The Good and Bad Sides of a Trip to JordanBy
I recently spent 10 days on a fly-drive holiday visiting various parts of Jordan with my family. The idea was to explore some of Jordan’s ancient wonders as well as find a bit of time to relax. Jordan has plenty to offer the visitor but obviously, we didn’t manage to see everything on offer. Our itinerary included visits to Madaba, Karak Castle, Petra, Aqaba, Ma’in Hot Springs and the Dead Sea.
As with any holiday there were both good and bad points. This was our first trip to Jordan so everything was new to us. We flew to Amman on Easyjet from London Gatwick and picked up our hire car at the airport.
Petra: Undoubtedly Jordan’s most famous attraction is the Lost City of Petra. We were obviously aware of the hype around this UNESCO World Heritage Site and despite the high cost of the entrance ticket, Petra did not disappoint. It is a wonderful place to visit and an absolute must for any trip to Jordan.
Ma’In Hot Springs: The Evason Ma’In Hot Springs resort is a wonderful place to visit. The design of the hotel and it’s rooms is fantastic as is the setting in a gorge some 280m below sea level. Bathing in the warm pools fed by the waterfalls from the hot springs is almost magical. On top of this, there is also a full range of spa treatments available if you really want to spoil yourself. Breakfast on the terrace with the backdrop of the main waterfall is one of the most picturesque settings I have ever had my morning cup of tea.
Dead Sea: This is the lowest point on earth and the waters of the Dead Sea are renowned for their health giving properties. Floating here is an experience to be enjoyed and coating yourself in the black mud is something that simply has to be done.
Close Proximity of Sites: One superb aspect of visiting places in Jordan, especially close to Amman is that so many places are close together. Madaba, Mount Nebo, the Dead Sea, Jerash, Bethany on the Jordan (Baptism Site) and Ma’In Hot Springs are all within an hours drive of the capital. In fact, driving all the way down to Aqaba on the coast from Amman can be done in less than 4 hours at a leisurely pace.
Excellent Value Hotels: In general, the value for money at all our accommodation was excellent. In Madaba, we stayed in a central 3* hotel. We had a 3rd bed in our room, breakfast was included and we had free wifi for just £45.
Driving: I have driven in several countries around the world in a variety of cars and Jordan is one of the least enjoyable places. Our hire car was a Hyundai Elantra which is comfortably among the worst 3 cars I have ever driven and I include my old 1983 Austin Maestro in that statement. The standard of driving is appalling, one can only wonder at what is included in the Jordanian driving test and the lack of road signs or useful landmarks on seemly main routes was incredibly frustrating.
Beaches in Aqaba: We stayed in a low cost hotel close to the Marine Park to the south of Aqaba. There are a number of public beaches which were pretty poor. They were generally dirty with cigarette stubs, disgarded food and broken glass. There was little soft sand and prevailing wind sweeping off the desert was too much to put up with. My wife and daughter also suffered far too much unwanted attention from the local men which at times was harassment.
Being Ripped Off: This probably goes with the territory of being a tourist but several times, prices quoted when trying to buy basics like fruit, water and even petrol were quite simply ridiculous. One store owner in Karak wanted 7JD (6.20GBP) for a couple of small bags of fruit. We walked out of shops on more than one occasion as the prices being asked were so outrageous, it wasn’t even worth haggling.
In summary, Jordan is definitely worth visiting although unlike Egypt, I’m not sure it is a place I would return to numerous times. That said, short breaks to the Dead Sea or Ma’In Hot Springs are very much in my thoughts for future trips.