IN OCTOBER I traveled to Jordan for the second time, and my mission was to get off the grid and see parts of the country that aren’t routinely featured in guidebooks. I couldn’t resist stopping by some of the more touristy spots, but the rest of my time was spent hiking and exploring landscapes that could best be described as otherworldly.
Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips. All photos by author except where noted.
Dana Biosphere Reserve
One of the things I had forgotten was just how magical the light can be in the Jordanian desert. Golden hour seems to last forever, and the way the dust catches the last rays of the day is truly something you have to see for yourself. There are miles and miles of trails and rolling hills to explore in Dana, but catching sunset at Dana Terrace is definitely a spot you should add to your list.
If you’ve ever done the Narrows in Utah’s Zion National Park, this trail will be right up your alley. The Jordan River’s water levels are highest in the spring, so you’ll definitely need a dry bag if you attempt this hike then, but you’re generally ok with a backpack the rest of the year. Still, the sights you see while trekking through this canyon oasis are almost worth a waterlogged phone.
There are ruins all over Jordan, but if you time it right, you might be able to explore some of these spots all by yourself. And did you know? The ruins at Umm Qais overlook the Sea of Galilee, which sits along the border of Israel and Syria.
I left our camp 20 minutes before sunrise, and I wasn’t sure what I’d find. Even though there were footprints and tire tracks over much of the sand, I felt like I was the last person on earth. Aside from the sound of my feet on the ground and the occasional bird call, it was dead quiet, and the cool air reminded me of mornings in the California desert. I felt completely at home, and if I could have stopped time (and the temperature) and wandered around here for an entire day, I totally would have.
I hate to admit this, but I’ve never been a fan of museums. I like to go at my own pace and I’d rather use my imagination than be lectured about a site, no matter how important it is. Exploring this castle made me feel like a kid again, minus the boring history lessons.
If you’ve been to Jordan or you’re planning a trip there, odds are Petra is at the top of your list. If you’re already planning on visiting the Treasury, why not experience it in a whole new light — literally.
I don’t know if there’s a better way to wrap up a trip to Jordan. Dipping into the Dead Sea for a sunset float is something I could do at least once a week. The super salty water makes you so buoyant it’s impossible to sink, and being able to lay back and tune everyone and everything out is a feeling you truly have to experience for yourself. A number of hotels sit along the shore of the Dead Sea, and it’s only an hour from the airport in Amman.