Jordan Travel Report Part I - Getting to Petra
We made this trip over a long weekend in May from Cyprus. Consequently we only had three nights to work with, but definitely squeezed in the most we could. Let me know if you have any questions.
So after arriving at 11ish in the morning, we very easily purchased our Visas at the airport, got our rental car and barreled down the curvy two lane King’s Highway from the Queen Alia Airport in Amman. Along the way to Petra, we stopped at Madaba, Wadi Mujib, and Karak Castle en route to Petra. A church in Madaba houses the oldest known map of the Middle East (2nd half of the 6th Century) and it is entirely mosaiced. Wadi Mujib is dubbed as Jordan’s Grand Canyon and has a depth of 1,200 meters and 4 km across in some parts. Unfortunately Wadi Mujib, did not share the reddish color of the Grand Canyon, but still very impressive. The last stop before rolling into Petra about 7PM was Karak Castle an extensive 860 year old Crusader fortress. And unlike the U.S., you could scramble up walls, peer over ledges, crawl down into collapsed rooms… If we would have just driven straight through, it probably would have taken us about 5 hours on the King’s Highway.
Again for those rushed tourists, although boring desert driving, the drive on the Desert Highway is a much faster non curvy route. There is nothing of interest to a tourist however, but it only takes about 3 hours from Petra to Amman. Although the small towns, country roads, and sights were interesting I would (only if you are under a time crunch) would say they could be skipped. The church that houses the mosaics is small, horded with tourists and the partially mosaiced floors although very historically significant were by no means a highlight of the trip. Additionally, if you have viewed castles in Europe, the Karak Castle is not going to blow you away. Lastly, Wadi Mujib really is quite impressive, but again if you’ve seen the Grand Canyon… I’ll probably get some heat for this, but I would recommend, if you have to sacrifice something, sacrifice the King’s Highway and do an overnighter in Wadi Rum.
Driving in Jordan was very easy and we found everything for the most part well marked. During the drive back, we were waved to the side of the road by the police. All they did was look at our passports and happily wish us a safe trip. So don’t be alarmed if that happens. The only part of the driving that was a bit nerve racking was Amman in the rain. We somehow managed to hit rush hour and it was a bit nuts.
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Petra which was very conveniently located to the front gates. I have no real complaints about the hotel, but don’t really expect anything too special besides the view. The rooms were adequate (thin walls) and clean, but were very typical and would probably fall into the 3 star category in the states. The views into the hills of Petra (can’t see any ruins or anything) were quite impressive. The pool was small but nice, but we didn’t really have any time for it. The hotel seems to attract the tour bus crowd. The restaurant for dinner looked like a typical hotel restaurant buffet kind of place, however breakfast was extensive and quite good. We had dinner one night at the Movenpick Hotel and the hotel really was impressive, so if you feel like splurging I would recommend it. We went for dinner one night at Taybet Zaman Hotel & Resort and it really was quite a distance from the entrance (curvy 25+ minutes). It too seems very popular with the tour bus crowd; I think we were the only one there for dinner outside of tour groups. It was a pretty good buffet dinner though. Personally, regardless of hotel/motel/pension choice, I would select a hotel within walking distance to the Petra entrance. It was nice not having to worry about transportation in the morning; especially if you want to get in before the crowds. We by the way aren’t by any means hotel snobs, but after perusing the webpage of Crowne Plaza and other reviews, we kind of had higher expectations.
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Jordan Travel Report Part I - Getting to Petra