Saturday, March 3, 2018

Travel Talk Essential Jordan Tour, Part 5: Dead Sea and Kerak Castle

After our tour stops in Wadi Rum and Petra, we left Wadi Musa to stay in Amman again, with a couple of day trip/ stops in between. The Dead Sea and Kerak Castle trip actually took place on two different half days.

After our morning Petra run, we left Wadi Musa for Amman, stopping to see Kerak Castle in between. As with other castles here, Kerak sits on top of a hill with a nice view of the city.
Kerak castle
Kerak is a Crusader castle that was constructed in the 1140s (fairly young compared to all the other stuff we've seen!). In the 1180s the castle was captured by the muslim Sultan, Saladin. Then it was captured by rebels. Then by the Egyptians. It was also the site of a terrorist attack. Quite the tumultuous history, no?
Kerak castle

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Travel Talk Essential Jordan Tour, Part 4: Petra!

So far I've talked about my Travel Talk Essential Jordan tour in Amman, Jerash, and Wadi Rum desert. On day 4, we left Wadi Rum and made our way for what is (to me) the highlight of the trip: Petra! Petra is the ancient Nabatean city built into the sandstone rocks and cliffs.

So, all I knew about Petra before was The Treasury, which you and I have seen on many Instagrams and of course, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I didn't realize how big Petra really was! It is 264 sq km (102 sq miles). So what I'm basically saying is, be prepared for a hike or at least a long walk.

The main trail goes from the Visitor's Center to the start of the steps to the Monastery, and it is 4km long (2.5 miles) - that does not include the steps though.

From the visitor's center you will walk through The Siq. It's a 1km crack in the mountain so you are walking in a narrow corridor surrounded by tall sandstone cliffs. There are a few things to see in the Siq, a taste of what's to come. At the end is a view you might have seen on Instagram as well. The narrow corridor opening up to the impressive Treasury!
And there it is, in full view. I wonder how long it took the Nabateans to carve this into the cliffs.
Now, if you really want to see the monastery but don't think you can cut it hiking up the steps, they do offer donkey rides (I'm not sure how much, depends on how good you are at negotiating, but one of the people on our tour group got one for 10JD). She did say riding the donkey down the stairs was a bit scary! Anyway, I decided to be healthy and hiked it.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Travel Talk Essential Jordan Tour, Part 3: Wadi Rum Desert

So far I've told you guys about my tour through Amman and to Ajlun and Jerash. On the third day of the Travel Talk Tours' Essential Jordan Tour, we left our hotel in Amman and headed to Wadi Rum!

On this day we are joined by a second group who is doing the longer Egypt and Jordan tour. There was some change from the regular itinerary, since the political climate meant people were having more issues crossing the land border, so the group coming from Egypt was now coming by ferry and our guide / bus need to pick them up in Aqaba.

The change ended up good and bad for us, in my opinion. On the bad part, originally they were going to have us go to Aqaba too, but that was an extra few hours drive for our group for not doing much. Instead, we got dropped off at our Wadi Rum camp, Hillawi (Sand Rose) Camp.
Wadi Rum
The original itinerary says we were supposed to get lunch included in the camp that day, but with the changed schedule we arrived only after lunch. This was kind of a sticking point for us as well, as there was nothing going on that morning. We could've been picked up earlier and arrived in time for lunch. Oh well.

The rooms at the desert camp is pretty basic, but it has what you need. Wall outlets to charge your phones, en-suite bathroom with toilet and running water. There's no hot water in the private bathrooms, although supposedly there's hot water in the communal shower area. Since we were only there one night, I'm pretty sure everyone skipped the shower :P. Wadi Rum
Even though there's no hot water, there's pretty good wi-fi, especially in the dining area. I was there in December, so the nights can get pretty chilly. I had to use all the blankets and slept with socks and my sweater on, but it was manageable. Just a warning to pack appropriately.
Wadi Rum
 Anyway, while our guide and bus driver went to Aqaba, we settled in and was given the option to take a short camel ride through the desert. This was an extra 10 JD (about $15) and everyone in the group took it.
Wadi Rum

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