Friday, April 15, 2022

A Breathtaking Trip to Jordan

Jordan is easily accessed by land from Israel, thus it’s an opportunity to add some breathtaking trips when traveling to Israel, or for a short vacation for those like me who live in Israel. We took a 4 days trip to Jordan to visit Petra and Wadi Rum and combined it with a short pampering vacation in Al Manara Aqaba; we were left with a taste for more!

Our trip was organized by Discover Jordan Tours and Yalla Yarden (the Israeli agent) who organize group and personally-tailored trips to Jordan based on time, interests, level of effort and budget. The company’s representative met us as soon as we got to the Jordanian border control and escorted us in a smooth entry to Jordan. Thereafter, a driver picked us up to start our trip. Overall, we stayed 2 nights at Al Manara Aqaba resort and one night in Wadi Rum.

Al Manara, Saraya, Aqaba by Marriott

Al Manara is a luxury resort with outdoor pools, spa, fitness centre, direct beach access and excellent restaurants. It combines modern luxury with authentic Jordanian décor. Marble floors meet arched sculptural domes and Islamic furniture with ornamental details and a touch of red colors. The hotel is so beautiful we enjoyed walking around the groomed premises and visited the coveted corners around the hotel.

All the rooms are spacious and elegant and most of them have sea or lagoon view. There are nice suites, penthouses and villas. We were upgraded to a villa with a garden, plunge pool, and direct beach access, which also had access to the villas infinite pool; it was awesome!

The food at Al Manara is superb! Meals are served at Taybe restaurant. Breakfast was wonderful with a buffet style of hot plates such as Eggs Benedict, eggs, pancakes, waffles and more, made to order. They serve French patisserie with amazing fluffy croissants and other heavenly pastries. The food at the dinner buffet was excellent with a wide selection of dishes and active stands of pasta and meat. Lunch was a la carte with awesome steaks! On the second night we ate at the Kubba Levantin restaurant that specializes in west Middle Eastern cuisine. The restaurant’s décor and ambience is an experience by itself.
Levantin Restaurant at Al Manara

There is so much to do in and out of Al Manara, such as swimming, sunbathing, diving, sailing, shopping, etc. There is a complimentary entrance to the nearby Beach Club accessed with the hotel’s free water taxi. We spent our time by the beach and around the villas swimming pool and also went to the Heavenly Spa by Westin, part of the hotel’s complex. The spa has two areas, one for men and one for women; each has a heated dipping pool, dry and wet sauna, and jet-shower. It is very high scale. I took a Balinese massage, a holistic massage that combines gentle stretches, acupressure and reflexology, it was divine! 

Heavenly Spa by Westin 

The villa's infinite Pool

The villa's infinite Pool

At Sunset, we did a self-driving off-road UTV adventure at Wadi Arava, which is a lot of fun and an opportunity to see dunes and desert scenery. 

HTV trip at Wadi Arava
The hotel is kids friendly. The hospitality at Al Manara is extraordinary; service is outstanding!

Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum is a sandstone and granite rock valley with extraordinary scenery. It became famous thanks to the book “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” that Laurence of Arabia wrote while staying in the area. He described Wadi Rum as ‘vast, echoing and God-like’, and it later was the site of the movie filming. There are plenty of things to do there such as jeep tours, hiking, trekking, climbing, camel rides, stargazing, etc.

The best way to explore Wadi Rum is by a jeep tour. The standard tour is driven by sitting on the back of an open truck. While it sounded a bit adventurous for me, it turned out to be a perfect way to travel while getting a 360 view of this stunning area! The views are breathtaking and it is quite exciting to drive with the wind blowing in your hair. The tour stops in a number of places where we went down to see different spots such as the house of Laurence of Arabia, Anfishiyyeh inscriptions of camel caravans, rock bridges and canyons. Just make sure you take a jacket and scarf as it may get a bit windy during the drive.

Since it was declared UNESCO Heritage site protected area in 2011, no permanent  settlements are allowed in the valley and in order to spend the night there, the only option is camping or in our case – Glamping (glamorous/luxury camping). There are many camps and with the valley often being called Moon Valley or Mars, there is a proliferation of Martian tents in a shape of a bubble. These tents are unique as they have a transparent wall side or even a full transparent dome that enables seeing the stars at night.

We slept at SunCity Camp in a Martian dome tent. The tent is air-conditioned and has en suite bathroom shower, a mini bar, coffee making facilities and we even got bathrobes. Staying there was quite an enchanting experience. At night, small led lights showed us the path to the camp lobby and dining room, where there are sitting areas and a bonfire in the evening. The stay at the camp is on half board basis. Dinner is served buffet style at a large dining “dome” tent. Before dinner everyone gathers to see how they dig out of the sand the traditional dish “Zarb” that is cooked underground in charcoals. The food is varied and tasty.


The most known tourist attraction in Jordan is Petra, the Nabataean city is known for its red rock-carved temples, tombs and gorges. Petra was a Nabataean caravan-city dated from the first century BC to AD situated on an important crossroad of the Silk Road. The entrance to Petra is via a narrow Siq (gorge) leading to the impressive Treasury. The Treasury is the most famous and impressive temple as it is red, nearly 40 meters high and 25 meters wide and situated in a narrow gorge that emphasizes its size. The legend says that it had a treasure hidden inside, thus igniting the imagination.

There are two ways to visit Petra. The traditional way is starting from the visitor’s center via the Siq canyon and includes the Treasury, city center, the Royal tombs, the theater, etc. However, going up to Ad Deir (the Monastery) requires climbing around 900 stairs and it is very difficult.

We took the second way, via Petra back door. Not only that it is shorter and easier, it is much less crowded!  The driver left us at a place called Little Petra. There, we started a short hike via the mountains that took us to the Monastery from the north.  The hike trail is well-worth taking for itself; the walk is along the mountainside with beautiful scenery of Wadi Arava and there are many photo-ops on the way.

After the hilly hike we reached a plateau and the Monastery got slowly exposed as we reached it. The façade is almost 50x50 meter - it is huge and impressive! There’s a coffee shop to get refreshments while sitting in front of the view of the Monastery.

From the Monastery, a steep path with 900 stairs goes down to the remains of the Nabataean city. The trail is beautiful and alongside the path there are bazaars to buy souvenirs, drinks, and even ice cream. Everything here is brought up using donkeys! The Nabataeans city is packed with archeological remains, temples, tombs (including the king’s tomb) and an ancient amphitheatre, very interesting and nice!

The last stop in our journey was the Treasury, it is breathtaking! There are many photo-ops if you are willing to climb a few rocks, the locals will take you there, and will even take your photo for a few bucks. When we returned to the visitors center via the Siq, we turned back to see how the visitors who come from the Siq see the Treasury, it is very exciting to see the Treasury appear between the steep walls of the Siq, a real “wow” experience! There is a nightly show with lights at the Treasury three times a week, I heard it is amazing!


Al Manara,, Jordan, Toll free: +962-3-2021010

Discover Jordan Tours,,, Jordan, +962-5-541-1550

Yalla Yarden,  instagram: @yalla_yarden, Israel, phone: 050-570-0009

Disclosure: the writer was a guest of the local businesses mentioned in the article.

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