The consultants here at Flight Centre have the kind of passion for travel that you would expect from an international travel consultant and there is nothing that we love more than being able to share their experiences.
I recently spoke to Ben Rowan who has come back from a trip to Jordan and Israel and was keen to find out more about his journey.
Consultant Name: Ben Rowan
Works at?: Chiswick Flight Centre
How long have you worked at Flight Centre?: 7 months
Can you tell me a little bit about why you chose your destination?
“We flew in to Tel Aviv and traveled down to the coast at the bottom of the country to cross over to Jordan. I was travelling with my two friends Paul and Phil, who I’ve been away with quite a lot in the past.
The trip was planned by ourselves over a few months. We’d been to Syria before the war and we felt it was time to go back to the Middle East and see a different part.
We chose Jordan/Israel because the Middle East is a fantastic place if you want an adventure. Political instability in the region puts a lot of potential tourists off, but if you plan properly and choose the right countries at the right time your experience will form lifelong memories.”
What did you enjoy most about the trip?
“The highlight of the trip was visiting Petra and seeing buildings that date back as far as 7000BC. It was built by the Nabataean people who made it their capital, but abandoned during Roman times because of an earthquake. It was re-discovered in 1812 by a Swiss explorer hence why it is still in such great condition and is now a World Heritage site.
The treasury is the main attraction, but we quickly realised there was a lot more to the site. The monastery is worth a visit but takes about 45 minutes from the treasury, which itself is 2km from the Visitors Centre and the starting point for every sightseer. Walking in sand does take its toll but donkeys can be taken for around 5JD and are surprisingly comfortable. There are also camels for the main site and horse drawn chariots if you fancy a little shade whilst surveying this fantastic wonder of the world.
Petra by night is run 2 times a week and gives you a chance to see the treasury lit by candlelight. It starts at 2030 and you will be provided with mint tea whilst you listen to traditional Bedouin music. We were lucky to arrive early evening on Monday so we gladly paid the 12JD and headed down there after a couple of drinks at the local restaurant.”
Is there any advice that you would pass on to people looking to visit in the future?
“Visiting Jordan is very hot between the months of May-September so be prepared. Even in June we experienced 44c on the way to Aqaba so we forced ourselves to take on plenty of water at every opportunity. Getting a high factor of sun cream can’t be overstated and even with my 45 factor I still came home with a tan. I am not usually a cap wearing person but found this to also be a lifesaver.
Jordan’s only coastline is in Aqaba and lies on the Red Sea. It’s one of the best places in the world for diving and we had a great time renting snorkels and swimming above the corals and checking out the various fish on show. You can arrange to be taken out on a glass floored boat if you have more time and do scuba diving and snorkelling in deeper waters. They also have some shipwrecks to explore if you have your scuba licence.
Jordan is very much a haggling culture so never take the first price you get and always question what you are buying. They won’t take offence and it means you avoid getting ripped off.
Aqaba is trying to attract tourism and foreign business to the area by offering tax free economic zones, so if you want to purchase clothes, cigarettes or perfume/aftershave this is the place to get the best deal. Hotels are very reasonable and they have a nice selection in good central locations. The city is much less developed than neighbouring Eilat in Israel which gives us tourists the advantage when negotiating.”
What would be the one thing you would recommend to someone visiting Jordan?
“Spending a night in the desert was a completely new experience to us and one I would recommend to anyone travelling to Jordan. There are lots of tour companies in Wadi Rum but we stayed with the Bedouin Lifestyle because of the 98% review on trip advisor. For 40JD they will provide a tent, dinner and a jeep tour the next morning, so you get to see the surrounding area and learn a little history of the Bedouin people’s culture. Quad biking can be done in Bait Ali which is based in Wadi Rum and your tour company can arrange transportation to the site. Bait Ali also offer hot air ballooning and airplane rides, although sadly both were unavailable when we visited.”
Well it is safe to say that I am well and truly sold on the prospect of a trip to Jordan & Israel – many thanks to Ben for providing us with such detailed information. It certainly looks like an amazing journey.
If you have been inspired by Ben’s trip then you can find Amman flights here or can always feel free to call Ben or one of our other consultants on the number at the top of the page. We will be sure to bring you more consultant stories in the future ensure you check back and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with everything from Flight Centre UK.