Jordan, Travel Destinations

Exploring Madaba and Swimming at the Dead Sea

Mount Nebo and Dead Sea, Jordan

As promised for our first travel post we'll share our experience in Jordan, We'll also provide you our budget and itinerary for the whole trip plus some suggestions that you may or may not use on your travel to Jordan. Please note that we did all the hotel and tour booking by ourselves and did not take any tour package as we don't want to rush our time exploring the places.

Here it goes,

March 2018 we had planned to visit Jordan to see the famous land site which is Petra. Jordan is one of the countries located in the Middle East. It is in the middle and bordered by five other countries. Before we went there we don't have any idea what is in Jordan except for the famous Petra (which I will talk more about later on). We planned for our trip to start on a Thursday to avoid a Friday rush as we thought it would be the end of the work week but to our surprise, Jordan starts their week on a Sunday and ends on a Thursday much like Dubai.

We took a flight with Royal Jordanian. It was a 3-hour flight (3hrs and 30 minutes) from Dubai, so if you're like us who are traveling from Dubai, Jordan definitely will be one of the top lists for your travel getaway because it is very near.

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Our flight was 7:00 AM in the morning and Jordan is behind by an hour so we arrived there around 9:00 AM including the airport immigration and visa stamping it took us an hour (only because we were walking real slow lol). March weather is nice in Jordan even though the sun is shining brightly, the cold breeze (around 15 degrees Celsius in the morning and goes down as low as 7 degrees at night) made it easy to walk outside and stroll the surrounding.

Explore Madaba

Our first stop is to explore Madaba, which is one of the governorates of Jordan, approximately 30 minutes from the airport much nearer than the capital Amman. It is known for its Mosaic especially the "Madaba Map", a Byzantine mosaic map. We chose to explore Madaba first to see the historical and religious sites near it. If you're a Roman Catholic and would love to see the places which were in the Bible, this is the place to be.

We stayed at Moab Land Hotel (I will make a separate review page of the hotels that we stayed in), which was a really good location as it is in front of the St. George church where the "Madaba Map Mosaic" is located. A quick trivia regarding the hotel name, from what I heard from the Jordanians, Moab is an ancient place in Jordan which is now not located on the Jordan Map anymore (anyway I did not get that much detail regarding that but you can check it with them if ever you visit Jordan in the future). We arrived just around 11:00 AM at the hotel and left to check St. George church as we have a list of things to do on the same day.

We entered the church and took some pictures of it while checking what is inside, the area inside is very serene as it is full of trees and was amazed by the architectural design of the church, it was a Greek Orthodox church, we entered the said church but was immediately stopped by the caretaker as we didn't have a ticket, we didn't know that we first need to buy a ticket to enter the church, as no one was outside guarding the main entrance to the vicinity.  We went to the souvenir shop and checked if the Jordan pass (what is Jordan Pass?) that we have can be used at the said attraction which to our disappointment was not part of the said pass. The entrance to the church to see the Mosaic map is 2 dinar per person, which we did not pay as we're not that enthusiastic to see the said mosaic, we left the vicinity after a good 25 minutes of enjoying the scenery and taking photos.

We went back to the hotel and arranged a car and driver going to Mount Nebo and the Dead Sea which is the main plan for our first day. There are many sites to see along the way to Mount Nebo and the Dead Sea but it will cost around 60 dinar for the tour but we declined and did take only the Mount Nebo and Dead Sea tour for 35 dinar. Madaba has lots of nice views to see and appreciate, it is full of green fields and farms and sheep as well.

We enjoyed the view of shepherds while tending to their sheep as it is an unfamiliar sight for us, it feels like we're seeing an episode of Cedie or Princess Sarah (if you're a Filipino you will definitely get what we're describing). We didn't expect Jordan to look like what we saw as our first idea was that it is full of mountainous regions and rock formations much like Dubai. I started talking to our driver regarding this and I was told that the south part of Jordan will most likely have the description that I was talking about but North of Jordan and the place we're currently at will have green fields and mountains too.

We stopped by a cafeteria for lunch as we don't want to spend much time eating, and proceeded with the itinerary as soon as possible. We bought shawarma and a burger which can be bought at the cafeterias or small food shops located everywhere in Jordan. It costs us 3.25 dinar for the whole meal and just bought water at a convenience store. Food is not that expensive in Jordan, you can buy shawarmas or burgers which cost around 1 to 2 dinar only and it will fill your tummy already or if you want the local Arabic food, you are free to try as it is budget friendly as well.

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We arrived at Mount Nebo (our first stop for the day) at around 1:00 PM after a 30 minute ride from our hotel(included the waiting time for the take-out food we bought along the way). It is located at a high place in the mountainous region of Jordan. Mount Nebo as stated in the bible was the place where the promised land was shown to Moses.

At the summit, we were able to see Jordan's landscape which was extraordinary as the vast region was a piece of beauty. The weather was cold at that time so it was easy and comfortable for us to walk and stroll the surrounding area up to the entrance to the site. Jordan Pass didn't include the said place so we paid 2 dinar each for entrance, after paying the entrance we walked along a short trail to the Basilica which they called as the Memorial Church of Moses. Along the way, we saw several stone carvings which commemorated visits and memorials.

The most noticeable is the stone carved a few meters after the entrance.
Another carving mark as the "Memorial of Moses"

And then we finally arrived at the place where Moses was showed the Promised Land. There's a big serpentine looking staff which is standing across the memorial church which they call the serpent staff of Moses. Not much tourist was present on that day so we had some space for picture taking,

 

 

 

tourists group that we encountered usually visit Mount Nebo as part of their pilgrimage. Besides it was a stone tablet that shows a sort of like a map showing different places and how far it is from where you are standing

 

Below are some more pictures around Mount Nebo.

It took an hour for us to finish strolling around the site. The next stop for us is the Dead Sea, our driver arranged for us a public resort where we can dip at the dead sea and enjoy swimming in the pool, which he said costs around 15 dinar each, he is also offering if we want to have a buffet lunch at the said resort for 23 dinar(if I remember correctly) but we declined. That's why we stopped for shawarma and burger along the way before going to Mount Nebo. After a good 30 minute drive while enjoying the fascinating view of Jordan we arrived at Amman Beach resort. I read from some people online that they have paid 20 dinar each for entrance so I guess the driver we rented has discounts for the said place. After entering the resort the first thing we saw was a bunch of pools and the view of the vast dead sea which you need to go down the stairs to be able to swim in it.

I was very excited at the thought of actually floating, the dead sea which is actually a lake is bordered by Jordan and two other countries and is the Earth's lowest elevation on land. We forgot to bring towels for swimming but the good thing is the resorts rent towel for 2 dinar each. We took a towel and then rested first just to enjoy the ambiance and then went to try if we'll really float on the dead sea(even though it is proven already lol). The area around the lake shore is sandy, quite a few tourists are swimming in the designated area as it is already around 2:00 PM when we started to swim.

The experience was surreal, I had mixed emotion while swimming, didn't imagine that I will be able to visit a place which I always read in a book. It was fun and salty at the same time, mostly salty lol. After a good 20 minute swim, we started to feel some stinging pain coming from our skin possible caused by the saltiness of the water. We decided it was enough swimming for us and so we went back to the tables near the pool.

Me feeling a bit silly wanted the water to dry on my skin and see if salt will be there and as expected once the lake water dried up grains of salt formed from my body. You should try it too.

After showering we went back to the hotel which took us around 1 hour and 30 minutes as we went by a souvenir shop along the way(I would want to share this place also but I forgot where it was and what the name of the place is).

We walked around Madaba in the evening after a short rest to see what the place has to offer. The place was fine, a bit quiet as there are few tourists in Madaba compared to the main city but lots of food choices also. It was pretty safe walking outside at night as police are stationed at different places in town. After checking most of the open restaurants, we again decided to eat shawarma as we can't get over it(lol, Dubai also has lots of shawarma places but this didn't stop us from eating more shawarma).

After eating we stayed at the hotel balcony for quite some time but was not able to resist the cold wind which made us decide to call it a day.

Below are some more pictures around Dead Sea.

For more content regarding Jordan click here.

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