Suggested Itineries

AN ITINERARY FOR A SHORT VISIT TO JORDAN

A number of people seem to visit Jordan in one short hop, typically Sunday to Saturday (or early Monday morning until late Friday night) and write to me asking how to get the best out of this period. Although I don’t really like making up itineraries (that’s quite a responsibility!) I have suggested this one sufficiently often to make me think there is a need for something like it online.

Note that even if you hire a car to get around or if you have a day or two extra, you might like to follow the same approximate itinerary, obviously with more leisure and comfort!

Supposing that you would like to give priority to Petra and Wadi Rum, and also visit anywhere else you have time for, I propose the following (please see the “Sites in Jordan” pages for more details on the places named) :

First of all, there is not much in Amman to interest a tourist and nothing at all when you have little time. Leave it for the end, when if you wish you can spend an hour or so in the downtown “souk” among the small shops, but I warn you that this will be at the price of leaving the beach early! Amman is basically a “new” town, 90% of it dates from the last twenty or thirty years. The Roman theatre is much restored and not really very interesting, there are better Roman sites elsewhere. So forget Amman at the beginning of your stay.

When you arrive at Amman airport, sleep the first night (or whatever might be left of it!) in Madaba and not in Amman. It is closer to the airport (see the map) and the hotels there can arrange to pick you up for much less than an airport taxi would charge to take you to Amman. The usual price is 7JD during the day or 10JD for a night flight.

There is a larger version of this map on the page entitled “Tourist’s map of Jordan south of Amman

First day : take the bus that runs each day in season from Madaba (see the Sites page for full details of this bus) to Petra via the Kings’ Highway which is a spectacular mountain road. It usually leaves at 10am (you would have time for a quick trip to a bank!), stops for an hour at Kerak to allow a visit to the castle and for a short quarter of an hour at Wadi Mujib – a very dramatic canyon which is sometimes called “The Grand Canyon of the Middle East“. This canyon isn’t actually marked on the map, but it’s the wiggly bit between Karak and Tafila. The bus continues via Tafila and Shobak (no stops) and arrives in Wadi Mousa/Petra at around 4pm where it will drop you off wherever you want. See below for possible variations to this first day programme.Second and third day : visit to Petra.

Fourth day : take the early morning bus to Wadi Rum, visit Wadi Rum during the day and sleep the night in the desert.

Fifth day : take an early bus to Aqaba. Depending on the time that your plane leaves, you will have a full morning or perhaps even the best part of the day for either going out on a glass bottomed boat (details given in the Aqaba page referenced above) or for swimming from one of the hotel beaches, both if possible. You will probably have to pay a small sum for the hotel beach, but this is better than using the public beaches, and they nearly all have a bar or something where you can get a simple sandwich or a salad or a fuller lunch if you wish. (This is not usually as expensive as you might expect, and it is very pleasant eating beside the sea). You will have time for snorkelling only if your plane leaves the next day, thus leaving you the full day in Aqaba. An extra day would let you dive as well.

Take a Jett or a Trust bus to Amman, have supper in Amman and either go straight to the airport afterwards for a night flight or sleep in Amman before your plane the next day.

Comments on the first and on the last days:

You may be wanting to visit any of the following : the Dead SeaMount Nebo (named on the map as “Siyagha”) or Jerash.

The first two are comparatively easy. By prior agreement between yourself and Charl al Twal of the Mariam Hotel (mh@go.com.jo) who organises this bus, it is possible for the departure time of the bus to be delayed until eleven o’clock instead of ten. This would give you time to take a taxi and visit Mount Nebo and the Dead Sea. You would need to leave Madaba at 6h30 in the morning, allow yourself an hour maximum at the Dead Sea and another hour at Mount Nebo on the way back (the site opens at 9am). The trip needs a full hour each way so you should be back in Madaba by about 10h30am. The cost of the taxi for this trip is 17JD, this price of course to be shared among the passengers. I insist on the need for prior agreement, since any other passengers for this bus must be warned of the delayed departure time, especially as they might like to join you and share the cost! It is, in any case, a good idea to get in touch with Charl beforehand to reserve your place on the bus. The phone number of the Mariam is +962.5.325.1529, email address given above.

If you want to visit Jerash, the problem is that it is north of Amman and thus out of the way for getting to the important sites in the south of the country. (It is not shown on the above map, being off the northern edge, it is probably the little white spot shown without a town name, just north of the town of Salt.) It is only possible to visit there if you give up either the Kings’ Highway or a day in Petra. If you opt for the first, then you should sleep in Amman, visit Jerash, come back to Amman before 4pm and take the ordinary bus from the Wahedat bus station for Petra (this bus service is described on the “General Information” page and also in the Sites section on Amman and on Petra). If you would like to visit both Jerash AND the Dead Sea, then you have to choose whether to spend only one day in Petra or to leave out Wadi Rum – which would truly be a pity! It is theoretically possible to visit Jerash on your last day, skipping the beach and coming directly north from Aqaba, but it is likely to be pretty tight timing, and the last bus back from Jerash is usually packed. If you opt for this, then be prepared to pay for a taxi back to Amman in case of trouble.

Visit to Petra : this needs no further comment and I think full information about visiting Wadi Rum is given in the Wadi Rum pages. The early morning bus to Wadi Rum leaves Petra every morning at around 6am. Ask your hotel to reserve your seat and the bus will pick you up.

Fifth day : the only potential problem here is that it is almost always a Friday! The early morning bus from Wadi Rum to Aqaba sometimes does go on a Friday but not always. This depends on the demand there is for passengers coming from Aqaba to Wadi Rum. However there is no real difficulty.

It is easy to get from Wadi Rum to the Rashidiya Junction on the main Desert Highway (see the Wadi Rum page). Explain to your guide in Wadi Rum what you want to do and he will help you to arrange the best method. The simplest from your point of view would be to take the bus for Wadi Mousa/Petra which invariably runs, Friday or no Friday, and leave it when you reach the Desert Highway. If for some reason this is not possible, there are always plenty of drivers near the Wadi Rum Resthouse who would take you to Rashidiya for a maximum sum of 5JD and point out the bus shelter where any bus for Aqaba will stop if you wave it down. You can’t get this wrong – every bus that goes south from this point goes to Aqaba. (Very, very occasionally, the Wadi Mousa bus would make a detour to take you to Aqaba if there are few passengers for Petra).

In Aqaba you will need to decide how and at what time you want to make for Amman. I recommend the long distance buses here, the timetable is rather more reliable than that of the minibuses and you can usually reserve your place on the bus in the morning and leave your luggage in their offices until the bus departs. Obviously these buses take the fast Desert Highway past Ma’an and Qatranah.

Here are the timetables of the buses (see the Hard Facts page for full details of addresses and phone numbers of these companies). The Trust International Transport buses leave from the office at An-Nahda Street (phone 03.203.9480) and Jett buses from their office on The Corniche (phone 03.201.5222)

 

Departure from Amman
or from Aqaba

Arrival in
Amman or in Aqaba

Trust Intl

7.30am
9.30am
11.30am
2.30pm
5.00pm
6.00pm

11.15am
1.15pm
3.15pm
6.15pm
8.45pm
9.45pm

Jett

7.00am
9.00am
11.00am
2.00pm
4.00pm

Arrival times
not given

I presume that Jett takes about the same time as does Trust Intl, so the 4pm bus could be expected to arrive in Amman at about 7.45pm. This should give you enough time to have a reasonably leisurely supper before making for the airport for your flight. If you want to look around the markets in the downtown area, which are only really of middling interest, but you haven’t had much of a chance to look at any shops (there are quite a lot in Aqaba!), you will have to leave a little bit earlier, say by the 2.00 or 2.30pm bus, unless your plane leaves the next day. Obviously you would need to decide this before making your plans for the day. (Incidentally, no I haven’t forgotten that it is probably Friday, the downtown markets are usually open anyway). The airport buses leave from the Royal Jordanian office, near to the Safeway supermarket at Shmeisani and not far from the Trust Intl offices. If you are travelling with RJ you have the option of checking in here, which would leave you free and clear for the evening. In any case, you can always ask if you can leave your luggage here – but be careful about the office opening hours.

The problem with snorkelling is that you would need to go a fair way south from the town for this and transport back is straightforward only in the evenings. (See the “Sites” page on Aqaba for full details). However, you should have ample time for a trip out in a boat and for swimming or just sunbathing for a while afterwards – I warn you that the sea isn’t all that warm in the spring, it’s better in the autumn. This does make for a much better end to your trip than going directly to Amman and spending the day in the town – especially if you do travel in the spring when the weather in Europe is still uncertain! It is very satisfying indeed when you return to work to be able to say “Ah, this time yesterday I was in a boat on the Red Sea! You should have seen the flying fish!”

Have a wonderful trip!