What: Petra, Wadi Rum & The Dead Sea
When: September 2013
With: On the Go (Totally Jordan)
When I first decided to go to Jordan, I was ready for a nice relaxing trip, with some lazy sightseeing and pretty picture taking. With little research, and wanting to go check out an Indiana Jones hot spot, little did I know, there was adventure around every corner. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fabulous surprise, but I definitely didn’t expect what I had found.
It doesn’t really matter how well traveled you are, nor how many places you’ve been to; there will always be something that surprises you, or something you didn’t know- that is the beauty of traveling.
This particular trip was kind-of, sort-of, but not really- a work trip. I was just with some awesome people within my industry, and we were on a tour with On The Go tours. What a fun company- and their name is true to reality, it is “on the go”- in a good way of course! Going on a lot of tours (and although never being dissatisfied with one), these guys really know how to pack in a lot, in a short period of time. I really don’t know if I could have seen more in an 8-day time frame. Along with how much we saw, we had a great guide who really knew his stuff and was a lot of fun, and not only that, knew timing. Everywhere we went, it seemed like we were the only people there- and only half an hour later be surrounded. It is great to be able to take a photo, and not have 20 people in the background, even if only for a little bit.
The first couple of days were filled with incredible history that I had no idea even existed. Once finally getting to Petra, this is where the fun really started! Again, having little knowledge of the area, I did not realize (as most probably do not), that Petra is actually a historical/archaeological city, not just a single landmark. Soon I realized this would be a long day of exploring, and was it ever! Entering through the gates, you really don’t quite know what you will come across. Down a trailed path, then 2 km’s later through the Siq is the most wondrous sight (and also the most famous), the Treasury. Probably one of the most iconic sights of all of Jordan, this wonder has been featured in many movies- including Indiana Jones and more recently, Transformers. Let me just say, those movies do it no justice; it is far more amazing and awe inspiring than what any camera can capture. Even after looking at the photos I took, it is almost irritating to know they will never be as amazing as the sight itself.
The Treasury however is only the beginning. At every turn there are many marvelous and just mysterious sights. Climbing through the rocky structures, you can really appreciate what is around you. I am actually shocked at how underappreciated Petra really is in the world of travel. I strongly suggest to any true adventurer, this is added to a bucket list. NOW.
From there, you head up 800 steps. Being 40 or so degrees (Celsius) I opted for my first donkey ride- his name was Shakespeare. This path all the way up leads to a phenomenal piece of architecture- the monastery. The sheer size of it is crazy! And all of it was carved out of a mountain- A MOUNTAIN!!!! I can’t even carve a little stone, yet thousands of years ago people carved a whole building out of a rock face.
I can’t actually describe in one post how awesome this area is, I would have loved 3 or 4 days there exploring, trekking and learning more. Just keep this in mind, it is a lot of walking, a lot of hiking and it is hot- so if you are hoping to see as much as you can like we did, you will be doing 16+ km in 6-9 hours to do so. I would actually give this an equivalent rating of activity level as one of the easier days of the Everest Trek I did, minus the altitude, plus the heat.
On a side note, if one long day doesn’t put you off, be sure to visit the treasury from an incredible view from the top by trekking the Al Madras route. Although unmarked, and being moderately difficult if not being used to hiking- it seems like a hidden little secret that I think everyone should see. Please take a guide, otherwise you will not even know where to begin.
Surprising myself, although incredible, one of my highlights was not even Petra- it was the desert safari in Wadi Rum! SO. MUCH. FUN!!! Who knew those Bedouins were so nutty in their Jeeps! The 3 hour ride took us through some incredible sights, gave us some whip-lash through the sand dunes, let us climb up some cool structures barefoot, gave us a lesson in Lawrence of Arabia and all in all provided 3 hours of laughs. All this topped off with the most incredible sunset I had ever seen, and a sweet spread in the Bedouin camp. What an experience. I really don’t know what could have made the day better, which was capped off by a great dinner, some live Arabian music, a little bit of shisha and the brightest moon I’ve ever seen. It really is an experience I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
The Jordanian adventure wasn’t over just there. Onwards from there is the Dead Sea. Now although it is primarily a resort area, the Dead Sea is a very odd experience. To be able to step into the water, and forcibly not be able to touch the ground because all you are able to do is bob in the water, is crazy. You can just float, effortlessly, read a book, take a nap- whatever. One thing I didn’t think of before hand was how much it can sting though! Be sure to not have any cuts, or at least cover them up, because a 32% salt content (over 10 times more than a standard ocean/sea) will really pack a punch. After all that bobbing, I suggest a nice mud bath. With a little bit of slimy exfoliation, and another dip in the sea, your skin will be softer than a baby. If only this didn’t seem like the hottest place in the world, I could spend hours upon hours playing like a kid. Due to first world acclimatization, the nice air conditioned hotel seemed like a great option after that experience.
If there was only more time, I would have loved to see more, and take even more adventures. I suppose I shouldn’t complain, as this was pretty awesome! On the Go did a great job making sure we saw everything we could see, and do everything we could do. In the attempt to keep this under 1500 words, I can’t even list everything we did do. If I had not gone on this tour, I would have still never known how great Jordan is. For the true traveler and the true adventurer there are opportunities for exploration much more extreme than what I could describe, perhaps on round two I will take a different approach.
I guess to sum this up- this was a great trip! It was filled with awesome adventures, amazing people, delicious food and a one of a kind experience. I had a great time, and had it not been for the great group of people I was with and the perfectly arranged tour- I don’t even know if I would have seen half of what I did- Not to mention I checked off THREE items of my LIST. I’m a big advocate of tours, primarily because I understand that an average person does not have the time to just go out, take a few months off and see what they can do in that time. Tours like this give you the ability to maximize your time and see everything possible! And Jordan is one of those places that really needs a tour- So take one! Now! Go!