Travel Report Jordan (Oct 2019)

Music in our Travel Report Jordan video by First Coffee from FRAMETRAXX Gemafreie Musik

Is a trip to Jordan worth it? What could an 8 day photo tour look like?

Our travel report Jordan summarizes the highlights of our photo trip and gives you valuable tips for the preparation. Here are our highlights in short form:

1.Day: Munich > Vienna > Amman > Dead Sea (Marriott Dead Sea)

2.Day: Dead Sea > Wadi Musa = Petra (Marriott Petra)

3.Day: Petra

4.Day: Petra > Wadi Rum (UFO Luxotel)

5.Day: Wadi Rum

6.Day: Wadi Rum > Dead Sea (Marriott Dead Sea)

7.Day: Dead Sea

8.Day: Dead Sea > Madaba > Amman > Vienna > Munich

Where is Jordan?

What to think of when travelling to Jordan

Local currency: JOD (Dinar). You can use your credit card anywhere in the country for payments or cash withdrawals. Cash is more likely to be used for tips.

Vaccinations: Coming from Germany no vaccinations are required. However, the standard vaccinations are recommended, see suggestions from the Federal Foreign Office.

Luggage: Only the baggage restrictions of the airlines must be observed. Everything else is unproblematic, except for the fact that the luggage is still checked frequently in the country, e.g. in every hotel and partly at the check points.

Important documents beside the passport

Visa: As a German citizen you need a visa (!) This costs about 40 JOD (about 55,- Euro) per person. By the acquisition of the Jordan Pass – which we would recommend to everyone – this fee does not apply. You can get the Jordan Pass here: Jordan Pass

Driving licence: It is advisable to have an international driving licence if you want to drive a rental car or a car in general. The EU driving licence is accepted without any problems when renting, but the staff at the checkpoints (usually police officers) do not speak good English.

Clothing: Take light and airy clothes with you and don’t forget the bathing shoes for the Dead Sea, because it is very stony there, or because of the salt thre can be sharp edges (!) In the desert it can get cold, so also think of a sweater/jacket. Further you should consider that it is a muslim state, so make yourself familiar with the clothing order for men/women.

Is an 8 days visit to Jordan worthwhile at all?

YES! Jordan can be travelled very well in a week and you can definitely see the highlights of the country. If you have more time, you can spend 2 weeks or more here without getting bored. The best time to travel is spring (March/April), when everything is green, and the uplift (September/October), when it still has pleasant temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees. Especially Petra is not to be visited in midsummer.

Due to Jordan’s geographical location, trapped between Israel, Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Egypt, Jordan is often considered unsafe. However, this is wrong as far as possible if one keeps away from the borders of the crisis regions. The Dead Sea, Wadi Rum and Petra in particular can be regarded as very safe. We did not feel insecure for a second and the Jordanians are also a very helpful and friendly people.

Jordan should start cleaning up

A big problem in Jordan is rather the garbage, which is lying around the airport and the capital of Amman in the landscape by the ton and which one has to get used to as a European. Furthermore, the roads in the country are in very different condition.

The road from Aqaba to the Dead Sea is good, whereas the main highway from Amman to Aqaba should be overhauled urgently.

But these are all points that are more likely to be perceived on the edge, as in many parts you are simply fascinated by the beauty of the landscape.

Can I take a rental car on my own? Is it safe?

Absolutely. Taking a rental car and exploring Jordan on your own gives you the maximum flexibility. The alternative is to take a “taxi driver” for a round trip. We feel that the freedom of your own rental car is important. There is right-hand traffic, as in Germany and petrol is about 30% cheaper. We recommend an SUV for comfort and due to the road conditions.

All major rental companies are present at the airport

Rental is easy and all major car rental companies are present at the airport and directly in the arrival terminal. We recommend a full cover insurance, so that you really don’t have to worry about anything, as the cars are not necessarily in the best condition, even with relatively new cars (ours had just 16tKM down and was practically scratched on all sides). Also with the cleanliness of the cars one does not take it so exactly.

Do I need GPS in Jordan?

Yes, definitely! The signposting is partly very bad and the signposting often only in Arabic. However, we recommend to do without the rental car GPS and instead buy a data SIM card. Orange offers 35GB for one month for less than 20,- Euro.

We have put these in our iPad and thus the perfect GPS. Attention, maybe this was just our inability, but we couldn’t use the Ipad as a hotspot as planned. There was always the hint to contact the provider. The hotspot circuit could be “blocked”.

Every better Hotel has WiFi

Since there was WLAN in every hotel, we didn’t consider it a problem. A tip: the cars often don’t have a USB port. If you have a “cigarette lighter” plug with USB, you should take it with you.

The Orange Shop – just like the other mobile phone providers – is located directly in the arrivals hall and the employees are very friendly. Our card was directly activated and inserted into the Ipad so that we could be sure that it would work.

Detailed Travel Report Jordan

1.Day: Departure from Munich via Vienna to Amman. This is the only flight from Germany that arrives during the day. But it also starts at 07:20 am in Munich. The route is flown by the AUA as LH Codeshare and since it is a popular route, the prices are not cheap and the planes are almost always full.

Entry to Jordan is easy. If you bought the Jordan Pass, you simply go to passport control. The airport is small and directly behind the passport control are the suitcase belts. At the “nothing to declare” exit the luggage is scanned again and then you are actually in Jordan and have to reset your clock (+1h vs German time).

Local time difference in Jordan is plus one hour vs Germany

The Telecom Operators Orange and ZainJo await you directly at the exit. All car rental counters are then 50m further in the terminal.

We head towards the Dead Sea. For 70km Google calculates 1.15h driving time. It goes via country roads and the way of driving of the Jordanians one needs getting used to or let’s say one is not always sure whether left or right traffic prevails.

Jordan, a sad leader in the garbage sector

The worst thing is that the Jordanians simply throw their garbage into the countryside, at least around Amman airport.

Even in the poorest African countries, we have visited so far, there was not so much rubbish. Over 50km plastic bags, bottles, packaging and much more were simply lying on the roadside and were distributed by the wind. Olive tree groves, fields, everything full of garbage. Jordan is for us the leader of all visited countries in terms of garbage pollution.

Only about 20km before the Dead Sea this changes then. It becomes more mountainous and more touristy and here the garbage seems to be disposed. All in all it’s a shame, especially as throwing garbage away in Jordan is a very punishable offence, which doesn’t seem to interest anyone.

Arrival Dead Sea Marriott Resort

The hotel is great. An insanely large garden with several pools and direct access to the Dead Sea.

For dinner there is Jordanian Cabernet Saubignon on the menu and we are thrilled. A really good wine. We didn’t even know before that Jordan produces wine.

From the balcony we can see the Dead Sea in the moonlight and opposite the lights of Israel and Jerusalem.

Driving from the Dead Sea to Wadi Musa (Petra)

2.Day: We head towards Petra, Wadi Musa to be exact. Google gives 3h driving time for 198km, which will not be enough. The first hour is along the east side of the Dead Sea to the south and you have some really great views of a rather stony, barren and rugged coastline.

Our way has extremely steep passages and you get through a few places. It is worthwhile to drink a coffee in one of the places, as the locals do. This is “cooked” directly on the open in a pot and has e.g. cardamom taste.

After 2h drive we have only made 100km (!) and Google now shows another 1.5h for 75km. On the way we pass the Dana Nature Reserve. Definitely drive out at Dana Point! The view into the valley is breathtaking.

Dana Nature Reserve - the Grand Canyon of Jordan

Temperature difference is also considerable. The “bottom” of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, was 32 degrees, now it’s 21 degrees. About 2 hours later we arrive in Wadi Musa and drive uphill to the hotel. Here you can take nice pictures with the “#Petra sign” at a view point.

Google's travel times are clearly too short

After a little more than 4.5 hours we arrive at the hotel. If you subtract the breaks, it was about 4 hours driving time, which was due to the road conditions, the traffic in the villages, as well as the fact that you should not even try to drive here without navigation assistance (!) We enjoy the view.

In the hotel we order the tickets for “Petra by Night” at the reception. “Petra by Night” takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and costs 17JOD per person. These are not covered by the Jordan Pass.

Tickets are also available at the entrance of Petra. We bought ours at the hotel, which was easier and just as expensive.

Petra by Night - An experience despite bad Tripadvisor reviews

On TripAdvisor you can find devastating reviews for this event! We did it anyway and would do it again immediately. However, we have followed the advice of an earlier TripAdvisor revision:

  1. Be there soon enough. Officially, admission is from 20:30. But you will be admitted between 19:45 and 20 o’clock. Parking is free in front of the entrance.

  2. Stand as far in front as possible in the queue, so that you can walk the 2km footpath without crowds of people in front of you.

  3. Moreover, you should walk as fast as you can. We managed the distance in barely 20min.

  4. The way is very badly illuminated and partly very bad, just at the beginning. Good footwear helps, as does a headlamp and / or flashlight, although you can be warned that this is not allowed.

  5. When you arrive at the treasure house, run into it on the left. There are tables and benches of a small restaurant and you can sit great. If you are asked if you want to order something, the tea with mint costs 2JOD and is delicious. But you have a top place and later you get tea for free.

This way, one arrives about 30 minutes ahead of the crowds and can enjoy the whole spectacle in peace. It is a magical atmosphere and really great.

When the whole rest of the travel groups arrive later, the atmosphere is unfortunately gone and around 9 pm at the latest one should make oneself therefore again before the masses on the way back, then one can still make some great pictures on the route.

Altogether we found the experience with these tips great and were really fascinated by the candlelighting of thousands of candles which are lit by hand.
At the end of the day we drank a Jordanian beer, which is brewed with a note of grapefruit. Also very tasty.

If you want to enjoy Petra, you have to get up very early!

3.Day: The night was felt much too short but with 10am, we are much too late for Petra. We notice this in the parking situation. After driving around several times a local stops us and tells us that there is a free parking place much closer to the entrance. We are just supposed to follow.

With European mistrust we decide to take the risk and the courage is rewarded. A parking place almost directly at the entrance. The stranger asks us where we come from and wishes us a nice day.

At the entrance there are already crowds of people. Nevertheless it goes fast with the tickets. We show the Jordan Pass in the Ticket Office and get our day tickets for free (even if you have the Jordan Pass for several days, you only get the pass for one day and one ticket!).

What we will remember forever is the strong smell of donkey and horse manure that practically accompanies us throughout Petra. Horses and donkeys are, besides camels, the main means of  transport, especially for overweight and lazy tourists.

On the way to the treasure house, which we had walked in almost total darkness the night before, we ask ourselves how we managed this without falling down and breaking our knuckles. Arriving at the treasure house we enjoy the moment, even if there are already far too many people.

When the 1,5km long canyon ends and you are standing in front of the treasure house, you should climb up to the right.

We keep to the right in front of the treasure house and climb up the mountain. You should only climb up here if you have really good shoes. Once at the top you can drink tea for 1 JOD and enjoy the view from a really spectacular point that all the guided tours below cannot reach.

Let’s move on to the theatre.
Then right up the stairs to the palace grave. You should definitely do it (!)
 

At the foot of the palace grave there is a restaurant and toilets. After a cup of tea we continue towards “Steps”. One arrives at a relatively large restaurant at the end of the path and has to keep to the right. Then the ascent to the Ad-Deir monastery begins via 840 stony, sandy and partly slippery steps. We were happy to have our trekking shoes on.

Ascent to Ad-Deir Monastery

After 50min (official time 1,5h) we are at the monastery and it is a magical moment when suddenly after the narrow steps a big square with a monastery opens up. What you can’t see from here is that you’re standing in a kind of amphitheatre.

This only becomes clear when you climb the last steps to the “Viewpoint” and enjoy the probably most spectacular view in Jordan.

The best viewpoint in Jordan

Once you arrive at the viewpoint, you will again find very tasty tea and drinks and both at surprisingly low prices, considering that everything has to be brought up the mountain with donkeys.
The way back is fast but you are somehow quite exhausted from the total distance (7km one way).

PHOTOTIPP:

In October the light reaches the treasure house only around 1oam. Unfortunately there are also many tourists. But all in all, if one starts walking from 10am at the treasure house, one has the perfect light on the whole route. Those who want should already be earlier at the treasure house and enjoy a cup of tea like we do.

Around 4pm we are back at the car and drive to the hotel. Our hotel – the Marriott Petra – has for sunsets probably the best location of all hotels. But it is a 10min drive by car to the visitor entrance. For those who want to stay closer to the entrance, we recommend the Mövenpick Hotel, which is practically directly opposite.

Who wants to see the treasure house without tourists has to get up early

4.Day: With 7am, it is actually already again too late, for a “lonely” treasure house. At the entrance of Petra there are crowds of people again, coming from buses.

We manage to get in quickly and leave the crowds behind us. At the treasure house it is clearly emptier and also our vantage point with tea sale is still relatively quiet. We enjoy the time until the bus troops arrive.

In Petra there is something for sale at every corner

Altogether one is constantly addressed on horse riding, donkey ferrari, carriage ride, jewellery and postcards, however the people are not as obtrusive, as in other Arab countries. If you refuse thankfully, you usually get a smile back. Very funny was the jewellery seller who offered us “Happy Hour” for pots.

On the way back we are offered postcards and jewellery by little boys. In return we offer them sweets, which they greedily grab and then laugh away.

From Petra to Wadi Rum desert

We continue to Wadi Rum, our desert stop for the next two days.

Driving to Wadi Rum takes about 2 hours and our hotel, the UFO Luxotel is clearly signposted. Just the way to the guarded parking lot of the hotel is worth a trip. The parking lot is a good 5km away from the hotel, as the hotel is located in the middle of the desert.

Unexpected drive through the Wadi Rum desert

At the parking lot we are welcomed friendly and one of the drivers inspects our car. The guide decides that we should not park the car here, but drive directly to the hotel. He drives in front and we follow. A lot of fun, as we now drive through the desert sand. Shortly before the hotel there is then another small parking lot, where we park our car.

#UFOluxotel and #Bubblehotel

The hotel is actually 2 hotels. Bubblehotel and UFO Luxotel. Only difference is that the bubbles in the bubble hotel are completely transparent at the top. There is a living room, a bedroom and a bathroom and a jaccuzzi.

The UFO Luxotel, on the other hand, has a living room and a bedroom in one and a bathroom. In addition, the bubble is only open to one side.

Price per night is about 100,- Euro more for the Bubblehotel. Otherwise, everything is the same and no matter what you choose, it’s simply beautiful. Personally we found the UFOluxotel the better choice.

We first enjoy the view over a coffee and consider which jeep tour we will do tomorrow. Today we want to spend the night under the stars. A small event of the hotel. Tip: If you want to do a balloon ride, you should book it from Germany. This is difficult on the spot, as it is often fully booked.

The starry sky is spectacularly clear and due to the lack of ambient light the Milky Way is clearly visible. A rare sight for us Europeans and all the more beautiful.

5.Day: Our booked jeep safari starts at 14 o’clock. Important, the organizers only take “cash” and it can not be paid through the hotel.
Until we pick you up we walk through the camp and climb a small mountain, which gives you a great view of the camp and the surroundings.

Jeepsafari through the desert

At 2 pm we start our 4h safari (we wouldn’t recommend shorter!) and find ourselves in an old Nissan Patrol off-roader where nothing but the engine works anymore. Our guide “Adil” makes a much better impression than the car.

The coolest one is his Mega Discobox, which is connected to the car with 2 power cables and is stuck between the driver and the passenger seat. Adil sings along loudly and smashes the local hit parade up and down. It has its charm.

After a short drive we reach the first highlight, the “Marsianer Viewpoint” from the film of the same name with Matt Damon. Here one gets the first impression of the beauty of the Wadi Rum.

Afterwards it goes further and further into the wadi and the landscape is simply fascinating.

If you take the jeep as a scale on the following picture, you get an idea of the size of the Wadi Rum.

The former house of Lawrence of Arabia belongs to the tour as well as the big stone arch and the “mushroom”.

ATMs are not always reliable

At the end of the tour we want to go to an ATM. Unfortunately the ATM does not work. So we scrape the last dinars together, a few euros and dollars and somehow in the end it’s enough for a generous tip, because Adil was really great. Much more important than the payment seems to him the evaluation on TripAdvisor, which we give gladly.

From Wadi Rum via Aqaba back to the Dead Sea

6.Day: From rain – it rained half the night, which gave the feeling of camping in tents – nothing can be seen anymore. Bright blue sky and nice warm.

We pack and head for Aqaba.
Aqaba is a city with about 80.000 inhabitants and the only port of Jordan. The access to the Red Sea – via the Gulf of Aqaba – is therefore heavily frequented by containers and tankers and the city beach does not look really nice for this reason. If you don’t want to go diving, you can simply leave Aqaba out.

We continue in the direction of the Dead Sea. The way leads practically the whole time along the guarded border to Israel and we are checked several times at checkpoints, as well as stopped by road checks. If you are a German, you can simply drive on. The route is stretching and only becomes beautiful again when you reach the Dead Sea.

After about 3.5 hours, again a little more than Google indicates, we reach our destination, the Dead Sea Marriott, where our journey began.

Once in a lifetime floating in the dead sea

7.Day: Today we want to swim in the Dead Sea. The hotel has its own entrance and the water has 8.6 times the salt content of sea water and there are strict rules.

Do not dive, do not jump, go backwards into the water, if water comes into your eyes rinse out immediately, if you swallow it immediately drink plenty of fresh water and do not go into the water with injuries (not even after shaving).

In addition, you must take a good shower afterwards, otherwise skin irritations can occur. When you understand all this, you almost forget that the water contains more than 30 minerals, which should be very healthy for the body and that you are at the lowest point of the earth.

We spend the rest of the day in the really fantastic hotel complex and enjoy a wonderful sunset at the end.

The Mosaicmap of Madaba

8.Day: Departure. Our flight doesn’t leave until 16:10 and so there is still time to make a small detour via Madab on the way back. The mosaic map of Madaba (also Madaba mosaic or Palestine mosaic) is part of a late antique mosaic in the St.-Georgs church.

Madaba Mosaic is the oldest original cartographic representation of the so-called Holy Land and especially of Jerusalem. It originates from the middle 6th century AD.

The entrance fee is 1JOD per person and the Jordan Pas is not valid here. Since there is not much going on, we are already on our way to the airport after 30min. The handover drop of the rental car is again no problem. You drive following the signs directly in front of the terminal and hand in the car there.

Conclusion after 8 days in Jordan

We had previously wondered whether Jordan was “safe”, so trapped between the trouble spots of the world in the Middle East. In conclusion, this question certainly cannot be answered, but we have not felt insecure even once.

The Jordanians are a tolerant and friendly people and very proud of their country. One should follow some basic rules and be open, then one experiences a wonderful time.

Sure, the issue of garbage should be tackled by the country and it starts with the youngest citizens and their education.  But the countryside is uniquely beautiful and has impressed us even more than Oman.

Petra and Wadi Rum are unforgettable experiences that you can visit 2 and 3 times in your life.

We found the one week in Jordan enough to get a good impression and could have stayed a few days longer. It is an oasis in the Middle East, which is unfortunately lumped together with its neighbouring cities and their hustle and bustle, although it is quite different.

Jordan is definitely worth a visit.

Want to order a calendar from our phototrip?

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Which Photo Equipment for Jordan?

The photographic equipment that we have brought to Jordan is listed below. Furthermore you have the possibility to order the used photo equipment directly through our Photo-Shop and ask for further technical details. There you will also find a lot of extras.

Cameras:

  • Nikon D500
  • Apple Iphone X
  • GoPro Hero 8 Black

Lenses:

  • 70-200mm f/4 (Nikon)
  • 20mm f/1.8 (Nikon)
  • 18-105mm (Nikon)

Backpack / Trolley:

  • Lowepro Flipside 400 AW II