Traveling to Jordan Solo Travel Jordan: As the picture below shows, Jordan is a combination of the present day and its ancient past. It has a mix of Nabataean, Greek, Roman and Arab culture. That made for a really fascinating trip. (Before you head out, please check out our late Sept 2017 launch of our new free software tool, the “Solo Travel Pricing Tracker” only available via a tab at the top of the home page of SoloTrekker4U.com.)
Traveling to Jordan Solo Travel Jordan
Jordan has been a crossroads since ancient times with monuments from four separate cultures. Ruins draw countless tourists to Jerash and Petra, the latter featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Its climate can range from hot in the summer to light snow in winter, especially in the mountains.
Notwithstanding its long history, Jordan is also very modern, dubbed by some as the Mideast’s “Silicon Valley”.
Arriving: Traveling to Jordan Solo Travel Jordan:
My solo travels through Jordan were limited to the week. I had just time before and after a conference in Dubai. As a result, I had to make the most of each day there.
- Flying non-stop on Royal Jordanian Airlines, I found entry formalities were easy.
- Visas were available at the airport in Amman, the capital.
- On departure, women travelers must go to a separate room for security screening. The only problem as a solo traveler? I was concerned about leaving my luggage and purse behind. They would be unattended without a travel partner there watching out for them. My solution was to take my wallet and passport with me. I carried them in my hands through individual screening. That worked well.
- I had pre-arranged for a pick-up at the airport.
- When I arrived at my 5-star, it was surrounded by security. I quickly learned that it had been the target of a prior explosion. It had since had been completely renovated. Since there was so much security, I stopped worrying about problems during my trip.
Getting Started: Traveling to Jordan Solo Travel Jordan:
- I always prefer to start with a a city tour. It is generally the best way to get oriented. That way I can identify what I might what I want to see in more depth.
- From there, I generally find each hotel is a stop-off for all day tours. Some of these are 10-12 hours/day.
- In Jordan, there was a local restriction of some kind on joining pre-existing tours. With my hotel’s assistance, I started with a private tour of Amman on the first day.
- I followed up with 3-4 all day individual tours with a driver. There was enough to see to require a second trip. Fortunately distances were close. As a result, I started out in the early morning and could to see a lot by evening. My driver apparently saw the King’s Highway as practice for the Grand Prix,. We did get places quickly after two speeding tickets!
- Jordan’s deep history is still visible everywhere today. The earliest inhabitants were in the southern region around Petra by 9,000 BC. In 333 BC, Alexander the Great conquered the region. Upon his death, Jordan and the region were governed by general Ptolemy. (History buffs and movie fans alike will recall the most famous Ptolemaic pharaoh: Cleopatra.) The Romans were quick to follow. They conquered Jordan and with it the Nabataean base in Petra.
- Before heading outside the capital, Amman, itself, should be explored. Once known as Philadelphia, from the 10th century AD until the 19th century it was in decline Although its current prominence has been fairly recent, it also has notable Roman ruins mixed with impressive modern architecture. The latter includes the 20th century King Abdullah Mosque built by King Hussein in honor of his grandfather.
- I started “downtown” at the Roman Theater which is well-preserved. It was surrounded by seemingly endless steps. The second stop was the most memorable for me. The Citadel gave a view from high above the city. After I arrived, the muezzin began his call to prayer from a nearby mosque. It had a very ethereal feeling.
Jerash Roman Ruins: Traveling to Jordan Solo Travel Jordan:
- With limited time remaining, I was off for a full day starting with Jerash. We wisely had begun very early before the tourist buses arrived. My guide and I walked the colonnade that dated to the 1st century AD ending with the 2nd century Hadrian’s Arch.
- During the twentieth century, it became the site of the Jerash Music Festival under the sponsorship of Queen Noor.
- Apparently for tourists’ benefit, there was a “chariot” going back and forth. The charioteer was dressed in period dress. A perfect photo op for everyone!
- One benefit to having a private tour was not being bound to a set schedule. My driver doubling as guide led us to a local restaurant for an al fresco lunch. Its open-air setting tucked among vineyards was reminiscent of an afternoon in Tuscany. As the only diners, I felt like a guest in a family home.
- During afternoons, I made my way from my West Amman hotel for a cappuccino. Having studied the Egyptian dialect of Arabic rather than Shami spoken in Jordan, I still had some good conversations despite my likely errors! In any case, English was spoken widely. On my forays, I did find myself sometimes lost momentarily but did not try the same at night. I did not see other women alone in coffee shops and cafes at least in the neighborhood where I was staying. As a result, I did try to select a table next to other women or families to avoid giving the wrong impression.
The Rose City of Petra: Traveling to Jordan Solo Travel Jordan:
The next day the highlight of my visit. My driver and I were off early to the Nabataean rose city of Petra.
- Along the way, we made a stop at the Karak Castle built by Crusaders. It was later held by a Renauld de Chatillon, well-known for throwing his captives off the roof to their deaths.
- Petra is surprisingly well-preserved. It covers a wide area but can be covered in a moderate stroll in a half-day. The first sight was of large stones like cave dwellings or tombs. Known as the Djinn Blocks, they date to the ancient Nabataeans although their use is unclear. Continuing on, we walked through narrow rose cliffs, suddenly, through a slit in the stone, the main attraction, the “Treasury” appears almost magically. Further on down the unpaved walkway is “Little Petra” with the same but smaller rose facades.
- Even within the historic sector, there are sidewalk cafes for lunch or an afternoon drinks. Of course, there were camel rides for tourists. There were few close-by hotels. It would not be a good idea during the height of the tourist season to wait to find a vacancy until arriving.
- For those inclined to hike, Petra offers the perfect opportunity depending upon your time of year. Arriving from Washington, DC in October, I did not find the heat at all excessive. Mid-summers might be more challenging, especially for those from cooler climates.
Madaba and the Dead Sea: Traveling to Jordan Solo Travel Jordan:
The final day in my initial trip demonstrated vividly the rich blend of Jordanian history.
- We started the day in Madaba. This famous Byzantine city was occupied by early Christians from the time of Constantine. The principal sights were the mosaics at St. George’s Church.
- From there, we journeyed onward to Mt. Nebo where Moses was believed to have overlooked the Holy Land. I had expected a bucolic setting. I found a fascinating, but bustling, spot with lines of tour buses. Two key draws were the well-preserved mosaics in the Basilica and the famous Serpentine Cross by an Italian sculptor.
- Before returning to the capital, we drove on to the Dead Sea. Besides its religious significance, it is a world-renowned spa. Tourist shops offer an array of skin creams and treatments.
- One warning I fortunately heeded. I had read that it was especially important to carry a passport in this border region. My driver assured me that he had never been stopped. However, as we approached, a soldier stepped in front of the car and instructed us to pull off the road. Having never had this experience abroad, I was mildly concerned but also intrigued. I provided my passport and after a few queries to my driver, we were back en route. I decided after that when traveling abroad to put my passport in my money belt while sightseeing. If for no other reason, it may be needed at banks, hotels and for some commercial transactions.
I had to press on to attend a conference in Dubai without getting to see more of the countryside. When I return, I plan to spend more time at the Dead Sea, in Aqaba and Wadi Rum, the latter providing a view of the Bedouin lifestyle.
Like Egypt, Jordan has diplomatic relations with Israel. Solo travelers and other tourists are able to combine a visit to both countries in one trip. That can be a good way to explore the deep religious and cultural history of the region with time remaining for the beach, hiking and sampling top cuisine. Solo travelers will find a fascinating mix of a world that is both ancient and timelessly interwoven with the 21st century. (It may not be possible, however, to travel directly from Jordan to the West Bank. Be sure to plan ahead.)
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