Getting there and getting around Jordan

by Terri Cook and Lon Abbott
Monday, February 29, 2016

For an experience like no other, spend a night or two off the grid in a Bedouin goat-hair tent in the heart of Wadi Rum. Credit: both: Terri Cook and Lon Abbott

Jordan has two international airports: Amman and Aqaba. Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport is the main gateway, offering service to most major Middle Eastern and European cities and regular nonstop flights to New York, Chicago and Montreal. The airport is located 35 kilometers south of Amman; reach the city via express bus service or taxi. Taxis also serve Madaba, which is much smaller and closer to the airport. Madaba hotels will arrange airport pickup and King’s Highway transportation for you. The most convenient and flexible exploration option is with your own vehicle. Several rental agencies operate in Madaba, with more selection at the airport. Our vehicle was delivered to our Madaba hotel, allowing us to avoid city driving in Amman. Signs are generally in both Arabic and English.

Jordan’s central highlands offer a cooler climate and more water than the adjacent, searing lowlands. Still, summer is uncomfortably hot on the plateau and close to unbearable at Wadi Rum. The best times to visit are March through May and September through October.

Accommodations in Jordan run the gamut from backpacker hostels to luxury hotels. In Madaba, we recommend the family-run Mosaic City Hotel, a short walk from St. George’s Church. For Petra, location is important because the modern town of Wadi Musa sprawls for 5 kilometers along the entrance road to the ancient city. Several accommodations, including the boutique hotel La Maison, are a short walk from the World Heritage site entrance.

Although a four-wheel-drive vehicle is the most common way to get around Wadi Rum and Petra, camels are available for hire as well. Credit: Terri Cook and Lon Abbott.

Most travelers visit Wadi Rum on day trips from Petra or Aqaba, but an overnight stay in a Bedouin camp allows you to experience the desert’s magic at sunrise and sunset. We recommend Rum Stars Camp, a well-run operation with delicious food, a comfortable camp (including a modern toilet block) and a stunning location. For an extra fee, you can ride camels back to your vehicle.

In the south, Aqaba has a full range of accommodations. Diving and snorkeling trips can be arranged through hotels or operators in town or along the Red Sea coast. At Aqaba Adventure Divers, we rented snorkeling gear and hired a divemaster to guide us to the best accessible coral gardens as well as a nearby shipwreck.

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