Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been recapping my recent trip to Jordan with London-based travel company Flash Pack. This is my third, and final installment, in this series, so if you haven’t read the other two parts yet, you can find them here and here. You can also find more details of the exact itinerary I was on by checking out Flash Pack’s Discovery Jordan tour as well. This trip is a good example of what the company has to offer, delivering unique opportunities to solo travelers in particular.
While a relatively short trip at just eight days, Flash Pack manages to cram a lot of activities into the time spent in-country. Early in the trip we took a tour of the capital city of Amman, went canyoneering in Wadi Mujib, and floated in the Dead Sea. We also went for a hike in the Dana Biosphere Reserve and in the desert outside the Feynan Eco-Lodge. Each of those excursions were a lot of fun, and provided plenty of time for my travel companions and I to bond over our shared adventures. But of course, Jordan’s crown jewel is Petra, which we visited both by day and night, while also hiking in through the backroad. With all of that under our belts — and detailed in my first two trip reports — you’d think there wasn’t much left undone in Jordan. But as it turns out, the amazing desert of Wadi Rum is an adventure playground all its own, and a destination that should not be missed.
After leaving Petra behind, we began traveling south with Wadi Rum as our intended destination. That trip requires a few hours by car, but that gave us an opportunity to take in more of the Jordanian countryside as we traveled. One of my favorite parts of visiting another country is simply observing the small communities that you pass through on your way to, and from, a specific destination. In this case, Jordan doesn’t have a large number of villages and towns scattered about, with most of the population gathered in three or four main cities. Still, there is plenty to see while hurling down the road, even if it just looks like a barren landscape. In actually, the desert has a lot of life and points of interest for those who take the time to look and watch with eyes that are wide open. For instance, on the way to meet our desert guides, we spotted a herd of camels wandering across an open expanse, creating some wonderful Kodak moments. There were also local villagers going about their daily routine, as well as some starkly beautiful landscapes to enjoy.
Eventually we did reach Wadi Rum however, and it was time to head out into the desert for a true adventure. That journey began with a stop in a small village that sat on the edge of this outdoor playground, serving as base camp for anyone venturing out into this otherworldly, Mad Max-like expanse. The streets of the town were clogged with 4×4 vehicles coming and going, picking up passengers about to embark on their sojourn or stopping just long enough to drop off those who were returning. It was immediately clear that this place thrived on the tourist trade, taking visitors out to explore everything that the desert had to offer. While there, our group observed several others that coming and going with an equally excited look on their faces.
Located in southern Jordan, Wadi Rum (aka the Valley of the Moon) is a unique environment, blending both desert and rock formations. The country has a number of deserts within its borders and it has some rugged mountainous regions too. But Wadi Rum is the one place where those two geographic features are found together, with sandy dunes splashing across the stone faces of rocky cliffs like waves breaking on the shore. Those giant sandstone formations break up the landscape and give the appearance that visitors have left planet Earth behind and have ventured out onto the surface of Mars.
After signing the appropriate waivers and collecting our gear, we loaded up into two 4×4 pick-up trucks and struck out. Our first stop was a small camp located not far from town, where were were given a chance to eat a Bedouin lunch. While there, we escaped the heat of the day inside some traditional looking tents that blended nicely with a more permeant structure. It was a nice way to stretch our legs and get prepared for our desert exploration, particularly after getting started early that day and spending the morning on the road.
Once lunch was complete, the real adventure began. We drove out into the desert, weaving our way in and out of the maze-like rock formations as we went. The afternoon was spent visiting a number of popular landmarks, including scaling a rock arch for another grand photo opportunity, as well as visiting the house of TE Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. Back in World War I, Lawrence helped lead an Arab uprising that defeated the Ottoman Turks and helped to give the Ottoman Empire its final death rattle. He is still revered for those efforts to this day and his home is a place to stop and learn more about him. Unfortunately, that house is but a shell of its former self, although history buffs will no doubt relish the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Lawrence himself.
The drive through the desert continued with a few more stops along the way, before heading to our luxury desert camping site. I say luxury, because there was definitely no roughing it here. This was glamping at its most luxurious, with tents that included large beds, a shower, electricity, and even air conditioning. It made for a very comfortable place to spend the night, particularly since several of us were suffering from a bit of a stomach bug. But, it was a far cry from the camping experience I had on my first visit to Jordan a few years back, in which we slept in traditional Bedouin tents and ate a meal cooked in the ground.
The following morning was an early one, with our group rising well before sunrise to enjoy another unique experience. On our second to last day in Jordan, we were all up at “oh-God-thirty” to ensure that we’d get a chance to enjoy the sun come up over the desert. But rather than jumping into a 4×4 vehicle and riding out to a specific dune to await the arrival of the sun, we scrambled onto the back of some camels for a ride instead. If you’ve never ridden a camel before, it is definitely an experience that you won’t soon forget. If you have had the pleasure of such a ride, you already know how those creatures plod along through the desert. Needless to say, it was another fun experience that was Flash Pack included in an already full itinerary.
After returning to the desert camp and grabbing a quick breakfast, we were ready to hit the road. It was a long drive back to Amman from Wadi Rum, and we still needed to use 4×4 vehicles just to get back to town. Fortunately, our guide decided to break up the journey by dropping by the Dead Sea for a second opportunity to float in those salty waters. Even though the group was tired and looking forward to the comforts of Amman, it was a much-appreciated stop, giving us a chance to enjoy a bit more relaxation and sun at one of the Dead Sea resorts while en route.
The rest of the day was spent driving back to Amman, getting settled into our original hotel, and enjoying a hot shower and modern amenities once again. Later, the group gathered for one last meal together at a fantastic restaurant in the city that was hand-picked for its elevated local cuisine. It was an unbelievable way to wrap up a very busy trip that took us the length of Jordan and back again. The following day, we would all be catching flights for home, which made parting that much more bittersweet.
Overall, I came away very impressed with how Flash Pack operates. In the first installment of this series, I indicated that I didn’t really fall into the company’s usual demographic, which is aimed at 30-40 year old solo travelers. Despite that however, I still felt welcomed and well taken care of the entire journey, while also getting to see some unique aspects of Jordan itself. If you’re a traveler who often finds yourself going it alone on your adventures, I’d definitely advice you to put Flash Pack on your radar. The company offers a number of really great itineraries to countries all over the globe, while offering up substantial value in the process. It isn’t likely that Flash Pack will be the least expensive trip on your list, but the small touches, attention to detail, and high quality experiences make it well worth the extra cash.
Find out more at FlashPack.com.