Our favourite experiences in Jordan
Before we launch any new destination, it is our top priority to get out there on the ground and explore every hidden gem in the country. We also spend plenty of time working out how to visit the famous highlights in the best and most unique way, so that every holiday we create combines luxury with adventure and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Over the last few years we have travelled extensively around Jordan and here are just a few of our highlights…
AN ADVENTURE NEAR THE DEAD SEA
The Dead Sea is famed for being the lowest point on earth and many flock here to float in the salt water and bake themselves in the Dead Sea mineral mud for therapeutic benefits. However, before we felt deserved of this, we had a day of adventure lined up.
We donned our lifejackets and joined our wonderful guide, Anas, to take us canyoning. Walking through one of the many gorges in Wadi Mujib, the lowest nature reserve on earth, with 50m high walls on either side, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed and soon the splashing through puddles became wading through a river at some points reaching shoulder height. Suddenly we heard a rushing of water and around the next corner, we were faced with a cascading waterfall. We climbed through a tunnel to get a better view before cooling off in the whirlpools below and then sliding down the falls and rapids to find ourselves back where we began.
In the afternoon we hopped on mountain bikes at Madaba and cycled from 800 metres above sea level to 400 metres below sea level, over 40km, on country lanes with the only traffic jam being caused by a herd of goats crossing the road. After some hard peddling, we reached a magnificent viewpoint looking down to the Dead Sea. From here the road snaked downhill through vineyards and olive groves, as we reached the shores of the Dead Sea. Despite the heat, which was intense at points, I would recommend exploring many parts of the country by bicycle to anyone who wishes to get a little off the beaten track and see the lesser known Jordan.
An action packed day was rewarded by a float in the Dead Sea to cool off, before we coated ourselves in mud for the traditional Dead Sea experience.
LEARNING ABOUT JORDANIAN CUISINE
It may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Jordan, but the incredible cuisine on offer should be a huge allure for any visiting foodie. From the aromatic coffee, to the spices and smells of the markets and the enticing mezze; the country really is a Middle Eastern melting pot, a feast for the senses and a highlight of any visit.
Food is a hugely important aspect of Jordanian culture, and when visiting the local villages, meals are a community event with immediate and extended family all present. The cuisine is also commonly used to express hospitality and generosity, and everywhere we went we were served with great pride.
We were introduced to the culinary delights on an evening visit to the lively downtown area of Amman. Meandering through the bustling back streets at sunset, we joined the locals tucking into their Iftar feasts congregating at the legendary Hashem Restaurant for the freshest falafel and hummus in town. This restaurant was so popular with locals and visitors alike, that there was stiff competition for tables, many of which were overflowing into the alleyway.
Petra Kitchen is the place to visit to master the flavours and techniques of Jordanian cooking, a fine local initiative encouraging visitors to get a hands-on experience of the Jordanian culture. For us, it was great fun to work alongside local chefs to prepare dishes using numerous spices and flavours, from turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, sumac, tahini, and pomegranate molasses. Of course, the best bit was sampling our feast at the end.
One of the most incredible foodie experiences in Jordan is enjoying Zarb, a delicacy of the Desert area of Wadi Rum. This Bedouin barbecue consists of lightly marinated meats and vegetables submerged into an underground oven with hot coals beneath the desert sands. After being slow roasted for 4 hours, the sand is swept away leaving the glorious smells of slow-roasted flavours to billow into the air. The Bedouins have cooked in this way for centuries, but little has changed in the way the foods are cooked and the tender meat falls off the bone – just as it did hundreds of years ago.
PETRA AND WADI RUM
Founder + co-owner Henrietta Loyd says:
“I am not usually an early riser, but on this day it was well worth it. We departed our hotel at 6:30am armed with breakfast boxes and spent the next 6 hours exploring the mind-boggling lost city of Petra, the first 3 hours of which were without another tourist in sight and we had the staggering landscape and ruins to ourselves.
We then continued our journey to the towering untamed granite rock formations and glowing sand dunes of Wadi Rum where the scenery just kept becoming more stunning. We transferred to a 4Ã4 to take us into the depths of the desert to our private luxury camp, all the way absorbing the views of the dusty orange moonscape, with just a lone camel on the horizon.
As we arrived at our camp, we were greeted with Arabian coffee and dates before being shown to our extravagant tent. As the doorway was peeled back we were met with disbelief, this was true glamping with a proper bed, pressurised hot water shower, flushing loo and electricity in the middle of nowhere. And there on the table, was a bottle of champagne. We popped it open in time to witness the sunset over the mountains and a waiter miraculously appeared armed with Jordanian snacks to accompany it. The evening continued with a delicious dinner fit for King Abdullah II himself, slow cooked for hours underground in a Zarb, a Bedouin-style barbecue.
We returned to our tent by moonlight and slept like babies until we were awakened for yet another fantastic meal of beautifully spiced omelettes and freshly squeezed juices against the stunning desolate backdrop.”