We have all seen the movie a number of times. Indiana Jones enters the Khazneh in the lost city of Petra where he has to negotiate all kinds of booby traps to eventually get his hands on the Holy Grail. Well, I can confirm that the the Treasury in Petra is nothing like in the movie, but it is a truly spectacular site nonetheless.
All good adventures has to start somewhere. This generally starts with some sort of a plan and I usually like a bit of planning. So with only four days at my disposal, I had to plan carefully if I wanted to see the best things I could in Jordan. Why Jordan you may ask? Well, Amman is only a 3 hour flight from Doha, and Jordan is a small country with lots to see. Also, no visa required for South Africans! It seemed like a perfect bang for your buck quick in and out trip! I had three things on my list that I wanted to see. I even managed to fit in an unexpected fourth one!
1. The Dead Sea
3. Roman ruins at Jerash
As I jumped onto the plane in Doha, I was incredibly excited. This would be my first time travelling since I moved to the Middle East 8 months earlier. I had no idea what was in stall for me. All I had was a rental car booking and two accommodation bookings. I also had a GPS with me, but had not planned any specific route to get where I needed to be. I landed at Queen Alia International Airport and collected the KIA rental without any hassles. I grabbed the GPS, punched in “Dead Sea” and off I went! Did I mention that I was excited??
I was amazed at how good the roads and highways around the capital, Amman was. I thought Amman would be some desolate barren desert town with dirt tracks! It is a beautiful lush green city with great roads, friendly people and decent drivers! I was stunned! In no time I made my way through Amman and headed west. Soon I was descending a beautiful mountain pass. I kept my eye on the GPS and noticed that I was getting closer and closer to sea level, but I was still high on the mountain pass and the valley was faaaaar down below. I knew the dead sea was lower than sea level, but did not really pay any attention at how far below. On the way down the pass I saw a sign indicating that you are now at sea level, but I was still way up on the side of a mountain……it was weird. Double checked the GPS, and yup, 0m asl…. Well, what do you know!
All to soon I reached my hotel, checked in, went straight to the bar and grabbed some cold beers! My view was spectacular! I sat at the bar overlooking the dead sea with the sun setting over the West Bank. It was magical. I was 415m below sea level!
Early the next morning it was time to float. I so badly wanted to be one of those posers lying on my back reading a newspaper while floating about. I went down to the shore, but it was all closed up as the hotel was renovating the whole area. But they organised for their guests to go to the Crown Plaza Hotel down the road and access their beach. Cool, we all jumped in the little shuttle bus and off we went. When I say all, I mean three of us. Me, an Ukrainian lady and her rather full framed mother….and by full frame I mean HUGE!!!
Swimming in the dead sea is pretty much impossible, I tried, but it was a disaster. Imagine trying to swim in butter…. not that the water is thick like butter, it is just like normal water, but you are sort of “on top” on the water, not “in the water” if that makes any sense. It was lots of fun though. You have to lie on your back, if you try to lie on your stomach your ass pops up above the water and you look like a complete tit! I did this as well of course, and I looked like a complete tit! The entertainment of the morning was watching the HUGE Ukrainian Babushka trying to get the hang of the mechanics of floating a body like that in this weird water. I had to eventually help the younger lady to try and get the big lady in and out of the water. It was quite an effort, but she was a good sport and it all went down with lots of laughter! Who said the Eastern Europeans were a bunch of miserable old farts? If I can offer once piece of advice………………………do not pee in the dead sea…..IT BURNS!!!
After the floating shenanigans of the morning, I headed off inland, destination for the day, the ancient city of Petra. This was the big one of the trip! The road from the Dead Sea to Petra is a stunning 270km drive on great tar roads. The landscape is spectacular and reminds me so much of Namibia. It is rocky, barren desert but it has its own unique kind of beauty and of course the absolute silence that only a desert can provide.
As I approached the town of Kerak, I saw a very large castle on the top of the mountain right in the middle of the town. This looked intriguing, so I decided to go and have a look. Entrance was free but you had to take a guide for $7.00, so I did this and this old dude showed me around. He was pretty much as old as the castle itself and I am sure he was a stable boy there during time this thing was built! He did speak good English though and he told me all about the Castle. Very interesting stuff indeed! Go and have a read about it here: Kerak Castle
I reached the town of Wadi Musa late afternoon. Wadi Musa is the town that serves as the gateway to Petra. I was tired after all the floating, big lady wrestling, castle walking and driving, so I decided to have an early night as tomorrow I would be doing a heck of a lot of walking!
Nothing can really prepare you for walking through the Siq, the narrow canyon that leads from Wadi Musa into Petra. It was just beautiful, and personally it was the highlight of the entire Petra for me. I was completely alone in the Siq, I only spotted a few people and carriages right at the end of the Siq as you enter Petra. This was awesome. I was smart going at the the of August as the busiest time is November to February (cooler during winter). When I was there is was HOT!! But that meant less people! So I was chuffed! Somehow I “lost” the folder containing my Petra photos…… At least I uploaded a few to Facebook at the time, so they will have to make do. I dunno what the hell I did to loose one single folder??
Most people think of Petra as that one famous building (The Treasury or Al Khazneh in the pic above). But Petra, also known as “The Rose City”, is in actual fact a massive complex of hundreds of buildings, caves, tombs, roads and what not. It is truly massive! I spent the entire day walking around Petra and loving every minute of it. I carried my 3L Camelbak on my back and filled it 3 times with 2 x 2L water bottles, I filled 3L and drank 1L. I drank over 15L of water that day, but I also walked over 30km in 40deg heat. It was a tough day, but extremely rewarding! I am not going to re write the whole history of Petra in this blog, but you can read all about it here, it is truly a magnificent place! Petra – The Rose City
The next morning I was tired! My legs and feet ached and my body was sore from the previous day’s exploration antics. I am no Indiana Jones after all! But I was happy. Pain like that is always a good kind of pain. A pain that you are quite happy to have. I got into my KIA and pointed the nose north towards Amman. I had one last place that I wanted to see before I had to catch the plane back to Doha that evening.
Jerash was very easy to find. But I guess a massive ancient Roman City is not all that hard to find! I did not spend as much time in Jerash as I could (or should) have. It is massive and because I still had to get to the airport I decided I had to make it a sort of splash and dash visit. I saw the main sites, read a couple of information boards, took a bunch of pictures and headed off. I would have loved to spend more time there and hire a guide to show you around and explain things better. But hey, it is what it is. I left Jerash, rushed back to the airport, returned the KIA, flew back to Doha and went to work the next morning. It was worth it.
So ladies and gentleman, there you have it, a brief wrap up of my trip to Jordan. If you have the chance to go to Jordan, do it! It is a beautiful country with great, friendly people and things are easy. Hopefully Trump won’t decide to bomb the Middle East to shit. Jordan is a great place, let’s hope it stays that way!
Here is an interactive map of where I drove in Jordan, for the people interested info like this!
[map style=”width: auto; height:400px; margin:20px 0px 20px 0px; border: 1px solid black;” kml=”http://www.etiennexplore.com/wp-content/uploads/EtienneXplore_2012_Jordan.kml”]
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