Travelling to Jordan
Here are a few travel tips from a British perspective
By Jean-Marc Flambert.
Jordan is a magnificent country with so much to offer. I visited Jordan for the first time in February 2020, and realized that there is so much to see and do. I have researched and found that many companies just do the highlights tour – Amman, Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea. Don’t tick box your way through Jordan, mix the big sites with the exclusive experiences and slow down to take it all in.
- Eat with a Jordanian family: I was so honored to be able to part take in a traditional “Mansaf” meal. A rice and goat dish, served on a common platter where everyone eats from the same plate. May be harder to experience in a post-Covid era, but the experience of sharing a meal with a Jordanian family has to be a highlight. The Jordanian people are so hospitable and welcoming.Tip:take a few packs of tea to be able to offer a gift to the host.
- Add 45 minutes to every excursion: visit to be able to stop and talk to people. They are very friendly and one of the strongest attractions of visiting Jordan is being able to engage with her wonderful people and hear their stories. Tip : Stop to watch the world go by – ideally sipping a cup of Jordanian Arabic coffee.
- Take a note book with you and write down all of the wonderful food you eat. The language makes can make it hard to remember and pronounce correctly when you want to re-order it at another restaurant.Tip : taking a picture of the menu is an option.
- Sunrise – I enjoy sunsets at the end of a day, but rarely get up to watch the sunrise. I cannot put into words how special my sunrise at Wadi Rum was. Luckily, I was at one of those camps that meant the distance from my room to the vantage point was less than 30 metres ! Tip : Arrive 15 mins before sunrise as it all happens so fasts.
- Stay in each location for minimum of 2 nights – I know there is pressure on wallet and holiday entitlement to do more in less time, but I don’t recommend it.
- Get a balanced view of Jordan – so make sure you learn about the food, culture, history, nature (waterfalls, flora and fauna) and religion. It is easy to get distracted by the history and miss some of the other aspects.
Like with every holiday, your time and budget has an upper limit. Speak to a travel expert to make sure that you maximize based on your preferences. Jordan offers you so much. Unless you have unlimited time and money, you need to pre-plan your trip. It is impossible to create a “Top Things list” without considering your target audience. So, I am assuming that you are a family of four – your children are 8 to 12 years, and part of your holiday purpose is to bound as a family.
Petra by Night – yes, you must visit Pet By Jean-Marc Flambert
- Petra by Night – This experience this offered 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday) and involves candles, a local musician and storytelling. You enter the Siq (winding passage way, at times 3 metres wide and with rock going up to 100 feet on either side – created by a movement in a tectonic plate) guided by candle light. Walking along the Siq in silence, holding hands as a family is very spiritual – somehow connected with nature. When you arrive at the Treasury, you can enjoy a performance lit by the flicker of 1,500 candles. Make sure to bring warm clothes, a snack (sugar boost) and a torch (flash light). You may want to have an afternoon nap to charge those batteries.
- Petra covers a large area (2,640 acres) – It is not just about the Treasury, but walking along the Siq to get there and then going beyond to explore an entire city. You must take a guide to really get the most out of the experience. Allow for 2 days and invite your driver to pick you up on the other side so that you don’t end up walking back 2 hours on the same track. Start the visit early to avoid the strong sun and the crowds, and bring money to enjoy refreshments along the way. You may be tempted to take a horse and cart to save time, and you can as the animals are well looked after, but walking allows you to appreciate it more. Why not create a check list of places to look out for and invite your children to tick as they go along. (example : camel, horse and cart, water canals along the Siq, Treasury, (perhaps you can create a list for down load).
- Wadi Rum is not just another desert. It is the home of Bedouin communities with a unique way of life and a warm and charming outlook despite the harsh environment. Ensure you arrive early to be part of the “Zarb” preparation a few hours before dinner. Wake up 20 mins before sunrise to position yourself to watch the sunrise and explore the desert by horse, camel or in a jeep. Invite someone to take a picture of you and your family looking at the sunrise (from both angles). When you go on safari, take a change of socks, a mask or scarf to block out the flying dust (eyes and nose need protecting). Also take a cardboard box (flat packed) to use as a slide down the sand.
- That you are hot enough to want a cool dip. Take a change of clothes (including shoes) and a towel
- Aqaba – This port town and beach resort is a must visit. Allows you to relax, rejuvenate mid-way through the door and enjoy some outdoor dining. They will really enjoy the Red Sea after the desert. Be sure to bring enough sun block. If they have not tried before, a great time to learn how to snorkel (perhaps practice a few times in your bath tub before your trip).
- Dead Sea – Nothing can prepare a child (or an adult for the experience). It is simply unbelievable and fun. Bring some props with you to take the fun pictures, and have an adult on the shoe with camera capturing the funny moments.
- Wadi Al Mujib or Wadi Mukheiris – Jordan is largely dessert, and especially after a visit to Wadi Rum, experiencing the refreshing water is really welcome. Take a picnic with you, so you can stop and watch the water carve the rock millimetre at a time. If you are travelling November to March, you may want to head off at lunch time to ensure it is warm enough to make your child want to jump in the cool refreshing waters.