We drove down from the mountains towards Aqaba to the Red Sea. From where we are standing, we can see across to Egypt, however, it was a cloudy day so we could not see the coast of Saudi Arabia as our driver pointed out. It was impressive to look back and see the journey we had made over the mountains, day three of this tour and so much ground covered already! We stopped in Aqaba for snacks and coffees and our driver did suggest that we could visit a craft shop if we wanted. He suggested that if we did want to purchase traditional hand crafted souvenirs Aqaba had the best prices as it was a tax free zone. He would also stand by the quality and authenticity of the shops he would bring us to guaranteeing that the products were made in Jordan rather than cheap imports. If I were looking to buy souvenirs I would have totally trusted the directions of our driver, however, I kindly declined the offer as we had a long onward journey and couldn’t add more weight to our hand luggage. I’m traveling with a 60 L rucksack which every time I think of moving from one destination to another I just want to cry. I am no hippie, I love stuff. I am a 58 year old women who is not trying to experience the world as a backpacking 20 year old.
We leave Aqaba heading towards the Dead sea resorts and this part of the journey will take about 2 hours. As we drive the border highway we can see the Israeli border patrols and the barbed wire fencing, much like Northern Ireland and the Republic until the signing of the Good Friday agreement back in 1998. There is a stretch of no-mans-land between the Israeli patrol fence and the main road. Our driver tells us that although there appears to be nothing in that space that if we decided to start walking towards the border from the road, soldiers and Jeeps would appear out of the sand dunes and stop you.
It takes around two hours from Aqaba to reach the Dead Sea resorts. The sea is so salty that nothing lives in it and the density of the water so thick that it is impossible to sink. The hotels here function at the highest level to ensure that guests have the best possible experience when visiting the Dead Sea. I can only image that it reflects the old spa towns where people went to take the waters but rather than drink it you smother yourself in the mud and float for not more than 30 minutes. We were advised to not spend more than 15 minutes at a time in it as it would start to sting the skin so best to take a break in between each swim. You can buy a day pass for any of the resorts. We were brought to the Holiday Inn, which in Europe is a budget hotel but here it is very opulent. I was really taken aback at the interior of this building; gold, chrome, and marble everywhere. We had lunch before taking to the Dead Sea water. Lunch was a buffet with an endless variety of dishes to choose from and none of them being roast beef or fish and chips but there is enough choice even for the fussiest palette. The layout of this resort was beautiful and immaculate. The sea levels are dropping and so you can see from an illustrate chart where the water line was in the eighties as opposed to now and the drop is dramatic. Clearly, the hotels have had to extend their facilities to match the drop so the walk down is a bit of a distance. On different tiers there are sun loungers and seating areas to ease the return journey from the sea. It is beautifully done but I have to admit I didn't fancy taking a mud bath so stayed on the upper levels and took in the view. What a lovely afternoon! Róisín did the full ritual of covering herself in the Dead Sea mud and washing it off in the water. There are areas just slightly set back from the water where huge wooden buckets are filled with the precious mud and there you stand applying this mud, once fully covered you enter the water and float for a respectable length of time to emerge 10 years younger, Roisin went from 22 years old to 12 years! Joking aside, these facilities are exceptionally designed with everything you might need to enjoy this experience and beautifully done. You have changing rooms, towels, pools, out door showers, indoor showers, sun loungers, tables, chairs, swimming pool and waiters to keep you supplied with cool beverages and all on a day pass. At sun down there is no lingering because of border patrols no one is allowed in the water after dark and our driver assured us it is strictly monitored. We had a lovely afternoon there and Roisin has assured me it is an experience she would happily repeat. Perhaps if we had gotten there earlier I might have ventured in but after lunch I really couldn’t be bothered despite that I would happily return and spend a few days here. It is beautiful and very peaceful resort. We left the Dead Sea at dusk and headed back to Amman.
I had managed to book an apartment on Airbnb which had fabulous reviews and having spent so many days in hotels I really craved some home like space, at least a kitchen that I was free to use. We planned to spend three days there, figuring we could have some home cooking, do some laundry and generally take a breather before the next leg of the journey. It’s the 11th of December and we have covered a lot of ground in a very short space of time and that does wear you down after a while. 12 days into this mammoth trip, I was beginning to wonder if I had the stamina for it, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and my travel insurance would repair or repatriate my body.
We arrived in Amman after dark and our driver had checked out the place we had booked and assured himself it was a safe place. The property was in the old part of the city and our driver met with Mohammad (our Airbnb host) and deposited our bags and ourselves into his care. We said our goodbyes to our wonderful driver/guide, and can I state to all interested in touring Jordan do so with ‘Mr. See You Tomorrow’ from Jordan Private Tours and Travel (l have attached the link at the end of this post). He seemed to know everyone, and everyone who knew him were delighted to see him. He turned what could have been a most stressful experience into the start of a wonderful adventure. Most importantly he gets the Irish sense of humour and enjoys the craic! Had some great chats along our journey and I never felt that my cultural questions might have caused offense. This country is very different to my own and I am the stranger here so I cant help but generate questions. So, Thank you ‘Mr. See You Tomorrow’.
Link for Jordan 3 Day Tour: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g293986-d11467867-3_Day_Private_Tour_from_Amman_Petra_Wadi_Rum_Dana_Aqaba_and_Dead_Sea-Amman_Amman_G.html
Hi, I'm Olive and I am the writer of this blog. I am traveling the world with my 22 year old daughter, Róisín, who has just graduated University. I wanted to document this journey because it is unusual for a woman of 58 years old to go on adventure that most students do on a gap year. I will try to share my insights into this epic journey with you along the way and maybe inspire more people my age to go on these crazy adventures too.