Where’s Nadia? This Month, STELLAR’s Travel Expert Explores The Wonders Of Jordan
Views, hikes, and hummus. What more could you want?
We’ve all seen those Instagram pictures looking back down on the Treasury at Petra, but it’s probably safe to say most of us know little else of Jordan. Yes, it’s home to one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, but you can also access the Red Sea and the Dead Sea from there, camp out in the desert and eat your bodyweight in hummus. Are you sold? I sure was.
This was one of my most anticipated trips of the year so far. I’ve been leaning towards the trend for activity holidays recently, so I signed up to G Adventures’ Multisport itinerary which includes all the major highlights in Jordan, with an adventurous angle.
Starting in capital city Amman, I settled in with a stroll down Rainbow Street with its many cafes and juice bars, browsed the markets downtown and had my first taste of real Jordanian food at Hashem restaurant. There’s no menu, just a veggie feast of falafel, baba ganoush, hummus, bread and mint tea, delicious and dirt cheap. The Temple of Hercules at the Citadel is worth a look, but to be honest, I didn’t come to Jordan for a city break, so first thing the next morning I was bound for the countryside.
The first hike of the trip brought our group to Ajloun Nature Reserve, stopping in a local family home for a farm-to-lunch of homegrown goodies. Eggy, cheesy potatoes, beans, olives, labneh and bread, so simple but so good before bedding down in wood cabins among the olive groves and almond trees. So far, so scenic and a lot greener than I expected from Jordan.
It was time to head on to the lowest point on earth next, at 398 metres below sea level. The Dead Sea is 31.5% salt compared to the Mediterranean’s 3.5%, and you can literally float vertically. It’s a bizarre experience, just chilling covered in mineral rich mud which is supposed to do wonders for your skin. I’m not 100% sure about that, but the bottle of bubbles in our hotel’s swim up bar afterwards did wonders for our mood.
On to the Dana Biosphere Reserve for a half-day hike with local guide Ali, clambering over red rocks and through twisting canyons before stopping for mint tea brewed over an open fire. The landscape is so diverse and unusual here, it feels otherworldly. We don’t meet any other walkers on our trek, the area is completely unspoiled and totally unpopulated, it’s bliss!
The one we had all been waiting for came next on the agenda, the city of mysteries that is Petra. If you get the chance, visit at night to catch your first glimpse by candlelight. It takes about twenty minutes to walk the candle-lined path through the canyon from town to reach the Treasury and it’s ridiculously romantic. The Petra by Night show is kind of cheesy, but it’s an experience you won’t forget.
The real deal came the following morning though, starting at Little Petra and hiking for hours around the ginormous site, first stopping at the Monastery then onto the ancient temples, tombs and theatres that make up the rest of the city before arriving back for the final climb for that infamous Insta-view. My tip? Hire a local guide to bring you to the top, they also know the very best photo spots and will help you get that coveted shot.
The trip was rounded off by heading into the Wadi Rum desert where we piled into the back of open top 4x4s for what felt like a trip to Mars. In fact, it’s a famous filming location for loads of outer space movies and it’s not hard to see why. After sunset, we arrived at the desert camp for a night under the stars with a slow-cooked Bedouin feast and marshmallows by the fire.
The details: The G Adventures eight day Jordan Multisport tour starts from €1,279 per person excluding flights and includes 7 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners, and all trekking and active excursions as well as 5 hotel nights, one night in a tented camp and one night in a cabin or bungalow
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