Journey through Jordan, Part 4

Welcome back friends to the fourth and final post with highlights of my time in Jordan.  I really enjoyed every bit of my time in Jordan but I believe I have saved some of the best for last.  Today is a journey through the southern part of Jordan as I take you to Wadi Rum, take a peek at the Siq Trail, and then end at the Dead Sea.  These experiences each create unique memories with adventure, wonder and a bit of relaxation.  Let’s go!

Wadi Rum
We start our photo tour in Wadi Rum.  We had to travel a good few hours to get to the southern part of Jordan to experience these great locations.  We traveled on the King’s Highway just outside of Aqaba to get to Wadi Rum.  Aqaba is definitely somewhere I would like to get back to visit when I have more time.  We did make a quick stop off the highway to pick some fresh figs off a tree and to admire the view where three countries come together – Jordan, Israel, and Egypt.

Wadi Rum means valley of the moon and is set in the western part of the Arabian Desert.  Wadi Rum Protected Area was recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.  This protected area is about 74,000 hectares or 183,000 acres.  The area is breathtaking with its rock formations, red sand dunes and clear night skies for stargazing.  The area is estimated to have had inhabitants at much as 12,000 years ago based on nearly 20,000 petroglyphs and 20,000 inscriptions discovered.  Some parts of the area are still inhabited by nomadic Bedouins who will welcome you with tea and offers to buy their crafts.

The desert is an adventure lover’s paradise with 4×4 rides, trekking, camping and stargazing.  Just remember that visitors should lean in to experts on the ground to find a certified guide is critical to a safe and fun experience.  And, once the daytime fun is done, a Martian tent camp is fun way to spend a night under the stars.

Each tent camp will have great meals included and some will even treat guests to traditional meals like zarb.  Zarb is a traditional Bedouin dish that consists of lamb, chicken, rice, onion, and carrots. The ingredients are cooked in the ground with hot coals.  This type of cooking creates a unique combination of smoking, grilling and steaming all in one.

The highlight of the nights in Wadi Rum is stargazing.  The area creates a beautiful opportunity to see the stars in a way that we just can’t in our big cities.  There are some stargazing companies that will let you use their special telescopes to see the stars up close and create other viewing moments.  You can also, with the help of a guide, wander a ways away from the camp site to get great viewing and photo opportunities.  The stargazing is a unique experience that really helps you slow down and just be in the moment with no distractions.

Siq Trail
Wadi Mujib, or the Siq trail, is part of the Mujib Biosphere Reserve on the eastern side of the Dead Sea, and is the lowest natural reserve in the world.  This trail is a gorge hike for the adventurous traveler and local alike.  The trail is a seasonal trail hiked against the water currents so you are provided a life jacket at the visitor’s center.  The total trail is just over 1km long and ends at a beautiful waterfall.

I’ll be honest, this trail is not an easy trail for a novice.  There is an age requirement to be at least 18 and participants need a significant amount of upper body strength to use the ropes and ladders throughout the course.  I also wish I would have had some kind of glove that works in water settings (does that even exist?) because the ropes are tough on hands after being in the water for a long time.  The trail will take 2-4 hours to complete and is designed so that the way in is also the way out with retracing your steps. 

If you are a traveler that loves adventure and feel like you are up for the challenge and have the physical strength required, this trail is absolutely a must do experience.  Please be sure you have a guide (I can arrange one) that can help you navigate the trek as well as be a set of hands to help you along as you climb.

Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is a salt lake that separates Jordan and Israel.  It is the lowest point on the earth at about 400 meters below sea level.  The sea is considered dead as nothing can live in the water given the extreme levels of salt and minerals with about ten times more salt than any other body of salt water.  And because of its location and elevation, the temperatures are extremely hot in summer and never reach freezing in the winter.  In fact, the temperatures and experience in the sea are so severe to some that many places that have swimming at the sea close in peak hours of the day.

We planned a morning Dead Sea experience before the hottest part of the day.  There were a few hotel employees available to help with putting mud on our backs and arms.  This swimming and mud experience is both fun and beneficial.  The mud is a natural exfoliant that aids in detoxification and it, combined with the water, leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth.

The attendants asked for us to get in the sea first to experience the feeling of weightlessness with floating and to get our bodies wet with the sea water to make the mud application easier.  It feels very odd and almost unnatural at how weightless you feel when you float in the sea which is caused from the extra salt.  It is like sitting on a pool float but without the actual float.  No matter how hard you try, you can’t sink and you can’t really swim either.  And, the attendants remind everyone that you should only spend about 10-15 minutes in the water at one time.  Too much time will soften your skin so that it is easier to get small scrapes and cuts from the rocks as well as the overall experience and feeling in your body.  I felt very odd after floating in the sea and I can only assume it is from how my body was experiencing detoxification in the water but it still was worth making time for this experience.

The Dead Sea has been growing to be a popular vacation destination for travelers and locals alike.  There are some great resort hotels available that give you a great pool and culinary offerings while also offering an authentic Dead Sea mud and swim experience.  Just remember to leave your favorite swimsuit at home as the mud may stain or discolor the material and avoid shaving a few days before your experience.  On the other hand, a must have item is a pair of water shoes as the rocks are tough on your feet.

Wow, what memories I have from such special experiences.  I loved my time in the Jordan, the people I met, the culture, the cuisine, and the experiences.  And we barely touched the surface of what this country has to offer.  I can’t wait to get back to Jordan again soon.

I hope my series on Jordan inspired you to dream big about your travel and sparked a few ideas.  Where in the world do you want to travel to next?  Are you thinking smaller trips for now or are you ready to go all in on that bucket list?   Drop me a comment below and share your travel ideas. 

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Dell Adventures Travel Agency
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