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  • Day11

    What an eventful day! It started at 3am this morning when we were roused from our sleep by a wake-up call so that we could be on the bus at 5am for our journey to Cairo's airport. Our flight to Amman, Jordan departed at 9.15am so we had plenty of time to get through the four security check points & two pat downs before we boarded the plane (with plain clothes security guards) for the 1.5 hour flight. In hindsight, this should have been our first red flag on how strict Jordan is on those visiting the country...
    We arrived safely at just after 9.30am local time & proceeded through customs (& more security check points) to the baggage carousel. Now the fun begins....Pauly's bag, along with a number of other tour members' luggage did not arrive on the carousel.... After discussions with Jordanian Security Forces, the bags were located but further inspection & questioning was required...Almost 3 hours later, & after segregation & questioning (via translator), Pauly was freed to us with his secured contraband item, for which a refundable fee of $54JD ($115AUD) was required. We have been told that the fee will be refunded to us at the Israeli border on Thursday, upon which our binoculars shall also be freed from their secure, plastic prison 😂...Second lesson learnt on this trip - don't carry binoculars into Jordan; ever!
    After all of the excitement at the airport, we were then on our way to the hotel (beautiful, by the way) before heading out to the ancient Amman Citadel (built around the time of Alexander the Great). Most of the buildings still visible at the site are from the Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad periods. The major buildings at the site are the Temple of Hercules, a Byzantine church, and the Umayyad Palace. This stop also provided incredible picture opportunities of the beautiful city of Amman.
    By the time we finished & had navigated our way back through traffic to the hotel (imagine traffic being slightly less crazy than Cairo, but a whole lot more scary! - I am not sure that driving tests are compulsory in Jordan, before being issued a licence...), we were well & truly worn out & enjoyed an early night with dinner in bed at our beautiful accommodation - Olive Tree Hotel.
    Tomorrow we meet the Australian Ambassador to Jordan & Jordanian dignataries for a wreath laying ceremony at Es Salt before we board a restored WWI steam train, from Amman's famous Hejaz Station, for a journey to Zizah Station, where a very important event occured in relation to the Middle East campaign in WWI...
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  • Day12

    After a wonderful 8 hour sleep at our hotel in Amman, we awoke refreshed & ready for another big day. We had a special tour organised for us in the morning on a steam train from Amman's Hedjaz Station to Zizah Station, the latter of which was significant for our Light Horse troops in WWI, as it was here where they helped protect the Turks in the region against the Bedouin tribes who would have slaughtered them if they surrendered to the Aussies. The incident was known as the Zizah Farce.
    We were extremely privilaged to have been given the opportunity to ride on this train as it is very rare that it operates. Needless to say we drew crowds of locals who greeted us all with with lots of curiosity, smiles & waves. We saw many things of interest whilst on the one hour journey, including the old city's viaduct (from Roman times) & Bedouin communities in the arid countryside.
    After lunch we took a special journey to Es Salt's Turkish Memorial where we held a special wreath laying ceremony in honour of the fallen Turkish troops who battled here in 1918. The grounds of the memorial site contained a cave that was discovered in 1953 that held the bodies of 300 Turkish soldiers. It had been beautifully restored & made for a poignant display. We were privileged to have Colonel Christopher Buxton from the Australian Defence Attache in attendance, as well as the Turkish Ambassador to Jordan, the latter of whom was deeply moved, as this was the first time any Australian group had honoroured the fallen Turkish soldiers here. It was a very special moment that we were able to share in.
    As an added bonus today, we witnessed a police motorcade escorting Australia's Govenor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, from the airport - he had just arrived in Amman for trade talks. Our group leaders, & the Consulate staff had tried in vain to have him join us, but unfortunately his time was limited. Apparantly, he was most upset at the missed opportunity.
    We are off to Israel tomorrow where we should be at the border crossing by 9.30am; then the fun will begin again for Pauly & those dastardly binoculars....
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  • Day9

    You have to go downhill to get to the Dead Sea. It is 400 metres below sea level. It is in the desert and forms part of the border between Israel and Jordan. We drive by Bedouin camps, camels and not much vegetation on our way down to the the sea.

    Our driver/tour guide, Armir arranged for us to have lunch at a restaurant that included the price of our swim. Seemed like a good deal....however the lockers proved not to be. There was a $5 US charge for the token. We decided one for the girls and one for the boys. You get the picture! We, (Liz and I) head to the locker room. After a short lesson we master the the locker computer locking system. Dressed, ready for our float we are off to find the boys. Each are dragging the duffle bag with all of their belongings, cameras etc. " The lockers were all full". Wrong, they didn't get the training the we were offered.

    You don't really swim here, you float like a cork on your back. Dianne has researched some of the benefits of the minerals of the water and is convinced that after our mud bath and rinse off, we will feel and look ten years younger. I felt pretty good after my dip, but was a little disappointed when I looked in the mirror. It worked for Dianne, so I'm ok with that.

    On our way back to Haifa we travelled through the Jordan River valley. Parts are considered Palestinian territory and so we had to pass a security checkpoint. We all had our passports with us, so no problem. The valley is populated with farms that grow nut bearing trees and other vegetation. It is a pretty place.
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  • Day15

    Returning to our driver, we begin the journey down to sea level and our ship. The timing is good as it looks like we will arrive about 18:00. All aboard time is 18:30. As we approach the ship we see a police car with lights flashing. There are a lot of the ships staff outside and they line a red carpet. We pay our man, say goodbye and realize that everyone is assembled to welcome us back on board. They are obviously impressed with the fact that we are not late, but actually early. As we step on to the red carpet a band strikes up a lively tune and the crew, officers included, shake our hands and thank us for returning! I guess that their way of encouraging folks to arrive on time.Read more

  • Day15

    Dianne received an email last night asking if we could start our tour at 6am instead of the original plan of 7:30. We all showed up at 6 and met our driver/ guide. After the late arrival fiasco of yesterday, we are adamant about a timely arrival back at the Nautica this evening for 18:30. He speaks fairly fluent English and assures us we will return on time. Aqaba port to Petra is about a 2 hour drive, and you go uphill most of the way. In an hour we have climbed 5000 feet and get some spectacular views. The area is mostly mountainous desert.

    Descending some to get to Petra, we meet a local guide at the entrance. There is a multitude of people here, and horses and donkeys. We all opt for walking rather than riding and make our way down a wide canyon. Soon the canyon narrows to a steep walled chasm. Walking for about 40 minutes past alcoves for statues, and some life sized carvings we arrive at what is described as the Treasury. The Treasury is carved into the mountain wall and has to be seen to experience the magnitude of the task.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Jordanien, Jordan, Jordanië, Gyɔdan, ጆርዳን, Chordania, Hascemisc Cynerīce þæs Iordanes, الأردن, ܘܪܕܢ, Ürdün, Іарданія, Йордания, Zɔrdani, জর্ডান, ཇོར་ཌན།, Jordania, Jordània, Jordánsko, Gwlad Iorddonen, Yordan nutome, Ιορδανία, Jordanio, جردن, Jordani, Jordanie, Jordaanje, An Iordáin, Xordania, જોર્ડન, ירדן, जॉर्डन, Jordaniska, Jordánia, Հորդանան, Yordania, Jórdanía, Giordania, ヨルダン・ハシミテ王国, იორდანია, Njorondani, ហ៊្សកដានី, ಜೋರ್ಡಾನ್, 요르단, ئوردن, Iordania, Yorodani, Zɔdani, ຈໍແດນ, Jordanija, Jodani, Jordānija, Јордан, ജോര്‍ദ്ദാന്‍, Ġordan, ဂျော်ဒန်, Djordan, जोर्डन, ଜୋର୍ଡାନ୍, Иордани, Hordanya, اردن, Jordânia, Yorudaniya, Иордания, Giurdania, Zordanïi, ජෝර්දානය, Urdun, Yordani, ஜொர்டான், జార్డాన్, ประเทศจอร์แดน, Hordan, Soatane, Йорданія, Iordaniya, Gioóc-đa-ni (Jordan), Yordän, יארדאניע, Orílẹ́ède Jọdani, 约旦, i-Jordan

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