One of the perks of my job is that I get to travel to a variety of places around the globe and experience some amazing destinations and experiences. Such was the case last month, when I had the opportunity to visit Jordan for the second time. Long-time readers of The Adventure Blog no doubt recall that I visited the Hashemite Kingdom a number of years back and had an amazing experience. This time however, I traveled with an adventure travel company called Flash Pack, and even though I visited some of the same places as I had the first time, the experience was still fresh, new, and unique. It also gave me an opportunity to witness what a Flash Pack adventure is like first hand, after reading rave reviews online.
Founded just a few years ago, Flash Pack has seen dramatic growth thanks in no small part to its focus on catering to the solo traveler. Obviously there are many travel companies that make it easy for solo travelers to join one of their tours, but Flash Pack has made it a mission to ensure that not only are solo travelers welcomed, but that they feel comfortable and included throughout the tour. This approach seems to be working quite well for them, as all 11 individuals on my trip were traveling alone. Not only that, most of them were also single and between the ages of 30 and 40 as well. I being older than that, and the only married one in the group, definitely fell outside of the main demographic. Still, as travel is known to do, we all bonded over shared adventures and common experiences. It wasn’t long before this group of solo travelers from all over the world started to become one cohesive unit.
The trip that we embarked upon was Flash Pack’s Discover Jordan itinerary, which packs an awful lot of activities into an eight day stay. The line-up included classic Jordanian excursions — such as a visit to Petra and a swim in the Dead Sea — along with some active adventures as well. For instance, after gathering in Jordan’s capital Amman, we all got to know one another during a morning tour of the city. But we had the chance to truly bond with one another later in the day by going canyoneering through Wadi Mujib. This series of narrow canyons features a river flowing through it, that at times was actually quite fast and flowing. We spent the better part of the afternoon trekking upstream, scrambling over rocks, using ropes and ladders to climb over taller edges, and plunging deep into a series of pools. It was an exhilarating experience to say the least and one that left everyone feeling much closer than we had at the beginning. This was, of course, a strategic move on the part of the Flash Pack team, getting the group well bonded on day 1.
With our canyoneering excursion behind us, we then floated and hiked back down the gorge and immediately went for a swim in the Dead Sea. Amongst the saltiest bodies of water on the planet, getting into the sea is a unique experience to say the least. Because of the high level of salinity, it takes no effort to actually float. In fact, it is difficult to keep your arms and legs under the surface, as their natural tendency is to bob straight to the top. It was a great way to relax and unwind after the hiking the canyon, although the nicks, cuts, and scrapes that we acquired earlier in the day were irritated all the more thanks to the salty water.
All of that was just the first day of the tour, but it was also a good indication of things to come. While there were occasional days where we had some downtime, the itinerary was generally quite packed with things to do. As a result, the entire trip was very busy, with only a little down time mixed in here and there. If you’re looking for a vacation that lets you just sit on the beach and soak up the sun, you may want to look elsewhere. Flash Pack is all about jumping in with both feet and soaking up as much of a destination as you can while you’re there.
Our second day on the road in Jordan was only a bit less active, although the landscapes were just as beautiful. The highlight was a hike through the Dana Biosphere Reserve with a local guide, who led us down a remote trail that offered stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Those views included a look down into a gorgeous valley below, with canyons and towering rock formations stretching off into the distance. From there, we rode on through the desert, stopping to take photos of a herd of camels, before arriving at the Feynan ecolodge, a place that is utterly charming and unique. I had stayed there during my previous visit to Jordan as well and was happy to be back. At the lodge, there is only solar power and the place is run as ecologically friendly as possible. At night, the visitors and staff still use candles to help them find their way and stargazing from the rooftop remains a complete delight.
We arrived at Feynan an hour or so before sunset, which gave us time to hike up to a nice vantage point on a desert hill to watch the light fade. The day had been a hot one, but as the sun sank in the west the temperatures dropped with it, making for a cool, pleasant evening. After dinner, the Flash Packers gathered round a campfire to make s’mores and tell tall tales, a tradition that transcends cultures, international boundaries, and age groups. That only served to further bond everyone with one, although by this point we were already connected. Even if you had come on the tour completely alone, you were now with ten of your new best friends, which is another wonderful side effect of adventure travel.
Just two days in, we still had some amazing things on the itinerary to look forward to. I’ll save more of that for part two of my Adventures in Jordan series. Needless to say though, the best was yet to come and we truly were only just getting started.