Jordan

For such a small country - in fact one could drive across it in less than four  hours -  Jordan packs a staggering amount of breathtaking sites. Between the haunting pink cliffs of Petra and the eerily still Dead Sea, from the jaw-dropping Lawrence-of-Arabia-made-famous landscapes of Wadi Rum to the countless, beautifully-preserved ruins of Jerash , Karak and the desert castles, travellers won’t find themselves lacking sites to see while visiting this gem of a country. Unlike some its neighbours, especially in recent times, Jordan is also very easy and safe to visit, and backpackers will receive far less harassment from touts than in nearby places like, say, Egypt. Couple this with the relatively easy-going liberal attitude of the bustling capital, Amman, and it’s easy to see why the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is such a popular place for quick visits and tours. While slightly more expensive than some of its neighbours, bargains are still to be found throughout the country: you can find some of the best falafel of your life for about 25 cents in Amman, or a hostel in Wadi Musa that serves up a home cooked, 20-item, vegetarian buffet for a mere three dinar, served outside under the twinkling stars of the desert sky. Whether you are interested in an Indiana Jones-style camel ride through the desert, or a chic café experience on Rainbow street in downtown Amman, Jordan’s variety and endless list of sites will leave travellers happily exhausted. ~ Julia Totino


Journey to Petra: Truly Different

Amman is a different kind of place. Though it is the capital of Jordan, it’s not always the metropolis that many may think. It’s located in a very hilly region where only the hardiest get by. Even the ploughed hillsides are dominated by submerged rocks, while other hillsides are pure rock and nothing else. The city itself is a contrast of old and new, rural and urban. It boasts all the amenities you’d expect to find, but at the same time is home to tents in the centre of small farm-like enclosures that host sheep or camels, and the occasional donkey. The sprawl of Amman is wide thanks to extensive and mostly ongoing construction work on the outskirts, and there are relatively few mosques compared to other cities in the region.

Once in a Lifetime - Wadi Musa

Wadi Musa: Gateway to PetraWhat am I doing here?” – Arthur Rimbaud, writing home from Ethiopia

I am currently sitting in the cool, shady outdoor terrace of my hostel, the Valentine Inn, here in Wadi Musa, Jordan. Wadi Musa is basically a little town, a hick town really, like any other hick town the world over: empty street cafes, shops selling an eclectic mix of film and batteries, socks and watches. It's been built up mainly as a place to stay for people visiting the nearby famous ruins of Petra. There is very little to do here but wander the hilly streets, eat one-dinar falafel, browse the odd clothing shops and drink tea while snacking on various Middle Eastern sweets (turkish delight and waffle cookies were the choice today). Any weight I previously lost in the harsh desert landscape of Wadi Rum, I have most surely gained back by now. Dammit.

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 Full name: Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

 Population: 29.55 million (CIA, 2012)

 Capital: Amman

 Largest city: Amman

 Area: 89,342 sq.km. (34,495 sq. mi.)

 Major languages: Arabic, English widely  understood

 Major religions: Muslim (Sunni), Christian

 Monetary unit: Jordanian Dinar

 GDP per capita: US $5,900

 Internet domain: .jo

 International dialling code: +962

 Source: CIA World Factbook