While on my quest to visit the Seven Wonders of the World, Petra was one of the highest places on my list because I was so excited to explore Jordan. The country has far more to offer than just the beautiful Treasury! Here are a few the highlights to see and do in this ancient kingdom.
Stay in a Bedouin Camp- One of the highlights from Jordan was visiting a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum. A large swath of the desert remains secluded where the Bedouins have preserved their ancestral heritage and maintain their customs and way of life. After being collected in the back of a pick-up at the entrance, we headed out into the desert on no apparent trail losing all sight of civilization. About 45 min we arrived at a group of tents set-up at the edge of a mountain which provided protection from the wind. We met several other travelers staying in the camp before wandering off to catch a view of the sunset. As soon as the sun dropped out of view in the horizon, the temperature quickly dropped as well and soon our Bedouin hosts began to dig up dinner. And yes, dig it up from the sand where it had spent the afternoon cooking. Buried under an inconspicuous mound of sand was a layered tray filled with steaming platters of meat and vegetables that was shoveled out and carried into the dining tent where we gathered around and loaded our plates. Not only was the plentiful meal excellently cooked, but it was delicious! The meal was thoroughly enjoyed by all as we lounged back on the mounds of pillows and got to know a bit more about each other.
Explore Wadi Rum- This desert of brilliant red hued sand and giant rock formations spans over 278 sq miles. There are numerous tours to explore Wadi Rum ranging from hiking on foot to riding camels across the desert. Four wheelers was the easy selection for us though and about the only rule they had was wearing one of the bright helmets. One of the local guides took us out to some of the most famous spots to get photos before leading the way to some massive dunes. Flying down several of these steep hills was an absolute blast!
Float in the Dead Sea- Take a break and kick back in the waters of the Dead Sea. The high salinity content of the water makes floating a piece of cake. The mud from the banks is also well-known as a beauty product due to its cleansing particles which brings impurities to the surface and leaves the skin feeling well hydrated and smooth. Here tourists are encouraged to enjoy the endless supply, which I was happy to join in and smother my skin even if I did end up looking a little like Mystique..
Take a Road Trip- Views of the mountain ranges lining the road were massive and isolated but quickly transition between stark desert and hidden cities. Although it may not be the quickest route taken by many of the large organized tour, it was a fantastic and quite cheap way to transit the countryside and see a bit more of Jordan.
Petra- If the wind sculpted cliffs leading you into the valley does not impress you, the Treasury that is tucked away back inside will certainly do the trick. Due to its location between mountains where most of the elements are blocked and have been prevented from weathering it, this famous carved front has remained incredibly well preserved.
Getting out to Petra from Amman was a few hour car trip heading south along scenic curvy highways. After getting tickets at the visitor center, we headed out towards Al-siq, the natural windy passage through red rock cliffs leading out to this forgotten city. The further we hiked into the passage, the more that my excitement continued to build until finally I got my first glimpses of the Treasury. Despite the rain, this intricate yet impressive carved mammoth exceeded my high expectations. While the Treasury is the most iconic portion, there are numerous other ruins from this ancient trading city that have also been discovered. There are several tombs, a temple, and another almost identical carving as the Treasury on the mountain.
We had not planned to spend a full day walking around at Petra, but it was easy to do so. Despite the drizzling rain, we hiked up to the top of the mountain where it was possible to see the entire valley below and the desert stretching out in all directions. I was sweaty from the climb and drenched from the rain, but could not have been happier overlooking such a spectacular corner of the world.
Hostel Average Cost: Hostels cost on average $15. However, the hotels in Amman are reasonably priced as well.
Currency: Jordanian dinar
Drink: Berber tea which is brewed strong and sweet.
Food: The hummus and schwarmas are on point and for a very reasonable price. However, the local pastry kunafa, is fantastic and a must try. Made with thin strands of dough and a cheese filling then topped with a sweet syrup and nuts.. this sweet pastry is delicious and worth every calorie.
Electric Outlet: Type C (European)
Visa: single-entry visas to U.S. citizens are available upon arrival at Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport for $56.