- Middle east
3 Days Exploring Amman & Camping in the North
When I met Moni in Amman, she was so eager to go camping in Petra but as it turned out, it was too expensive to rent a campground and it was not possible to go wild-camping (legally) in Jordan so she was left with little options. After we got back from Petra, we decided to give the camping idea another go and headed up north to Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark near the famous River Jordan. We spent two days camping, mingling with the locals and seeing the real side of Jordanian life away from the city and tourist attractions. It was the most authentic experience ever despite my lack of understanding Arabic.
After camping in the EcoPark, I and Moni split up as she went back to Lebanon while I stayed in Amman for 3 days exploring the city and the surrounding area. I ended my trip with a bang by going to the Dead Sea with Ramon and Luana from Brazil and floated ourselves in the world's saltiest bodies of water.
Jordan Travel Video
Where to Stay in Amman
Budget - Sydney hostel - 11 USD/Night (Dorm)
Getting to Sharhabil Bin Hassneh (SHE) Ecopark
We came back to Amman from Petra the day before and made up our minds that we would find the cheapest way to go to the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh Ecopark. The hostel we stayed quoted us 60 JOD for a 3 hours drive. It was overpriced as usual so we decided to give Uber a taxi-hailing app, a go. We were picked up in less than 10 minutes and he drove us there for 30 JOD, half the quoted price! If all fail, try Uber. It might be your savior.
Camping in Sharhabil Bin Hassneh (SHE) Ecopark
We arrived at the entrance of the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh Ecopark and realized the gate was locked. We imagined the worst but some guy came up to the gate and told us that the park was fully booked. Thank god we had our own tent and so Moni clarified that and got us in.
We found the best spot in the park under the shade and set up our (her) tent.
Prior to coming to the park, we thought there would be a restaurant inside the park but there were none. Fortunately, we bought a few fruits before we left Amman so we grabbed our apples and bananas, and ate it on a tree (her idea) like wild animals.
Moni tried her best to look natural in front of a camera..
Things to Do in Sharhabil Bin Hassneh Ecopark
We spent that afternoon continuing our discussion about all things spiritual. While we were walking back to our tent we met Angus, a student from the US who were doing a research on animals around the park. He tipped us about a place we could go swim and he would join us later.
We followed Angus's direction and found a water reserve surrounded by mountains. It was the perfect spot.
Me, Moni and Angus found a great spot, far away from the local tourists and jumped straight in. We swam until the sun went down completely and called it a day.
That night we were not so keen on eating our plain food we brought with us. Fortunately, Angus offered us his leftover lunch and we were able to dine like kings and queens in our tent rather than on a tree. :) Thank you Angus!
Trust me.. I'm a morning person!
In my defence, the night before, these hell hounds were barking like crazy all night so I barely got any sleep. After washing up, I asked Moni the hard question, "What should we do today?". We did not know until the staff suggested us to give them a hand building fences around the park. A little volunteering work? Why not?
Well, we did nothing but watch so I don't know if we could call it a volunteer but it was still fun to see how they work.
They invited us for lunch and I had the most warming experience with them. People joked at each other like there were families and all I could do was watch in amusement since I did not understand a word they were saying. What I realized though is how friendly Jordanians are. They even gave us a free ride back to Amman at the end!
After we got back to Amman, we went out for a nice drink with her friend (who was suppose to go camping with her in the first place but couldn't) at the Rainbow street in downtown Amman and we ended the day.
Things to Do in Amman
In the morning, I said goodbye to Moni as we went separate ways. It was good fun hanging out with her but our lives went on. She went back to Lebanon as I went out and explored Amman.
I took the day a little slow and walked around the city.
I may have taken the day a little too slow as I went to the Jordanian National Museum but it was closed. I decided to not let the day wasted and started climbing to the citadel.
From the citadel, you could get a 360 view of the capital city of Jordan.
I spent hours exploring every single ruins in the area. One of the most impressive one was the Temple of the Hercules and the Hercules' iconic hand fragment.
The Citadel hill was the perfect place to watch the sunset over the city.
While I was waiting for the sunset, two locals approached and socialized with me. One were speaking perfect English and the other were able to speak a little bit. That was enough for me to learn about their lives.
The one on the left was from Amman whereas the other one was originally from Syria. He migrated to Jordan when the ISIS took over. He is now happily studying in Amman.
After a few hours at the citadel, I went back down through Rainbow street and bought myself a few souvenirs before going back to the hostel. As I walked into the door, the guy at the reception told me great news. The next day there would be an un-guided day tour going to the Dead Sea and he was able to find 3 people to join the tour. Since the cost is shared among travelers, we were able to drive the price down to 15 JOD each. The day tour includes a few church visits, Mt Nebo and the Dead Sea. Fifteen JOD was quite a deal to pass by so I decided to join the tour.
Spend a Day Swimming in the Dead Sea
At around 9 AM, me, Ramon, Luana and Liu Ding took off to see Mt Nebo. Mt Nebo was mentioned in the bible as the place where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land. It sounded great and all, but the monumbet was not as epic as it sounds. More than 80% of the area was closed to visitors. We were not able to get a closer look at the monuement because it was fenced off. Mt Nebo was not worth a visit in my opinion but since it was included in the tour, so why the hell not. :)
We decided to spend less time on the monuments and more time swimming in the Dead Sea. We went straight to the Dead Sea, got into our swimming suits and experienced one of the weirdest feeling in the world.. not being able to sink in the water.
As you walked in the water, it felt quite normal but once you started to go deeper, you realized that your foot no longer touches the ground and you just float there unable to control where you are going.
It was one of the most un-natural feeling I have ever felt, right up there with the feeling before doing the bungee jump. I was unable to sink no matter how hard I tried. It was also a good idea not to, since the salty water of the Dead Sea could easily damage your eyes and respiratory system. That is why it is recommended to swim with your back in the water rather than the other way around.
Ramon and Luana showed me how cool it looks to float in a water while reading a magazine. :)
After 3 hours at the Dead Sea, we drove back feeling all salty and awesome at the same time. Visiting the Dead Sea either on the Israel side or Jordanian side is a must-do experience!
That evening, me Luana and Ramon went out for a kebab on the Rainbow street before we said goodbye to each other as they went to Petra the next day and I had to catch my flight to my next destination, Istanbul Turkey.
Go Cafe-Hopping in Amman
The only cheap flight I found from Amman to Istanbul was at 3 am the next day via Aegean Airline so I spent the whole day working in the many cool cafes around Amman. One of that was the [email protected] a cafe-bookstore hybrid with an awesome garden terrace. I worked there for the whole day before reuniting with Andrew, an Aussie I met in Petra. We spent that evening sharing our travel stories. He told me how awesome it was to go to Iran and I told him how sucky it is to have a "third-world" passport and not being able to go wherever I want. :) It was great fun and totally killed all the time I had in Amman. We said goodbye again and I went to the airport, preparing myself for Istanbul, Turkey.
That is it for my Jordan trip. I hope you enjoyed the journey and all the photographs in this entry and if you have any questions or suggestions, please do let me know in the comments below. Stay tuned for my next series of posts about Turkey. It is going to be a long one!
Further Reading for Jordan
I hope you found this travel guide useful. I have a ton more written about Jordan and if you are interested to read more, here are a few more travel guides about Jordan:
- While in Amman, be sure to do a day trip and visit Jerash. Here’s a guide on how to travel to Jerash from Amman on a public transport.
- Petra is among the most popular attractions not just in Jordan but the entire world, and for good reasons. Here’s how to spend 2 days in Petra.
- Petra is also a prime place for hiking. You will be able to see the Treasury from a perspective not many seen. Here’s a complete one-day hiking guide for Petra.
- Looking for something to inspire you to visit Jordan? I’ve got you covered. Here are 22 photos that will inspire you to visit Jordan.
- You can also watch my Jordan travel video here: Adventure in Jordan.
- To see all articles about Jordan, visit Jordan Travel Guide page.
- Looking for more travel guides for the Middle East? You can find more on my Middle East Travel Guide page.
- For more of my travel guides, visit my Destinations page.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by Pete Rojwongsuriya, the founder of BucketListly Blog where we will follow his solo journey around the world as he experiences different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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