Made famous by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Petra has a well-earned reputation as Jordan’s top tourist attraction. The Nabatean city carved into red rock is a must for any Jordan trip, but it shouldn’t be the only stop on your itinerary. Here are just some of the other amazing experiences this country has to offer.
Experience local culture in Umm Qais
Sustainable tourism is booming in Umm Qais, where local families invite travelers into their homes, enticing them to stay a night or two after visiting the nearby ancient city of Gadara.
In this village of 7,000, located near the northern border, you’ll be welcomed into a family kitchen for a lesson in making cured eggplants, or into the living room for a crash course in basket weaving. In the evening, you’ll sit with your hosts on floor cushions, dining around a low table on a home-cooked meal of chicken, rice and vegetables, finished with tea and cake.
Ride a camel in Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum has stood in for Mars in several movies, and it’s easy to see why. The red sand stretches into infinity, and sandstone and granite cliffs tower in all directions.
Plodding through the sand on a camel is a good way to take in the astonishing scenery at an easy pace. To pick things up, hop into the back of a 4×4 and bounce over the sand hills.
Head back into the desert after dark for an incredible view of the stars, gathered around a fire for freshly brewed Bedouin tea while singing into the night. Then, get up at the crack of dawn as the light glows pink over the desert for a morning you’ll never forget.
Cover yourself in mud at the Dead Sea
At the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea is actually a salt lake. Lined with high-end resorts, it’s a stunning place to settle in for a few days of luxury.
At the waterfront, cover yourself head to toe in black Dead Sea mud, known for its healing properties. Dry yourself in the sun, then wade in for a dip. Don’t try to swim, though – the water is much too salty for that. Instead, enjoy the strange sensation of weightlessness as you bob on the surface.
Visit key sites from the Bible
Mount Nebo, with its views stretching out into the valley, is said to be the place where Moses saw the Promised Land. The site is now home to a sixth-century church with a beautifully-preserved mosaic floor depicting the domestication of animals. Outside, there’s an olive tree planted by Pope John Paul II.
On the eastern bank of the River Jordan, Bethany Beyond the Jordan is believed to be the site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. After touring the Roman and Byzantine ruins, you can wade into the water, joining centuries of Christian pilgrims who have traveled to this holy site.
By Christina Newberry