. The good news is that there are plenty of diving centers in the area that make trips - both for divers and those who are into snorkeling. Therefore, it will be a real shame to miss the experience.

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More tips for your Jordan trip

In addition to the highlights, we also managed to visit historical sites such as the crusader castle of Karak and the city of Madaba, which is known for its mosaics. Unfortunately we did not get time for Amman and places north of Amman. You can easily spend 14 days if you want to experience most of Jordan. But you can also achieve a lot in less time.

Jordan is not a cheap destination. Hotels cost about the same as in Denmark, and prices for admission tickets etc. is usually more expensive for non-Jordanians. The entrance ticket to Petra is particularly expensive.

Here are a few things to know before you travel:

  • It requires a visa to enter Jordan. It costs 40 JOD (approximately 380 kroner, ed.), And you buy it on arrival at the airport. There is money to be saved by purchasing a Jordan passport, which includes access to some of the major sights in Jordan as well as a visa.
  • It's simple and easy to rent a car and get around Jordan. North and south are well bound together by Dead Sea Highway and Desert Highway respectively. However, there can be a long way between the petrol stations.
  • It is generally safe for women to travel and travel in Jordan. A good piece of advice, however, is to wear knee-length trousers or dresses and cover your shoulders - especially when you are outside the very touristy areas.
  • Alcohol is generally only available at select restaurants in major cities and at hotels. It is illegal to drink alcohol on a public street and not well-liked to be visibly drunk.

Good trip!

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About the travel writer

Anita Olsen

Anita is a happy and adventurous soul - incurably infected with travel fever. A secondment in the United States was the starting point: here the beautiful, idyllic New England and the nature parks in the west hit her feet away from under her. Since then, she has been addicted to great nature experiences, which in addition to the United States have led her to Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, Peru, Jordan, Norway and many other places in the world.
Do-it-yourself and active holidays are the preferred form of travel well helped by Lonely Planet, travel blogs and other online sources. In addition to nature, people are also a big part of the experience: "You often meet the most open, friendly and wonderful people along the way". Anita is a volunteer co-author RejsRejsRejs.

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