If anyone is willing to discover the Middle East, there is no better place than Jordan to start with. The Jordanian people are extraordinarily welcoming, the country is very safe for travelers, and has been granted more that its fair share of natural beauty and historical wonders.
Jordan (or to be fair, Petra) was on the top of my bucket list since moving to Dubai, and I finally took a week off to road trip around the country back in November last year.
We really tried to squeeze as much as possible in the 7 days we were there while still taking the time to absorb, enjoy and relax. So our itinerary looked like that : Amman – Azraq – Madaba – Karak – Petra – Wadi Rum – Dead Sea …. Yes I really wanted to see it all !
I didn’t really feel like staying long in Amman. I heard mixed feedbacks about the capital city of Jordan and I knew I could easily come back for a week end gateway from Dubai if I liked the first impression I got. And I did like it !
Although we only stayed half a day, walking around downtown Amman was totally worth it. We visited the ruins of the Citadel, from where there is a great view over the city. From the Citadel we walked down to the Roman Theater through a labyrinth of small road and many many stairs ! A walk around the Theatre and the Gold Souk, gave us a good sense of the more traditional and conservative area of Amman.
AZRAQ AND THE EAST
So after half a day walking the streets of Amman, we took the road toward Azraq and the desert castles. There is plenty of these “desert castles” in the region, and we chose the one that were easily accessible by car and recommended by the Lonely Planet : Qasr-Al Azraq, Qasr Amra & Qasr Kharana. To cut it short, I don’t think any of these are worth your time if you are on a schedule.
Qasr Al Azraq
Located a few kilometers away from Madaba, on the edge of the East Bank, Mont Nebo is believed to be the burial place of Moses. A beautifully renovated church sits on the top, and hosts some absolutely stunning mosaics dating from around AD 500. From there, on clear weather days, you can see the Dead Sea, and the West Bank. It is definitely worth a quick stop on the way in or out of Madaba.
After the Mont Nebo done early morning, we walked a bit the streets of Madaba, before heading towards Karak. The road to reach the castle is amazing, with a breathtaking view of Wadi Mujib, The Grand Canyon of Jordan. Along the road, there is a great view point where you can stop to snap a few pictures. Chances are, you will notice the place by the presence of a few buses of tourists.
Once we reached Karak, we took a good 2 hours to walk around the Castle, which is pretty amazing, with a beautiful view of the city. We didn’t take any guide and to be honest it was a bit difficult to navigate, and since there is no information available at all, we ended up not learning much about the place. So if you get the chance, I would recommend to visit with a guide !
WHERE WE STAYED :
Amman : La Locanda – Beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of Amman – Around 100 USD / night
Madaba : Mosaic City Hotel – Conveniently located in the center of Madaba, but without any charm – 60 USD / night