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Jordan

Jordan (Arabic: ??????? al-Urdunn) is an Arab kingdom in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the east and south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel, Palestine and the Dead Sea to the west and the Red Sea in its extreme south-west. Jordan is located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. The capital, Amman, is Jordan's most populous city and the country's economic and cultural centre.

The country of Jordan has a large collection of archaeological sites, ranging from important biblical attractions to temples carved into the rock.

Regions

Jordan can be divided into four regions:

Cities

  • Amman — capital of the kingdom
  • Aqaba — located on the Gulf of Aqaba (Eilat), with links to the Sinai and the Red Sea
  • Irbid — second largest metropolitan area in the north of the kingdom
  • Jerash — one of the largest Roman ruins in the Middle East
  • Kerak — site of a once-mighty Crusader castle
  • Madaba — known for its mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land
  • Salt — ancient town which was once the capital of Jordan
  • Zarqa — third largest metropolitan area of the kingdom

Other destinations

  • Ajlun Castle — impressive ruins of a 12th century castle
  • Azraq — Oasis in the desert, an illustration of how water brings life even at places like a desert
  • Dana Nature Reserve — stay in a traditional village and enjoy unforgettable hiking in an offshoot of the Great Rift
  • Dead Sea — the lowest point on earth and the most saline sea
  • Desert Castles — once getaways for caliphs from the Umayyad period
  • Petra — Jordan's top attraction, an ancient city carved out of sandstone and one of the new 7 Wonders
  • Umm Qais — a Roman era settlement, close to the ruins of the ancient Gadara
  • Wadi Rum — barren, isolated and beautiful, granite cliffs contrasting with desert sand

Understand

History

During early and classical antiquity, the area of what is now Jordan was home to ancient kingdoms. Among them were Ammon, Edom and Moab.

Jordan was also home to civilizations such as the Nabataean Kingdom. Its rock art and architecture can be found in few places across the country.

Before World War II, the entire Levant was part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1916, during World War I, the Great Arab Revolt was launched against the Ottomans with help from the British and one Thomas Edward Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia). The revolt was successful in gaining control of most of territories of the Hejaz and the Levant. However, it failed to gain international recognition as an independent state, due mainly to the secret Sykes–Picot Agreement between the United Kingdom and France in 1916 (dividing up the Middle East between the two colonial powers) and the UK's Balfour Declaration of 1917 (promising a national home for the Jews on a small piece of land in the Middle East). The region was divided and Abdullah I, the second son of Sharif Hussein, arrived from Hejaz by train in Ma'an in southern Jordan, where he was greeted by Transjordanian leaders. Abdullah established the Emirate of Transjordan, which then became a British protectorate.

In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognized Transjordan as a state under the British Mandate for Palestine and the Trans-Jordan memorandum. The memorandum clarified that the territories east of the Jordan River were excluded from provisions that allowed Jewish settlement in the Mandate. The Treaty of London, signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946, recognised the independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries' parliaments. On 25 May 1946 the Emirate of Transjordan became "The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan", as the ruling Emir was re-designated as "King" by the parliament of Transjordan.

On 15 May 1948, as part of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Jordan invaded Mandatory Palestine together with other Arab states. Following the war, Jordan occupied the West Bank including East Jerusalem and many Muslim Christian and Jewish Holy Sites and declared that the annexation was a "temporary, practical measure" and that Jordan was holding the territory as a "trustee" pending a future settlement. King Abdullah was assassinated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1951 by a Palestinian militant, amid rumors he intended to sign a peace treaty with Israel. Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal, but Talal soon abdicated due to illness in favor of his eldest son Hussein, who ascended the throne in 1953. During Jordanian occupation, Jews had to leave the West Bank and access to Jewish Holy Sites was severely restricted. Jordan lost the West Bank to Israel during the Six Day War in 1967. In the following year, an attack by Israeli forces on the headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Karameh was met by resistance by a joint Jordanian-PLO force. In the aftermath of the resulting 15-hour battle, the Jordanian government permitted the Palestinians to take credit for Israeli casualties. The time period following the Battle of Karameh therefore witnessed an upsurge of support for Palestinian paramilitary elements (the fedayeen) within Jordan from other Arab countries, leading to the fedayeen becoming a "state within a state", threatening Jordan's rule of law. In September 1970, the Jordanian army targeted the fedayeen and the resultant fighting led to the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from various PLO groups into Lebanon, in a civil war that became known as Black September. Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank in 1988.

The Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed on 26 October 1994. On 7 February 1999, Abdullah II ascended the throne upon the death of his father Hussein. Jordan's economy has improved since then. Abdullah II has been credited with increasing foreign investment, improving public-private partnerships and providing the foundation for Aqaba's free-trade zone and Jordan's flourishing information and communication technology (ICT) sector. As a result of these reforms, Jordan's economic growth has doubled to 6% annually compared to the latter half of the 1990s. However, the Great Recession and regional turmoil in the 2010s has severely crippled the Jordanian economy and its growth, making it increasingly reliant on foreign aid.

The Arab Spring began sweeping the Arab world in 2011, with large-scale protests erupting and demands for economic and political reforms. In Jordan, Abdullah II responded to protests by replacing his prime minister and introducing various reforms, thereby satisfying the people sufficiently to avoid the civil conflict, regime change or chaos that has broken out in some other Arab countries.

There is no hostility between Muslims and Christians in Jordan, which is one of the most liberal nations in the region. Jordan is considered to be among the safest of Arab countries in the Middle East, and has historically managed to keep itself away from terrorism and instability. In the midst of surrounding turmoil, it has been greatly hospitable, accepting refugees from almost all surrounding conflicts since 1948, including the estimated 2 million Palestinians and the 1.4 million Syrian refugees residing in the country. The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing the Islamic State. While the Jordanian royal house holds much less power than the Saudi royal family, they aren't ceremonial figures like in most of Europe, either. However, relations with the West - including Israel - are usually quite well and domestic policies also tend to be moderate by the standards of the region.

Climate

The climate in Jordan varies greatly. Generally, the further inland from the Mediterranean, greater contrasts in temperature occur and the less rainfall there is. The country's average elevation is 812 m (2,664 ft) above sea level. The highlands above the Jordan Valley, mountains of the Dead Sea and Wadi Araba and as far south as Ras Al-Naqab are dominated by a Mediterranean climate, while the eastern and northeastern areas of the country are arid desert. Although the desert parts of the kingdom reach high temperatures, the heat is usually moderated by low humidity and a daytime breeze, while the nights are cool.

Summers, lasting from May to September, are hot and dry, with temperatures averaging around 32 °C (90 °F) and sometimes exceeding 40 °C (104 °F) between July and August. The winter, lasting from November to March, is relatively cool, with temperatures averaging around 13 °C (55 °F). Winter also sees frequent showers and occasional snowfall in some western elevated areas.

Get in

Visa

For the latest, up-to-date and complete information, please check out the Jordan Tourism Board.

Nationals from Arab countries can enter Jordan without a visa and for free.

Visitors from most other countries (even Israeli citizens / Israeli passport holders) can easily obtain a visa on arrival at the border point directly, except for the King Hussein ("Allenby") Bridge and with limitations at the Eilat/Aqaba crossing (see ASEZA below). Some nationalities may require a visa before arrival (many African countries, Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Belize, Cambodia, Colombia, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Moldova, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Yemen).

The visa prices are:

  • JOD40 for one month & single entry (easily extended – up to twice – at the nearest police station)
  • JOD60 for three months & double entries
  • JOD120 for six months & multiple entries (not extendible)

For the single entry visa the fee of JOD40 is waived if you have purchased a Jordan Pass before arrival, see details below.

Note, starting from 2016, on-arrival visas at the Eilat/Aqaba border crossing will only be issued to organized tour groups and Jordan Pass holders. Nevertheless, it might be sufficient to hand over your planned itinerary to get the visa-on-arrival – people have gotten in this way. All others must obtain a visa prior crossing.

Furthermore, there are extra fees involved if you stay only a couple of days in Jordan (1-3 days). The regular single entry visa through Jordan Pass, for example, is not waived – see #Jordan Pass for details. Also one day visitors to Jordan actually pay JOD90 instead of JOD50-60 for the entrance to Petra. There might also exist restrictions on the free ASEZA visa (see below). However, the surrounding details and manifestations of these extra fees are blurry and apparently subject to constant change.

There is a departure fee of JOD10 when exiting Jordan by land or sea. At the Aqaba/Eilat border crossing some people got around paying the fee by ignoring the relevant fee counter.

ASEZA (Aqaba Economic Zone)

You can receive a free, one-month ASEZA visa if you arrive at Aqaba by land (from Eilat in Israel or Saudi Arabia), by sea (ferry from Egypt at Nuweiba), or by air (at Aqaba International Airport).

More information on crossing into Aqaba (by land, sea and air)

If you receive an ASEZA visa, you will have to exit the country through the same entry point. The ASEZA visa allows free travel throughout Jordan. There is no tax for leaving the Aqaba Economic Zone and crossing into the rest of the country. There are road checkpoints when leaving ASEZA, but these are no concern for foreigners. Usually, the control is either waived for tourists or minimally done (just show your passport; if driving, show also your driving license, car registration and open the trunk). If you want to enter through Aqaba and do not want to get the ASEZA visa, you must ask the customs officer to put the normal visa in your passport and pay the normal visa fee.

The free ASEZA visa can also be obtained at almost all other crossings (except King Hussein "Allenby" Bridge), by stating that you are going to Aqaba. There will be no JOD40 charge for the entry visa, but you are obliged to arrive in Aqaba in maximum 48 hours and get a stamp from a police station in Aqaba or from the ASEZA headquarters. If the Aqaba late-arrival stamp is not in your passport, at departure you will pay the JOD40 charge for the entry visa plus a fine of JOD1.50/day, for each day non registered (the day you entered Jordan is counted as day 1, even if you entered at 23:59 hours).

By land / car

King Hussein "Allenby" Bridge

This border crossing from the West Bank does not offer on-arrival visas. So, you need to obtain yours beforehand, e.g. at the Jordanian Embassies in Ramallah or Tel Aviv/Ramat Gan. Also, the King Hussein "Allenby" Bridge is the only crossing point where entry to Jordan (and exit) is not allowed on an Israeli passport, due to the fact that it originates in the West Bank.

There are shared taxi directly from Jerusalem for ?38 plus ?4 per luggage – pick up from Al-Souq Al-Tijaree "The commercial souq" not far away from the main bus station. Also, Palestinian bus company offers buses from Jericho and Ramallah.

In order to cross the no man's land from the Israeli checkpoint, you have to take a bus from the JETT company for JOD7 plus JOD1 per baggage. Once in Jordan at King Hussein border, shared (white) taxis can drive you to Amman (JOD5-9 per person or JOD20 per drive), or regular ones to any other location in Jordan, at a negotiated price. Also buses leave from here (though not Petra) for cheaper prices, but these may be a little more difficult to find as their departure point is not immediately visible when getting out of the border office. Many taxi drivers will pretend that there are no buses, which is untrue.

If leaving through King Hussein "Allenby" Bridge you can return back to Jordan through the same crossing point, on the same visa you got when entering the country in the first place (except for ASEZA visas), if its validity has not expired. You will not be given an exit stamp for Jordan, and you will not be stamped on re-entry if you choose to return. When leaving, mentioning West Bank destinations to the Israeli guards in your itinerary will arouse suspicion. Thus, it is just best to avoid mentioning Palestine at all while passing the border in Israel.

Note, this crossing does not allow private vehicles of any kind.

From Israel

Besides the King Hussein "Allenby" Bridge (actually from the West Bank/Palestinian territories), the Sheikh Hussein Bridge (aka Jordan River crossing near Beit Shean) allows entry into Jordan from Northern Israel, and the Eilat/Aqaba (aka Wadi Araba aka Yitzhak Rabin) crossing from Southern Israel (see on-arrival visa limitations above).

When entering Jordan from Israel, you will have to pay an Israeli departure tax of ?101 for the Eilat/Aqaba crossing and Sheikh Hussein Bridge, and ?176 for the King Hussein "Allenby" Bridge, plus a processing fee of ?5. For all details including complete fee catalogue and opening hours (which should consequently also apply to the Jordanian side) see the Israel Airports Authority website.

There are daily buses from Nazareth via the Sheikh Hussein bridge, call the operator (+972 4 657-3984) for details. Alternatively, you can take a regular bus/taxi to the Sheikh Hussein bridge, cross the border on foot, and get into Irbid or Amman by bus.

To get to the southern crossing by bus take one to Eilat. Several buses run here, including the 444 which follows a route along the Dead Sea. From Eilat Bus Station, the border is around 3 km, reachable by taxi for around ?45-50. Alternatively, you can exit the bus at the second last stop at "Hevel Eilot - Junction Eilot 90" and walk the last 1 km to the border. When on the Jordanian side, pay attention to the childish Aqaba border taxi Mafia, and only use a taxi from there for the shortest distance possible, and swap into a cheaper taxi or even bus afterwards.

If you cross by car, border formalities are time-consuming and expensive as a Jordanian insurance is required, and you will even have to change your number plates, since it is not advisable to travel in Arab countries while displaying an Israeli number plate. Israeli rental cars are not generally permitted across the borders for insurance reasons.

From Syria

Long distance taxis and buses (3.5 h) used to operate the route from Damascus to Amman before, but due to the ongoing civil war, normal travel routes between Jordan and Syria are likely not operative.

From Iraq

It is theoretically possible to enter Jordan from Iraq depending on your nationality. However, especially considering the current situation in Iraq it is probably not advisable and you will be looked at a lot more closely than if entering from elsewhere.

From Saudi Arabia

Entry from Saudi Arabia is by bus. Jordan-bound buses can be taken from almost any point in Saudi Arabia or the Gulf. Most of these are used by Arabs. The border crossing, called Al-Haditha on the Saudi side, and Al-Omari on the Jordanian side, has been recently rebuilt. Waiting time at customs and passport control is not too long by Middle Eastern standards, but allow for up to 5 hours on the Saudi side. As the crossing is the middle of the desert, be absolutely sure that all paper work is in order before attempting the journey, otherwise you might be lost in a maze of Arab bureaucracy. The trip from the border to Amman is 3 h and up to 20 h to Dammam, Riyadh or Jeddah on the Saudi side. The trip can be uncomfortable but is cheap.

By plane

Jordan's national airline is Royal Jordanian Airlines. In addition, Jordan is served by a number of foreign carriers including BMI, Air France, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Egypt Air, Emirates, Alitalia and Delta Airlines. Low-cost airlines Air Arabia servers the Middle East, and Aegean Airlines and Ukraine International Airlines serve Europe.

Queen Alia International Airport is the country's main airport. It is 35 km south of Amman (on the main route to Aqaba). You should allow 45 minutes to reach the airport from the downtown Amman, approximately 30 min from West Amman. Read on Amman for further details.

In addition to Queen Alia, Jordan has two other international airports:

  • Marka International Airport in East Amman (serving routes to nearby Middle Eastern countries, as well as internal flights to Aqaba).
  • King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba into ASEZA.

By boat

Jordan can be entered at the port of Aqaba (ASEZA) via the Egyptian port of Nuweiba. There are two services, ferry and speedboat. Expect to pay around US$60 for the ferry or around US$70 for the speedboat (both one way + US$10 or 50 Egyptian pounds departure tax from Egypt) if you are a non-Egyptian national (Egyptians are not required to pay the prices inflated by the authorities). The slow ferry might take up to 8 hours, and can be a nightmare in bad weather. The speedboat consistently makes the crossing in about an hour, though boarding and disembarking delays can add many hours, especially since there are no fixed hours for departures. You cannot buy the ticket in advance and the ticket office does not know the time of departure. You can lose an entire afternoon or even a day waiting for the boat to leave.

Also see Aqaba#By boat from Egypt and Ferries in the Red Sea for more details and options.

Get around

By thumb

Jordan is one of the easiest countries to hitch-hike in. It is not uncommon to wait less than 5-10 min before getting picked up. Especially if you are not from the US or such, people are happy to take you along the way and immediately will raise topics like FCB, Paris, Bayern Munich, or Pizza depending on your nationality. In addition, hitch-hiking is made even easier by the fact that many tourists with guides or rental cars will pick you up if they see you are not from around the region. Although Jordan is targeted by extremist, hitch-hiking is not more dangerous than in other countries taking into account the high likelihood of getting picked up by someone. Even on a holiday in off season you will barely wait more than 10 min for someone to stop.

To get a ride just let your arm hang and use your hand to wave towards you, or point down towards the road with your index and middle finger. Don't put up the hitch-hiking thumb, this seems to be impolite. In some countries (like Iran), it is common to pay even for hitch-hikes. Here it is not. Though, for example along the hotel promenade of the Dead Sea, locals might demand a small amount, but anything beyond JOD2 for 10 km is too much – take bus prices as an orientation, just in case.

Combining this with local (mini) buses (which ever comes first) is an efficient and inexpensive way to discover and experience Jordan, and meet interesting and friendly locals.

By bus

The JETT bus company has services connecting Amman to Aqaba, the King Hussein Bridge (to cross into Israel), and Hammamat Ma'in. Private buses (mainly operated by the Hijazi company) run from Amman to Irbid and Aqaba. Minibus services connect smaller towns on a much more irregular service basis – usually they leave once they're full.

The Abdali transport station near Downtown Amman served as a bus/taxi hub to locations throughout Jordan, but many of its services (especially microbus and service taxi) have been relocated to the new Northern bus station (also called Tarbarboor, or Tareq). Here you can find buses into Israel and a JOD1.5 bus to Queen Alia airport.

By service taxi

Service taxis (servees) cover much the same routes as buses. Service taxis are definitely more expensive than minibuses, but a lot faster and more convenient.

Service taxis only leave when full so there is no set timetable. You may also be approached by private cars operating as service taxis. If you use one of these, it is important to agree the price in advance.

Service taxis are generally white or cream in colour. They can sometimes be persuaded to deviate from their standard route if they are not already carrying passengers. It is quite likely that you would be asked to wait for a yellow taxi though.

By regular taxi

Regular taxis are abundant in most cities. They are bright yellow (Similar to New York yellow-cabs) and are generally in good condition. A 10 km trip should cost around JOD2.

All yellow taxis should be metered, however most drivers outside Amman do not use them. If you do get picked up by such or even unmetered taxi, make sure you agree on the price before departing – per drive and not per person! If you do not agree on a price, you will most likely pay double the going rate. Using the meter is almost always cheaper than negotiating a price. So, it is best to insist that the driver uses it before you depart. Keep your luggage with you – it's not uncommon for unmetered taxis to charge a ridiculous rate (JOD30 for a 10-min ride) and then refuse to open the trunk to give you your bags back until you pay up.

Standardised but inflated taxi prices from the Eilat/Aqaba border crossing are:

  • Wadi Rum (one way) JOD39
  • Wadi Rum (round trip including waiting time) JOD55
  • Petra (one way) JOD55
  • Petra (round trip including waiting time) JOD88
  • Amman (and suburbs) JOD109
  • Dead Sea JOD99

Although, it might be a better idea to take a taxi into Aqaba and from there take a different taxi and renegotiate the price.

Day rates for taxis can be negotiated. These are usually through specific taxi drivers that have offered the service to friends or colleagues before. If you are staying at a hotel, the reception desk should be able to find you a reliable driver. It is also quite common in quiet times to be approached (politely) by taxi drivers on the street looking for business. There are plenty of good English speakers so it pays to wait until you find one you like. Though, do not use taxi drivers as guides (read #Touting & Guides below).

A full day taxi fare should cost around JOD20-25. An afternoon taxi fare would be around JOD15. For this price the taxi driver will drop you off at local shopping areas and wait for you to return. You can then go to the next shopping location. You can leave your recently purchased items in the vehicle as the driver will remain in the taxi at all times, but it is not recommended to do so.

If you are planning a trip outside of Amman, the day rates will increase to offset the fuel costs. For day trips within 1–3 hours of Amman, a taxi is by far the easiest method of transport. A trip to Petra in a taxi would cost approximately JOD75 for 3 people. This would get you there and back with about 6 hours to look around and see the sights.

If travelling a long way try to use buses or coaches rather than taxis. Some taxi drivers are not averse to driving people into the middle of the desert and threatening to leave you there unless you give them all your money. This is very unlikely if you stick to recommended drivers however. Jordan is generally very protective of its tourists and while overcharging is common (if not agreed in advance), threats and cheating are rare.

By car

Jordan's highways are generally in very good shape, but the same cannot be said about its drivers or its vehicles. Many trucks and buses drive with worn or defective tires and brakes and in the southern and more rural parts of the country there is the tendency for some people to drive at night without headlights (in the belief that they can see better and that this is therefore safer!).

Avoid driving outside the capital, Amman, after dark.

Renting a car should be inexpensive and not too time-consuming. Fuel prices are all fixed by the government, so don't bother looking for cheaper gas stations. Expect to pay around JOD0.80 per litre (unleaded 90 octane) up to JOD0.97 per litre (unleaded 95 octane). They're reviewed on a monthly basis to reflect international gas prices on the local prices.

The main route is the Desert Highway, which connects Aqaba, Ma'an and Amman and then continues all the way to Damascus in neighbouring Syria. Radar speed traps are plentiful and well positioned to catch drivers who do not heed the frequently changing speed limits. Traffic Police are stationed regularly at turns and curves, well hidden, with speed guns. If you are even 10 % over the speed limit, you will be stopped and made to pay a steep fine.

One particular stretch, where the road rapidly descends from the highlands of Amman to the valley that leads into Aqaba through a series of steep hairpin curves, is infamous for the number of badly maintained oil trucks that lose their brakes and careen off the road into the ravine, destroying all in their path. This stretch of the road has been made into a dual carriageway and is now a little safer. However, exercise caution on this stretch of the road.

The other route of interest to travellers is the King's Highway, a meandering track to the west of the Desert Highway that starts south of Amman and links KerakMadaba, Wadi Mujib and Petra before joining the Desert Highway south of Ma'an.

By plane

The only domestic air route is between Amman and Aqaba.

Organised tours

Much of Jordan's more dramatic scenery (Wadi Rum, the Dana Reserve and Iben Hamam) is best seen on 4x4 vehicles with drivers or guides familiar with the territory.

Most people visiting Jordan opt for organised tours, although it is possible to use local guides from the various visitors' centres at Jordan's eco-nature reserves. The majority of tourists crossing into Jordan from Israel are on one-day Petra tours or in organised tour groups. They make up a significant percent of the daily visitors in Petra and Jordan's natural attractions.

Talk

See also: Jordanian Arabic phrasebook

The national language of Jordan is Arabic.

Many Jordanians speak English, especially in urban areas such as Amman. French and German are the second and third most popular languages after English. You might encounter some Caucasian and Armenian languages because of a number of Caucasian immigrants that arrived during the early 1900s.

See

Northern Jordan

North of Amman is located the ancient city of Jerash, where one can see some of the most impressive Roman ruins in the Eastern Mediterranean world.

Other sites include Umm Quais, Ajlun Castle and Pella (north-west of Amman). Madaba and its Archaeological Park include some of the finest mosaics in the world.

King's Highway

Parts of the western edge of Jordan's border are the Jordan River, and the Dead Sea to experience floating without the fear of drowning. Close to the Dead Sea is also Bethany (Jesus's baptismal site).

In addition, a visit to Kerak and Dana Nature Reserve are worth while.

Eastern Desert

Close to Amman the most interesting sights of this region are the Desert Castles around Azraq.

Southern Desert

Wadi Rum is an astonishing desert landscape that leaves no one untouched.

Besides that, the Archaeological ruins at Petra are Jordan's biggest tourist draw and a must-see for anyone travelling in Jordan. A vast site, and at least two days are needed to really see the entire area.

Do

  • Go diving or snorkelling in the Red Sea by Aqaba. The Red Sea has some of the world's most famous coral reefs and is a popular place for diving and snorkelling. Turtles, squids, clownfish and a sunken tank are a few of the underwater sights. Equipment can be rented at diving centres, and if you contact them they are happy to come pick you up by car and take you to a good beach spot and back.
  • Great hiking spots are Dana Nature Reserve, Wadi Rum, Wadi Mujib, or Wadi Bin Hammad northwest of Kerak.
  • Floating and "swimming" in the Dead Sea is one of the highlights.

Itineraries

  • 8-9 days of hitch-hiking and bus: Amman – Jerash – Madaba – Dead Sea – Dana Nature Reserve – Petra – Wadi Rum – Aqaba (including potential stops at Ajlun, Mount Nebo, Dead Sea Panorama complex, and Shoubak Castle) ... add one day for each of the following: Desert Castles, Madaba surrounding area, Wadi Mujib, Kerak
  • 4-5 days: Aqaba – Petra – Wadi Rum – Aqaba

Learn

For long stays, it is possible to take Arabic courses at the University of Jordan as well as other private educational centres in Amman. The British Council in Amman occasionally runs courses in Arabic for foreigners.

In Amman, the starting cost for apartments is JOD350-1,400 monthly. Proprietors prefer you pay up front and commit for at least a half year stay.

An alternative is Zarqa Private University. It is a 35-minute drive due east of Amman and can save you a fortune, due to the fact that it costs 1/3 less to stay in an apartment there than in Amman.

Work

Work opportunities for the casual foreign visitor are somewhat limited in Jordan. The majority of foreigners working in Jordan are on contract work with foreign multinationals and development organisations (Amman is the 'gateway to Iraq' and a key base for the continuing efforts to rebuild its neighbour).

There is the possibility of picking up casual English teaching work if you hunt around hard for opportunities.

Fluent Arabic speakers might have more success, though the process of obtaining a work permit is not particularly straightforward. Engage a knowledgeable local to assist you.

Buy

Money

The currency is the Jordanian dinar, locally denoted by the symbol "JD" before or after the amount or in Arabic as ?????, or sometimes "£" (ISO currency code: JOD, used in this guide). It is divided into 1000 fils and 100 piastres (or qirsh). Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, and 10 piastres and JOD¼, JOD½. Banknotes are found in JOD1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 denominations. The currency rate is effectively fixed to the US dollar at an unnaturally high rate that makes Jordan poorer value than it would otherwise be. Most upper scale restaurants and shops at shopping malls also accept US dollars.

Many places have limited change so it is important to keep a quantity of JOD1 and JOD5 notes. As bank machines give JOD20 and JOD50 notes for large transactions, this can be difficult.

Cards are accepted in a limited (and seemingly random) way. Most hotels and hostels take cards, Petra entry fees (JOD50 and more) must be paid in cash, even though it is a major tourist centre.

ATMs are vastly available, but might charge a fee of up to JOD7, especially the ATM at the airport right before the visa counter which you have to use to withdraw money to pay for the visa(-on-arrival), except for when you have a Jordan Pass. Try several machines to find one with the lowest or without any fee, and remember the bank. However, in case of VISA, sometimes these additional fees will not get collected back home. Probably mostly only ever if it states more on your receipt than you have received.

Costs

A subsistence budget would be around JOD15 per day, but this means you'll be eating falafel every day. JOD25 will allow slightly better accommodations, basic restaurant meals and even the occasional beer. It is best to check accommodation prices online – most Jordan hostels and hotels have their rooms on the common hotel websites.

If you prefer to eat what the locals eat, it should only cost JOD1-2 for which you can buy a falafel sandwich with any can of soda pop (most common is Coke, Sprite and Fanta). If you want to buy a chicken sandwich it will cost (JOD0.50-0.80).

To try real Jordanian food and don't stay at 5/4/3/2/1 star hotels all the time; eating there is expensive for an average Jordanian. Unless the meal came with the hotel accommodation, don't eat here. It may look like the people inside can afford the meal and make it look and sound like this is an average way to eat. Go into the city or local markets/restaurant and find out what the people there are buying – you will save a lot of money on your trip. If not and you want to save the trip of seeing the country's true people then stay where you are and enjoy whatever the travel guide wants you to see, do and pay.

Non-Jordanians can get a VAT refund at the airport when they are returning home. The VAT amount must be more than JOD50 on anything except for: food, hotel expenses, gold, mobile phones.

Summary (common prices and costs):

  • Bus – JOD1 per 40 km; Taxi – JOD1 per 5 km, Camel/Donkey/Horse – JOD12-15/h
  • Falafel Roll – JOD0.5; Falafel & Hummus – JOD2-3; Beer (in the shop) – JOD0.5-1
  • Hotel Room – JOD8-15; Dorm – JOD5; Mattress – JOD1-2
  • Wadi Rum Camp – JOD20-30; Dead Sea hotels – JOD50-60+ (off-season)
  • Dead Sea (touristic) beach – JOD20; Jordan Pass – JOD70-80

Bargaining

See also: Bargaining or See also: Morocco#Bargaining

Bargaining is accepted, especially on markets, but some prices might already be final, e.g. in restaurants, the bus, or the museum. Since also rich locals will get fair and inexpensive local prices, there is no reasoning why tourists should pay more. Though, as a tourist it might be hard to find out whether the price you got is fair or inflated because you are considered a wealthy tourist. It is best to ask at several different locations to get a feeling for what the price should be. Remember to always thank the merchant for stating the price, even if not buying anything.

A working approach for hotels is to look up the price on one of the big hotel reservation sites and to walk straight into the chosen hotel stating that seen price. You might get some discount, if not, just trying the next one might convince the guy at the reception to give you a better price. This however will only work when and where accommodation options are vast, i.e. probably not during high season in Petra or at the Dead Sea.

Touting & Guides

Tourism is a big income generator. While this must be appreciated and respected in the wake of troublesome times, many tourists are just fast cash cows for tourist guides and taxi drivers who carry them from one overpriced venue, shop, hotel or restaurant to the next one, collecting their share of 30-50% from the owner when leaving. So, do not rely on them too much, otherwise they will cash in on you twice, once for their service and once taking commission. This means, either the restaurant will be touristic with very inflated prices, or the hotel will add a surcharge when you ask them for the price, especially if the guide or taxi driver stands right next to you. Instead, choose the restaurant and hotel by yourself without them following you, and just use taxi drivers for transport, not as a guide. Always only rely on the bare minimum of such help, and spend your money arbitrarily and widely, and not just at the hotel you are staying or the place your guide drops you off.

Also, do not believe in the common my cousin (or friend) offers/has got it (something that you are looking for) and I can get it cheaper for you – the opposite will mostly be the truth, neither will it be his cousin nor will it be cheaper. Always get several independent quotes for things or tours you are interested in, and never get convince that there is only one option available and you have to stick with that one telling you so, even if they say this or that is not available, does not work or is not in this direction, e.g. taxi drivers pretending that there are no buses from the Allenby Bridge into Jordan. The variety of such examples is vast.

Souvenirs

Do not buy souvenirs in the touristic centres of the country – the prices here are inflated 2- or 3-fold.

Buying and exporting archaeological artefacts might be prohibited, like ancient coins. So, do not get into thinking you can make a good deal here. If you are not an expert, you might even end up buying fake genuine goods – just because the look old and the merchant talks lovely does not make them real.

Eat

Jordanian cuisine is quite similar to fare served elsewhere in the region. The daily staple being khobez, a large, flat bread sold in bakeries across the country for a few hundred fils. Delicious when freshly baked.

For breakfast, the traditional breakfast is usually fried eggs, labaneh, cheese, zaatar and olive oil along with bread and a cup of tea. Falafel and hummus are eaten on the weekends by some and more often by others. There's no convention for when you should or should not eat any type of food. It's up to you. This is the most popular breakfast. Manousheh and pastries come in as the second most popular breakfast item. All of the hotels offer American breakfast.

The national dish of Jordan is the mansaf, prepared with jameed, a sun-dried yogurt. Grumpygourmet.com describes the mansaf as "an enormous platter layered with crêpe-like traditional "shraak" bread, mounds of glistening rice and chunks of lamb that have been cooked in a unique sauce made from reconstituted jameed and spices, sprinkled with golden pine nuts." In actuality more people use fried almonds instead of pine nuts because of the cheaper price tag. The best mansaf can be found in Kerak.

While mansaf is the national dish, most people in urban areas eat it on special occasions and not every day. Other popular dishes include Maklouba, stuffed vegetables, freekeh.

Levantine-style mezza are served in "Lebanese-style" -which is typical to Jordaian style- restaurants around the country, and you can easily find international fast food chains including McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Burger King. In addition to chains well known in Europe and North America, there are some local businesses such as:

  • Abu Jbarah: one of the famous falafel's restaurant in Jordan.
  • Al kalha: famous falafel and homous restaurant in Jordan.
  • Al-Daya'a and Reem: Famous places to get Shawerma sandwiches and dishes.

As for foreign style restaurants, there is no shortage of them. The best ones are usually found in 5 star hotels, but the price tag is high. Italian restaurants and pizza places are somewhat abundant in AmmanMadaba, and Aqaba, but are very hard to find in other cities.

More and more cafes now serve food. There is an abundance of Middle Eastern-style cafes serving Argeelleh in addition to the full complement of Western and Middle Eastern coffee drinks. There is also a good number of Western-style cafes which usually serve Western-style desserts, salads and sandwiches.

Drink

Although Jordan is an Islamic state, the locally brewed Amstel is available in the better restaurants. Guiness, Becks and Heiniken are served in bars catering for westerners. Jordanian wine, mostly from Mount Nebo, is also quite good. A few shops, especially in the touristic centres also sell harder alcohol. Liquor stores are generally identifiable by the Amstel logo. In touristic areas it is easy to find them, and only during Ramadan they might be closed. One exception is Wadi Rum, because there are no shops here, just camps, but the more luxurious ones will cater for such needs.

For more details on alcohol in Jordan, also see the Amman article.

Sleep

Amman has an abundance of 5 and 4 star hotels. In addition there is good number of 3 star hotels and there are plenty of 2 star and 1 star hotels in downtown Amman which are very cheap, and there are plenty of tourists, especially those that are passing by stay in these hotels.

There are two scales of rating the hotels in Jordan. There are the standard, Western-style 5-star hotels such as the Sheraton, Crowne Plaza, etc., and then there are the local 5-star establishments. The local establishments that are considered '5-star' in Jordan would be more like 3-star hotels in the West. A traveller will pay top dollar for a Western brand-name 5-star hotel in Amman or Petra and less for the local 5-star hotel.

Furthermore, for longer stays it is possible to get furnished apartments for JOD200-600 a month.

Stay safe

Dangers

Jordan is very safe. There is virtually no unsafe part of Jordan except at the Iraqi border. Although the rural parts of Jordan have limited infrastructure, the fellahin (or village people) will be happy to assist you.

As with many places, be cautious with anyone who seems interested in romantic entanglements, as incidents of foreign women being charmed by locals and then discovering that the "romance" was merely a cover to obtain sex, money, or other services are not uncommon. This is especially true for young foreign girls – a cosy camp surrounding and maybe some wine does the rest.

Society

Keep in mind Jordan is a Muslim nation and western norms, such as public displays of affection, may not be accepted even by Jordan's western-educated elite. Jordan is not a place where homosexuality is taken as lightly as in the West, although it is not illegal as is the case in most other Arab nations. Though, the LGBT scene, especially in Amman, prefers the don't ask, don't tell approach to this topic. Adultery, including consensual sex between unmarried couples, is illegal and can be punished by a maximum 3-year jail term. However, this does in general not concern western couples, but will only be a problem when engaging with local people.

Health

As in all urban areas in the world, Jordan's cities have some health concerns but also keep in mind that Jordan is a center for medical treatment in the Middle East and its world-class hospitals are respected in every part of the world. Just remember to have caution with buying food from vendors; the vendors aren't trying to hurt you but the food might be unclean. Hospitals in Jordan, especially Amman, are abundant, and Jordan is a hub for medical tourism.

Also, the biggest risk to your health in Jordan is being involved in a road traffic accident.

Dogs can be a problem in remote areas of Jordan. Even though, they are far less numerous compared to Asia. If they get too close to you, (pretend to) pick up a stone. They will remember this gesture from the last painful "experience". Also (carrying) a large stick might help.

Cope

Respect

Jordan is a majority Muslim country with a large Christian population too. It is one of the most liberal nations in the region and very hospitable to tourists, and locals will be happy to help you if asked. Jordanians in turn will respect you and your culture if you respect theirs. Respect Islam, the dominant religion, and the King of Jordan.

Women may wear regular clothing without harassment in any part of Jordan. Western fashions are popular among young Jordanian women. However, modest clothing should be worn in religious and old historical sites.

Respect the Jordanian monarchy which has strong backing by the people. The Jordanian monarchy is very pro-Western and very open to reform, as are the Jordanian people. While Jordan is a generally free and tolerant country, avoid discussing sensitive topics with casual acquaintances or strangers, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ramadan

During Ramadan, and particularly on the Eid al-Fitr holiday, schedules will change. Many restaurants, particularly those outside Amman, are closed during the daylight hours of Ramadan, only opening at sunset. This does not affect major restaurants near tourist destinations, however. Also, during Eid al-Fitr it is impossible to get a servees (minibus) in the late afternoon or evening in many parts of the country. Plan in advance if you are taking a servees to an outlying area; you may need to get a taxi back. However, JETT and Trust International Transport usually add more buses to their schedules during this time period, especially those going from Amman to Aqaba.

The schedule change will need to take into account especially regarding the following topic.

Public holidays

Some holidays are based on the Gregorian calendar:

Religious holidays are based on the Islamic calendar, which has got 11 days less than the Gregorian one. Therefore, the holidays are shifted. The important holidays are:

Please look up the latest dates on the internet.

Standing in lines

Jordanians have a notable issue with standing in line-ups for service. Often those near the rear of a line will try to sidle forwards and pass those in front of them. The line members being passed, rather than object to this tactic, will often instead start to employ this same trick themselves, on the line members in front of them. The end result is often a raucous crowd jostling for service at the kiosk in question.

No one, including the person manning the kiosk, is happy when this situation develops, and often tensions in the jostling crowd seem high enough that violent disagreements feel moments away. However, there is no violence and the sense is that Jordanians recognise common distinct limits as to what was reasonable in line jostling.

Nonetheless, due to this common Jordanian phenomenon, several strategies are suggested.

  1. Arrive early, allow for time, and be patient. Since a degenerate line-up is rarely an efficient line-up, allow in your travel plans for the fact that it will invariably take longer than expected to deal with any service booth arrangements, whether that means customs, buying tickets, waiting to get on a bus, etc.
  2. Don't get upset about the line-up yourself or get caught up in the emotions of the crowd. You will keep moving forward, even if a few people sneak in front of you. No one in the 'line crowd' is entirely unreasonable, and you will not keep getting pushed back indefinitely. Often, at most, you will end up being served at the kiosk three or four turns later than expected. Just try to relax and take it in stride.
  3. Avoid the line-up entirely when possible. Often, kiosks handle groups in bursts, such as a customs kiosk that deals with a bus load of people at a time. In these cases, if you do not start already at the front of the line, find a comfortable spot away from the crowd, and just wait for the rest of the group to make their fractious way through before you. Then, make your way up to the kiosk once it's clear. The advantage of being last is that often the kiosk attendant will appreciate your patience and be happy to deal with you now that they do not have a clamoring crowd jostling for their attention.

Embassies

Most embassies can be found in Amman (see article).

Electricity

The electricity supply in Jordan is 230V/50 Hz. But several types of plugs/outlets are in common use. I.e. European with round pins, British standard, Indian and combination outlets that can take multiple types.

Connect

WiFi is commonly available in restaurants, cafés and ho(s)tels.

Most of Jordan has mobile coverage. There are three mobile operators:

  • Zain - the first and largest mobile provider
  • Orange
  • Umniah

Card-based temporary numbers can be purchased at the airport or any mobile shop for JOD5. These numbers can be subsequently recharged with a prepaid card starting at only JOD1. Temporary "throw away" phones can be bought at many mobile phone shops across the country for around JOD20-30, but a Jordanian must buy the phone before possession can be transferred to you.

For me, the beauty of travel is how even mundane days at home are enlivened by those memories. Random snippets of news or information send my mind to intriguing places I've visited and experiences I had there. When I noticed that my jeans were made in Jordan, my mind leaped to Petra, the city carved into rocks. I visited a couple of years ago during a trip to Israel. When I read a story about...
For me, the beauty of travel is how even mundane days at home are enlivened by those memories. Random snippets of news or information send my mind to intriguing places I've visited and experiences I had there. When I noticed that my jeans were made in Jordan, my mind leaped to Petra, the city carved into rocks. I visited a couple of years ago during a trip to Israel. When I read a story about...

Hear about travel to Jordan as the Amateur Traveler himself, Chris Christensen, relates stories about his recent visit to the country.

Kate Couch

Last month, I said that my one and only goal was to find an apartment in New York. So did I succeed?

YES! I GOT A PLACE. I saw five apartments in total and fell in love with the second one on sight. The entire process was difficult and nerve-wracking and I think I gained several gray hairs over the course of the process. But I’m so excited to move in this week!

The rest of the month was very quiet — one of the quietest months I’ve had in the past few years. I went on a photo-taking frenzy in Rockport a few days ago because I had almost zero photos to put into this monthly post!

Rockport

Destinations Visited

Reading, Lynn, Newburyport, and Rockport, Massachusetts, USA

New York, New York, USA

Favorite Destinations

New York today, New York tomorrow, New York forever.

Chipped Cup

Highlights

Finding the apartment! I thought apartment-hunting in Boston was difficult; in New York, it’s worse. Tenants in New York have a lot of rights, and for that reason, landlords are very strict in who they allow to live there.

While in Boston a landlord would verify that you have a job and check your credit score, New York landlords do a lot more. Most apartments require you to make an annual salary of 40 times the monthly rent. (That works out to one third of what you make.) And when you’re self-employed, it’s even more complicated and requires years of past tax returns and several bank statements.

But I did my research, searched hard, and it worked! I’m moving to Hamilton Heights, Harlem! A lot of my friends were shocked to hear this; in fact, I was dead set on moving to Brooklyn until recently!

I’ll be writing about my decision to choose Harlem over Brooklyn later on, as it’s a huge topic that deserves a full post. The main reason? My biggest priority was to live alone in a really nice apartment.

While I looked all over Brooklyn, Hamilton Heights has much better value for money. Most rentals here are newly renovated and in excellent condition. Transportation is outstanding. On top of that, rents are lower than most decent Brooklyn neighborhoods, even lower than cheaper neighborhoods like Bushwick, Crown Heights, and Bed-Stuy.

How good is the transit? My sister commutes about 100 blocks from Hamilton Heights to midtown and it literally takes her TWO STOPS on the subway. How crazy is that?!

I like Hamilton Heights a lot, and I’ve spent a lot of time here, as my sister has lived here for the past few years. It’s convenient to several subway lines, the architecture is beautiful, and there are lots of cool bars and restaurants. I’ve walked alone at night here quite often and I feel very safe here. It feels like a comfortable, lived-in neighborhood.

The moment I walked into my apartment, I knew it was the one. It just felt so warm. It’s a roomy one-bedroom apartment in a beautiful, well-maintained brownstone on a gorgeous block. It’s actually the entire second floor of the building (!!).

The living room is big enough for a dining table and a desk as well as a couch. The kitchen is separate and has more counter space than any other unit I saw. The bedroom is on the small side, but it fits a queen bed and has tons of storage shelving built in. There’s a long, gallery-style hallway leading to the bathroom.

Best of all…I have an in-unit washer/dryer. That is the HOLY GRAIL in New York City!

Location-wise, the apartment is within four blocks of all the subways (1, A, B, C, D), multiple grocery stores, my sister’s place, a coworking space, some great bars and restaurants, my favorite coffeeshop in the neighborhood, and more! Walk a few more blocks and you’ll hit multiple gyms and a yoga studio with $5 classes.

So you could say that I chose the neighborhood with my head and the apartment with my heart.

Kim, Kate and Caroline in NYC

While I was too busy waiting to hear from brokers to hit up the New York Times Travel Show, I did make it to one of the post-show parties and got to hang out with lots of my blogger buddies! I always relish every chance to see my friends and it’s been a while since I’ve been at a big blogger event.

Oh, and while apartment-hunting, an adorable little man, the super of one building, asked me if I was a Columbia student. I patted his shoulder. “Sir, you flatter me. I’m neither that young nor that smart!”

Furnishing and decorating! OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS, THIS IS SO MUCH FUN. I’ve always loved art and design and I’m so happy that I finally get to design a place for myself!

You know, I actually never really furnished my post-college apartments in Somerville and Boston. I hung up my diploma — that was it. I knew from the beginning that my dream was to travel the world, and I couldn’t justify spending on money on something I’d be putting into storage before long.

Now, it’s finally time.

Kate, Lisa and Alexa in Rockport

My friends sent me off in style. Lisa and Alexa insisted on giving me a special going-away-day from Massachusetts, and we spent it day-tripping to Rockport, a little seaside town on the North Shore.

Rockport used to be a tiny fishing village; today, it’s popular with artists. It was actually the filming location for the Alaska scenes in the movie The Proposal. The only issue? Most of Rockport shuts down in the winter months! Definitely go in the summer.

We finished at home with a bottle of champagne and an HGTV marathon. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Rockport Bearskin Neck

Challenges

You don’t want to know how much money I spent this month. Moving is expensive, New York is expensive, furnishing a place from scratch is expensive…

Also, I’m growing my eyebrows out. I used to have much thicker, darker brows when I was younger (even when I was in my early twenties) so I’m experimenting to see if I can grow them back. It’s not a great look so far — pretty much the only thing more awkward than growing out your bangs.

SNOW! COLD! It’s hard enough living in the suburbs without a car of your own. Add freezing cold weather and snow and it’s no surprise I became a virtual hermit this month.

Other than these little peccadilloes, it was an easy January, and for that I am grateful.

Rockport

Most Popular Post

How to Arrive in Bangkok — Wow, this post did well! I love writing in-depth posts for the cities I know best.

Oysters at the Grog

Other Posts

Kate’s Picks: Where to Go in 2016 Before It’s Too Late — Japan for the exchange rate, Nicaragua before the canal is built, and Jordan to expand your friends’ horizons.

Scenes from England’s Lake District — One of the most beautiful places I’ve been in the UK.

Quit Fucking Around and Build Yourself a Fuck-Off Fund — This post was HUGE! And a very important message.

The Ultimate Girls’ Getaway to Koh Lanta, Thailand — My favorite place in the world. My third trip was my favorite.

Make This The Year You Start Your Own Business — Literally the only way you can have job security.

Seven Quirky Travel Accessories For Your Future Home — Some of my favorite new finds from Airportag.

Rockport

News and Announcements

Not a lot of big news to report. January’s challenge was to find and furnish a place, something that I’ve achieved for the most part.

But for February? Hmm.

Then I got an idea. We’re in a leap year — why not do something with the number 29?

So I decided — 29 days, 29 friends! I want to spend time with 29 different friends over the course of the month. Not necessarily new friends (though meeting new friends would be AWESOME!) — I want this specific challenge to be about reconnecting with the friends I already have.

And to add to the list, I want five of those friends to be people I haven’t seen in at least five years. I have a few in mind already.

So if you’re in New York and we know each other, drop me a line! Let’s hang out soon.

Castlerigg Sunset

Most Popular Photo on Instagram

Everyone loves a glorious sunset. I’ll never forget this sunset at Castlerigg Stone Circle in the Lake District of England!

Rockport

What I Read This Month

I read a piece on XOJane that suggested completing an author in 2016. What a great idea — you read all the works by an author you love (or at least everything you can find!).

I had already planned on completing Junot Diaz this year, but I could easily do Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Elizabeth Gilbert, Toni Morrison, or Barbara Kingsolver. As much as I adore Lionel Shriver, her books take a lot out of me (in a good way) and they’re best spaced out over a long time.

But a suggestion for you? Steve Martin. Yes, that Steve Martin. His books are magnificent and very different from what you think they would be. My favorite is Born Standing Up; I also love Shopgirl, The Pleasure of My Company and An Object of Beauty.

Here’s what I read this month:

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs — This book is going to stay with me for a LONG time. Robert Peace grew up in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Newark. He was brilliant and hardworking, earning a scholarship to Yale. After Yale, he traveled the world, then returned to selling drugs in his old neighborhood and was murdered.

How could this happen? How could this be prevented? I can’t stop thinking about these questions. What if he had had a mentor? What if he hadn’t been so loyal to his friends and family above all other things? This book was tremendously eye-opening when it comes to race and especially class in America, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates — This is one of the biggest books on race in America. Written as a series of letters to his son on what it means to be black in America today, Coates weaves through the history of his life from Baltimore to “The Mecca” (Howard University) to New York, Paris, and beyond.

This book was more of a challenge than I anticipated — it’s dense, it’s difficult, it’s beautiful and not a single word is wasted. As racial violence grips America, I’m trying to read more so that I understand more (not least because I’m moving to a historically black neighborhood). This book isn’t the easiest read, but I feel like it should be required reading for Americans, especially in an election year.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — This Kindle short is based off Adichie’s TED Talk on contemporary feminism in Nigeria and beyond. So it’s a quickie read — and I’m not sure if I’m being dishonest by including it in my book round-up here! It’s an argument for why feminism needs to be taken seriously and appreciated by all citizens of the world — but she delivers it in the most delightful, charming way. Definitely worth a read.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling — I like Mindy Kaling a lot and I really enjoyed her first memoir. Like the Fey/Poehler/Dratch memoirs, she has great things to say about working hard in a female where women struggle to be acknowledged (not to mention women of color). But I think Kaling’s biggest strengths are when she writes about feeling like an outsider and faking it until you make it.

Anyway, I’m hoping that if we meet, we’d be friends. Her high school was actually one of my high school’s rivals. I’d love to tell her stories about the freaky incest-space-shadow-baby plays her high school would present at Dramafest.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert — I adore Liz Gilbert and will read anything she writes. This book isn’t quite a self-help book, nor is it quite a memoir — it’s a guide on how to bring more creativity into your life and how best to use it. It’s a quicker read than I expected, and I absolutely loved it. I feel like I have a whole new way of seeing things, both the creative work I do for my career and the creative work I do for myself. Definitely worth a read, and Gilbert is one of my favorite literary voices.

What I Watched This Month

Mozart in the Jungle. I put it on after it won a few Golden Globes and I ended up binge-watching all 20 episodes over three sessions! It’s a show about the secret lives of the best classical musicians in New York. It’s a bit soapy, a bit funny, and an interesting look at the life of a professional classical musician.

If you are a creative or work in the arts, you need to see this show. Seriously. More than anything, it’s about the relationship between art and money. And if you’re a musician, especially a classical musician, you’ll love it, too. It reminded me of my nights partying, skinny-dipping, and drinking with the musicians in Kuhmo, Finland, before watching them perform Bach and Sibelius the next day!

What I Listened To This Month

“Lazarus” by David Bowie.

As usual, I woke up, grabbed my phone, and opened Facebook. My stomach tightened when I saw that David Bowie was trending. I knew he’d been ill with heart problems and living out of the public eye for awhile. Had he left us?

And the first thing I saw was this video, which I watched immediately.

I was overcome.

He knew he was dying for a long time. And instead of withdrawing from the world, he chose to create a beautiful final collection of music, as unique as his material had always been.

I thought I would listen to this song once, be sad, and turn to my usual favorite Bowie songs, “Young Americans” and “Modern Love” and “Golden Years.” But I kept listening to “Lazarus” and marveling at how bravely and beautifully Bowie decided to leave this world.

RIP.

Snowy Harlem via Instagram

Coming Up in February 2016

Moving day is February 3! My dad is driving me down and helping me move in my belongings. Furniture will be arriving over the next few weeks. Let’s just hope the weather doesn’t look like that above photo!

I won’t be traveling anywhere in February (other than home to Boston for a bachelorette party two days after I move, amusingly enough), but I’m making BIG plans for the spring and summer. I’m also arranging lots of meetings with my New York-based travel contacts so we can put some cool trips together.

Guys, the travel tingles are returning. That makes me SO HAPPY. Last week I got an idea for a trip and I researched and planned it maniacally, my heart racing, until I realized it was 3:30 AM and I should probably go to sleep.

That trip might end up happening — or it might not. We’ll see. The important thing is my mojo is sloooowly coming back. For awhile I was afraid that I had lost it after pushing myself too hard for too long.

It’s still there. And it’s raring to go.

One last thing — I am deeply grateful to have what I have today. Five years ago, my dream was to earn $1,000 per month from my blog so I could afford to live in Southeast Asia. That dream obviously grew and changed over time as I grew and changed as a person.

To be at the point where I can live on my own in Manhattan — and still travel — is something that I didn’t think would be possible a few years ago. I’ve worked so hard for this but I’ve also had a fair amount of luck, not to mention privilege. I won’t ever forget that, and I’m enormously grateful to all of you who continue to read my material and allow me to remain a full-time blogger.

What are your plans for February? Share away!

Hear about travel to Jordan as the Amateur Traveler himself, Chris Christensen, relates stories about his visit to the country. 

35 of the world’s best places to travel in 2017

       

With so much negativity in the media, the world is often portrayed as risky, dangerous. And yet as travelers we learn the same lesson over and over: Preconceived notions of places and cultures are almost always wrong.

The world is, in fact, safer, more hospitable, more open and accepting than non-travelers could ever imagine. If only people everywhere could realize that on the opposite side of the globe are people not so different, so foreign, as they might believe.

Let’s make 2017 the year of traveling fearlessly. These places are just starting points. The next step is taking action. We hope to see you on the road.

       

1. Jordan

 

1. Jordan

Completely safe oasis isolated from the instability of the region

Jordan is a place of supernatural beauty. Imagine Yosemite as a desert with super luxury tented camps. That’s a bit how Wadi Rum feels. And Petra is so ancient you could use the Bible as your guidebook rather than a Lonely Planet. Beyond these obvious destinations, there’s also Al Salt, Jarash, and Amman. Travel here with an open mind, and get ready for and a hospitality that will blow away any expectations. Photo by Scott Sporleder.

       

2. Los Angeles

 

2. Los Angeles

Epicenter of Southern California with quick access to nature

LA has it all. The food options, historic sites, and outdoor access are enough to make you forget the 45-minute drives it takes to reach them. Your best bet (as always) is to hook up with locals (try travelstoke if you don’t know anyone there), and plan your travels around different neighborhoods. Photo by Scott Sporleder.

       

3. Yucatán Peninsula

 

3. Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico

No-worries area of Mexico with luxury haciendas in the middle of the jungle

Beyond Chichen Itzá are other lesser known Mayan ruins worth exploring throughout the region, along with the cenotes, as well as world-class diving (the world’s second largest coral reef after the Great Barrier Reef, is on the Carribean side of Mexico) and beaches. Of special note is Rosas y Chocolate, one of the top urban hotels in all of Mexico, pictured above.

       

4. Sisimiut, Greenland

 

4. Sisimiut, Greenland

Above the Arctic Circle, and almost like dropping off the map

Sisimiut is the second-largest town in Greenland. 5,500 people live on a tiny, rocky promontory just north of the Arctic Circle. If you are lucky enough to travel to Greenland, your goal should be connecting with locals and getting invited to a kaffemik. These are celebrations such as birthdays or weddings, and guests may can come anytime you want and leave whenever they feel like it. Photo by Greenland Travel.

       

5. Península Valdés, Argentina

 

5. Península Valdés, Argentina

The overlooked part of Patagonia, with stunning marine wildlife

The stark, windswept, and seldom-visited Atlantic coast of Patagonia has intense concentrations of wildlife with its epicenter at Peninsula Valdes. Each year between June and December is the Southern Right Whale migration. Throughout the year are other wildlife viewing possibilities, including Magellanic penguins, and elephant seals. Awesome family adventure. Image: Matiasso

       

6. Hamburg

 

6. Hamburg, Germany

Harbor city unlike anywhere else in Germany

Hamburg is more fish than sausage and more tea than beer. It’s home to one of Germany’s oldest red-light district, the Reeperbahn, where many musicians, like the Beatles, got their start. Explore the Speicherstadt, attend the Hamburger Dom, or check out a Sankt Pauli soccer game; Hamburg’s notoriously rowdy soccer team. Image: Nick Sheerbart

       

7. Faroe Islands

 

7. Faroe Islands

Otherworldly North Atlantic escape

Off in the North Atlantic somewhere between Iceland and Norway, this group of 18 islands is like a dream world: dramatic sea stacks, well-trodden hiking trails, and cosmopolitan small cities with great food scenes. The country has incredible infrastructure with most islands connected by bridge or undersea tunnel. For those islands not connected by road, there are fast ferries and subsidized helicopter transport. Photo by Stefan Klopp.

       

8. Auckland

 

8. Auckland, New Zealand

Ultimate urban backpacker hub for exploring wilderness and beaches

Auckland is one of the largest cities by land area in the world, with plenty of natural reserves, surf spots, and Maori cultural experiences throughout and surrounding the city. There’s also a great cafe culture. It’s a perfect base for exploring both coasts of NZ’s North Island. Photo by Rulo Luna.

       

9. Dominical, Costa Rica

 

9. Dominical, Costa Rica

Surf, yoga, and natural foods paradise within easy reach

Out of all the places in Costa Rica that should’ve gotten overrun with mass tourism, Dominical has been spared. It remains a small, uncrowded town with a super cool expat scene and awesome restaurants. There are exceptional AirBnb properties overlooking nearby Domincalito (as well as in town). For surfing, Dominical is almost never flat. Photo: Blaze Nowara.

       

10.Montreal

 

10. Montreal, Canada

Multicultural city with world-class paddling options and nightlife

2017 marks Montreal’s 375th anniversary, and the city plans to celebrate all year. Join in for a big party and some birthday cake on May 17, the official date that the city was founded on. Culturally diverse Montreal will also welcome you with free festivals, concerts, cultural activities, exhibitions, foodie events, tastings, tours, and theatrical performances. Photo: Michael Vesia.

       

11. Portmagee, Ireland

 

11. Portmagee, Ireland

Coastal Irish village with access to ancient sites

Portmagee is both a rad little village on its own, and the departure point for Skellig Michael. Take a ferry there, hang with puffins and dolphins all day, enjoy seafood caught steps away at the family owned Moorings Guesthouse while listening to traditional Irish song and dance and lulled to sleep by the ocean. Photo by Tony Webster.

       

12. Belfast, Maine

 

12. Belfast, Maine

Scenic seaport on Penobscot Bay, loaded with architectural treasures and historic districts

Belfast is known for welcoming the back-to-the-land movement of the ’70s. It gets a lot of credit for the craft beers of Marshall Wharf, Delvino’s authentic Italian food, served in an old hardware store, and the many local farmers who’ve taken the torch from those revolutionary back-to-the-landers and are fueling the city’s sustainable food movement. Photo by Bruce C. Cooper.

       

13. Havana

 

13. Havana, Cuba

Rapidly transitioning nation grounded in Caribbean culture and vibrancy

 

Cuba has been among the hottest places to travel for our staff at Matador, with reports always containing two elements: 1. People have more fun there than anywhere else they’ve been in years, and 2. The wifi is the worst they’ve found anywhere (Correlation anyone?). On a recent filmmaking journey, it was noted: “Everyone here has rocking chairs. This is place where people know how to chill.”

       

14. New York City

 

14. New York City

An energy unrivaled anywhere in the world

With so many things to do and places to see, NYC can be quite disorienting for a first-time visitor, which you should just accept as part of the experience. The quintessential walking city, stroll the Highline, Brooklyn bridge, and Riverside Park. Photo by Jaden D.

       

15. Franklin, Tennessee

 

15. Franklin, Tennessee

Classic small town southern vibes and beautiful watershed

A short drive from Nashville, Franklin has a great small town vibe with their Main Street as the site of numerous festivals and the Harpeth River (and connected trails) flowing right through town. The upcoming September Pilgrimage Festival will be in its 3rd year, and with Justin Timberlake as producer, it is going to be awesome.

       

16. Durango

 

16. Durango, Colorado

Outdoor adventure hub in a region dotted with storybook towns

Durango is one of the raddest towns in the US with the powerful, free-flowing Animas River running deep through the San Juan Mountains and right through the city. World class ski resort + backcountry adventures via kayaks, skis/snowboard, and great events from Snowdown in January to the La Plata County Fair in August. Photo by Avery Woodard.

       

17. Abu Dhabi

 

17. Abu Dhabi, UAE

One of the best places in the world to experience Islamic culture

Abu Dhabi is a desert emirate, dotted with oasis towns, date farms, historic forts, natural reserves, mangroves, and dunes that have lured explorers throughout history. As one of the largest mosques on the planet, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque receives pilgrims from all over the world during Eid celebrations. Outside of prayer times, it’s also open to non-Muslims and has free guided tours.

       

18. Seattle

 

18. Seattle

All in one foodie, art, music, and outdoor adventure destination

Seattle has been blowing up for the last two decades and continues to be one of the most interesting cultural centers in the US. But beyond the city itself, Seattle is special for its geography. Simply jump on a ferry for a day trip to the San Juan Islands or over to the Olympic Peninsula and you’re deep in coastal rainforests and mountain ranges–another world. Photo by Vincent Lock.

       

19. Sicily

 

19. Sicily, Italy

The Mediterranean’s largest island, rich in archeological sites and culture

Sicily has retained a strong sense of identity, and nowhere is it more enmeshed with the rich history than in the ancient walled neighborhood of Ortigia, in Siracusa. The high stone buildings and cobblestone streets give the sense of stepping back in time. Make sure to also hit up Mt. Etna (Europe’s tallest active volcano), Cefalù, and Taormina. Actually, just go everywhere. Photo by Scott Sporleder.

       

20. Varanasi

 

20. Varanasi, India

The cultural center of North India

According to Hindu mythology, Varanasi was founded by Lord Shiva. The city is one of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism. It is also a city surrounded by death. The biggest tourist attraction here is to witness the cremations that take place along the banks of the Ganges. Varanasi is Photo: Arushi Saini Photography.

       

21. St. Petersburg

 

21. St. Petersburg, Russia

Russia’s cultural capital

The historic districts of St. Petersburg comprise a UNESCO world heritage site, and the Hermitage is among the top museums in the world. Bar hop along the trendy Ruben Street and wander the massive Nevsky Prospekt main drag. Lastly, as Russia prepares to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, St. Petersburg will serve as the backdrop for the 2017 Confederations Cup Final. Photo by Victor Bergmann.

       

22. Quebec City

 

22. Quebec City, Canada

While Canada is 150 years old in 2017, Quebec City dates back to 1608 and is like nowhere else in North America. The fortifications and French colonial stone buildings of the Old Town make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time. Photo by Julien Samson.

       

23. Charleston

 

23. Charleston, South Carolina

One of the most fun party weekends in the US

Take your time here in the Lowcountry. Have a meal at Hominy Grill, a sailboat ride up around Fort Sumter, spend an evening being touristy on King Street, and definitely take the short ride to Folly Beach. Sipping beers and eating seafood at Red’s Ice House overlooking the fishing boats on Shem Creek isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon either. Photo by North Charleston.

       

24. Montreux

 

24. Montreux, Switzerland

The French Swiss city, surrounded by vineyards and towering alps

Belle Époque buildings overlook a long promenade along Lake Geneva, making Montreux one of the most picturesque places in the world. Every July is the Montreux Jazz Festival, which celebrated its 50th year in 2016. Photo by Karim Kanoun Photography.

       

25. Óbidos, Portugal

 

25. Óbidos, Portugal

Portugal’s scenic literary powerhouse near world class-surf

Once you’ve walked the 13th century streets, filled your bag with books and your stomach with bacalhau and vinho verde, you can drive 45 minutes to Lisbon or explore the area around Óbidos. Peniche, a surf paradise, is 25km away, and there’s a natural park (Parque Natural das Serras de Aire e Candeeiro) also nearby. Photo by lagrossemadame.

       

26. Pokhara, Nepal

 

26. Pokhara, Nepal

Nepal’s relaxing, fresh, and super close-to-nature second city

Nepal’s second city doesn’t rival the capital Kathmandu in many respects but it’s the hands-down winner for a relaxed vibe and adventure access. The hilltop viewpoint of Sarangkot is one of the best places in the world for paragliding; there are kilometers of trails just around Fewa Lake, and if you’re out of energy, Pokhara is an ideal place to chill out. Photo: Aalok dhakal.

       

27. Cabo San Lucas

 

27. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Works all ways: place to get waves, have family fun, or as a romantic getaway

Most people associate Cabo with spring break, tequila, and loud music. The scene has changed over the last few years, with the main attractions being nature wildlife, and classy upscale resorts. Photo: Ben Horton.

       

28. Nelson, Canada

 

28. Nelson, Canada

The friendliest little ski town in British Columbia

Nelson’s history includes the settlement of the pacifist Doukhobors from Russia as well as Vietnam draft dodgers, which played no small part in its progressive values and “hippie vibes.” Nelson has a thriving music, arts, and cultural scene, and a surprising amount of cafes, bars, restaurants and locally-owned shops for a city of only 10,000 people. Photo: Carlo Alcos.

       

29. Altér do Chão, Brazil

 

29. Altér do Chão, Brazil

The “Brazilian Caribbean” hidden in the Amazon jungle

This is the perfect place to explore the Amazon rainforest. You can go on day trips to see sloths, river dolphins, and other animals, and you can taste exotic fruits and food only found here there. If you go during the rainy season, Altér do Chão is super quiet, with a hippie-ish vibe. Photo by lubasi.

       

30. George Town, Malaysia

 

30. George Town, Malaysia

A mind-blowing combination of Chinese, Indian, and Malay cultures

Spice, herb, and fresh produce stands between colonial architecture and street art offers a sensational experience with the chatter of diverse languages, like being a walk away from India and China. Photo by Ah Wei (Lung Wei).

       

31. Luang Prabang, Laos

 

31. Luang Prabang, Laos

A relaxed introduction for newcomers to Asia

Let me show you a world that is too often misunderstood.

Women gossiping in a park.

Istanbul, 2013.

Soft sand, palm trees, and some of the bluest waters you’ve ever seen.

Senggigi, Indonesia, 2011.

Bikes and bread and girls in matching dresses.

Prizren, Kosovo, 2013.

Camel rides at sunrise.

Wadi Rum, Jordan, 2011.

Chilled out beach resorts.

Ksamil, Albania, 2015.

Opulence.

Dubai, 2013

New friends who are dressed a million times better than you.

Amman, 2011.

 

Bridges across the divide.

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2012.

Best friends forever.

Brunei Darussalam, 2014.

Desert dunes.

Wadi Rum, Jordan, 2013.

Graffitied pyramids dwarfing cities.

Tirana, Albania, 2015.

Whirling dervishes.

Istanbul, 2013.

Women with style.

Kuala Lumpur, 2010.

Reverence for American leaders.

Prishtina, Kosovo, 2013.

Mocktails made with gold leaf and camel milk.

Dubai, 2013.

Ruins that could rival anything in Rome.

Jerash, Jordan, 2011.

The call to prayer beautifully punctuating the day.

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, 2014.

Bazaars packed with traditional goods.

Istanbul, 2013.

Bridges, mosques, minarets, and fortresses.

Prizren, Kosovo, 2013.

World wonders.

Petra, Jordan, 2011.

Daredevils showing off for the camera.

Koh Lanta, Thailand, 2014.

Olives. Lots and lots of olives.

Istanbul, 2013.

Fiery curries, not a bite of pork in sight.

Koh Lanta, Thailand, 2015.

Cevapciki with pita, sausages, and the only time you’ll ever willingly eat raw onions.

Sarajevo, 2012.

Pink sunsets over the Mediterranean.

Fethiye, Turkey, 2011.

Pink sunsets over Lombok.

Lombok, Indonesia, 2011.

Pink sunsets over the Bosphorus.

Istanbul, 2013.

Pink sunsets over the Andaman.

Koh Lanta, Thailand, 2015.

Spellbinding traditional architecture.

Istanbul, 2013.

UNESCO World Heritage-listed architecture.

Berat, Albania, 2015.

Avant-garde architecture.

Prishtina, Kosovo, 2013.

Gold-domed mosques that bring together colorful streets.

Singapore, 2011.

And the tallest building in the world.

Dubai, 2013.

Not to mention the largest flag in the world.

Amman, 2011.

Tea served in tulip-shaped glasses.

Istanbul, 2011.

Tea cooked over an open fire.

Petra, Jordan, 2011.

High tea overlooking a luxurious city.

Dubai, 2013.

Young men who live on the edge.

Istanbul, 2013.

Young men who died far too young.

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2013.

Feeling at home. And welcomed.

Ajloun, Jordan, 2011.

Did I ever feel in danger?

Not once.

Beauty, joy, friendship, and the best hospitality in the world — this is just a fraction of what the Islamic world has to offer. And this doesn’t even count western countries with sizable Muslim populations, like London and Paris, nor places where I interact with Muslims daily, like my home city of New York.

Looking back, I thought that Islamophobia would slowly decrease in the years following 9/11. Now, it seems to be worse than ever. Considering how Islamophobia is ricocheting across America and the globe right now, I think it’s vital to change perceptions by sharing the truth about these beautiful, welcoming destinations.

I’m adding another priority of 2017: to visit at least one new Islamic region or country, and hopefully more. That could be Uzbekistan or Tunisia, Oman or Azerbaijan, Western China or Northern India or Turkish Cyprus.

In the seven years that I’ve been publishing this site, my goal has been to show women that they shouldn’t let fear stop them from traveling the world. Now I want to change perceptions about this oft-misunderstood region.

Have you traveled in the Islamic world? What did you enjoy the most?

Roadtrippers

This post was produced in partnership with our friends over at Roadtrippers, a simple but powerful road trip planner that helps you discover, plan, & book your adventure.

I’VE BEEN FORTUNATE ENOUGH to have traveled to some amazing places around the world over the last 10 years: Bolivia, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Mongolia, Jordan, and the list goes on. But I’m not exaggerating in the least when I say that some of my favorite trips have taken place here in the US — typically behind the wheel of my car, on a lonely state highway.

America is just massive. At 3.8 million square miles, it’s three times larger than all the countries listed above combined. So it’s kind of a given that our country would be home to spectacular deserts, mountain ranges, volcanic features, ancient forests, waterfalls, canyons, glaciers, caves, and swamps. But that fact doesn’t diminish the awesomeness of these places.

As spring approaches, my wife and I can’t wait for our next opportunity to hop into our little Mazda with the dog and go find a spot we haven’t been to yet in our thousands of miles of driving around this country that keeps on giving. Hope to see you out there.

1. Death Valley, CA

death valley california

Zabrieskie Point, Death Valley

death valley california

A section of the Mojave Desert, Death Valley is the lowest, driest, hottest place in North America. (1) Trey Ratcliff (2) Pedro Szekely (3) Gleb Tarassenko

2. Kilauea, HI

kilauea hawaii

kilauea hawaii

Kilauea, on the Big Island of Hawaii, sends streams of lava steaming into the Pacific Ocean. (1) Tumanc (2) Esten Hurtle

3. Monument Valley, UT

monument valley utah

monument valley utah

monument valley utah

The sandstone buttes of Monument Valley stand like towers in the Four Corners region of the Western US. (1) Wolfgang Staudt (2) Trey Ratcliff (3) clockwise L to R: Bosure, Wolfgang Staudt, Jason Corneveaux, Kartik Ramanathan

4. Niagara Falls, NY

niagara falls

niagara falls

niagara falls

The tourist vessel “Maid of the Mist IV” does a float-by of the American Falls. (1) Arne Bornheim (2) paul bica (3) Daniel Peckman

5. Redwoods, CA

redwoods california

redwoods california

redwoods california

The tallest trees on the planet hide out in a few remaining tracts of Northern California’s old-growth coastal forests. (1) m24inStudio (2) clockwise L to R: Giant Ginkgo, Mike Baird, jjgardner3 (3) Justin Brown

6. Grand Canyon, AZ

grand canyon

grand canyon

Grand Canyon

A mile down from the canyon’s rim, the Colorado River is still cutting. (1) Ignacio Izquierdo (2) Randy Pertiet (3) Steve Dunleavy

7. Mammoth Cave, KY

Mammoth Cave

mammoth cave collage

Mammoth Cave National Park protects a portion of the longest known cave system in the world. (1) Peter Rivera (2) clockwise L to R: clarkmaxwell, Peter Riviera, Insley Pruitt, Peter Riviera

8. Florida Everglades

Florida Everglades

Everglades cypress

florida everglades

The Everglades are a 60-mile-wide, super-slow-moving subtropical river covering the tip of Florida. (1) Timothy Valentine (2) Brian Koprowski (3) crow 911

9. Hubbard Glacier, AK

hubbard glacier alaska

hubbard glacier alaska

hubbard glacier alaska

Where Hubbard Glacier meets the sea, its 6-mile-wide face calves huge blocks of ice. (1) Alan Vernon (2) Mike McElroy (3) Rich Englebrecht

10. Black Hills, SD

black hills south dakota

black hills south dakota

black hills south dakota

Harney Peak (pictured at top), within the Black Hills National Forest, is the highest east of the Rockies. (1) blucolt (2) Ryan O’Hara (3) Dave Morris

11. The Mississippi

mississippi river

mississippi river

This monster river system drains 31 US states and is the fourth longest in the world. (1) Jon Haynes Photography (2) Adventures of KM&G

12. Bryce Canyon, UT

bryce canyon utah

bryce canyon utah

bryce canyon utah

Bryce can be more accurately described as an immense eroded amphitheater, populated with hoodoos (pictured at middle). (1) Todd Petrie (2) Wolfgang Staudt (3) Sam Gao

13. Mt. Desert Island, ME

mt desert island

mt desert island

mt desert island

The island is protected by Acadia National Park and is all rocky shoreline and crumbly mountain woodland. (1) Scott Kublin (2) clockwise L to R: Andrew Mace, Scott Smitson, Jim Liestman, Howard Ignatius, Frederico Robertazzi (3) A.D. Wheeler

14. Crater Lake, OR

Crater Lake, Oregon

crater lake oregon

crater lake oregon

Collapsed volcano, now a deep blue lake in southern Oregon. (1) Ninad (2) Howard Ignatius (3) Andy Spearing

15. Arches, UT

arches utah

arches utah

arches utah

The national park preserves land that’s home to over 2,000 of these weathered sandstone arches. (1) Keith Cuddeback (2) Katsrcool (3) Kartik Ramanathan

16. Yosemite Valley, CA

yosemite valley

yosemite valley

yosemite valley

Looking down the Yosemite Valley, you can see Bridalveil Falls and the granite cliff of Half Dome in the distance. (1) John Colby (2) Nietnagel (3) clockwise L to R: Craig Goodwin, Scott, Nietnagel

17. Carlsbad Caverns, NM

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns

Hall of Giants

The caverns’ “Big Room” is the third largest cave chamber in North America. (1) FMJ Shooter~Off to the last frontier (2) G (3) J.J.

18. Old Faithful, WY

old faithful

old faithful

old faithful

This geyser in Yellowstone National Park erupts a 140-foot spout of water at regular 45- to 120-minute intervals. (1) David Kingham (2) Scott Kublin (3) frazgo

Roadtrippers The open road. That’s what it’s all about. Driving down long stretches of asphalt, pulling over at a local diner for some grub, and discovering the most incredible roadside wonders. Roadtrippers is a simple but powerful road trip planner that helps you discover, plan, & book your adventure.

Photo: huweijie07170

Experienced independent travelers have the entire world as their playground, feeling completely at ease with visiting new destinations and meeting new folk. These are the people who can walk into a bar alone and by last orders, have a new crew of friends. This kind of character is on the rare side and if you are new to solo travel or have any degree of anxiety about it, you are not alone. We’ve pulled together a few destinations that are perfect for your first trip, along with some handy tips.

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

1. Lombok and the Gili Islands, Indonesia

 Villa Atas, Selong BelanakPejanggik, IndonesiaGreat and affordable Villa in southern Lombok on Selong Belanak beach. Great Place that sleeps 6 comfortably or more if you want to squeeze. Fantastic staff, and just a short walk from the beautiful beach. Great for a long weekend getaway from Jakarta. Just 25 minutes from airport. As easy to get to as Anywhere in Bali. Small beach break decent for newbie surfers. More info villaataslombok.com

Lombok is popular with independent travelers, especially those who want to surf, snorkel or dive. Gili Trawangan, Gili T, as it is called for short, has no motorized vehicles operating on it; you get around by bike, horse, carriage, or by foot. You can walk the entire island in about two hours.

 Mount RinjaniSembalun Lawang, IndonesiaThis is by far the most difficult thing I have ever done. It’s a 3 day trek, and you reach summit (3726 m) early morning on the 2nd day. The views of the crater lake and active volcano are absolutely incredible and truly take your breath way. The sunsets and sunrises are incredible. But be careful, this mountain is not well maintained and there is no such thing as a trail. #extreme #hiking #camping

Solo travel tip: Reach out to friends and acquaintances.

A simple “Do I know anyone in _____?” on Facebook can yield unexpected results. This method can find friends (and often couches) in otherwise totally anonymous destinations.

2. Jordan

 Ajloun CastleAjloun, JordanReally cool castle overlooking the city and some beatiful rolling hills.

You’ll find it impossible to go anywhere in Jordan without experiencing some of its famous hospitality. The huge Nabatean and Roman archaeological site of Petra really does live up to the hype, and will appeal to people who love rugged, natural beauty and hiking, as well as to history buffs. Lawrence of Arabia described the mountains and orange/pink sands of Wadi Rum as “vast, echoing and God-like”; Jerash is one of the best-preserved Roman cities in the world, and the Dead Sea one of the strangest natural wonders.

 Amman CitadelAmman, JordanAmazing city views up here! Loved hearing the call to prayer while the sun went down. #myjordanjourney

Solo travel tip: Cook.

Your experience of travel will be altered hugely when you start to prepare a lot of your own meals. Not all, of course, since tasting local cuisines is hands down the best part of traveling, but many. Wandering local markets, you can improve language skills, feel rooted in your home-of-the-moment, and saved serious money. Choosing an Airbnb with a kitchen facilitates this, as does staying with friends.

3. Edinburgh, Scotland

 The Royal MileEdinburgh, United KingdomMain city center street in Edinburgh full of pubs, cafes, small shops, etc. Beautiful, historic buildings line the street as it leads up to Edinburgh Castle. Do not miss! #free #history #walking #architecture #citycenter

Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, has the reputation of being — not only one of the most beautiful cities in the world — but one of the friendliest. Personally, I’d recommend skipping air bnb, in this instance, and booking a hostel. Edinburgh, “The Burgh”, as locals call it, is a great place to meet people from all over the world. Book a hostel, join a pub crawl and make a heap load of new pals.

 Arthur’s SeatEdinburgh, United KingdomGreat views of Edinburgh from the top of Arthurs Seat. A pretty easy well groomed path up that maybe takes around an hour to get up. #views #hiking

Solo travel tip: Mine for connections.

Social media is a multifaceted beast, but it really comes in handy for certain kinds of travel. Ask Facebook friends, “Does anyone have any connections in ___?”. The more you travel, the more your network grows — exponentially, it would seem. Apps like travelstoke allow you to connect with locals willing to share info or even host travelers a la couchsurfing.

4. Guatemala

 arco de santa catalinaAntigua Guatemala, GuatemalaTwo antigueñas in #ArcodeSantaCatalina #Antigua

If you’re looking for the best places to travel alone in Central and South America, don’t overlook Guatemala and its ancient Maya ruins. It’s an inexpensive place to travel, which means you could stay for a while to learn Spanish or even volunteer.

 Pacaya volcanoEscuintla, GuatemalaWhy hiking the Pacaya Volcano is one of the ultimate hikes in the world! This active volcano 20 minutes outside of Guatemala city can be hiked round trip in 3-4 hours depending on if you take a jeep up the first half of the hike. Once you reach the petrified lava flow at the base of the volcano, you will surprisingly come across the tiny “Lava Store” where artisans Fernando and David make jewelry out of petrified lava and coconut shells. This world famous store is dangerously perched at the base of Pacaya. Since the store opened in 2010, it has been “relocated” almost a dozen times due to the volcanic activity and lava flows taking it out. From there, it is about an hour hike straight up uneven shifting rocks to the mouth of the crater. You have to be careful, since the volcano is spewing noxious gases and could erupt at any time, but the beauty and views from over 8,000 feet high of the nearby volcanoes and potential danger of this hike has voted it one of the top 20 best hikes in the world by National Geographic.

Solo travel tip: Get lost and like it.

Getting lost is a common consequence of going in blind; even if we don’t like it, we can bring our sense of humor along for the walk and discover off the radar spots.

5. Cuba

 Centro HabanaLa Habana, Cuba#streetlife #havana #cuba

Now is the time to visit Cuba. “The country has changed more in the last five years than in all its history,” Cubans say, as foreigners enjoy home stays, five-star hotels spring up in Havana, tour buses queue in formerly off-the-grid towns, airports expand, and culinary traditions widen. And it’s about to change even more, not only because of the growth in tourism since US/Cuba relations were liberalized, but because that liberalization could be threatened under a Trump administration.

 Hotel Los JazminesViñales, CubaIf you find yourself in the tobacco capital of Cuba, the rooms in this hotel just outside of town offer amazing views of the surrounding countryside. #cuba #vinales #pool

Solo travel tip: Be bold — ask questions.

Every piece of information we could possibly need is available on the ground. No need to read travel forums, or even look up directions (although by all means do both if it sets your mind at ease). Depending on where you are in the world, there are metro maps, info centers, or throngs of aggressive taxi drivers at every possible port of arrival. Barring that, the local person sitting next to you on the bus/plane/train/ferry is usually an excellent resource.

6. Kenya

 The David Sheldrick Wildlife TrustNairobi, KenyaBaby elephants! I could hardly contain my excitement when they all came barreling down the hill to the daily feeding area. These baby elephants are all saved, nourished and put back into the wild. You can watch the feeding an hour daily at 11, so be on time or early to make sure you get a spot. All proceeds go to help the elephants.

Tourism accounts for the largest share of the country’s foreign earnings as thousands of visitors arrive to see up to a quarter of a million wildebeest make their annual migration between Kenya and its southern neighbor, Tanzania. You can easily join a big group or arrange for a guide to take you out into the wilderness alone.

 Masai Mara National ReserveNairobi, KenyaAbout 5hrs drive from Nairobi, the Masai Mara has incredible biodiversity. Did a 4 day safari and saw lions, elephants, hippos, rhinos, cheetah, giraffe and so much more. While hiring a tour company from the city is “easier”, you’ll save money by going to villages near the park entrance and hiring a local Masai to take you in. They’re also allowed to drive where others can’t b/c it’s their native land. Makes for all around more culture and adventure #kenya #safari #masaimara #lions

Solo travel tip: Talk to strangers.

They’re not scary — usually. When they are creepy, it’s usually pretty clear to my intuition. Strangers are typically one of three things: treasure troves of insider information, friends you haven’t met yet, or an excellent story for later. Instructions for talking to strangers: eyes up, shoulders down, words out.

7. Barcelona, Spain

 Plaça de CatalunyaBarcelona, SpainOne of the city’s most famous landmarks, this plaça is cool to hang out at when there’s less people. There’s always a million pigeons, so you’ll inevitably kick a few. From here, you can take the air bus to the airport or the metro to go outside of Barcelona. On one side of the plaza is Fnac, a big store for books, electronics and other fun things. #free #statue

Visit southern Spain anytime of the year. The skies are usually clear, winters are short and mild, summers are hot but bearable. Barcelona was designed for pedestrian pleasure. Its iconic Ramblas and paseos have wide sidewalks and medians dotted with benches and shady trees — perfect for leisurely strolling, people watching, and window shopping. You can also escape the hustle and bustle by heading out to one of the city beaches on the super easy-to-use public transport. In the evening you can avoid eating alone in a stuffy restaurant by doing as the Spanish do: grazing on tapas in one of the city’s cool bars.

 AlbaicínBarcelona, SpainThis neighborhood has heavy Moorish influences, written all over its narrow, cobblestone streets and quiet hangout spaces by running water. The area is tranquil and neighbors know each other. It gives off a sense of community and old time charm. Get lost in the streets (trust me, you will even if it’s not by choice) and take some photos during siesta time – you’ll be the only one around. #free #history

Solo travel tip: Let go of “should’s”.

Often mile-long checklist of “must sees” and “must dos” limits potential for spontaneous discovery. Excursions can happen organically — often with new friends.

8. South Island, New Zealand

 Milford SoundQueenstown, New ZealandDay tours leave from Queenstown stopping in the unearthly rainforests of fiordlands national park on the way to Milford sound (Piopiotahi in Mauri). #fullon #lordoftherings #8thwonder

Whatever you’re into, chances are you can find it in New Zealand — dramatic coastal cliffs, alpine lakes and peaks, surfable beaches, active volcanoes and geothermal features, lush rainforest and old-growth forest, walkable glaciers, underground caverns…it’s all here. But what really sets New Zealand apart is the fact that all of the above is in such close proximity, and is so easily accessible. You can go surf to summit in a single day, drive from snowy mountain passes to temperate rainforest. What that means is you get to pack an incredible amount of adventure into every trip.

 Shotover Canyon Swing & Canyon FoxQueenstown, New ZealandWelcome to the highest commercial cliff jump in the most extreme adventure capital of the world (AKA, welcome to what nightmares are made of). I opted to do the canyon swing over bungee jumping since you can customize your experience by going off in various different ways — my first round was by being pushed off a slide, second round was hanging upside down and crying with no shame. #extreme

Solo travel tip: Set up an Airbnb.

Set your price, browse your options, and choose a host who seems interesting. I’m still in contact with several of my Airbnb hosts, and owe unique memories (like tasting the best chocolate gelato in the whole world) to them.

9. Kathmandu, Nepal

 Boudhanath StupaKathmandu, NepalAt 6pm, many residents come to walk around the Stupa three times. But magical at any time of day.

If you’re an experienced altitude trekker, the Annapurna circuit can be tackled independently, but it’s wise to hire a porter or set out with an organised group.

 Hillary Suspension BridgeNamche, NepalDon’t look down! From the Hillary Suspension Bridge on the trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp. #hiking #nepal

Solo travel tip: Keep up with hobbies.

Dancing tango, salsa-ing, climbing, you’ll connect with people you’d have never met otherwise.

10. NYC, United States

 Manhattan Pier 11 / Wall St.New York, United StatesThe greatest city on the world deserves the best view to see it! 1000 ft With no doors and your feet dangling out the side?

Xo #NYC #manhattan

NYC is probably the #1 place in the world for solo travelers. Infact, I’d actually recommend going alone over visiting with friends. It’s challenging, exciting and a wild adventure, enjoy!

 Canal Street NYCNew York, United StatesBest of NYC street art: Garcia Lorca mural directly off of Canal Street heading west from Little Italy #street-art #free #gallery #history

Solo travel tip: Become a regular.

There is something uniquely grounding in being a regular customer (in a cafe, restaurant or even corner store) — in simply being recognized. When our default mode is anonymity, feeling seen, known, familiar offers a powerful sense of place. Especially when I have a few weeks or months somewhere, I find myself accumulating these “regular” spots. Though utterly departing from all known routine is a key — even necessary — element of travel for me, glimpses of familiarity within the unknown provide welcome — even necessary — moments of respite.

11. Santiago, Chile

 NOI VitacuraVitacura, ChileGreat rooftop bar with a view.

The typical tourist route of Santiago includes walking or taking the funicular up Cerro San Cristobal, the Virgin-topped hill that overlooks the city, a spin through some of the museums such as the PreColumbian art museum for traditionalists, or the Colo-Colo soccer museum for lovers of that sport. The city’s easy access to both mountains and beach make it a great starting off point, and those headed further north to the desert or further south to Patagonia, or to one of a couple of easily-accessed wine valleys close to Santiago, often spend a couple of days here on their way. Don’t be shy. Chileans are very welcoming. Be brave and introduce yourself to locals, they will relish the opportunity to practice their English.

 Valle del yesoSan José de Maipo, Chile#extreme #snow #camping #hiking

Death Valley is a national park in California, USA, and one of those places on earth that look alien as for example Wadi Rum in Jordan does too. Add temperatures of over 50 degrees Celsius [...]

The post USA – Driving off road in the Death Valley: Titus Canyon & Racetrack Playa appeared first on Chris Travel Blog.

Lonely Planet Jordan (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

#1 best-selling guide to Jordan*

Lonely Planet Jordan is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Explore the ancient city of Petra, experience life in the desert wilderness at a Bedouin camp and float in the Dead Sea; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Jordan and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Jordan Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - archaeology, Biblical sites, people, society, traditional crafts, cuisine, etiquette, landscapes, wildlife. Over 44 maps Covers Ammam, JerashIrbid, Jordan Valley, Dead SeaMadaba, Mt Nebo, Wadi Mujib, PetraWadi MusaAqaba, Wadi Rum, Desert Highway, Azraq and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Jordan, our most comprehensive guide to Jordan, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out our Lonely Planet Middle East guide for a comprehensive look at all the region has to offer.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Jenny Walker and Paul Clammer.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

*Best-selling guide to Jordan. Source: Nielsen BookScan. Australia, UK and USA, February 2014-January 2015

Thru and Back Again: A Hiker's Journey on the North Country Trail

Luke Jordan

Luke Jordan grew up on a farm in central Minnesota where he spent much of his childhood running around outdoors. His favorite and most inspirational place to visit was the North Shore of Lake Superior. He was awe-struck by the beauty of the region, and soon started venturing out on his own. During his college years he began backpacking and in 2012 he graduated with a natural resources degree and decided to pursue a dream that had been almost three years in the making. With his college years behind him, he was ready to strap on his pack and attempt a grand adventure over the North Country National Scenic Trail. He succeeded, and became the fourth person to successfully thru-hike the trail. Follow along as he traverses this trail of great diversity from the vast plains of North Dakota to the high peaks of the Adirondacks.

The Rough Guide to Jordan

Rough Guides

The Rough Guide to Jordan is the definitive guide to the most alluring corner of the Middle East. Detailed accounts of every attraction, along with crystal-clear maps and plans, lift the lid on this fascinatingly diverse country.

Explore the world wonder that is Petra, an ancient city carved from rose-red mountain cliffs. Roam the sands of Wadi Rum in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia, then relax on golden beaches at Aqaba, Jordan's beautiful Red Sea resort. You'll find full-color pictures and maps throughout, alongside insider tips on getting the best out of a visit to Amman, the buzzing Jordanian capital, as well as Crusader castles and stunningly well-preserved Roman cities. Float your cares away on the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth, or take in spectacular views over the Dana Biosphere Reserve. At every point, The Rough Guide to Jordan steers you to the best hotels, cafes, restaurants, and shops across every price range, giving you clear, balanced reviews and honest, firsthand opinions.

Make the most of your time with The Rough Guide to Jordan.

Series Overview: For more than thirty years, adventurous travelers have turned to Rough Guides for up-to-date and intuitive information from expert authors. With opinionated and lively writing, honest reviews, and a strong cultural background, Rough Guides travel books bring more than 200 destinations to life. Visit RoughGuides.com to learn more.

Jordan Handbook: Petra - Wadi Rum - Dead Sea (Footprint - Handbooks)

Jessica Lee

Jordan is an enticing, curious mix of new and old. From the glass-and-steel high rises of Amman to the goat hair tents of the Bedouin in Wadi Rum, this tiny country also abounds in ancient ruins. Petra is undisputedly the jewel in Jordan's crown; a vast site of pink-tinged façades hewn into craggy rock faces. From floating in the Dead Sea to adventure activities in the desert, Footprint's Handbook will help you make the most of Jordan's highlights.

Highlights map and inspirational colour section, so you know what not to miss. Detailed street maps for Amman, the main entry point for Jordan, as well as other key destinations

From the shimmering blue blaze of world's saltiest lake to the soft rose hues of Petra's mighty Treasury, this concise Footprint Handbook will show you the the best of Jordan withoutweighing you down.

Petra: Guide to Jordan's Ancient City (2017 Travel Guide)

Approach Guides

RECENTLY UPDATED FOR 2017! With high-resolution images, maps and a detailed tour itinerary, this is the definitive travel guide to Jordan's ancient city of Petra. Petra’s temples and tombs — carved into the sandstone cliffs of Jordan’s Negev Desert — are a sight to be seen. They stand witness to the greatness of the Nabataean civilization which thrived from 312 BCE - 106 CE. Just as the Nabataeans’ trading network brokered goods between East and West, its architecture bridged styles, yielding a creative mix of Mesopotamian (East) and Greek (West) traditions. It is yours to discover.What’s in this guidebook* Comprehensive look at Petra’s art and architecture. We provide an overview of Petra’s art and architecture, isolating trademark features that you will see again and again as you make your way through the old city’s highlights. As part of this review, we highlight those features that were likely borrowed from Mesopotamian and Hellenistic prototypes. To make things come alive, we have packed our review with high-resolution images.* A tour that goes deeper on the most important sites. Following our tradition of being the most valuable resource for culture-focused travelers, we offer a detailed tour of the premier sites. For each, we present information on its history, a detailed plan that highlights its most important architectural and artistic features, high-resolution images and a discussion that ties it all together.* Advice for getting the best cultural experience. To help you plan your visit, this guidebook supplies logistical advice, maps and links to online resources. Plus, we give our personal tips for getting the most from your experience while on location.* Information the way you like it. As with all of our guides, this book is optimized for intuitive, quick navigation; information is organized into bullet points to make absorption easy; and images are marked up with text that explains important features.* NEW! Customers can now print this guidebook with our new PDF-on-Demand service. See the final chapter in the book for details.ItineraryIn total, this guidebook profiles thirteen of Petra’s top sites for art and architecture. To help you prioritize your touring itinerary, we mark the absolute must-see sites with asterisks (*).* Outer Siq: Treasury (Khasneh),* Tombs 68 and 825 and Street of Facades.* Wadi Farasa: Broken Pediment Tomb, Renaissance Tomb, Garden Triclinium* and Roman Soldier Tomb.** Royal Tombs: Urn Tomb,* Silk Tomb, Corinthian Tomb,* Palace Tomb and Sextius Florentinus Tomb.** Jabal al Deir: Monastery (Deir).*ABOUT APPROACH GUIDESTravel guidebooks for the ultra curious, Approach Guides reveal a destination’s essence by exploring a compelling aspect of its cultural heritage: art, architecture, history, food, or wine.PRAISE FOR APPROACH GUIDES Compulsive (and compulsively informed) travelers, the Raezers are the masterminds behind the downloadable Approach Guides, which are filled with a university course-worth of history and insights for 62 destinations worldwide. WHY WE LOVE IT: The Raezers share our desire for deep, well-researched information on the wonders of the world. - Travel + Leisure What started as one couple’s travel notes aimed at filling in the gaps in guidebooks has become ApproachGuides.com — a menu of downloadable travel guides that cover cultural and historical topics of interest to thoughtful travelers. What’s hot: Bite-sized travel guides that specialize in topics ranging from 29 pages on the foods of Italy to one that helps you explore the historical and architectural significance of Angkor’s famous temple structures in Cambodia. - LA Times

The Jordan Whisperer: Six Months in Amman

Riyaad Moosa

Discover the country of Jordan through the eyes of a South African. Inclined to a Western standard of life, Riyaad navigates through the intricacies of Arab culture versus Islamic culture while embarking on his quest to learn the ancient language of Arabic at the most renowned institute in Amman. Gain insight to the exhilirating emotions experienced on his first trip to the holy land, Jerusalem. The Jordan Whisperer steers the reader from hysterical laughter to deep sympathy as his experiences of everyday living in Amman is fabulously captured in play by play format, as it occurred on a particular day.

Savage Summit: The Life and Death of the First Women of K2

Jennifer Jordan

Though not as tall as Everest, the "Savage Mountain" is far more dangerous. Located on the border of China and Pakistan, K2 has some of the harshest climbing conditions in the world. Ninety women have scaled Everest but of the six women who reached the summit of K2, three lost their lives on the way back down the mountain and two have since died on other climbs.

In Savage Summit, Jennifer Jordan shares the tragic, compelling, inspiring, and extraordinary true stories of a handful of courageous women -- mothers and daughters, wives and lovers, poets and engineers -- who defeated this formidable mountain yet ultimately perished in pursuit of their dreams.

Jordan 1:610,000 & Syria 1:740,000 Travel map (International Travel Maps)

ITM Canada

A double-sided road map of Jordan and Syria. The best way to prepare your trip, to plan your itinerary, and to travel independently in this part of the Middle East. One side shows Jordan and Israel; the other side shows Syria, Lebanon and the Turkish region of Iskenderun. Inset maps of Damascus and Amman.Touristic information: airports, archaeological sites, ruins, accommodation, churches, mosques, synagogues, border crossing, museums, forts, castles, towers, wells, parks and nature reserves, camping sites, gas stations.

Exercise a high degree of caution; see also regional advisories.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Areas within 3 km of the border with Syria (see Advisory)

Clashes involving small arms and mortar fire have occurred in the areas bordering Syria, a direct result of spill over from the ongoing conflict in that country.

Terrorism

There is a general terrorist threat throughout Jordan. From time to time, reports emerge that terrorists plan to attack specific locations in countries of the Arabian Peninsula. Targets could include government buildings, public areas, tourist sites and Western interests. Security measures are currently in place and may be reinforced upon short notice. Maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness at all times, exercise caution in areas known to be frequented by foreigners (commercial, public, tourist), monitor local developments and follow the advice of local authorities. Register and keep in contact with the Embassy of Canada in Amman, and carefully follow messages issued through the Registration of Canadians Abroad service.

Demonstrations

Civil unrest and demonstrations, some of which have turned violent, have been taking place since January 2011. Demonstrations are more likely to occur on Fridays, after noon prayer. Locations where demonstrations have taken place include the Al-Huseini Mosque in downtown Amman, King Hussein Park, Duwar A-Dakheliya and Jamal Abdel Nasser Square. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

Crime

The crime rate is low by regional standards, but petty crime occurs, especially in downtown Amman. Stay away from crowded areas. Do not show signs of affluence and keep your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents secure at all times.

Carjacking attempts have been reported in Amman. Victims are usually lured out of their car as the result of a minor collision or by another car blocking their route. If you are involved in an accident in an isolated area, stay in your car and call the police.

Transportation

Accidents are quite common. Driving habits and styles differ markedly from those practised in Canada. Driving during daylight is preferable. Roaming animals and insufficient lighting pose hazards after dark.

If a pedestrian is injured in an accident, the driver is always considered guilty and may face imprisonment and heavy fines.

 If you are involved in an accident, try to make financial arrangements with other involved drivers. In the event of traffic accidents resulting in personal injuries, police should be involved. In the event of traffic accidents resulting in personal injury, regardless of fault, drivers may be held for several days until responsibility is determined and restitution made.

Off-road driving can be hazardous and should only be undertaken in a convoy of four-wheel-drive vehicles with an experienced guide. Leave a travel itinerary with a family member or friend. Be well prepared and equipped with gasoline, water, food and a cellular phone.

Public transportation is usually very crowded and can be uncomfortable.

Cleanliness and mechanical reliability of taxis varies considerably. Book taxis through hotels.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Women’s safety

There have been a number of reports of sexual harassment and assaults. Women should dress conservatively. When taking a taxi, women should sit in the back seat. Travel in groups and in daylight. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.

Border areas

Landmines and unexploded munitions are still a danger near military installations and borders, including the Dead Sea area. Minefields are usually fenced and marked, but could be difficult to see. Do not touch suspicious or unfamiliar objects.

Exercise a high degree of caution when travelling near the border with Syria.

Exercise caution at the borders with Israel and Iraq, especially if using service taxis when crossing the borders. These borders may close on short notice.

Exercise a high degree of caution near and in refugee camps, as well as at border areas.

General safety information

Carry identification documents at all times. Leave your passport in a safe place and carry a photocopy for identification purposes.

Avoid travelling alone in remote areas.

Emergency services

Dial 191 for police, 193 for medical services and fire department.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Polio

There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Western Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Western Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Modern medical care is available in Amman, but could be inadequate elsewhere. Immediate cash payment is often required.

Health tips

Dehydration is a serious risk due to very high temperatures during the summer months. Protect yourself from the sun and drink plenty of water.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

The work week is from Sunday to Thursday.

An international driving permit is required.

Illegal or restricted activities

Religious proselytizing is not permitted.

Common-law relationships, homosexual relations, adultery and prostitution are illegal and subject to severe punishment.

Consumption of alcohol outside approved venues is illegal and could result in arrest and/or fines and imprisonment. Public intoxication is a criminal offence, no matter where the alcohol was consumed.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect heavy jail sentences and fines.

Possession of pornographic material is illegal.

It is forbidden to photograph government buildings and military installations. Do not photograph people without their permission.

Legal process

The legal process may be slow and cumbersome. Suspects as well as witnesses to incidents may be held for lengthy periods without access to legal counsel or consular officials.

Dress and behaviour

The country’s customs, laws and regulations adhere closely to Islamic practices and beliefs. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities. Women should avoid clothing that could be construed as revealing, such as miniskirts, shorts or sleeveless or low-cut (front or back) blouses and tops.

Avoid physical contact, such as holding hands, in public.

Custody

Children or spouses may be prevented from leaving the country without prior authorization of the father and/or husband, even if they are Canadians.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is not legally recognized, which may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.

Confirm citizenship status with Jordanian authorities prior to departure.

Money

The currency is the Jordanian dinar (JOD). Credit cards, and U.S. traveller’s cheques and dollars are widely accepted. U.S. dollars and euros are easily exchanged. Canadian currency and traveller’s cheques are not widely accepted. Automated banking machines are available in Amman and at the Queen Alia airport, but are limited elsewhere.

Climate

Jordan is located in an active seismic zone. Landslides are possible in affected areas, and strong aftershocks may occur up to one week after the initial quake.

Droughts, flash floods, as well as sand and dust storms occur.