Getting out of the strict organization, out of security controls and getting into the orient. Bargaining, hawker’s on the highway, men with long robes, women with scarfs, luxury limousines parking next to goats, people living with goats, donkeys, camels and at the same time many luxury hotels and resorts. Hospitable, friendly and honest habitants. Diving into a fascinating country with a vast variety of contrast’s.
On the 23rd of October early in the morning we crossed the border to Jordan. The Israel departure was easy, without any troubles. We handed in the custom papers, paid 100 Shekel (approx.. 20 €) and after 15 minutes we already left Israel.
In Jordan we went through passport controls and got vehicle insurance for one week (24 JHD, approx. 25 €). We couldn’t trust our eyes, after 20 minutes we were in Jordan! That was so relaxing after the challenging arrival at Israel port 10 days earlier. GPS’s are not allowed to bring to Jordan. Therefore we did not have one and asked people to find our way to Aqaba. Because we did not bring maps either. The first thing we did was looking for a petrol station because diesel in Jordan costs only 0,51 JHD (approx.. 0,53 Euro). It is pure pleasure filling up our tanks in Jordan with this price (we have two tanks, altogether 220 liter!).
We drove directly to Petra from Aqaba and arrived at the Ammarin Bedouin Camp in the afternoon. The Ammarin Bedouin Camp is beautifully situated in the middle of bizarrely shaped rocks. These present a fascinating landscape (GPS coordinates N30°22.912′ E35°27.032′). We can only recommend this marvelous place: friendly Bedouins, clean bathrooms and an incredible silence. Far away from muttering generators (camping in Israel), aircraft noises (camping in Eilat) or lovely Muezzins next door, that get you out of bed with an incredible shock early in the morning. No smelly garbage’s next to our roof tent and especially no one that looks at us as we were from another planet. We just enjoyed ourselves at this place for 3 nights.
As we really had a tough program in Israel, it was time to relax for one day on the 24th of October. So, we had a good night sleep, run some errands and did some sightseeing in Little Petra in the afternoon, which is also a charming place. In Little Petra we bumped into Tom and Susi. Small world, we met Tom in Venice at the campground two weeks earlier and Marc, who also belongs to their group, in Wadi Musa just few hours earlier. The three of them are also on their way to South Africa with their motor bikes. Their blogs are under 321offroad.com. We had a lot to share (routes, tours, experiences, etc.) and we got stuck at a Bedouin tea place in the middle of the rocks in Little Petra. Back at our Ammarin Bedouin camp, we were sitting at the fire place and talking to the guides in the evening. They told us that apparently the unstable situation in Syria, Egypt and Libya affects the tourisms in Jordan very badly. At least the Bedouin Camp was almost empty when we were there. Good for us but bad for the Bedouin business. Apart from the sightseeing highlight Petra we did not see many tourists either.
After a freezing cold night we visited Petra on the 25th of October during the day. Firstly we were a bit shocked by the entrance fees (55 Euro each); however we must admit that every cent was worthwhile to spend. We have not seen anything comparable yet (and we both have been travelling a lot). Even the Acropolis seems to be insignificant compared to Petra. It is unbelievable that almost 100 000 people used to live there in the old days. Disregarding the masses of tourists and the locals that are trying to sell something, Petra is a magical place. The contrasts between the rugged landscapes and the partly very well kept buildings that are mostly chopped out of stones, make you feel like diving into another world and time zone. The local Bedouins still live in Petra’s rock caves. During the day they are trying everything to convince the tourists using their means of transportation (horses, donkeys, camels). One guy called his super speed donkey Ferrari und was quite successful with it.
Back at our Ammarin Bedouin Camp at the fire place in the evening, we talked to two tour guides from Amman. The two of them are a perfect address for outdoor equipment, tips and information about outdoor vehicle equipment and Jordan. The address is No1 4×4 8, Salim Bin Al-Harath Al Bayader Industrial Area. Arman. Tel. 06-581-6174. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the 26th of October early in the morning we drove from Petra to Wadi Rum for off-road driving. Finally deep sand, finally wild camping, finally campfire. The people at the visitor center in Wadi Rum welcomed us friendly. Entrance fee per person 5 JHD and 20 JHD for our car (altogether approx. 33 Euro). The price included one dinner at the Bedouin camp and breakfast. However we preferred to cook by ourselves in the wilderness. Therefore we went immediately towards east in deep sand. Wadi Rum is a mixture of rugged mountains, deep canyons and in between high sand dunes. The nature offered spectacular sceneries that changed every few minutes even more beautifully while we were driving.
Lawrence from Arabia lived here for a long time and described the landscape fascinatingly.
The significant feature of the desert is not the vastness, the bright sunlight or the sparkling stars. But the significant feature is the dead silence. Nothing, quietness, no bird, no cracking, not even the slightest noise. Like that we spent the first night at the campfire in a siq (canyon). The temperature went from 30°C during the day down to 7°C.
27. 10. 2011. Viktoria got her first lesson in deep sand driving and she managed well. Dune’s up and down almost without any problems. The Toyota also managed very well. We don’t have any troubles with the car so far apart from a small battery management problem from Sterling. It stops working from time to time and is not charging the second battery properly. Hopefully the problem will be solved soon.
After five hours and over 60 kilometers of driving through fascinating landscapes and sceneries we stopped at a huge mountain with a beautiful view for our place for the night. This place was a bit livelier then the one yesterday because we got some visits from local Bedouin’s – with camel, without camels with jeeps or with desert hunting dogs. All of them were very pleasant and accommodating. We opened a bottle of champagne (we brought with from Germany) and had it for sundowner. What a perfect day!
At this stage we would like to highlight that we were always welcomed very friendly and accommodating in Jordan. We felt from the first moment until the departure very comfortable.
On the 28th of October 2011 early in the morning we had to say good bye to our small paradise Wadi Rum in order to go back to Aqaba. We arrived at noon and bought immediately the tickets at the AB office in the center of Aqaba (GPS coordinates: N 29`31,7951 E 35`0,393975) for the ferry to Nuweiba, Sinai-Egypt. Departure of the ferry 18:00 h and 16:00 h arrival at the Aqaba port for check-in. Great, what a fantastic time, we thought! In order to keep us updated we needed to look for a pace to get internet access. The Mövenpick Hotel in Aqaba was kind enough to give us free internet in their hotel lobby. Sitting at the hotel lobby we felt like in another world, far away from the backpacker and outdoor scene. Deep frozen up to our bones because of the freezing cold Mövenpick Hotel aircon and after three hours of hard computer work we went back to the turmoil and crush of Aqaba. Sharp at 16:00 h we were at Aqaba port however nobody was working there at the check-in. The departure of the ferry was all of a sudden postponed to 23:00 h or maybe 01:00 h in the morning inshallah. At the end we drove with our car on the ferry at 01:30 h and the ferry left almost on time (with 9 hours delay) at 03:00 h in the morning. This was a first sign that we were getting closer to Africa. At the Aqaba ferry terminal was a big mess of people with huge luggage’s yelling at each other and having big arguments. The whole of Aqaba city (as also is Eilat in Israel) is a duty free zone. Therefore it seemed (at least we had the impression) that the entire middle east shopped in Aqaba and used the ferries. The incredible big pieces of luggage could never be carried by one person alone. Therefore there were big empty lorries for carrying the luggage on the ferry. However the people had to fight for a space for their luggage on the lorries. What a disaster and mess… Therefore all the yelling and arguments.
We will tell more about the ferry trip in our next blog.
Altogether we can say that Jordan is an absolute fascinating country. Everyone should go there once in their life.
Our highlights were:
- The unspectacular entry to Jordan
- Beautiful, fascinating landscapes and sights in Petra and Wadi Rum
- Off road driving in Wadi Rum’s deep sand
- Wild camping in dead silence and under the stars of Wadi Rum
- Very friendly helpful and open minded people
- Chaotic situation at the Aqaba ferry terminal