Go to the Jordan photo album if you want to see the pictures of Jordan.
Sunday, December 24
After a five hour flight I landed in the evening at the airport of Amman where I met my fellow travellers for the coming week. Outside the airport we met Abdelmoneam (Abdel), our tourguide.
It was cold and raining when we stepped into our minibus that brought us to our hotel in Amman. After a briefing by Abdel most of us went straight to bed.
Monday, December 25
It was drizzling when we visited Jerash in the morning. Jerash, also called the Pompeď of the Middle-East is an ancient city that was destroyed in the first century B.C and later rebuilt by the Romans. It was an impressive site with many buildings quite well preserved and together with the ruins, the place gave us a good insight in how life was about 2000 years ago. Abdel told us all about the buildings and the history of the city.
In the afternoon we drove to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth. The road to the Dead Sea went through a very barren and dry landscape with beautiful views over the Jordan valley, the Dead Sea and Israel across the valley.
The weather had finally cleared up and so far below sea level it was much warmer than in Jerash and Amman.
We all had a relaxing bath and while lying in the warm water my thoughts went back to 1980 when I had taken a bath in this same sea, but then from the Israelian side.
Back in Amman, where it was cold and rainy again, we had a very good falafel diner in a small restaurant, which was also frequently visited by the royal Jordanian family.
Tuesday, December 26
The first place we visited after a few hours ride was Mount Nebo, the place where Moses saw the Promised land and is believed to be buried somewhere in the neighbourhood. From the mountain we had wonderful views over the Jordan Valley. Too bad it was cloudy, otherwise we could have seen Jerusalem in the distance.
The modern church, built over the remnants of several older churches, contained nice mosaics.
On the way to Madaba we made a short stop at a mosaic centre where items, like plates, chairs, tables and much more, were laid in with mosaics.
In Madaba, the City of Mosaics, we visited the Greek Orthodox church of St. George. This church contains a colorful mosaic map showing Jerusalem and other holy cities.
After lunch on the street we boarded the bus again and drove over the King's Highway, through some colorful mountainous landscapes. A short stop was made near de Wadi al-Mujib gorge, where we had wonderful views over the area.
Further down the highway was Kerak, an ancient Crusader stronghold, where we visited the ruins of Karak Castle.
It was already late in the afternoon when we arrived at our hotel in Petra.
Wednesday, December 27
We spent all day walking and climbing in and around Petra, a city carved out of the rocks by Nabataeans, some 2000 years ago. It is chosen as one of the new 7 World Wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We visited the Siq, the Treasury, tombs and temples and enjoyed the views from the higher places. A really amazing place where you can easily spend 2 or 3 days exploring everything.
This was by far the highlight of the tour and one of the most impressive sites I have seen so far in my life!
Thursday, December 28
In the morning we visited nearby Little Petra, a sort of smaller version of Petra, but less crowded. It was just as beautiful as Petra. Nearby were the ruins of an ancient Bedouin camp.
Then an 2 hour ride to Wadi Rum, a huge desert area in the southwest of Jordan. It is famous for its monolithic rocks, all carved out by wind and weather.
In Ram, a small Bedouin village, we changed the minivan for 2 four wheel pickup trucks and drove off into the desert to visit and climb some of those amazing rock formations. Some ancient rock carvings and inscriptions were seen in one of the many gorges. It was a bit touristy, since a few groups were visiting the same mountains in the same area, but it did not spoil the spectacular views of the mountains and the desert.
Our campsite was at the foot of a mountain. The evening was spent around the campfire, talking and singing songs.
Friday, December 29
After breakfast we rode for some kilometers back to Ram. The last part of the road we did on the back of a camel. Great fun!
After a short stop at Wadi Rum Station to see the steam engine that was used for transporting pilgrims to Mecca, we were back on the King's Highway to drive the last kilometers of our Jordan trip to Aqaba at the Red Sea.
After lunch we explored the city, strolling along the beach, where families and friends were celebrating the (muslim) Sabbath. Some of us bought tea, nuts or souvenirs in one of the many shops.
Saturday, December 30
We spent most of the day at a beachside resort, south of Aqaba, to relax, snorkel or dive.
After a late lunch we went back to our hotel to get our luggage and stepped into the bus for an five hour long drive back to Amman. About halfway we stopped at a roadside restaurant for dinner and a nice birthday cake for Peter. His birthday was actually the next day, but there was no opportunity to celebrate.
Sunday, December 31
After an early breakfast we went to the airport to take the flight back to Holland, where we arrived in the afternoon and in time to celebrate New Year's Eve.
Shukran, Abdelmoneam, for a wonderful journey through your country. And also thanks to all the members of the group. I really enjoyed my holiday in Jordan.
On the map you can see all the places I have visited.