In this post our very own Middle East Expert, Jamie, recounts his favourite moments from his recce to Jordan.
The top of Burdah Rock Bridge, Wadi Rum. Wadi Rum is truly as otherworldly as you’d imagine. The stark beauty of the red sand and rocky outcrops really does make you feel like you are on Mars. It’s not hard to understand why so many Hollywood movies are filmed here. Climbing to this natural arch in Wadi Rum is a true highlight. The going does get a little difficult, as at points you are scrambling, however the stunning view from the top makes it all worth it.
Jordanian food is fantastic, everything was so delicious - olives, dates, mansaf and fresh breads. However, the highlight has to be ‘zarb’. This dish is served especially in the Bedouin Desert areas of Petra and Wadi Rum and is prepared in a submerged oven made from a metal bin also known as a ‘taboon’. Typically, chicken and lamb are cooked on the top two layers of the oven, and vegetables are slow roasted underneath. The meat was so succulent and tasty I think I went back for fourths!
Staying in a traditional Bedouin camp just outside of Little Petra was amazing. The tents themselves are fairly basic, however the camp is owned by the local community, and from here you can hike to Petra - which is something I would highly recommend! In the evening, the locals show you how to make traditional Jordanian coffee and hosts demonstrate the serving etiquette - which is very interesting indeed. It’s worth noting that the coffee is VERY strong, so my advice would be to request to a medium roast.
Waking up at 4am to watch the sunrise on camel back in Wadi Rum. As most people know, camels are not the comfiest creatures, but riding them into the middle of the desert to watch the sunrise, while sipping tea from our traditional Bedouin fire, is something I will never forget, and would love to do again.
That first view of the lost city of Petra. For some reason I had only the images of the Treasury and Monastery of Petra in my head. What I had not realised was how enormously beautiful the ancient city was. I would 100% recommend exploring the city of Petra via 'The Back Door' hike. You will hike through some incredible scenery, with less people and have a real treat as the last sight you see is the fabled treasury.
It sounds clichéd, but my favourite souvenirs are my photos. I keep looking at them and reminding myself of the fantastic time I had, and that I will definitely be back very soon.
Not spending longer appreciating the fantastic views throughout the trip.
Tips for Travellers
Don't feel uncomfortable if your host insists on overfeeding you during a meal. This is simply part of Jordanian culture, and is seen as an important symbol of hospitality, generosity, and goodwill – the more the merrier! In addition, do accept when Arabic coffee is offered to you – it’s considered an act of generosity, and acceptance will be regarded as an act of reciprocated goodwill.