Journey to Jordan, Petra, the Dead Sea and Jerash

(221 Reviews)
99% Recommended

Ann Castagna Morin

Southampton, MA
Luxury River Cruise & European travel specialist

I have had a sense of wanderlust since I was a child, always yearning to go off and explore the world.

I will take my own personal passion for travel and use it to craft an extraordinary luxury experience for you.

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The Treasury at Petra Jordan

This trip was an extension on my Avalon Waterways Egypt and the Nile tour. My husband and I were very spoiled to have a private tour for the four days were were in Jordan. Just as in Cairo we had a escort waiting for us who whisked us through customs and immigration and obtained our visas for us, it could not have been easier.


One of the first things I learned is that water is at a premium in Jordan, the government only supplies tap water twice a week. If you want more than that you need to purchase back up containers privately.There are white storage tanks on the roofs of all of the buildings, like big marshmallows taking over as much space as possible. Most of the water is trucked in from the middle of the desert.    


We visited the citadel which has the remains of a Roman temple.There once was a huge Hercules statue that stood in the center, a few pieces such as his elbow and fingers were excavated. It must have been magnificent to see given the size of the fingers.  We headed out of Amman to Mt. Nebo which is the alleged burial site of Moses. According to our guide, Moses wandered the desert for 40 years until his followers finally listened to him and cooperated, allowing him to see the signs leading to the mountain. From the top he pointed out the promise land and sometime after died at the age of 125. It is said that God buried his body somewhere on the mountain or valleys below. On a clear day you can see Israel from the mountain, it is just 3 hours away. There is a shrine and a church with several interesting mosaics that were hidden for years. One particular mosaic depicts the maturation of man, evolving and learning to live with animals and his fellow men instead of battling them.


    We arrived at Petra around 8:30 am and hiked for about five hours and still didn’t see everything. 


You could easily spend several days there. The walk down is beautiful through massive caverns with ever changing colored rocks. There is a really interesting rock formation about halfway down, when you look at it from the front it looks like an elephant but from the side I saw an angel fish. The reveal to the Treasury is quite dramatic through a break in the narrow cavern walls.This is the building the most people think of when they imagine Petra, but the site is much more than one building, it was an entire city.  It is a pity many people turn around after seeing the Treasury, if the continued on there is SO much more!  The name "Treasury" is quite misleading, when the local Bedouins first discovered the building, they thought the urn at the top is where Egyptians had hidden gold coins. There are bullet holes in the urn where people tried to crash it for the hidden coins.The urns actually are what dead babies were kept in.There are several other indications that this was a tomb including the many skeletons that were unearthed.The whole site is full of tombs, anywhere you see what looks like staircases carved into the mountain that indicates there is a tomb below.The stairs indicate ascending to the next life.   


Departing Petra, we had a very picturesque drive to our hotel on the Dead Sea.    


The Dead Sea is a lake not a sea, the rocks on the shore are covered in salt crystals.  There is so much salt in this body of water nothing can survive (hence the name) and everything floats.How salty is it you ask?  The Dead Sea has a salinity of 280 parts per thousand (ppt) the average ocean is around 35 ppt!It is the lowest place on the planet clocking in at 1380 below sea level.I noticed my ears popping when we drove to Jerash which is not particularly mountainous, however is at 1980 feet above sea level a big altitude difference!  I regret that it was too chilly for me to go in the sea, as I would have loved to try floating in it.  I did see people in there, but I have a rule about water temperature and to me it was much too chilly. 


Something to note, if you do go in the water, it is a good idea to not shave for a day before hand, not your legs or your underarms.The salt will get into your open pours and feel like little knifes cutting you!    


Our last adventure in Jordan was to Jerash. The site dates all the way back to 7500 BC, however, the current Greco Roman ruins are “newer” from 63 BC.So much of the city is still intact it was easy to imagine myself walking the streets with everything bustling with chariots and vendors. These are the largest Greco-Roman ruins outside of Italy and as I have been to most of them, I can honestly say this is well worth a visit! You have to check out the massive gate built for Emperor Hadrian's visit back in AD129, it was like putting out nice guest towels for company on a grander scale. Plus there were no crowds, we had the place nearly to ourselves!   


I really enjoyed Jordan and actually wish I had added on more days there, it is a fascinating country, I think I will return to see other parts of it.


 

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