What first comes to mind when you think of Jordan? It’s probably not the long list of incredible experiences you can cross off your bucket list there. When I was first invited out to Jordan by the Jordan Tourism Board I didn’t know what to think – it wasn’t somewhere that had really occurred to me to visit up until this point.
When I mentioned the trip to my Mum she was immediately terrified that I was going to be kidnapped or blown up – it took a solid week of convincing and fact checking to show her that Jordan was a peaceful country, despite it’s tumultuous borders. So I knew what not to expect, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how beautiful, welcoming and experience-rich Jordan was going to be. It was a trip filled with assumption quashing and incredible experiences. So here are five things you can cross off your bucket list in Jordan:
1. See Petra
Obviously, Petra is on this list. One of the man made wonders of the world, Petra is a 2000 year old city carved into the mountains. Walking through the gorges and passages is completely awe-inspiring. But wait until you reach the old treasury – there is a complete shift in atmosphere as locals and tourists marvel at the incredible structure and soak up the history. Look out for the bullet holes in the stone urn at the top, which people believed to hold treasure. And the grooves running up each side, used like scaffolding to climb the treasury.
Sadly, I was actually extremely unwell on the day we went to see Petra. I’m talking bundled up in jackets and blankets in 35°C, but even despite my fever, I was able to appreciate the magnificence of the Lost City. That is, until I had to be carried out of Petra on a donkey and taken back to the hotel!
2. Stay in an Eco-Lodge
You may be surprised to hear that Jordan has some of the best eco lodges in the world. I stayed in the wonderful Feynan Ecolodge in the middle of the Dana Biosphere Reserve.
l I think I imagined a kind of ‘glamping’ experience, but on arrival the lodge was nothing short of luxurious. It’s entirely self sufficient, uses absolutely minimal electricity, lit by candlelight, supplying it’s own water and running initiatives with the local bedouin families to support the area. And if that’s not enough to convince you, it’s absolutely stunning.
It’s a really wonderful way to be more mindful of your footprint while travelling, but it’s also just an incredible experience in itself. I highly recommend!
3. Sleep in the Desert
Sleeping out in the desert doesn’t seem quite so scary when you are surrounded by beautiful mountains and the bedouin spirit. This is a way of life for many Jordanians and you can see the happiness the simple life brings to their families. A cultural experience which will open your eyes. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for stargazing and you’ll be in for a cracking sunrise.
We got to meet a Bedouin family who lived out in the middle of the desert. We shared a meal, played games with their kids and learned all about their life there. It was a real reminder that all the amenities and gadgets that we deem ‘essential’ are really nothing of the sort, and a it shone a light on the real things that we as humans need to be truly happy.
4. Learn to Cook Middle-Eastern Style
It’s always fun to add a new style of cooking to your repertoire, and what better way to learn than from an authentic Jordanian kitchen? All the food I tried in Petra was smacking of freshness and flavour. I think I ignorantly expected a lot very heavy and rich meals, but the food was light and flavourful.
There are a load of great cooking experiences available such as the Petra Kitchen which will have you whipping up a Jordanian feast. And then the best bit, you get to enjoy your efforts with a glass of wine.
5. Swim in the Dead Sea
This ranks highly on a lot of people’s bucket lists, and for good reason. The high salt content in the water allows you to simply float along, with absolutely no effort or need to swim.
You get lathered up in the mud from the dead sea before going in – it is said to have incredible healing properties and coating your skin in it leaves it smooth and rejuvenated. In reality, the salt was actually really nippy on my skin and I had to get out sooner than I would have liked to wash it off, but maybe I just have sensitive skin!
The floating sensation was pretty cool, though I wasn’t a fan of the way my thighs and tummy looked like a giant roast turkey bobbing in the water….
Here’s a video of my experience swimming in the dead sea in Jordan.
Jordan Really Surprised Me
It’s safe to say Jordan was absolutely not what I expected, in the best way. Part of that was total ignorance on my part, but even so I don’t think I could have been prepared for how varied, exciting, beautiful and culture-rich Jordan was going to be. On top of that, the Jordanians were probably the most hospitable people I have ever met. If you’re looking for a new place to experience that’s not your usual touristy destination – definitely add Jordan to your list!
I did make a video while I was there, but my video filming and editing skills were not quite up to scratch yet so keep that in mind if you watch it!
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