Lisa Owen

Desert

Jordan’s south holds as many gems as its northern half, blessed with a beautiful desert and the silky smooth Red Sea. Don’t stop your Jordan trip at Petra, continue on and you can sleep under the stars at a desert camp or check out the bright coral and plentiful fish in the sea between Jordan, Israel and Egypt.

Desert Days

4x4 in the Desert

Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert feels like a world away from Petra. As soon as you sit down on the colourful cushioned seats in the back of a 4x4, you’ll be whisked away into the sand dunes. You’ll be met by a seemingly endless desert, unique rock landscapes, smooth sand dunes, and clear skies perfect for stargazing as night falls. You’ll be amazed at the quiet of the desert – so take the time to be perfectly silent for a few minutes. The landscape is dotted with large rocks, some of them with arches and windows carved by the wind. Sunset was particularly memorable in Wadi Rum as the sun lit the sky up with pink and purple as we sat on the sand dunes, before quickly lowering behind the rock formations.

Jordan Desert

There are many desert camps across Wadi Rum. I stayed in one that had portable toilets and showers, and simple beds inside a canvas tent. Many of my fellow travelers chose to sleep under the stars next to the campfire. 

Desert camp

We were fed a delicious dinner of rice cooked in the ground, pita bread, hummus, vegetables and chicken paired with a very sweet tea. A camel ride is also possible in the desert and the best time to do it is sunrise as soft orange light bathes the desert. 

Camel rides 

Exploring the Red Sea

For a change of scenery, Aqaba is only an hour’s drive from Wadi Rum and is the perfect spot for some swimming, snorkelling or scuba diving.

The Red Sea

There are many operators running tours to take you out on the Red Sea or you can also go out on a glass bottom boat to see the reef. I went out with Deep Blue Dive Centre and snorkelled near a shipwreck and over a reef not far from a public beach.

Snorkelling

The Japanese Garden coral reef is very close to the sea’s surface so it is a good spot for snorkelling to check out the coral, find Nemo, as well as many lionfish. Aim to take a diving or snorkelling tour concluding at sunset. Watching the sun set over the Red Sea was one of my favourite experiences in Jordan.

Karak Castle

Another must do activity on your explorations of Jordan’s centre and south is Karak Castle. Karak is a Crusaders fortress, and was built in the 12th century. It’s located south of Amman, near Madaba. Karak Castle is impressively well fortified with very thick walls. As my guide explained, a lot of thought was put into trying to make the fortress and impenetrable as possible and it certainly looks like it. The Karak Castle also features a fascinating labyrinth of underground corridors. Above ground, the castle has great views across valleys and out to the Dead Sea. 

Karak Castle

If you love castles and fortresses, you might also want to visit nearby Shobak Castle.

Things You Should Know:

There’s jellyfish in the Red Sea but they’re easy to see and steer clear of when snorkelling.

There are many boat operators and dive centres based in Aqaba so you can take your pick of boat excursions, snorkelling or scuba diving.

Camps in Wadi Rum give you the chance to sleep under the stars in the desert. There are mice in the desert so make sure you close up all your bags and don’t keep food in your bags or tent. Wadi Rum can be reached through an organised tour or guide. You cannot reach it independently unless you have a car.

Aqaba is a typical seaside resort town with a good choice of restaurants and cafes to service visitors to the Red Sea. There are no key sights apart from the small Aqaba Castle, which is often closed. You can reach Egypt by ferry from Aqaba.

Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 40 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @thelittleadventurer Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.