Jordan had been at the top of my bucket list for many years, the romance of the desert, the wonder of Petra and the unique experience of floating in the dead sea were the biggest draws. I had looked at tours but they didn’t quite fit with the experience I was looking for, so when my daughter and son in law suggested we should hire a car and plan our own itinerary, I did not hesitate. So here’s the Jordan Travel Guide that I came out from my own travelling experience. And I hope this down-to-earth guide can help you plan better when driving through the Kings Highway.
Jordan Travel Guide – When is the best time to go?
We opted for 8 days in early October, thinking that the heat of the summer would have passed and the surprisingly cold winter would not have set in. But it turned out that it was still a touch on the hot side, so I figured that end of October or early November should be a better time for exploration.
Jordan Travel Guide – How to go around Jordan?
If self driving is something you are happy to do, then I highly recommend it. Public transport is an option, but you will need to allow a bit more time due to poor connections. Moreover, the price for hiring a car is reasonable and petrol is much cheaper as compared to UK. Roads are generally in very good condition. Once you drive out of the main towns, it’s quite traffic free, so it’s really easy to drive. There are periodic police checks but we always waved straight through them.
Jordan Travel Guide – Where to stay?
We chose to stay in Madaba as its nearer to the airport than Amman. We also took advantage of the airport transfer offered by our accommodation – the well regarded Mariam Hotel. Our hired car was delivered to the hotel and we followed the scenic Kings Highway route to Petra.
Jordan Travel Guide – How to navigate through the Kings Highway?
Madaba to Petra will take a full day with a couple of stops. Beware that satellite navigation will direct you to the newer, faster but very boring Desert Highway at every opportunity. So I highly recommend you to get a map. I would suggest that before you even set off, note down the names of the places along the route and programme them into satellite navigation. This is because spellings are somewhat challenging and it’s hard to do en-route.
Another frustrating point is that the signage on straight stretches of road are non-existent at junctions. The towns sprawling across these main junctions are busy, so you need to keep your cool.
Lastly, guide book recommendations should be checked and double checked, tourist numbers are dramatically reduced at present and not all services are operating.
Jordan Travel Guide – What to look out for?
The road traverses mile after mile of dusty barren landscape dotted with Bedouin camps indicating a life almost unfathomable to us. Highlights include the viewpoint high above Wadi Mujib, before you descend via some extreme hairpins to the valley floor then climb up again.
We got a little lost around Karak. But after some effort navigating through and continuing south, we reached the almost abandoned village of Dana where we had a late lunch.
Followed by a fulfilling lunch, we went to visit the atmospheric ruined crusader castle at Shobak. Its guardian was very friendly. He even pointed out his cave home at the base of the hill where goats grazed.
Our plan to visit Little Petra as the final stop of the day had to be abandoned as we ran out of time. All in all, I would not hesitate to drive the route again, although I would buy a better map than the one the car hire company provided. If you have an extra day, you can consider staying over at Dana which is set on the edge of a large gorge and offers amazing views and hiking. Bon voyage!
Final thoughts from Chloe
The news have said enough about the Middle East, saying that it’s dangerous and war torn. But the truth is, there are many safe places to travel in Middle East, and Jordan is one of them. Being such a mysterious place, Jordan is definitely a bucket-list to be unchecked in the near future!
If you want to find out more about Lizzie and her journeys, check out her Instagram @Lizzie_goes and her biography here. 🙂