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After a few days exploring the desert roads of Eastern Jordan, we ventured into the fertile hills of the north. The change in landscape was dramatic and we rolled our way to Jerash, ones of the major towns in the region. We pushed on, only stopping to pick up supplies and to spend the night in the Dibeen Forest, before heading towards the Jordan Valley the next day.

We had a visit in the morning from a man with a herd of goats. I got a glimpse of him whilst running and thought he might be heading our way. He made alien noises to keep the goats in sight while he took interest in our vehicle and also the dynamics of one man travelling with two women. I served him tea and before long he was on his way. I think he understood the set-up!

Jordan has quite a few nature reserves which are all run by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. The former British hospital we stayed at was run by the same organisation. Partly funded by the World Bank and the United Nations development programme, it aims to help conserve rural communities by using the money generated from expensive tourist lodges within the grounds of the reserves. As we are travelling out of season, we have found it hard to get access to the parks. The lodges and campsites are in fantastic spots and one in particular further south in Dana, overlooking the Wadi Dana was one of the most breathtaking views of the trip so far. If  it was in season, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there.

We stopped the next night in Pella where we ate at a restaurant with views towards Israel. You have to cross the  Sheikh Hussein Bridge if you want to make your way into Israel from there. We also bumped into our German friend we had met a few days earlier at the Arzaq lodge and a Belgium man who is travelling alone on his motorbike, following the Mediterranean coast through Europe, The Middle East and Northern Africa.

The Jordan Valley separates the two countries. We were on the East Bank and we could see the West Bank in the morning after we climbed a nearby hill.

Some 200 metres below sea level , the Jordan Valley is a very fertile, subtropical valley and it is where the Jordan river flows into the Dead Sea. From a distance you can’t make the river out at all. We only got a glimpse of the river when we visited the site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

All roads lead to the Dead Sea from there. Like all others, we had to experience the floating sensation. We made a day of it, arriving at Amman Beach early and paying to make use of the beach and the swimming pool. A definite ‘try it once’ experience. An odd feeling, but once I closed my eyes and let myself drift I could enjoy it. Afterwards I washed off the salty slime  under a shower and jumping in the pool

The odd controlled explosion on the Israeli side of the Dead Sea disturbed some visitors. They soon calmed down as they realised there was a quarry making timed explosions every half an hour.

Aside from going for a drink in one of the many five-star hotels that line the Dead Sea, we opted for a night camping on top of the hill that overlooks the sea. We wish we had booked into the Movenpick after we experienced a howling gale the entire night. We thought the wind might rip the tent from the roof of the Landcruiser. All in one piece in the morning, we got the hell out of there and ventured South.

The high winds affected visibility on our journey down the King’s Highway the next day. Dust coming off the desert affected driving, and we missed out slightly on the canyon views as we passed through the Wadi Mujib, Jordan’s answer to the Grand Canyon.

It was still spectacular despite the visibility problems and a long day in the car.

We are now in Petra, for a two-day visit. We’ve come all this way south first as we need to be in the capital, Amman, on Monday to meet Bun and Iso’s cousin, Ashley.

December 2009