After finishing a 600-mile through-hike across the Pyrenees Mountains in 2017 for Kidney Research UK, Marketing Manager Emma swore that she would never go on a long-distance trek again.
That is, until the Jordan Trail popped up on her Instagram feed. The trail seemed to combine everything you could wish for from a hiking holiday: impressive landscapes, cultural experiences and UNESCO World Heritage sites all in one…
So, when she got the opportunity this year to test out a brand new Bucket List trip in Jordan – a trip that took in the highlights of the Jordan trail, plus much more, she jumped at the chance.
Day 1: Exploring Amman
We arrive in Amman in the mid-afternoon. When we check in at the hotel, we’re impressed – the rooms are big with a great view over the bustling main street of Amman. After a quick shower, we decide to head out to explore for the evening.
As soon as we step out of the hotel, we’re right in the middle of the action (although it’s so peaceful inside!) Hungry and eager to get our hands on some hummus, we head to Hashem Restaurant – a recommendation from the hotel, and a great one at that!
The place is buzzing with locals, and we’re greeted by a waiter saying all of the right things for two hungry vegetarians: “Hummus?” “Falafel?” “Baba ganoush?” Yes, yes and yes please!
We finish the first night of our Jordan adventure trip off with a visit to Palestine Mountains juice bar, just around the corner from our hotel. And… wow, the peach juice has to be the best juice either of us have ever tasted! This is the first visit of many over the coming week.
Day 2: The Ruins of Jerash
Upon the instruction of our driver, we wake up early today and head downstairs for breakfast at 7:30am. The breakfast is a tasty mix of Jordanian dishes including hummus, cheese, baba ganoush, potato mash, salad and bread, with tea, coffee and juice.
At 8 a.m., we meet our guide, Mahmood, and driver, Nasri, and begin the journey to Jerash. We explore the many Roman ruins, including the North Gate, hippodrome, artery, cardou, terminus, Artemis and Zeus temples, amphitheatres and more – all as impressive and better-preserved than any you’d see in Rome or Athens!
We learn about the rich history of the citadel over a couple of hours of walking around the expansive site. It quickly becomes clear that Mahmood is an incredibly knowledgeable guide – I’ve never learnt so much in two hours (don’t tell my old uni lecturers that, though!) Jerash is one of the best places to visit in Jordan if you want to discover ancient culture whilst getting off the beaten track.
When we’re finished, we begin the drive to Ajloun Castle. This is a much smaller site, where we enjoy panoramic views over the area and Amman beyond, before heading inside to explore the underground coves and rooms of the castle.
Now it’s time to head to a local guesthouse for lunch. We are served a feast of hummus, baba ganoush, tzatziki, a big onion rice dish and more, followed by fresh fruit from the garden.
Back in Amman, we walk to the amphitheatre and look around the free museums and stalls, before heading to the citadel to explore the many columns, mosques and churches, plus the famous Hercules temple. This is a lovely spot to sit among the ruins and watch the sun set over the city.
Once we’ve walked back to town, we have dinner at an upstairs restaurant and watch life go by on the streets below. We stop for another world’s-best-juice and return to the hotel.
Day 3: Trekking in Dana Biosphere Reserve
We wake up early and take a transfer to Dana Biosphere Reserve, leaving our bags to be transferred to Feynan. We begin our hike to Feynan at around 10a.m., and even from the start of the trek, the views are utterly breathtaking.
We hike down through the wadi – steeply at first, then undulating gently through the canyon valley. Along the way, we see lots of beautiful plants, such as the giant milkweed plant, which apparently bursts if you squeeze it!
Eventually, Feynan Ecolodge Hotel emerges from behind a canyon wall. The hotel is absolutely beautiful – the rooms feel like they are carved out of stone, with lovely balconies and everything locally-made, even the candles and soap!
After a shower, it’s time for our sunset hike to a viewpoint overlooking the desert, where we share some delicious Bedouin tea with Mahmood, Feynan Bedouin guide Suleiman and his friends, and take some sunset photos. Afterwards, we enjoy a super delicious vegetarian dinner in the hotel restaurant.
To round off an incredible day, we finish the night by going up to the rooftop to do some stargazing. It’s so magical, looking at the contours of the moon, Jupiter and Saturn through the telescope and learning about the constellations from guide Ali, with yet more Bedouin tea.
Day 4: Bedouin Experiences
Today is a full day of Bedouin experiences at Feynan Ecolodge. We enjoy a delicious breakfast and then relax for an hour before hiking around 15 minutes to reach a Bedouin family’s camp. Here we learn how to make a unique traditional bread, watching it being mixed and cooked in the middle of ash.
Next up is a cooking class with the head chef at the lodge. We learn how to make a salad, bread and falafels. It’s great fun learning how to grind the falafel ingredients, knead the bread and add all the unique seasonings. We relax for a little while and then eat our creations for lunch.
Next we drive to Shobak Castle. We explore the ruins and learn about the Frankish invasion and how they protected themselves with secret escape tunnels leading from the castle to the roads far below.
After taking in some panoramic views, we drive to Ammarin Bedouin Camp. The landscape the camp is set within is truly stunning, with huge canyon walls towering above the huts. We scramble around the rock formations and then have a brilliant dinner in the cosy shared tent.
After this, we have a Bedouin coffee-making experience around a fire under the stars with the landscape illuminated by lights and lanterns, before tasting the coffee for ourselves. You can read more about this later in The Bucketlister!
Day 5: Petra
We wake up extra early today and trek through the canyons to first reach Little Petra. Here we explore the ruins and learn about this small yet ancient trading post. It’s nice and quiet, so we can take our time and explore the site without the crowds.
On we hike through the Wadi, before ascending the hills towards the canyon of Petra. We climb up some ancient steps and stop for tea at a lovely viewpoint, then continue on through the “back door” of Petra.
We’re greeted with an amazing view of The Monastery, which stands like a carved mountain above the desert. From here, we begin walking down to the main area of the citadel, descending around 950 steps, which are carved into the landscape. We are glad to be going down as we see those who used the main entrance climbing up!
We explore countless tombs, chapels, and other structures as we walk through Petra, eventually reaching The Treasury. This is the most spectacular carving in Petra, with its incredibly well-preserved and intricate details.
After a little time taking photos of The Treasury, we walk through the Siq (narrow canyons) out of Petra to reach our hotel.
We have decided to visit Petra By Night for 17JOD each, so after dinner we venture out to walk back to Petra. The way is lit by candles, and the show features lots of local music and storytelling in front of The Treasury itself.
Today has encapsulated everything that Jordan travel is about – trekking through the canyons, visiting Petra and so much more in just one day!
Day 6: Wadi Rum Jeep Tour
The morning begins with a drive to Wadi Rum, one of the most famous Jordan tourist attractions. When we arrive, we have lunch at The Milky Way Camp and then enjoy a 4-hour jeep tour. It’s an awe-inspiring experience, driving through the sandy desert and stopping off to scramble over natural rock ‘bridges’, race down some sand dunes and climb through narrow canyons. There’s even a cafe where we stop for a tasty Bedouin tea.
Eventually, it’s time to head back to the camp. We relax for a while and watch the sunset over the desert from the cosy dinner tent, with the fire lit. Then it’s time for dinner – and it is fantastic! We eat together and spend the rest of the night chatting with Mahmood and Nasri.
Day 7: Free day!
Today we have a free day in Wadi Rum, as organised with our guides. Your Jordan itinerary will be a little different – you will head off early to enjoy an extended visit to the Red Sea. However, we enjoy a day of exploring the desert some more and doing some activities.
Day 8: Snorkelling in the Red Sea
Early in the morning, we head off to Aqaba and the Red Sea. We board a boat from the beach and sail around the shore, looking through the glass-bottom of the boat to see old shipwrecks, sunken planes and lots of fish. There are also views across to Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Then it’s time to snorkel! We reach a spot close to shore and jump off the boat with our snorkelling gear. The coral and fish are absolutely beautiful – so many vibrant colours and shapes, from brain coral to clownfish. After around an hour, we board the boat again and return to shore.
We join Nasri in the car and drive to Aqaba itself to reach our hotel for the night. Mahmood and Nasri show us around the city a little, and take us to a nice local restaurant in town. We all share lots of delicious Jordanian dishes and have a relaxing evening exploring the night markets.
Day 9: Floating in the Dead Sea
There’s a little more time to relax this morning, so we dip our feet in the pool and chill out for a few hours before meeting Mahmood and Nasri mid-morning.
Then we drive to the Dead Sea Spa Hotel, taking a stop off for some lovely views by sunset. We go through a border check and arrive at the hotel just in time to meet Raisa. After quickly getting changed, we join Mahmood and Raisa in the hotel restaurant for dinner. It’s nice to eat outside whilst taking in the performers in the background.
After dinner, it’s time to say our goodbyes to Mahmood and Raisa, before heading to bed.
Day 10: Return to the UK
We’ve got a few free hours this morning before going to the airport, so we get up early in order to have the full Dead Sea experience. Breakfast in the hotel is fabulous – there’s a made-to-order omelette bar, a DIY doughnut stand, fresh fruit, cooked breakfast, local dishes and every kind of baked good you can imagine!
After breakfast, we head down to the beach. We get into the (very!) salty waters and float, which is great fun and a very unique experience! We also try out the Dead Sea mud, allowing it to dry and cleanse our skin before getting back into the sea to wash it off.
There’s even time to swim in the pools and relax before going back to get ready for our flight!
In the afternoon, it’s time to drive to the airport. We arrive and say goodbye to Nasri, before checking in and returning to the UK – rather reluctantly!