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10 Awesome Reasons to Visit Jordan Now

7/25/17 by Andrew Evans

The tranquil heart of the Middle East is a small country packed with big adventures, from climbing a sheer wall of granite, bobbing in the salt-rich waters of the Dead Sea, or enjoying a night out on the town in Amman. With the recent launch of the epic, cross-country Jordan Trail, there has never been a better time to explore one of the oldest and most surprising places on the planet. Bear in mind that traveling in Jordan is never a spectator sport—so come prepared to participate and maybe sweat a little bit in the process. Here, 10 reasons to plan a visit now.

1. The Jordan Trail

Mount Nebo is one of many landmarks along the newly opened Jordan Trail.
Mount Nebo is one of many landmarks along the newly opened Jordan Trail. Guillaume Baviere

The Jordan Trail is the hiking adventure of a lifetime, stretching from the Biblical ruins of Um Qaïs all the way to the Red Sea. The brand-new 400-mile trek comprises eight sections of wildly diverse terrain, from fragrant olive groves to mountain meadows dotted with sheep, slick sandstone canyons, and red sand deserts. Hikers find water, food, and rest among the 52 communities along the way, while passing through some of the most incredible sites in the country, including historic Mount Nebo, the World Heritage Site of Petra, and the Martian wilderness of the Wadi Rum Nature Reserve.

2. Incredible Weather

Jordan boasts a whopping 360 days of sunshine a year, making it one of the sunniest countries on Earth. This is a destination where you can count on good weather, no matter your adventure—camping, climbing, swimming, hiking, diving, biking, boating, or simply savoring Jordan’s awesome café culture.

3. Amazing Archaeology

The Temple of the Winged Lion has an active dig that volunteers can join.
The Temple of the Winged Lion has an active dig that volunteers can join. Dennis Jarvis

Archeology aficionados can now chase their Indiana Jones fantasy among the endless layers of civilizations that lie beneath the surface of Jordan. Get your hands dirty in Petra by volunteering with the active dig at The Temple of the Winged Lion. This new program trains participants and pairs them with professionals to help with the ongoing excavation.

4. Incredible Arabic History

In a time of turmoil and travel bans, Jordan is by far the most accessible and authentic Arab country on the map. Whether you want to gain a better understanding of the region, delve deeper in the history and culture, or improve your Arabic, Jordan welcomes students from around the world. Educational programs and local homestays offer an incomparable window into the best of the Middle East, which is why so many choose Jordan for study abroad.

5. A World-Famous Slot Canyon

An ideal time to visit Wadi Mujib is between April and October, when water levels are lower.
An ideal time to visit Wadi Mujib is between April and October, when water levels are lower. Hiking in Jordan Website and Gui

Walking Wadi Mujib is like feeling your way up a mountain of boulders with a gushing fire hose aimed at your chest—and it’s awesome. This world-famous slot canyon is best hiked between the months of April and October, when water levels are lower and more manageable.

6. Little Petra

Like any younger sibling, Little Petra is too often overlooked in favor of its big brother—Petra. While the larger UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts more tourists than any other destination in the region, Little Petra remains largely undiscovered, mysterious, and remarkably empty. Check out the majestic Greek architecture of the Triclinium and the well-preserved frescoes of the "Painted House" then venture off onto one of the many scrambling hikes up and down the city’s ancient passageways.

7. World-class Scuba Diving

The scuba diving in Jordan is world class, despite the country’s limited shoreline on the Red Sea. Thanks to strict protections on marine resources, Jordan’s coral reefs are some of the healthiest and most vibrant in the Gulf of Aqaba. Incredible fish biodiversity and extraordinary colors attract serious divers from around the world—dive deep enough and you’ll encounter the rare and wonderful black coral.

Not a diver? No worries—grab a mask and snorkel and just walk into the water. Even the shallowest shores put on quite a show of fluorescent hard corals and beautiful fish. Still, you might consider getting certified here, with plenty of low-key dive resorts that offer competitive packages that include room, board, and lessons.

8. Soak in the Dead Sea

For centuries, wellness seekers have been visiting the Dead Sea for its purported health benefits.
For centuries, wellness seekers have been visiting the Dead Sea for its purported health benefits. Ian Bothwell

Relaxation is an art form in Jordan, where wellness culture dates back to the beginning of human civilization. Even Queen Cleopatra traveled from Egypt to the Dead Sea to slather healing black mud on her royal complexion. Jordan’s beautiful Dead Sea resorts offer a purifying escape from the toxins and stressors of modern life—soak in the salt water, wallow in the mud, or try out unique treatments for skin, body, and soul. Keep the good vibes going with a visit to one of the Turkish baths in Amman, Petra, or Aqaba.

9. Walk in Holy Footsteps

Jesus’ Baptism Site at the Jordan River is Jordan’s newest World Heritage site.
Jesus’ Baptism Site at the Jordan River is Jordan’s newest World Heritage site. Jan Smith

Located alongside the present-day Jordan River, Jesus’ Baptism Site is Jordan’s newest World Heritage Site. In addition, you can walk where Jesus walked, visit the very spot where Christianity began, and see John the Baptist’s cave and Elijah’s Hill. Jordan is packed with famous Biblical sites, and all them are just a short drive from the capital, Amman.

10. The Fantastic Food Scene

Jordanians know and love good food, and they take great pride in serving fresh, home-grown ingredients like olives, nuts, fruit, and cheese, along with some of the best bread in the universe. Family-style dining is customary, and few travelers can escape the amazing hospitality on offer at mealtime. Once you’ve gotten a taste for elaborate and filling dishes like mansaf and maqluba, learn how to make them yourself by taking a cooking class, then pick up your own fragrant spices at the local market for an easily packable souvenir. Memories of food and new friends will be enough to draw you back to Jordan once more.

Originally written by RootsRated for ExOfficio.