Jordan: A biblical destination



Mon, 14 Aug 2017 - 02:05 GMT


Mon, 14 Aug 2017 - 02:05 GMT

Serving cold drinks on the street is really refreshing on a hot day…by Madnomad

Serving cold drinks on the street is really refreshing on a hot day…by Madnomad

CAIRO -14- August 2017:- After exiting Egypt, I crossed the 15 km (9 miles) of coast that nowadays belong to Israel and I entered Jordan straight away. That was a full day of border crossings. I never crossed four borders on the same day. I was planning to go back to Israel anyway. Jordan was the only possible detour that I could make in the Middle East. Stella Fotakaki, a Greek motorcyclist, was on my saddle and we would explore together Jordan with its amazing people!

Oops, somebody stole Baobabis! No, it’s OK, that’s Stella… by Madnomad

In Aqaba we already had our first great surprise from this nation. Spiro offered to host us through


but we couldn’t imagine what we would experience… We were absolutely surprised when we were welcomed by his family in Greek! We were trying to realize what was happening and then they started telling us their story…

Serving cold drinks on the street is really refreshing on a hot day… by Madnomad

A big part of the people who live nowadays in Jordan are actually Palestinian refugees who were forced there when Israel started occupying Palestine in 1948. Jordan up to this day is very welcoming to refugees from its troubled neighbors. The parents of Spiro, like several other Palestinians that we met, studied in Greece. They travel to Palestine almost every year and they always dream to visit Greece again. They were born Greek Orthodox and we were very glad to be with them during the Greek Orthodox Easter and celebrate it all together. We went to their house as strangers and we left as family members. That’s how they made us feel…

Celebrating the Greek Orthodox Easter with Spiro’s family! by Madnomad

Near Aqaba lies the desert of Wadi Rum. Riding on the sand two-up with lots of luggage was not easy but we quickly found an amazing place to wild camp, in front of Khazali Canyon! We left some of our luggage there and we went to explore the desert on Baobabis. The canyons and the natural bridges formed by rocks were impressive but the most mesmerizing of all was the quiet night under the stars which were extending over the huge desert...

Exploring the desert of Wadi Rum on an enduro bike and wild camping in its canyons is an unforgettable experience! by Madnomad

We headed north through the King’s Highway. Actually, it’s not a highway but a picturesque countryside route. It used to be the road which connected the three ancient kingdoms of that region. It was travelled by caravans of traders, pilgrims and from invading armies as well. We ascended up to 1,600 m (5,249 ft) altitude, where the mountains were green and cool. Some interesting medieval castles lie there, including Shobak and Karak.

The ancient King’s Highway passes though rolling pastureland, Roman ruins, Crusader castles and biblical sites. This is Shobak Castle, built in AD 1115 by the Crusader king Baldwin I. by Madnomad

From the heights of Jordan, we descended to its lowest point, the lowest land on earth actually! The Dead Sea, which is a lake to make it clear, is located at about 430 m (1,411 ft) below sea level. It’s funny that you can stand on the part of the road which is at sea level and enjoy a panoramic view of the area which lies hundreds of meters lower! The heat there was intense… We found a secluded beach to cool ourselves down. The Dead Sea is one of the saltiest bodies of water on earth, with a salt content of 34%. Swimming there is funny… We were floating like never before! There are also many healthy minerals there which make the water look and feel oily. You really have to keep this water out of your eyes or any wounds. Otherwise, it will be quite painful!

The Dead Sea, located on the lowest land on earth, has a salinity of 34%, which makes you float like never before! by Madnomad

In Amman, Jordan’s capital, we had the pleasure to meet several members of the small motorcycling community. Jordan was a country where motorcycles were absolutely forbidden until about five years ago! Since they were allowed, motorcycle dealers spread in the town like mushrooms after a fresh spring rain: Honda, Yamaha, KTM, BMW, Harley-Davidson, Indian and other brands… Stella borrowed a Yamaha TW200 and our new, local friends took us to the dirt tracks in the forest. It was a great riding day!

Stella borrowed a Yamaha TW200 and we went riding in the woods with some local motorcyclists! by Madnomad

We spent some days exploring the area around Amman. The picturesque old town of Salt became our favourite one in the region. Of course, we couldn’t miss Jerash, with one of the best-preserved Roman cities that exist up to this day. Madaba was interesting too, with its world-famous Byzantine-era mosaics. Stella had to fly back to Greece for a while, so I finished exploring Jordan by myself.

The Byzantine-era mosaics that were found in Madaba are world-famous. This one is inspired by Euripides’ Greek tragedy “Hippolytus”. by Madnomad

It was time to head east and explore the desert. I was very close to Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia but unfortunately, I couldn’t go anywhere, either due to war or due to Islamic fundamentalism… I visited some medieval castles, including Kharana and Azraq, which was used in 1917 by the legendary Lawrence of Arabia during the Arab Revolt against the Turks. The caravanserai, bathhouse and hunting lodge at Amra was what really astonished me… It is full of vivid 8th-century frescoes that depict wine and women, even naked! Imagine that Islam does not allow either the depiction of any live being or the consumption of alcohol. However, it seems that Emperor Walid I (AD 705 – 715) found a remote place to freely express himself and enjoy some nice time with his friends.

Islam forbids the depiction of any live being but the remote Amra Caravanserai is full of 8th-century frescoes that depict wine and women, even naked! by Madnomad

I enjoyed some amazing, real off-road routes in the desert. The ground was usually rocky but I could go up and down the hills and make my own way, which is what I love most! After a few hours, I reached Tuba Castle. The building was not that impressive but I enjoyed it more than any other castle because of its remote location. There was nobody on the horizon. I decided to pitch my tent inside the castle’s courtyard. Thirteen centuries ago it was hosting camel caravans which were trading frankincense. Now it only hosts occasionally some weird travelers who are still looking for adventure…

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I enjoyed some amazing, real off-road routes in the desert! by Madnomad

I left for the end the world-famous ancient city of Petra because I had some doubts about visiting it. That’s the most expensive to visit ancient site around the world that I have heard of. A day ticket for foreigners costs a hefty 65 euros! I was hosted by some Bedouins just next to the ancient Nabataean city. Nabataeans established themselves to the region and developed an advanced civilization, not because they had a strong army but because they knew how to manage the scarce water resources in the dry desert.

After a short hike from Little Petra through nice scenery, you get to the Monastery. It was built in the 3rd century BC as a Nabataean tomb and it’s actually bigger than the famous Treasury! by Madnomad

Walking through the deep canyon and suddenly staring at the grand façade of the Treasury is definitely an unforgettable moment! Equally impressive is admiring it from the top of the canyon. I spent four days hiking around the area and exploring the canyons, the hills, the numerous temples, the tombs and the caves where some Bedouins live up to this day. Petra is definitely an interesting destination but to be honest, I don’t think it is worth the price of such an expensive ticket, if you travel on a tight budget. After all, I have visited similar grand monuments in Egypt which are even more impressive and the ticket prices are quite reasonable.

Some caves in Petra are used for housing by Bedouins (and their goats!) since centuries ago and up to this day. by Madnomad

After almost a month and 2,000 km (1,243 miles) in the small but interesting country of Jordan, I ate my last kunafeh (tasty dessert with lots of cream cheese, pistachios and syrup!) and hit the road to Israel and Palestine. Jordan fascinated me mostly because of its hospitable people. It was a relaxing break between two countries which are hard to visit as an overlander: Egypt and Israel…

Eating my last kunafeh in Jordan with my little friend… I already miss it! by Madnomad

You can check out the map with more photos and reports at: Live Trip Traveller



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