Believe it or not, Jordan has never been one of the places I have thought of as my ‘must go to’ places. I think this is probably the case for a lot of people because it’s not an in for your face all the time on social media kind of place is it? Last week I went there for a short break and I literally was blown away by the place. So, here I am writing about it and I can’t WAIT to tell you all about it!
This was actually our first proper holiday since our honeymoon in the Maldives in July 2015. Yikes! Time just flies in Dubai and although we have taken many trips around the UAE and have gone back home to the UK several times (weddings galore) we haven’t managed to venture out anywhere else. We decided on Jordan because we only had a limited number of holidays to take so the 3 hour flight was convenient. We did our research and decided that Jordan had lots to offer but it wasn’t the kind of place we could just turn up at and play it by ear like we normally would do in a European country. Hence, we decided to book with a tour company and it was honestly the best thing we ever did! I can’t recommend it enough. Lots of you asked about which tour company we booked with throughout my trip via Snapchat but I didn’t want to say until we were safely back home so I could give you an honest review of the experience that we had with them. Now that we are back I am happy to report that we went with Jordan Select Tours and they did the most amazing job planning our trip!
Two separate groups of friends of mine had used them in the last year and recommended them so I went for them purely based on their recommendation. All Atteeq and I had to do was book our flight and the rest was all taken care of! They booked all of the hotels, sorted the entry tickets for the museums, organised local guides and included all of this in the total price we were quoted. Thus, other than tipping the odd person along the way and paying for food – we literally paid for nothing else whilst we were in Jordan. Hand on heart, the easiest holiday I have ever planned. That is way more than can be said for my summer plans which I am currently in the midst of finalising and it is the biggest logistical nightmare I have ever come across but more on that in another post I think!
So, back to Jordan Select Tours. I emailed them with the dates that we were intending to visit and they sent back a proposed itinerary with a price option for 3 & 4 star hotels or 4 & 5 stars. Couple of things to note here:
-The difference between the two options in terms of pricing really wasn’t much so we just decided to go with 4 and 5 star.
-The 4 and 5 star hotels of Jordan are not the 4 and 5 star hotels of Dubai. Do not go in there expecting flashy and overtly luxurious but all our hotels were conveniently located, clean and had everything that we needed. More on the hotels later!
We checked over the proposed itinerary and were happy with what had been suggested and then booked our flights. It was easy as that! We were told that we could pay beforehand or could pay when we got there at the airport which was handy.
Arrival in Amman
We landed at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman around midnight on Tuesday night. We got off the plane, walked through the terminal and were met by a team member of Jordan Select Tours who had my name on a bright orange piece of paper! No idea why I’m telling you the colour of the paper but just in case you wondered. From there, he told us that we would need to get a visa but as we had booked with a tour company it would be free. We went to a special counter with him which had no queue. He already had a document with him that the company had prepared to hand over to the visa officer and honestly it took less than two minutes to get us through the immigration. Made it so much easier having someone with us but to be honest even if you are on your own, it’s such a small airport that you would be absolutely fine. Next, we got our bags, paid for the trip and were introduced to our driver Ahmed who would be with us for the next few days taking us all around Jordan. He took us to the car which was modern, clean and even had wi-fi. Score! He told us about the plan for the next few days which we obviously already had an idea of from our itinerary and that we would start the trip nice and early the following morning.
He drove us to the Al Qasr Metropole in the centre of Amman which was about 30 minutes from the airport. The hotel was nice but to be perfectly honest, it was 1am by this point and all we wanted was a bed. We also knew we were only there for 1 night so it didn’t really matter what the hotel was like. My only qualm was that their plugs were the two pin plugs and we hadn’t taken any adapters. The other two hotels had three pin plugs so just something to remember if you are heading here. The other thing was that the bed was rock hard and I was kind of expecting to just plop in after a long day. Other than this, no issues!
Amman Citadel and Roman Theatre
We woke up the next morning and went down for breakfast bright and breezy. Breakfast was included in all the hotels that were booked by Select Tours and by golly do you need breakfast on this trip! There is so much walking, you need to head out with some sustenance or you will nearly past out like I almost did on one of the days! The breakfast was actually really nice at the hotel because they had a live omelette bar so that was Atteeq made up for the rest of the morning.
After breakfast we checked out of the hotel and met our driver Ahmed to head to the Amman Citadel as our first stop for the day. Here we were met by a local guide who gave us a 30 minute tour of the Citadel and then left us to explore for ourselves.
Amman Citadel is the highest hill in Amman and although there’s plenty to see, the Citadel’s most striking sights are the Temple of Hercules and the Ummayad Palace. It’s a beautiful place and you could spend hours exploring! Tip: Wear sensible shoes here. It’s all cobbled paths on a hill that you have to climb. I’m sure you can imagine just how sensible I was on day 1 of the trip.The two giant standing pillars are the remains of the Roman Temple of Hercules. The only obvious remains are parts of the podium and the columns, which are visible from around town. There’s also a remnant of a stone-carved hand, because the guide told us that the rest of the statue had been stolen a few years back! You can walk around the Citadel for sweeping views of the downtown area. We spent about an hour and a half up here before heading back down to the driver to head to the Roman Theatre.The Roman Theatre was a short drive of about 7 minutes away from the Citadel and is a highlight for any tourists visiting Amman! The theatre is cut into a hill and has seating capacity of around 6000! The atmosphere here was absolutely electric with lots of school children on a trip showcasing an impromptu Dabke! I’ve heard that productions are put on here during July and August so something to think about if you are in Amman during the summer months!
After this we saw a little bit more of Amman, had the best Kanafeh the city has to offer and then started the long journey towards Wadi Rum. The drive was around 4 hours long and we stopped off for lunch along the way at a service stop. I changed out of my dress too and wore something more comfortable but I totally forgot to take out flip flops for the desert didn’t I! Thankfully the weather was absolutely perfect so although the sand was warm it was cool enough for me to walk on it bare feet when we needed to. My friend went during the summer last year and said she wished she had taken old trainers because her feet were burning as she walked on the sand in flip flops!
Before I forget…outfit!
Dress – ASOS, Bag and shoes – Zara, Watch – Kenneth Watches, Sunglases and cuff H&M
After the long drive we finally started to see the Wadi. This part of the trip is something I can’t quite put into words. You need to feel it and see it for yourself but it was just absolutely breath-taking. It’s quite a bumpy ride when you get there and our driver stopped at a little petrol station where a Toyota jeep was waiting for us with another local guide who would take us on a safari through Wadi Rum for three hours. When he said three hours I thought to myself what on earth are we going to do in the desert for three hours exactly but the time flew in and it was just one of the best experiences of my life!Now, something to take note of here. Do not expect the jeep for the safari to be in great condition – we were warned by the tour company that the jeeps aren’t of great quality and since they don’t actually own them and just hire someone to take you on the tour at Wadi Rum it’s not really their responsibility. But, I think it made it all the more fun that we jumped on to the back of a small pickup truck which randomly had two sets of seats plonked into it. If you didn’t put enough weight on them they did slide around during the safari! It was so much fun! Be sure to take plenty of water with you and maybe something to wrap up with because although the weather was just perfect during the safari by sunset it did get a little windy and chilly!
The actual safari consists of being driven around the peaceful, blissful and mesmerising Wadi with stops every so often made by the driver to look at points of interest. Our favourite part was getting to climb a huge sand dune bare feet and seeing the most amazing view from the top.Wadi Rum was one of those places that it’s pretty difficult to describe exactly what it was like into words so I leave you with these photos in the hope that they will get you a little bit excited for part 2 of this post.Excited yet?