All I really knew about Jordan before I booked my holiday tour there was that it was home to the lost city of Petra – filming location of the epic final scenes of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, where Indy travels far and wide across the globe to find the final resting place of the Holy Grail. My inner geek was desperate to follow in his footsteps and view the epic Petra for myself – I didn’t really give much thought to anything else the country had to offer.
However, being the planner that I am, I dived headlong into my own research of the country in anticipation of the trip. This quickly made me realise that Jordan offers far more to tourists than I had originally thought. Who knew that Jordan was also home to the totally unique Dead Sea, the sacred spot where Christ was baptised, the eerie ‘Valley of the Moon’ Wadi Rum desert, some of the most innovative eco-tourism ventures in the Middle East, and a buzzing cosmopolitan capital city? Certainly not me at the time, but once I discovered all of this, I couldn’t wait to arrive.
Arriving in Jordan for the first time, I was super excited, and this excitement only grew from day to day as my travelling buddy and I drove ourselves up and down the length of the country discovering all it had to offer. Our road trip varied every single day of the seven we spent away. One moment we were bobbing around like corks in the world’s natural spa, the Dead Sea, caked in clay that left our skin feeling like we’d forked out hundreds of pounds for the latest in health farm treatments. The next, we were drinking tea in the tented home of some Bedouin children, invited in by them as we hiked through the spectacular Dana Nature Reserve. We journeyed right down to the southern tip of Jordan to the Red Sea, and stayed in the lap of luxury at the 5* Kempinski Aqaba Hotel, lazing on the beach, ordering exotic cocktails at the swim up bar, and generally living like millionaires. The very next day, we took a jeep safari through the epically-surreal Wadi Rum desert, where we climbed rocks, tore down sand dunes on boards, rode camels, and ate a traditionally prepared ‘Zarb’ – a Bedouin barbeque cooked in a large underground pit.
By the time our tour of Jordan reached its final couple days, I was having such a blast that I had almost forgotten the original thing that had attracted me to Jordan in the first place; Petra. But all too quickly those final days approached us, and we made our way to the lost city that we were certain would be the highlight of the holiday.
And I was not disappointed. We had expected the highlight of the holiday to Jordan – what we got was the highlight of both of our travels to date. Truly nothing can prepare you for Petra. It is nothing short of magnificent, and really blows you away. For me, the first glimpse of the famous Treasury was what I had been looking forward to the most, and it was a moment I’ll never forget. However, nothing could have prepared me for the sheer size of the rest of Petra. Only upon arriving there could I really appreciate it as a ‘city.’ It is huge! Our day there was spent exploring the millions of ancient Nabataedan ruins within this wonder of the world, and despite its global fame, we often seemed to have the place completely to ourselves, and felt like we were the very first people to be discovering all its little nooks, caves and hidey-holes.
All in all, my first tour of Jordan was one I will never forget. Forget seeking the Holy Grail – in Jordan, I have found my own personal holy grail of places on earth, and I can’t wait to visit again.