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Jordan for a week

Again, I am planning a trip - with the full knowledge things can change, as can my trip. (Getting that out of the way.) Traveling solo.

In late January, I plan to spend 7 nights, pretty much hitting what seems to be the standard main sights:
Arrive Wednesday afternoon: first night at the Dead Sea.
Thursday: Transfer to Wadi Musa - Petra by Night (stop at Mt. Nebo on the way?)
Friday: All day available for Petra.
Saturday: Transfer to Wadi Rum, overnight there.
Some combination of tours there on Saturday night (wonder if this will be an issue) and Sunday morning.
Sunday afternoon: Transfer to Amman (3 nights) (stop in Madaba on the way?)
Monday and Tuesday: one day for Citadel, Roman Theater, and a PCR test (required for Dubai, which is the next stop) - and one day for a day trip to Jerash.
Wednesday: morning in Amman, late afternoon flight.

First question: I have driven in a number of countries but have decided I am not interested in driving on this trip. And I won’t be taking an “official tour”. So basically my options for transportation seem to be either arranging a driver for each leg separately or arranging for a driver for the whole time. Does anyone have input on that question? Or am I way off and if I have driven in Japan, Ireland, Croatia, and Greece (not the big cities) that Jordan (leaving from/dropping off at the airport) is no big deal and preferable?

Second question: I am fairly sure these main sights fit ok enough. But what about Mt. Nebo and Madaba? Worth a stop? Doable?

Third: I have a sense of the different areas of Amman for hotels, but not yet a good sense of how the different areas actually compare (more noise, more authentic, more amenities, transport to the sites, etc.). So input there is also welcome.

And last: any gems I am missing? Anything look out of line?

The days will be short and it may be cold (might rain, might not). This is just when it works for me to go. I read Valerie’s blog and loved her photos. I also have seen Adventures with Sarah’s daily reports (just made me more excited). I would love thoughts.

Posted by
2134 posts

I’m so glad you’re going! Petra and Jerash were the biggies for me and I didn’t see Madaba so I can’t comment.

We were very happy with our hotel at the entrance to Petra - are you staying right at the entrance?

I would not drive in Jordan. Amman had your typical crazy traffic. The highways were fine but there was long stretches of desolate areas of desert.

We did the tour with Gate 1 because I was able to buy a business class air for $1600 as part of the package. Before I found that air, I had been planning to go with either Tarek from Egypt and Beyond Tours or jdtours.com , which is Jordan Direct Tours.

Posted by
1812 posts

Thanks, Valerie! Yes, I got business with miles, which was a biggie for that distance! And thanks for a first hand perspective on the driving. Yes, I will stay about a 2 min walk from the entrance of Petra. I hope I am up to the walking and stairs!

Posted by
34 posts

When we were there we did not drive, our tour incuded a guide and driver.

We did stop at Mt. Nebo, although you will not need a lot of time there I am happy we stopped.

A few things to add, there are many castles in Jordan. Along with the site were Jesus was babtisted, and the the southern city of Aqaba. Not that you need to add more things to a busy trip.

Loved the Dead Sea, along with the Roman theater. Petra was awesome, just get ready to walk your legs off. Jordan was great, I hope to get back there someday. You will have a great trip. Enjoy.

Posted by
1812 posts

Thanks, CJ. Another vote for not driving. :) I need to research some of the castles! Was your driver also a licensed tour guide or just a driver?

Edit * You said you had both, since it was a tour.

Posted by
7733 posts

I add Mt. Nebo as a top sight for us. Looking at the Dead Sea and Israel, ancient lands below, all breathtaking. Moses’s burial site is in this area although exact spot is not known.
Jerash and Petra were our other favorite top sights.

Posted by
4690 posts

I've been to Jordan a few times for pleasure and for work. I have also traveled all over the world in developed and developing countries (and driven in them), including those you mention (except Japan). I have never thought I was going to die until I was in Jordan in a car driven by a driver through the desert to Petra. There are random camels crossing the highway, which the driver anticipated, but I would not have. The driving speeds are crazy. There are no rules about passing and a lot of cars are in bad shape. Driving in Amman is its own special type of hell.
Please do not drive in Jordan. I really thought I was going to die - no exaggeration.

Posted by
1812 posts

Lol - Emily! I don’t want to die in Jordan, for sure! My instincts were to not drive (and I actually had a driver scheduled for airport pick up already) but thought it was worth asking before I went further. If you won’t, then I for sure won’t!

Any other tips?

Posted by
9725 posts

Emily!! My word....what an experience!

No advice but you know I am excited for you!

Posted by
1812 posts

Lol, @Pam, I do! Pictures will show up. :) And I am determined to not die in Jordan…..my kids would kill me.

Posted by
1388 posts

I don't think you need to organize a driver for the whole trip - you can do each leg at a time and it should be fairly easy. Each hotel will be able to help you find a driver for the next leg.

My experience is now about 13 year old and you can read about it
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/beyond-europe/seeing-petra-in-jordan

From Madaba, you can do the dead sea swimming, Mt. Nebo and the Jordan river all in an afternoon without really rushing.

On the way to Petra, try and take the King's highway (more scenic if I remember correctly) and you can stop at Kerak though it is not anywhere close to being as impressive as Krak des Chevaliers in Syria

Edit - I'm assuming that your night in Wadi Rum is actually camping out in the desert with the Bedouins. Does this include driving out in a 4 wheel drive and seeing some of the rock formations, etc. including an arch or two and sleeping in a local tent. If so, this was v rustic (aka back country camping though things may have improved significantly since I was there). The night sky was brilliant though and a great experience especially to see how the Bedouins cook food by burying it in the sand along with hot coals.

Posted by
87 posts

Glad you decided to stop at Mount Nebo---I feel it was worthwhile. Felt very moved when looking out what Moses believed was the Promised Land. We did stop in Madaba---if you have time, the mosaics are very interesting---I probably wouldn't visit again, but if you have time you may enjoy it. Did Wadi Rum and Petra as well----Cj is right, be prepared to walk your fanny off! I was starting to get a cold when we arrived, so didn't feel great, but it is so worth it, every step. Take the climb to the Monastery--although I laughed as we were walking up, those walking down said "only a little further," HA! Soooo hot that day in June!
We only had one night in Amman, so I didn't research actual neighborhoods. I planned to do a 'splurge' hotel here, and was debating between the Four Seasons and the Fairmont, as I had never stayed in either (usually follow Rick's advice on hotels!). We picked the Fairmont and wow---I've stayed in Ritz Carltons and this topped the ones I have stayed in. Very, very enjoyable and what a treat at less than $200 a nite---one of the least expensive Fairmonts in the world!
We took the tour/driver from Jordan Direct. I did quite a bit of research and decided on them, no regrets.
We loved Jordan! Didn't make it to Aqaba, but definitely want to fit that in!

Posted by
1812 posts

@Arnold, well, my night at Wadi Rum will be in the desert and I do intend to take a 4x4 tour - see the sunrise and sunset. But I am not sure about actual camping in the tent like the Bedouins. I may want a bathroom somewhere handy. I probably won’t go all the way to luxury either, though. There is a wide variety of options, including “un-rustic”, but I do know I will plan to stay within the actual preserve area. I noted the castle - will hope to have enough daylight hours to stop.

Kathy, it is so fun to hear when someone absolutely loved a place. I won’t have time to get to Aqaba, without shorting somewhere else, so I, too, will probably miss it this time. I feel like I can slowly go UP all those steps to the Monastery - but coming back down? That’s the part I question….. :) And good info on the Fairmont. After my “not-splurge” in Petra and a night in Wadi Rum, I may want a splurge! I will check out Jordan Direct - Valerie was also looking at them. I don’t mind hiring someone for each leg of the drive and think it’s doable, but it would be easier to just set something up once.

Posted by
14919 posts

Mt. Nebo is well worth a stop. I was very moved, remembering the bittersweet moments when Moses saw the promised land stretching before him, his people about to enter it, yet knowing that was he would never set foot in it himself. Aside from that, there are very fine mosaics near the entrance and in the basilica. I love mosaics so I was very happy at Madaba Archaeological Park. There were also several places in the town center with mosaics, the most famous is the remains of a map of the world in the Church of St. George. I thought the Archaeological Park was a better sight.

Take warm clothes, especially for your desert sunrise. It gets darned cold at night. And be prepared for rain. Um, not in the desert but in the north :-)

Posted by
397 posts

Hi, I did a 7 night trip to Jordan about 10 years ago. Loved it. Was with a UK based tour group for solo travellers.

We started in Amman, stayed 3 nights. Then on to Petra, stayed 2 nights near to the entrance (walkable), then had 2 nights at a resort on the Red Sea. They have changed up the itinerary since I went and it seems a bit better. All the hotels we went to were great, as was all the food.

I think everything has been covered above, except for maybe a Crusader castle (eg Shobak).

Random thoughts.
For me, we had one full day in Petra but - with hindsight - two full days would have been better. It was much more extensive than I imagined and I would have liked to walk up to the Monastery (Ad Deir), but it is about 800 steps up (and back) and time and energy were against me. I did the Petra by night, but thought it was a bit meh.

The 4x4 drive in Wadi Rum a must do. Jerash, a surprise to see such a well preserved Roman city. Have pictures of me floating in the Dead Sea, lots of fun.

Still remember the trip with great fondness, such a great country and amazing, interesting sights.

Katy

PS. Take a cheap rolled up mac, got super drenched a couple of times!

Posted by
1812 posts

Thanks, Chani. Yes, the thought of actually standing in the place (or close) where Moses stood is still hard for me to comprehend. And I do like mosaics, but had to stop and look for the ones here - I hadn’t yet come across that. Have both the Archeological Park and the Church of St George marked - hopefully I can get to both.

I will pack my squishy down coat and some things to layer and hope not to freeze. One of the 2 reasons for the timing of this trip was to hit Dubai when it wasn’t witheringly hot, so it seems funny to also now have to pack for cold weather. 🤣 I am just happy to hopefully get to go.

Katy, thanks for the thoughts! I sure hope I don’t wear out in Petra but it is very possible. Somewhere I read 1,000 steps up to the Monastery…..maybe it will be easier when it’s not hot. I did think about heading straight to Petra from the airport (in order to have 2 full days) - would mean cutting the Dead Sea stop. Mainly I will just be up against shorter days. AND Crusader castle on the agenda - will just need to pick. I usually take my raincoat since it’s easy to fit (not sure this time yet), but I have one of those old $1 plastic ponchos that I got ages ago and it just lives in my suitcase for emergencies. Lol.

Now I am wishing for an 8th night…..

Posted by
14919 posts

In Petra, there's a Byzantine church with some nice floor mosaics too. It's near the end of the park. I didn't climb to the monastery so I can't tell you whether it's worth it.

Posted by
1812 posts

Thanks, Chani! - I don’t have a good guidebook yet but had not seen the info on the church in Petra. Adding to my notes.

Posted by
4690 posts

I rode a donkey up to the monastery. It was amazing up there.

Posted by
1812 posts

Emily, I heard that from a friend - but also heard it could seem a little precarious. I need to find some videos to check that out.

Posted by
4690 posts

I felt safe the whole time. The donkey knew what it was doing. My friends walked up a gazillion steps and they were jealous. The area up there is amazing and should not be missed.