Help with Jordan Itinerary, Please

Old May 10th, 2021, 05:52 AM
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Help with Jordan Itinerary, Please

Greetings Fodorites,

My husband and I are beginning to plan a visit to Israel and Jordan in March, 2022 (not sure which part of March yet; we're trying to avoid the Jewish holidays as much as possible). We'll be accompanied by our two adult daughters and our son-in-law, so five of us. All of us are experienced travelers and although we've never been to these two countries, this won't be our first trip to the Middle East. We're pretty fiercely independent travelers, but especially as we age (we're in our 70's), we appreciate some creature comforts such as being met at the airport and having drivers throughout the country.

So from a 30,000 ft. perspective, this is my thought at this early point and I'd really appreciate your suggestions; Fodorites have never let me down! My husband is in charge of the Israel planning and I'm concentrating on Jordan. We'll go to Israel first and end up in Jordan, and I'm thinking that the entire trip will last from two to three weeks. One advantage of being retired (the two of us, at least) is that we don't have to rush back for meetings or for lack of vacation time!

Since we'll be traveling by land, I've been reading about the border crossings and am slowly wrapping my brain around them. My current thought is that we'd travel from Jerusalem to the Wadi Araba crossing. Should we take public transportation or hire a driver? Is it still true that we can obtain a visa at the crossing? This would crease a south-to-north itinerary in Jordan - any issues with that?

This is what I envision at this point...

Two nights in Aqaba. After a busy week or more in Israel, I think a leisurely couple of days in Aqaba would be a good respite. Would the weather in March be warm enough to swim?

Two nights at Wadi Rum which would allow one day to tour the desert. I've been looking at the "glamping" options. We want a real bed as opposed to rugs on the desert floor (been there - wonderful but we were younger) and hot water. Any suggestions for a nice tent option?

Two to three nights at Petra (Wadi Musa). It looks like there are a good variety of hotel options, but if anyone has stayed anywhere you'd like to recommend, we'd love to hear about it. Should we plan to see Little Petra? I've read it might be worth visiting before seeing the "real" Petra.

Drive up to Amman on the King's Highway, stopping along the way. What particular stops would you recommend? It will be a long day, but that's okay.

I haven't done much research yet on Amman, but I'm thinking two nights there. I've read conflicting reports about the value of visiting Madaba, but I think it could easily be a half-day visit from Amman. We have a contact in Amman who is well-connected and she's offered to provide advice and reservations, etc., so I think we'll be well taken care of there.

This is where it gets a little tricky. I'd love to fly home out of Amman rather than returning to Tel Aviv, but we have status on Delta which would mean leaving from Tel Aviv. It looks like the Allenby crossing is the best option and might be relatively easy (or at least easier than taking it from the other direction)? The alternative, I guess, would be to buy two one-way tickets; Delta to Tel Aviv and another airline from Amman to the US. That might be a lot more expensive and I'm not even sure it's possible or that it wouldn't cause problems or red tape. We'll probably fly in and out of Washington, DC.

Are taxis the way to travel relatively short distance such as on the drive from the Wadi Araba crossing to Aqaba, from Amman to the Allenby crossing, etc.? Or should we hire drivers? With five of us, we'd probably need two taxis, but that wouldn't necessarily be a problem.

Should (can) we wait to arrange a tour of Wadi Rum until we arrive? It seems like there are a lot of options once we get there. I think we'd probably visit Petra on our own, but would a guide be valuable?

What am I missing? Am I allowing too little time anywhere? Do you have suggestions for in-country tour/driver companies? Sorry for the number of questions, but we'd love your thoughts and advice. I've done a fair amount of research and have read trip reports, all of which have been very helpful, but there's a lot more to do.

Thanks in advance,
Ellen

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Old May 10th, 2021, 08:59 AM
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I visited Jordan back in 2009, but I doubt the sites have changed much. I wasn't impressed with Aqaba, and I think two nights for Wadi Rum is overdoing it. On the other hand, you absolutely need three nights for Petra, if not more, and don't skip the night tour. I also think that the mosaics in Madaba are well worth seeing - don't settle just for the famous map. Amman is definitely underwhelming, but Jerash, to the north, is worth the drive. I spent a couple of night in Istanbul on the way home, you might consider that if it helps with the flights.

For my trip start here: My mixed-bag month in the Middle East or here: https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...ics-in-madaba/

For why you need plenty of time for Petra see: https://kwilhelm.smugmug.com/Travel/...st-2009/Petra/

Forgot to ask, are you doing the Dead Sea in Israel?
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Old May 11th, 2021, 05:20 AM
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thursdaysd,

I agree, probably not much has changed since you were there. Thanks so much for your thoughts. Jerash hadn't been on my radar and it looks interesting, so I'll take a deeper dive. I'm thinking it could be a day trip from Amman.

I've read your posts and had previously seen your beautiful photos of Petra - all very helpful. We don't want to shortchange our time there, so adding another night might indeed be the thing to do.

Regarding Madaba, I'm also a lover of mosaics and I'm looking forward to it. Speaking of mosaics, I also came across your post on Monreale which we'll visit in November (along with the rest of Sicily for the first time), and I can't wait to see it.

When you say "do" the Dead Sea, are you referring to taking a dip as you did or is there more to it? I don't think that's been on my husband's radar, so I'll mention it. Is it better (easier) to do it from Israel than Jordan?

Thanks again for your quick response; you've given me lots to think about.

Ellen
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Old May 11th, 2021, 06:59 AM
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I am so jealous that you are going to Sicily! Loved my time there.

Jerash is definitely doable as a day trip. I don't think there is more to the Dead Sea than the dip, unless you book in at one of the hotels and take advantage of their facilities. I didn't visit Israel, so don't know what the situation is like on that side, but imagine it is similar.
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Old May 11th, 2021, 02:01 PM
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We combined Jordan with Egypt in I think it was 2011.

Would definitely recommend staying in a hotel right by Petra. Here is a recent blog that shows some of the choices. https://wanderingwheatleys.com/best-...where-to-stay/ We stayed in what is now the Movenpick Hotel. We did night tour. And then the second day also a horseback ride along the top of the canyon. Our driver to and from Petra we just booked through our Amman hotel by email in advance of arriving in the country. Definitely worth to see it from different perspectives.

For your return flight did you check Saudia airlines. On Delta website they are partner airline. On Kayak they have one stop to/from Amman/Dulles through Riyadh. But do check reviews of that airline on line. I have no personal experience. And do check on line advice about your passport as you would have been to Israel too.
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Old May 12th, 2021, 05:09 AM
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We also stayed at the Movenpick Hotel. You can walk right across the street to visit Petra.
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Old May 13th, 2021, 02:49 AM
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laurie ann, I loved reading the Petra hotel post and have bookmarked it. I can see the advantage of staying so close to the entrance to get a jump on the crowds. I'll also take a look at Saudia. I've seen them in various searches I've done the past several years; they may be an option. I guess it wouldn't be the end of the world to go back to Tel Aviv either, but it would be nice to avoid having to cross the border again and would save a day of travel.
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Old May 13th, 2021, 03:37 AM
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Has been nearly 30 years since I visited Jordan - so no advice to give other than:

1 - the very best hummus I have ever eaten (and I love eating hummus) was in Amman - and that was after months of travelling in hummus eating countries.

2 - Jerash (as thursdaysd recommended above) is very much worth visiting - not far from Amman.

I hitchhiked down the King's Highway from Madaba to Petra via Wadi Rum over about a week - great experience - Jordanians being incredibly hospitable - not likely something to be done these days.

Petra tourism today astonishes me - so very different - Movenpick and Marriott hotels - yikes! - but whatever, Petra is without doubt one of the world's great destinations - I am envious - and would love to return.

Enjoy your trip - Jordan is a very beautiful country with much to see.

Last edited by Greenhorn; May 13th, 2021 at 04:22 AM.
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Old May 14th, 2021, 02:56 AM
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I just received the Rough Guide on Jordan yesterday and am enjoying starting to read it. Greenhorn, we love hummus and I've read that Jordan has some of the best. I've read that March is one of the best months to travel to Jordan, but it will be interesting to see if there are a lot of tourists there in 2022. I suspect that Petra will either be crowded with people like us who are anxious to travel after being pent up for so long, or we might have it to ourselves.
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Old May 17th, 2021, 09:01 AM
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I've been to Jordan twice, most recently in 2017. Beautiful country with very friendly people and its very easy to do your touring independently as you suggested. Driving yourself will be no problem even though the roads are always great.

Aqaba is perfect for a relax after your busy time in Israel. The town itself is not that great to be honest and there's not much there but if you just want to chill and relax at a nice resort check out the Movenpick Tala Bay. It is about 10mins out of town right on the Red Sea and is quite luxurious. The Red Sea will still be chilly in March (depends where you are coming from I guess and what you consider chilly) but they have some of the biggest pools in the resort you will ever see.

1 night and 1 full day is probably enough for Wadi Rum. Theres no real hotels as such as all of the accommodation and tours is run by the local bedouins. You can find a proper bed a warm shower no problems but most will still be "rustic" other than a couple of glamping options. But don't be discouraged, these locals are awesome, you will get a traditional dinner done in an under ground oven and the tour of the desert is pretty much included in all of them as part of the package. Don't miss Wadi Rum - its awesome!

In Petra, the Movenpick is right outside the park entrance and is the perfect option but you will need to book early. I agree with what everyone else has said about Petra - I got chills at my first sight of the Treasury! Allow yourself at least 2 days because there will be lots of walking. I personally thought the "Petra at Night" was gimmicky and touristy but each to their own.

I really think it is worth doing at least 1 night at the Dead Sea resorts, take a day out of Amman to do it in my opinion. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Dead Sea but there are several options in close proximity. It is quite a surreal feeling to 'swim' in the Dead Sea and most of the resorts also provide access to Dead Sea mud that makes your skin feel fantastic. Just don't put your head underwater or splash the water in your eyes.

Enjoy, it will be a memorable trip.
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Old May 18th, 2021, 07:19 AM
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I hired a car and driver and guide for a half day tour of Casa in Oct 2019 and was surprised at how much I liked the city. Visited the Hassan II Mosque which was stupendous. Also visited the Notre-Dame de Lourdes Church with its beautiful stained glass windows, and a driving tour of Art Nouveau building exteriors. Walked through the Medina which can be missed - nothing like Fez or Marrakesh. Finished with a driving tour of the Corniche, a perfect place for a lunch stop.
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Old May 19th, 2021, 01:43 PM
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Murph77, I responded to your post yesterday - or thought I did. I must not have hit the Post button. Still not sure about the Dead Sea. Honestly, floating in it doesn't necessarily appeal to me; I'll have to discuss it with my family. If they want to do it, we can arrange it. I do think a night or so in Aqaba sounds heavenly!

Other thoughts:

The more I read about Amman, the more I think that Madaba might be the best option in the area. It sounds like Amman is difficult to get around, few traffic regulations, etc. and that there aren't too many interesting sights. And driving from Madaba to Jerash is doable.

For some reason - don't hesitate to talk me off this one - I think going back across the border to Tel Aviv from Jordan and flying back home from there sounds like a pain. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we have status on Delta and I want to use it if possible. I'm starting to think that we could do an open jaw, US - TLV and back from possibly London. Royal Jordanian has affordable non-stop flights from Amman to LHR. We could capitalize on that for a couple of bonus nights in London. And Madaba is close to Queen Alia airport.

Lots to figure out, but planning is half the fun!

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