We had a three day weekend and were looking for a place to go that didn't need me to get a visa. Having an Indian passport can limit your options for quick trips significantly. We had a toss up between Georgia (the new 'it' destination) and Jordan. Jordan won by a whisker because I love history and architecture and was willing to postpone wine tasting in Kakheti to another trip! What we covered was literally 'essential Jordan' plus a surprise trek that my wife threw in there for good measure.
We started our trip by flying Emirates from Dubai to Amman. The driver picked us up and took us to Dana Nature reserve. In Dana, we had the most surreal hiking experience. A Bedouin (local tribe) guide who grew up in the valley led us on a crazy (Nawatef) trail. No path, no steps, no safety equipment, smooth rocks, no other tourists. But what a wonderful experience! There were 5 of us so we didn't worry about safety, I might've been worried if we were fewer! When we got to the top of the cliff he made Jordanian mint tea for us.
Once we were done, our driver picked us up and drove us to Petra which is about 300km away from the international airport. We checked into the Movenpick hotel which is literally at the gate of Petra ruins (excellent location). They had messed up our booking though so be sure to check it twice before getting there.
Tip 1: Always book your trip with a local registered tour company, send them copies of your passport 48hrs in advance and you won't have to pay visa fees on arrival
We used Jordan select tours and were extremely satisfied with their service. Ask for their driver Azmi if you go with them, he speaks English, is accommodating and funny!
What followed next was the highlight of our trip: 'Petra by night'. The 2 km walk from the gate to the Treasury is lit entirely by wax candles in brown paper bags. There are no guides and no announcements. You just follow the crowd in silence through these ancient Nabatean ruins. Suddenly through the crack in the Siq, you will see the most mesmerizing scene! I literally held my breath at the first sight of the Treasury. Local musicians played as everyone sat on the ground drinking tea, just awestruck by this beautiful and oddly spiritual place. A must do.
Tip 2: Petra by night is open only a couple of nights a week, be sure to overlap your trip with these days
The second day was spent trekking through Petra by day. A wholly different experience from the one we had the previous night. This was awe inspiring in a totally different vein. We did the tour on foot though there are mules for hire if you're not comfortable walking on rough terrain for about 6 hours. We had a hilarious guide, a local who was an incredible though harmless flirt with all the girls in our group. In the tour, one can avoid the monastery but be sure to see the mineral caves with their myriad colors when you visit. They make for lovely photos.
Around 5pm we left for the Dead Sea, our final stop for the weekend. It's a really long journey and we only got there 6 hours later, checked into the Crowne Plaza hotel which has a private beach.
Tip 3: Pick a hotel with beach access when visiting the Dead Sea.
Our final stop was the beach! We did the famous Dead Sea mud bath and jumped into the super salty water and floated around. Keep in mind that you shouldn't spend more than 20minutes in the water or you'll burn your skin. I didn't notice any incredible change in my skin quality with the mud pack but the whole experience was quite fun. I think the most incredible thing for me was that I could see Israel literally across the water, a 20minute swim away! The fact that this little country manages to remain mostly safe and peaceful is incredible.
Tip 4: Have a drink at the adults only pool at the Crowne Plaza - it's literally like Ibiza on the Dead Sea!
This was our last day and the one thing we really wanted to fit in but couldn't was Wadi Rum. But I've saved it for next time. I definitely want to return to this unassumingly beautiful place still fairly off the usual tourist's path.