The terrains of Jordan

Travel tales

The terrains of Jordan
We landed in Amman on a sunny winter afternoon, after having heard a lot about its incredible history, culture and wonderfully hospitable people. Amidst the chaos of the Middle East, Jordan remains one of the safest and most progressive countries there and it’s easy to see why.

Having landed in Amman, we picked up our rental car and set off to Petra, determined to begin our Jordan adventure with its most popular destination and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A vast, antique city carved into the sheer rock face over 2,000 years ago, Petra has a magnificence that is overwhelming. We were lucky to witness ‘Petra By Night’, with candles lighting up the rose-red facade of Petra’s treasury, made famous by the ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Transformers’ series. Everything about Petra, from the walkway or the ‘Siq’ flanked by 80-metre-high cliffs to the rock formations and elaborate tombs carved out of rock, is awe-inspiring. We left Petra the next day still wondering about the engineering prowess of the ancient civilisations that made up the place.

Next was the endless orange-red desert of Wadi Rum, where we were greeted by our bedouin hosts, and treated to ‘zarb’, a traditional Bedouin meal of buried rice, meat and vegetables prepared in a submerged oven under the desert sands. It is said that ‘Wadi Rum’ is the closest to Mars on earth (even the famous Matt Damon movie ‘The Martian’ was filmed here). It’s also the place where the famed Great Arab Revolt had its defining moments with the attack on the Ottomans by Lawrence of Arabia and his allies. After a day spent indulging in desert safaris, we spent the evening camping under the stars.

The next day, it was downhill, literally, and to 473 metre below sea level to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.

The Dead Sea remains one of the many natural mysteries in the world. At 35 percent salinity, it has over eight times the salinity of a regular water body, which means nothing sinks! Curious about whether the soil at the Dead Sea, rich in minerals, really had medicinal properties, we rubbed the black soil all over our bodies as we jumped in to experience the unique floatation properties.

With glowing skins, we headed to Amman, Jordan’s capital city, enroute stopping by at Jerash, the best preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy. With columns and ancient coliseums and amphitheatres which once hosted gladiator fights and chariot races, Jerash provides an incredible insight into what life under Roman rule in the Middle East once was.

Back in Amman, we decided to check out the famous Rainbow Street, where locals come out in abundance to enjoy its many restaurants, cafes and rooftop bars. Jordanian food is an experience in itself. From grilled meats and barbecues to fresh vegetables, hummus, cheese and breads, there’s enough and more for every palate, vegetarians and meat eaters in equal measure. As we wrapped up our fantastic Jordanian adventure with one last meal with our friendly hosts, we realised why Jordan still remains an oasis in the desert. In fact, it was an equally beautiful experience exploring the place with my ‘Byond Travel’ group as well.

In addition to its vast history, cultural diversity and rich gastronomy, Jordan’s biggest secret still remains its people. Smiling, welcoming and amongst the best memories we took back as we left, vowing to come back for more!
 How to get there
We took an Etihad Airways flight from Bengaluru to Jordan. The round trip flight cost per person was Rs 37,000. One can also fly Emirates and Air Arabia. The cost varies from Rs 34,000 to Rs 45,000.

Places to stayLe Meridian — Amman — approximately Rs 7,500 to Rs 9,500 per night.
Petra Panorama — Petra — approximately Rs 6,000 to Rs 7,500 per night.
Suncity Camp — Wadi Rum — approximately Rs 8,500 to Rs 11,000 per night.
Holiday Inn — Dead Sea — approximately Rs 8,500 to Rs 9,500 per night.
 (The author can be contacted at vikram@byond.travel)

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