A Drive through Jordan; Dead Sea, Wadi Rum & Aqaba
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After 2 days in Amman, it was time to head south to see the beauty of the desert and Petra. I had booked my accommodation near both places and wanted to stay the night there, finally driving down all the way south to Aqaba and then crossing into Israel. The plan was to do all this in 2 and a half days.
Read my country guide about Jordan to find answers to all your questions for a comfortable trip.
There was an option to do an inland boring Highway route that goes directly to Petra from Amman and takes 3-4 hours but I opted to go through the slightly longer route that goes next to the Dead Sea then through Wadi Mujib going inland to finally arrive in Petra. I stayed the night there and after seeing Petra the next day, spent the night there and headed to Wadi Rum via the desert Highway. I spent the night there is a desert camp and after taking the sunrise tour next morning headed to Aqaba where I returned the car and headed to Israeli border (not without a dip in the sea though).
Renting a Car in Jordan wasn’t my first option because I got my license just a year ago. I’d driven in a few places but never on highways. The cost of hiring a car with a driver for 2 days was ridiculously high and tours didn’t give me the flexibility I wanted so I opted for an Avis small car (Spark) and I was told to pick it up same day.
I bought full insurance and took the car. It wasn’t in the best condition but I wasn’t aware of the danger that would pose later. I left Amman and headed out to dead sea via Wadi Shoyeb. Going down a hill the brakes stopped working and boom I ended up with a pretty scary accident. The airbag opened and I ran out of the car as soon as it stopped. The car was almost destroyed on one side. I called the agency. Long story short, they provided me with a replacement car and towed the other one away. I paid the actual price later when I returned the car. Turns out the staff didn’t actually buy the insurance and they tried their best to get the money out of me with this excuse or other. I am still waiting for the insurance documents so beware…
Read about staying safe during solo travelling.
I arrived at the Dead Sea around midday and it was baking hot even in October. I was late so I kept on driving thinking I’d visit the Dead Sea from the Israeli side. The drive around was mesmerising, to say the least. It is such a fascinating place with blue water meeting the dried salty shores merging into the red mountains. There are a few high-end hotels and resorts here if you want to stay and there is also a public beach to enjoy the float in this lake.
Lot’s Cave and Lowest Point on Earth
Towards the end of the Dead Sea, there is a small road going inwards which took me to the Museum of Lowest point on Earth. The museum was pretty meh but I did get to see the cave of Prophet Lot. He is the infamous prophet who every Muslim has used against LGBT people to deny them basic right and equality. I stood there waiting for some angel to appear to smash me between the mountains but nothing happened so I danced a little and drove away; it is another bulls**t story after all…
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Al Tafilah Highway
Next was the Tafilah Highway heading towards Petra. The road is in good condition but the twists and turns and the mountains around are almost alien. I could be driving on Mars. The road kept going higher and higher and I was scared the brakes might fail on this car as well but I kept going eventually arriving at the top of this crazy place. The view was breathtaking and I couldn’t believe my luck and my eyes. I stopped at this small hut with a Bedouin shop at bought some water and he took some photos for me. Some tea later I was on the way again because it was getting late and I still had a few places to cover.
Want to learn how to take perfect photos while travelling solo? Read this guide.
The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful and I arrived in Petra tired. You can check the details of Petra in Petra post separately.
Wadi Rum is another must-do and was firmly on my list since a friend visited and told me about the beautiful sunset, starry nights and sunrise here.
The road from Petra is very good via the desert Highway and in a couple of hours driving via the crazy desert, I arrived near my camp. I was told by Police officers who asked me to buy the Wadi Rum entrance ticket. I got the ticket from the visitors centre for 5 JOD and then headed back to the same route to get to my camp before sunset. I saw a few camps on the way and to be honest it doesn’t matter which one you stay in and how ‘luxury’ it is, you are in the desert and most of them have running water and good bedding. I got an igloo type tent with a transparent ceiling to enjoy the starry night.
We arrived at the camp in 4×4’s after leaving our cars in the village and took the jeeps to explore the desert and enjoy the sunset.
The sunset was intense; the orange of the sunset merging with the red desert and brown rocks was just beyond belief. I just sat there considering what I had done right in life to deserve this beauty, at that moment the wealth of the entire world seemed irrelevant and all my problems seemed small. The orange turned into red giving way to blue and then grey to black. I still sat there silent enjoying the peace and silence until we got the signal for dinner. I headed to the central tent and we were taken to see how Zaarb is made. It is chicken and vegetables cooked in the desert sand underground without any flame or coals. It was absolutely soft and delicious with an aroma of earth coming through…
A nice shower later I was in my bed watching the night getting intense and stars shining brighter. It was an almost full moon night which made the sky much brighter and I couldn’t see that many stars and soon I dozed off.
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I woke up at 5:30, took a shower and headed to the desert with our guide for a sunrise tour. Something weird had happened overnight and we got to see the partial sunset with lots of clouds and some rain which got intense. I thought I would be disappointed but the scene was still so intense and beautiful with the backdrop of the desert, I doubt there’s any way for it not to be beautiful…
I headed out to Aqaba which is a couple hours’ drive from Wadi Rum via the desert highway. It was an uneventful drive made more fun when I picked up a hitchhiking policeman. He didn’t speak any English so we ended up not talking much but it is soothing to have someone while driving.
I returned the car, had my blood pressure to boiling point by Avis staff and then headed to get some rest.
The beach is Aqaba is quite nice and there are colourful boats with glass floors to see the marine life. A quick dip helped calm me, the nap helped even further and some food later I was heading to the Israeli border.
This was a very different experience for me. It was the first time I dealt with a faulty car, I drove on the highway, in the desert, at night and dealt with the scammy car agency. Above all else, I got to see this beautiful part of the world on my own at my own pace and I feel like I grew a lot in those 3 days.
If you want to replicate it, I’d highly recommend checking the car especially if you’re a solo traveller like me. Read about the Petra experience to get the full picture.
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