Assalamu Alaikum! Our Jordanian guide greeted us with a smile as our sandals crunched down onto the gravel beneath our feet at the Jordan-Israeli border crossing.
Though our time here is limited, over the next 48 hours, we will explore some of the most stunning archaeological sites, sprawling cities, and fascinating museums that Jordan has to offer – giving us just enough of a taster to make us fall in love with the country, but leaving plenty of room to have us wanting for more.
We started off at the ruins of Jarash, ventured northwards to the sprawling capital of Amman, saving the best until last when our trip reached its spectacular crescendo with the lost city of Petra.
No amount of Internet research, stalking through travel blogs and watching every YouTube video that I could possibly find on Jordan prepared me for how amazing these sites really were. Petra is a huge place and approaching the magnificent monastery in real life after hiking for three hours in desert heat was one of the most magical travel experiences I’ve had so far. I felt like Indiana Jones, just with more lipstick.
Of course, the impressive history and beauty of the sites are what drew me into visiting Jordan initially and they certainly exceeded my every expectation, but what made the trip that little bit extra special was the warm and welcoming nature of the local people.
“You’re welcome here!” Is a phrase that you can expect to hear time and again in Jordan as the merchants and locals thank you for visiting their country and cities.
In case you hadn’t noticed, we are currently living in a period where there’s a lot of unrest in the world, and relations between the western world and the Middle-East are not what they once were. Although a large decline in tourism to the region in light of terrorism concerns has meant tough times for the Jordanian people, they always had a smile on their faces, they continued to work hard in the sweltering climate, and they were genuinely excited to speak with myself and other traveler’s about where they were from and what they were doing in the country.
Throughout all of their hardships, the Jordanian people have remained incredibly resilient and they were dedicated to showing the beauty of their country to anyone that stopped by.
Following the recent crisis in Syria, Jordan has taken in more refugees than any other nation around the globe. Syrians are literally walking across the border and the Jordanian government are welcoming them in. In a country that formerly had a population of just 9 million people, Jordan have accepted 1.5 millions refugees – a relative percentage increase. When speaking to locals about this, their views were incredibly selfless with attitudes as “where are they supposed to go? If we don’t help them, what kind of people would we be?” I believe examples such as this can be used to surmise the kind natures of Jordanians perfectly.
It’s quite heartbreaking really, but I suppose that one positive thing (for the visitor!) about traveling to the Middle East right now is that there are not so many tourists meaning that you will have many of the archaeological sites and attractions virtually to yourself. When I arrived in Jerash, it was only me wandering around (and some snakes!)
If you want to travel to Jordan, please don’t let a fear of the unknown deter you. These places may seem daunting but much like other areas of the globe they are just filled with people, like you and I, simply working and living. This is a beautiful, colourful country, and if you turn down the opportunity to travel here, you will be missing a phenomenal experience.
Disclaimer: My trip to Jordan was kindly sponsored by Abraham Tours who took me on their 2 day Petra tour from Tel Aviv. I would certainly recommend them. Our tour guide Nader was a pleasure to be with and talking to him gave a great insight as to what daily life in Jordan was like, the tour is good value for money and makes crossing the notoriously difficult Jordan-Israeli borders seem effortless.