Non-Religious Pilgrimage in Jordan

Although Jordan’s main religion is Islam and this means that the traditional pilgrimage or Hajj is walked to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, there are places worth calling pilgrimage sites nevertheless. After visiting Jordan I realized that pilgrimage to nature monuments can be even more rewarding than visiting man-made sanctuaries. Nature is where we all come from and so it is the way back home to your inner divine self.

Travel in Jordan

We were traveling in Jordan in November 2018 and had a very enjoyable time. The flight from Berlin to the Red Sea resort town Aqaba with Easyjet airlines cost around 50 euros one-way and as we stayed in the hotel in Jordan a minimum of two nights we were exempted from visa costs (you get a stamp and a sticker with a code on arrival at the airport and then when you leave the country you need to tell them that you stayed 2 or more nights in the hotel and you won’t be charged any fees). As one of us was a woman, we chose to stay in a hotel with a private beach so I could swim in the sea and enjoy the sun freely. When we went to the public places outside the hotel I had modest clothing on (long trousers and long sleeved shirt), however, I did not cover my hair and it seemed to be fine. Overall, Aqaba is quite an international town with a developed diving tourism industry and therefore, many of the companies there are run by immigrants from all over the world. People were very friendly and hospitable and we could get around with English.

Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum is a desert in the southern part of Jordan, easily reachable from Aqaba within one hour drive. Due to the little time we had in Jordan, to go to Wadi Rum we chose a one day tour with a company “Peace Bird Travel” (they speak English, Russian, and Arabic) and had a really wonderful experience. The tour for two of us cost 180 euros and included private hotel pick up and drop off to and from the Wadi Rum, jeep tour with amazing Bedouin Abdu’llah (I hope I wrote his name correctly…), and traditional dinner in the desert. You might have fewer expenses if you have a car hire or take a taxi (30 JOD or ~37 euros one-way) to the visitor’s center where you pay a fee of ~6 euros (5 JOD), and then you can walk it or take a jeep tour as driving in the desert requires 4×4 car. Also a GPS and proper map. Plus, plenty of water. You might want to stay in the Wadi Rum overnight and here are the accommodation options bookable via Booking.com.

The most enjoyable part of our tour was time spend with our guide Abdu’allah. As we were just two of us and the guide, we had a chance to take it easy and enjoy the desert in our own tempo. We learned a lot about Bedouin lifestyle and traditions. For example, how to find soap and even make-up materials in the desert, watched a mesmerizing sunset while having tea made on fire, learned some special Arabic words (like yallah nimshi, sahar, sahra’), said hi to the camels and Bedouins who were returning to their tents from the day in the desert, and walked barefoot on the sand. Being in the desert itself was a very calming and purifying experience and I’ll just stop the describing it here as it is beyond words.  It’s magic.

Petra

Another impressive place to visit in Jordan is Petra. Unfortunately, we were out of time to see it this time and heard some people saying that it is a quite similar desert experience as Wadi Rum, except in Petra you can explore remains of an ancient city carved into the red rocks. Built around 4th century BCE it was the capital and a trading hub of the Nabatean Kingdom.

There is an ancient monastery in Petra which was first built as a Nabatean tomb that later was used as a church during the Byzantine era. The monastery can be reached through the trail that starts at the Basin Restaurant. This trail was used for a procession to the monastery before. The other, even more, exciting option, is to walk a part of the ancient Nabatean trail which leads you to the Little Petra. It is ~6 km long hike and it could be taken to or from the monastery. It seems like a great option if you are staying at the “Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp” (more accommodation options near Petra in Wadi Musa town on Booking.com website). I recommend contacting “Petra Visitor Center” for more detailed information about the trail accessibility.

Another day route around Petra is described in the “Bucketlistly” blog and it seems to be a good option to see more and escape the crowds.

Jordan Trail

Opened in 2018, the Jordan trail is a well-marked route starting in Um Qais town in the North of Jordan and stretching all the way down and ~600 km to the Red Sea in the South. The Jordan trail is designed to pass through the three Perls of Jordan – The Dead Sea, Petra, and Wadi Rum. You can find all the relevant information (including maps, planning, stages, etc.) in the official Jordan Trail website.

 


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