There is a land that makes you dream. A land where crusaders looked out over immense valleys in sturdy fortresses. A land where you can defy the laws of nature at the lowest point on the globe. A country where you can walk through an endless canyon and end up in a mythical, 2000 year old rock city of a forgotten people. A country where you can race through the vast desert in rickety jeeps. A land where the foundation stones of human civilization are there for the taking. That country is actually nearby, and it's called Jordan.
Jordan is a tiny kingdom in the Middle East, surrounded by Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Enough reasons for most people to wisely stay away from it, although there is actually no immediate reason to do so: Jordan is a peaceful, stable, safe, friendly and open country, which welcomes tourists with a broad smile. And above all: Jordan is breathtakingly beautiful.
The sights of Jordan are spectacular, but limited in number, so you can easily get around in a week. Ideal for a short, yet highly exotic vacation. You start inevitably in the capital Amman, which apart from the citadel and the Roman theatre has little of interest to offer. So move on, to Jerash for example, where you can wander for hours through an amazingly well-preserved Roman provincial town. A must for anyone who has ever studied Latin, because in Jerash you get a full-size comprehension of daily city life 18 centuries ago. Or take the desert road to Baghdad, an endless, dead straight two-lane road on which the only oncoming traffic is giant tankers full of Iraqi oil. Just when you think you have arrived at the end of the world, the desert castles loom up: small, but in their isolation quite impressive fortresses of the Umayyads, the first Muslim caliphs from the 7th and 8th centuries. They were serious and pious gentlemen, although the burned frescoes in the unsightly Qusayr Amra show that in their desert quarters they sometimes indulged in debauchery.
The liquid hell
On to the warm south, with two obligatory stops. First of all, you have to go to the Dead Sea, a hallucinatory place 420 meters below sea level, in summer an unbearably hot oven, a liquid hell where all life perishes and scorches. But what an attraction: floating in the salty water without sinking is a unique experience. Make sure there is a shower nearby, because the salt sticks to your whole body and makes it itch.
Second stop: the incredibly impressive Crusader fortress of Karak, a colossus on a dizzying hilltop that will send your adventure fantasy into overdrive. The immense castle was built by Baudouin I of Jerusalem in 1142, and you just have to see it to believe it.
The endless gorge
The highlight is yet to come: Petra, a grand, 2,000-year-old city carved into the rock by the Nabataeans. Its location alone is extremely dramatic: you can only reach the city through a rocky gorge 1.2 km long, 2 to 5 meters wide and walls 200 meters high. It's like a long prelude to a breath-taking highlight, because Petra exceeds your wildest expectations. More than 700 temples, tombs, facades and monuments carved out of the rock walls tower above you, an experience that can rival the most famous temples in Egypt. Make sure you have at least two days, because you can also do spectacular hikes in the mountains around Petra, which yields enchanting views and surprising discoveries.
Even further south is the desert of Wadi Rum, an extraordinarily romantic place where the epic scenes from Lawrence of Arabia were filmed. If you have a lot of time, you can travel by camel, but it's much more fun to charter a jeep in the village of Rum: they are rusty Toyota's or Land Rovers with open roofs, the drivers are fierce-looking but friendly Arabs with turban, long cloth and heavy foot who will take you as deep into the desert as you want (to pay).
Eaten enough dust? Then end your Jordan trip with some chilling and snorkelling in Aqaba on the Red Sea (just across the border is Eilat, the Israeli alternative).
Here's an overview of just a few ISIC benefits
you can score in Jordan:
Enjoy a trip through the eyes of a local: walk off-the-beaten paths, see hidden gems, taste authentic food, and hear insider stories that only locals know. Verify your ISIC card to get a promo code for a 10% discount on your experience.
homestay.com connects guests with live-in hosts who open their homes to travellers searching for something beyond the ordinary hotel. With hosts in over 160 countries, living the homestay way can change a trip into a voyage of discovery. Verify your ISIC/ITIC/IYTC card and get redirected to a page where the 50% discount on booking fees will be automatically applied on check-out.
Intrepid's vision is to change the way people see the world! They offer an immersive style of adventure travel which benefits both travellers and the people and places they visit, on small group tours with like-minded Intrepid people. Intrepid now provide the world’s widest range of adventure tours and every trip is designed to truly experience local culture - to meet local people, try local food, take local transport and stay in local accommodation.
From searching for sloths in Costa Rica, to relaxing in Iceland’s natural hot springs or sleeping under the stars in Wadi Rum, the world is waiting for you. And with an exclusive 10% discount off hundreds of amazing trips, there’s never been a better time to lock in your next adventure.