Jordan is an amazing country, and I loved everything we did there. This trip to Jordan was part of a larger 2-week trip that I took with my family. We started in Rome for 2 days, flew to Tel Aviv, Israel, spent 8 days in Israel, then took a guided tour to Jordan for 3 days. This blog just covers the Jordan part of that trip. Check out my travel guide for 8 days in Israel, or how my post about how to spend 2 days in Rome.
Now on to Jordan.
Why did we do a guided tour?
We chose to do a 3-day guided group tour of Jordan with Abraham Tours. I usually don’t like traveling with a guided group, but we decided to do Jordan this way because it can be complicated to cross the border from Israel to Jordan and back again on your own. We needed to start in Israel, go to Jordan, and then go back to Israel, so handling border crossings and transportation on our own would have been difficult. I did a lot of research beforehand and decided that a guided tour was our best option.
Was the tour worth it?
YES. This tour was phenomenal, and I would recommend it to anyone. Yes, we were driven around in a charter bus, but the tour was so good. Being on a multi-day tour allowed you to get to know the other 45 people from all over the world who were also on the tour. We had one guide named Nad who managed the tour and served as a tour guide at the different attractions and sites. He was a local Jordanian and was fantastic. He gave amazing tours at all of the sites and would give us a commentary about Jordan on the bus rides. All accommodations, meals, transportation, and attraction tickets were included in the tour cost. Everything was well-managed and there was time both as a group and for everyone to do things on their own. It was so worth it.
Why Abraham Tours?
I picked Abraham Tours because I really wanted to see both Petra and the Wadi Rum Desert, and we needed a tour that saw those sites while also taking us round trip from Tel Aviv. There are lots of tours that will take you just from Israel to Petra in either 1 or 2 days. However, I wanted more than a few hours at Petra, and REALLY wanted to see the Wadi Rum desert. The 3-day tour from Abraham Tours fit all of our criteria. This is the exact tour that we took.
Day 1: Drive from Tel Aviv to the Jordan border. Cross the border and drive to the archaeological site of Jerash. Visit Jerash. Drive to Petra and spend the night near Petra.
Day 2: See Petra
Day 3: Drive from Petra to Wadi Rum. Take a camel ride and Jeep tour through the desert. Eat lunch in the desert. Drive back to Tel Aviv.
Crossing the Border
We left the Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv at 6am! Woohoo! A little van picked up a small group of us from the hostel and drive us to the Jordan River Border Crossing (about 1.5 hours). There are only a few places where you can cross the border between Israel and Jordan.
The border crossing wasn’t bad, but it did take a while. We had to present our passports multiple times and make our way through several stations. We also met up with our guide, Nad, and the rest of our tour group that had come from Jerusalem. The border was pretty empty when we were there, but apparently, if the border is crowded, it can take hours to get through. The whole process from arrival to departure probably took us about 2 hours, but some of that time was waiting for the other to join us from Jerusalem.
Once we made it through the border, we all boarded a charter bus and drove to the city of Jerash. I knew nothing about Jerash before the tour, but it was really cool. Jerash is a present-day city but is also an archaeological site from the Roman Empire.
The remains of the ancient city of Jerash is Jordan’s largest Roman site. The city is surprisingly well-preserved, and you can walk among the columns, temples, and theatres that remain.
We stayed in a Bedouin camp outside of Petra for 2 nights. The Bedouins were a nomadic tribe of Arab people in Jordan. Today, it is popular to stay in a Bedouin-style camp when visiting Petra where visitors stay in Bedouin-style permanent tents in the desert.
We stayed at the Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp, which is about a 15-minute drive from Wadi Musa, the closest town to Petra. The camp was beautiful, but the tents aren’t heated, and we were there in January when temperatures were around 30 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Since I have arthritis and don’t do well sleeping in the cold, my mom and I booked ourselves an Airbnb in Wadi Musa.
Funny story. I didn’t realize the campsites weren’t heated until we were on our way there. I literally booked an Airbnb on the bus on my phone about 4 hours before we were going to be checking in. It was worth it though. Our guide, Nad, arranged for us to get there after the bus dropped everyone else off at the camp. He also arranged for us to be picked up again. Bless him.
Petra was our main reason for visiting Jordan and oh man. It was one of the coolest places I’ve ever been, and this day was my favorite day of our entire trip.
Petra is an ancient city dating back to 300 BC. It was the capital city of the Nabatean Empire, a nomadic group of Arab people that built this city in the canyons of southern Jordan. The structures are literally CARVED into the sandstone. The whole city of Petra is located deep in a giant, secluded, beautiful sandstone canyon. Even now, to get to the entrance of the city, you have to hike through a canyon for about 30 minutes. There are locals who offer you the option to ride on a donkey or cart instead of walking, but just walk it. The experience in itself is amazing.
Just imagine….Petra was a wealthy, thriving city of about 20,000 people. Caravans of camels would travel for days to get here. They would walk for miles through the desert, making their way through canyons when suddenly they were met with this view and welcomed into the city beyond. This structure is known as The Treasury and is carved into the sandstone. Just think about how much work it would have taken to CARVE this structure into the rock.
After marvelling at the Treasury, you continue walking into the rest of the city. Our guide, Nad, gave us a great tour then set us free to explore Petra on our own for a few more hours.
One of the best things to do inside Petra is to visit the monastery. To get to the monastery, you have to climb up 800 steps. It’s a hike, but the climb is so worth it. You’ll get to see the monastery and incredible views of the surrounding desert.
The Royal Tombs
You’ll also want to see the Royal Tombs. The tombs are also carved into the sandstone, and the massive structures overlook the main part of the city. More info about the Royal Tombs.
Petra By Night
On certain days of the week, Petra offers Petra By Night experiences. Visitors can walk through the canyon to the Treasury by candlelight then sit and admire the Treasury at night while enjoying traditional music and tea. We spontaneously decided to do Petra By Night. It wasn’t anything crazy amazing, but it was nice to experience the canyon at night.
Here’s what happens at Petra By Night: Everyone walks through the candlelit canyon, then you sit in front of the Treasury. The structure is lit up, and everyone listens to music and readings while drinking tea. If you’re visiting Petra on a day where Petra By Night is offered, I would say go for it. There is an additional fee, but it’s a nice ending to the day. Find ticket info here.
I was SO EXCITED for the Wadi Rum Desert, and it did not disappoint. Wadi Rum is a desert in Southern Jordan. Wadi means valley, and the desert is cut into a valley of sandstone and granite. I really love deserts, and this place is one of the reasons I wanted to visit Jordan.
Fun fact: several movies have been filmed in Wadi Rum including Star Wars, The Martian, and Aladdin.
Our tour bus drove us from Petra to the desert, which is a few hours of driving. When we arrived, we had the option of riding a camel through the desert. My brother and I did it and let me tell you. Riding a camel through the desert in Jordan is NOT overrated. The camel ride was so much fun.
After the camel ride, we boarded 4X4 trucks and continued riding through the desert. It was incredible.
This is a traditional Arab headscarf that is used to keep dust, sand, and sun out of your face. The red embroidered pattern is popular in Jordan and red is a national color. Our guide, Nad, wore one of these headscarves every day. I bought one and wore it when we visited the desert. Not only did it make me feel really cool, but it really did keep the dist out of my face and hair! More info on the headscarves.
While in Wadi Rum, I also did a mini session with Gemma and Andrea! You can find more photos of them here.
After Wadi Rum, we drove about 5 hours back to Tel Aviv, Israel.
Jordan was incredible. I’m so glad we went, and my only regret is that we couldn’t stay longer! Here are more photos from the trip. You can also check out my travel guide to Israel.
I'm Abby, a traveling photographer and writer, and I'm most passionate about connecting people with the outdoors, and I started this blog because I believe in the power of visual communication to move people from awareness of the outdoors all the way to stewardship of natural resources.