October 3, 2019

UNDERTOURISM: Get Off The Beaten Track And Say ‘Marhaba’ To Jordan

Words by Samantha Smith

Undertourism is in! Exploring slowly and consciously is the new way to travel and Jordan is the perfect destination for it.

Do you dream about exploring breathtaking new destinations, without all the crowds?

Well, say “Marhaba” to Jordan, which is hanging out patiently in the Middle East, waiting to make your travel dreams come true.

While Jordan sits sandwiched between some ‘noisy’ neighbours, you may not necessarily firstly think of it as being all that safe, but it really is a welcoming and peaceful destination, not to be missed.

Jordan is a small country, with a whole lot to offer. Boasting ancient history and culture, lunar landscapes, world-class hiking and numerous Unesco World Heritage sites, adventure is never far away.

If you like to explore at your own pace, hiring a car is your best bet, a road trip is a fantastic way to explore the country.

Otherwise, there are plenty of opportunities for responsible group tours.

A magical panorama view of the city from Amman’s Roman ruins © mbrand85 / Shutterstock

Culture in Amman

Layers upon layers, of ancient empires, nomadic desert tribes, and multi-ethnic refugee populations have fused together and created a beautiful complex metropolis.

A city brimming with activity, Amman is the political, cultural and commercial capital of Jordan. A delicate balance of old and new, this is a city worthy of your time.

Attention foodies: you’ll find whimsical coffee shops tucked behind cute stairwells, funky ice cream shops, lively bars and trendy cafés serving mouth-watering dishes at Rainbow Street.

Did you know Jordan is the world’s largest producer of olives? Well, you do now! Marinated black or green olives are typically present at every mealtime, with olive oil used liberally in traditional cooking.

Add that to some falafel served in a fresh pita pocket with a dollop of hummus and you’ll be the happiest traveller in the history of the world!

Amman has you covered when it comes to history too. You can visit the iconic citadel, and just an hour drive away, wander the ruined city of Jerash, Jordan’s largest and most fascinating Roman site.

Find out more: A unique cooking experience
Find out more: Visit Jordan
Find out more: Jordan Pass

Traditional meals typically consist of mezze, accompanied by a main dish such as mansafmakluba or, in Bedouin country, zarb.

Diving in Aqaba

Renowned for its chilled vibes, pristine beaches, clear waters, and colourful reefs, Aqaba is the perfect spot for a few days of R&R.

When it comes to diving, Aqaba is a hidden gem. It boasts some of the best dive sights in the Red Sea; with Cedar Pride Wreck, Black Rock and the Seven Sisters, just to name a few.

Hiking in Dana

Dana Biosphere Reserve is the largest nature reserve in Jordan and part of the Great Rift Valley. Spending time in Dana will allow you to reconnect to nature and enjoy the simplicity of life once again.

Wild, rugged and picturesque; the Dana Biosphere reserve is a dream for planet-lovers, photographers and explorers.

If you love to walk, be sure to take a look at the Jordan Trail. It’s an adventurous 650km hiking trail that links the nose and tail of the country.

But don’t stress if walking that far makes you want to cry. You can choose from other hikes and trails that range from a few hours to a few days, too!

The Dana to Petra hike is 4 days and the most awe-inspiring section of a trek across Jordan. The scenery spans from majestic and epic mountaintops to peaceful, quaint countryside and new landscapes present themselves every few kilometres. Then, to top it off, the route ends with the Nabatean masterpiece, Petra.

And guess what… it gets better!

Local businesses and organisations in Dana have an eco-aware approach and plastic-free policies. Feynan Ecolodge, the Jordan Trail and Eco Hikers are working to teach and inspire locals and visitors with their environmental initiatives.

Do you even need more reasons to visit?

Find out more: Jordan Trail
Find out more: Feynan Ecolodge
Find out more: Wild Jordan

Often named the world’s best ecolodge, camouflaged Feynan is a desert mirage tucked into a mountain-hugged valley.

Exploring Petra as a responsible traveller

Okay, so Petra is not so off the beaten track, but you might have it on your bucketlist and we most certainly don’t blame you.

However, being a responsible traveller is key and you might want to rethink that camel ride, shop ethically and pace yourself – it’s a huge site and you don’t want to miss out on the magic of slow sightseeing.

Petra counts more than 800 registered sites and many of the best and most famous are along a well-trodden path. However, if you are happy to divert your journey a few extra steps, you could find yourself in an ancient world of your own.

Alternatively, you could travel to Little Petra. Yes, smaller Petra means smaller crowds! Al-Beihda contains tombs, temples and was thought to have served as an agricultural centre, trading suburb and resting place for the camel caravans from Egypt and the Mediterranean coast.

The whole area is very picturesque and great fun to explore.

Oh, and don’t forget to refuse the plastic; take your own mug (for a few cuppas) and be sure to fill up your filterable water bottle before you set off.

Find out more: Unexpected Petra

Giving Back

If your heart is craving more, why not consider showing your appreciation by giving your time and volunteering with the local community?

Find out more: Volunteer HQ – Jordan

Masar Saeed – The Jordan Program Coordinator

How can you travel to change the world?

Congratulations! By reading this post and taking some of these insights on board, you’ve already made a difference.

Now you can easily create your impact by sharing your new-found knowledge with other friends who you think would also be interested.

Ultimately, responsible travel comes down to common sense – stay curious, keep yourself up-to-date with the challenges at hand and make yourself accountable for your actions on your travels.