Jordan...what to do and other questions

Oct 30th, 2003, 03:22 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 17
Jordan...what to do and other questions

Hi to all Fodorites!

I'm considering to take an extension tour to Jordan after spending some time in Barcelona and eight days in Egypt (Mid-march). Of course, Petra is a must, but need recommendations of what else to do. Any recommendation on a tour operator that have the option of overnight in Petra? Has anyone spend a night in Wadi Rum? How was your experience? Do hotels make this kind of tour arrangements? How about the weather in March?

Thanks in advance for any recommendations on this matter.
Gilawi is offline  
Oct 30th, 2003, 05:02 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,213
If you can overnight in Petra, allowing you to really spend an entire day inside the site itself, do so. We did that as part of a tour and realised that we could easily have spent a full second day there and still not seen all it's wonders.

I would strongly recommend Jerash - it's a town of well preserved Greek/ Roman ruins full of towering columns and walls - including a complete amphitheatre with amazing acoustics, temples, gathering places etc. And they reckon that what is visible is only 30% of what's still buried in the hills alongside.

Wadi Rum is a beautiful desert, though we didn't spend a night there. Just a few hours. The red sands reminded me greatly of the Namibian desert, which I love so much.

There are also numerous ancient ruins dotted around which are interesting, some with beautiful ancient painted walls and ceilings. A number have had to be partially rebuilt following earthquakes, but this has been done very well.

I went on a tour with Titan, not my usual choice but we were meant to be travelling with my parents, who cancelled, and we went without them.

I found it frustrating being on a tour, especially as the Titan tour manager was one of the worst I've ever come across (I grew up doing these kinds of trips year after year) but the local Jordanian guide, Moawia, who was with us for the duration, was excellent.

I'd not recommend the beach resort - didn't like Aqaba at all.

We did find it interesting to do the dead sea thing for a couple of hours, floating in the water and covering ourselves with that wonderful mud scooped from the sea bed, though a couple of hourse was plenty, I wouldn't recommend an overnight stay.

Kavey is offline  
Oct 30th, 2003, 02:40 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 11
Ditto Kavey on Jerash. It's beautiful.
I stayed a night in a tent in the Wadi Rum (there's a govt run campsite there). It was fun but REALLY cold. We did a silly thing and put all our blankets on top instead of some more underneath. It was January, by the way....don't know what bearing that has. I would recommend staying though, because we took a jeep tour of the desert which went into the evening. A bedouin took us around for a few hours....we saw an amazing sunset and had dinner in a tent (for tourists yes, but it was only us). We booked it when we got there (with some haggling of course).
kespeer is offline  
Nov 10th, 2003, 07:14 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 31
Hi Gilawi

Jordan? Singularly the best seven day trip I've made anywhere.

I would put my faith in Petra Tours
([email protected]) who gave us excellent service before, during and after our trip and let them sort out the whole thing for you.

You cannot overnight "in" Petra: you stay in/about Wadi Moussa where there are any number of hotels from the sublime to the ridiculous. At one stage, we had a 200+ room 5* operation to ourselves, such was the tourism situation. I would recommend staying a little further away (Petra Tours will tell you "it's too far" but fight them! - 20 minutes is "too far"?!) in Taybet Zaman - an entire abandoned village which has been turned into a "hotel". Simply amazing.

Amman itself is a very interesting city worth exploring - both with and without your guide. Jerash has to be seen to be believed: Ajlun and Um Qais ditto. Mabada/Mount Nero/Kerak with the various religious centres and Crusader castles are stupendous. The desert castle "loop", if you have the time, is excellent.

My wife loved the Dead Sea, both for floating and the mud packs - the effect was hardly noticeable! If you're there you must do it simply because it's there. The Movenpick hotel is adequate.

Wadi Rhum is a tad comercialized. We planned to stay the night but the condition of the tents, in an area behind the guest house and in close proximity to the loos, put us off completely. You seem to have to stay in that area and it is difficult to arrange to spend the night out in the desert - that said, there was some suggestion by our driver that he could arrange it but that was so long as we didn't mind going without the most basic of creature comforts. From the same guesthouse you can arrange day trips of varying durations out into the desert: allow as much time as you can possibly afford for this as it has to be seen to be believed. Climb - and slide down - a sand dune.

You need two full days in Petra. Walk (don't take the "air conditioned transport" i.e. donkeys!) to the Monastery. If you can get in there early - and there's no reason why not - head down past the Treasury, turn right and walk to the head of the valley then scale a cliff to the right: this will give you views down the main part of the valley which you'll slowly see come alive.

In fact, the whole country is breathtaking. People are great. Food, provided you like that style of eating, is wondeful - though you can go "western" at any number of international hotels dotted about the country. If you must. However much film you thought of taking, double it.

We felt totally safe the whole time we were there. We found nothing but warmth from the people: from buying dates in a back-street hole-in-the-wall shop to the Grand Hyatt in Amman. They are justifiably proud of their country.

We live in Hong Kong: ours was the only application for tourist visas for ages. The local "consul" was fascinated as to why we wanted to go. The travel industry is hurting badly for all the obvious reasons. That's really sad. But it does enable you to see some of the most spectaular sites/sights you'll ever see without too many other people about.

If you do go, I'd love to hear your feedback.
Ryetee is offline  
Nov 10th, 2003, 07:26 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,213
Ah yes I'd forgotten our trip to the summit of Mount Nebo, from where, if you're a believer, Moses looked down onto the promised land.
I'm definitely not religious and yet found the church on the top, which enclosed within it the ruins of an older church and some stunning mosaics, very very touching. Partly it made me think of a young friend who was killed in a car accident a couple of years back - her faith was very strong and she would have loved to visit the site. I lit a candle for her and was deeply moved. Partly because the mosaics were so well preserved - I was particularly taken with the mosaic of a giraffe - in the shape of a camel - the guide explained that the artist had probably heard of the giraffe from travellers but had never seen one and depicted it as he imagined it to be - like a spotty camel with elongated neck!

Our guide also had good things to say about Taybet Zaman though our tour did not stay there.
Kavey is offline  
Nov 10th, 2003, 01:59 PM
Posts: n/a
The closest hotel to Petra is a Movenpick right outside the main gates. Movenpick is a very wellknown European chain, though for this particular one someone mentioned to avoid the lower lever as it seemed too humid - whether this was in fact the case, I don't know, but just a "head-up" - otherwise a good hotel.

If you want to splurge for something extra, and different, I second the Taybet Zaman.

And yes, one should do two days so you can take advantage of staying late for sunset and arrive early for sunrise.

I avoided the donkey ride to the beginning of the Siq, the walk was easy as was the walk thru the Siq till you reach "the red rose city". While walking thru the Siq, don't forget to look up at the rock formations and the amazing colors.

Since we spent only two days total in Jordan as a pre-trip offered from Royal Jordanian Air (on way to Egypt), in addition to Petra we visited Jerash, a must, and went all over Amman. Warm, generous people, great food. The charm of the Old city of Amman (originally called Philadelphia) is greatly contrasted with the New city in the hills (the entire city is on 7-hills, not unlike Rome) which has modern shopping malls, hotels and everything one finds at home - including Starbuck's - ugh! ugh!

You might want to check with Royal Jordania Air's tour operation for a program - we had a special for our two days, but they have comparable longer tours at any choice of hotel you wish, at any budget.

All the sites listed in the previous posts not included in our short stay, are a must and you will find this a perfect pre- or post-trip to Egypt.

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