the three years we lived in Palestine, we were fortunate to be able to
drive through Jordan, from the Allenby Bridge (the King Hussein Bridge,
as it is called in Jordan) to Petra and on to Aqaba, several times.
Each was a memorable experience.
The first time we visited Jordan was between Christmas and New Year's
Eve of 2001. We decided to drive to Petra, a place we had alwasy wanted
to visit. We crossed the border at Allenby, then turned on to the
highway heading south along the coast of the Dead Sea.
Following the signs toward At Tafilah, we turned up into the mountains,
heading for Wadi Mousa. As the highway climbed higher we came across
snow, from a storm a few days before. There were also detour signs. The
storm washed out the road in several places. We detoured onto smaller
and progressively smaller roads, winding through tiny and even tinier
We were driving a beat-up Fiat Brava, a car that had probably not liked
mountain roads when it was new. It was not new any longer, and in its
age and infirmity it appreciated mountain roads even less. The car was
going slower and slower. The light was fading. We were driving through
parts of Jordan which were not even on our map. We turned a corner and
came upon a group of four Bedouins, standing in the snow, Kaffiyehs
wrapped around their heads to provide some minimal warmth, looking
chilled and miserable. They spoke no English and we no Arabic, but
somehow they managed to ask us for a ride to their village, apparently
just down the road. They all squeezed into the none too roomy back
seat, and we took off into the increasing gloom. Just about dusk we got
to their village and let them out. We asked for Wadi Musa. They pointed
down the road.
Still no signs, and now we were so far off the beaten track that this
village didn't even have electicity. The car was definately struggling.
Just as the last light faded, we came up to a junction, and a sign
pointing to our destination. Sweet relief! We arrived at our hotel long
after dark. As we pulled into the parking lot, the car gasped and died.
Our other visits were not quite so fraught. The weather for our other
trips was far more clement. Generally, heat was the problem, not cold,
and never again did we experience road closures and detours. The car's
transmission problems were eventually sorted out by our extremely
honest and reliable garage in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Talpiot.
Still, even without the trauma and drama, it was always an interesting
The scenery along the Dead Sea was always memorable. In a land where
water is scarce, even undrinkable water looks tempting. Of course, the
Dead Sea contains valuable minerals for more than just the cosmetics
and there are potash extraction plants on both shores.
At the bridge where the Wadi Zarqa Ma'in joins the Dead Sea Highway, we
always stopped to enjoy the view. In summer there were always families
with children swimming there, enjoying some of the only fresh water in
of Wadi Musa, or Petra, on the way down to Aqaba, one heads toward
Ma'an to connect with the King's Highway, the highway which runs the
length of Jordan. It passes through the desert, past Wadi Ram, and on
toward the northern tip of the Red Sea. The road is excellent, but
there are no service centres at which to stop, nor any trees to hide
behind if one were to get "caught short".
For anyone wishing to drive from Israel to Jordan, don't count on being
able to get permission to cross at Allenby. Private vehicles are not
allowed to drive across the King Hussein (Allenby) Bridge, but one may
be permitted to drive across the Sheikh Hussein Bridge (in Israel it is
called the Jordan Bridge) in the north and the Wadi Araba border,
between Aqaba and Eilat. Also, there is no unleaded gasoline outside of
Amman, so if you drive from Israel, make certain you have enough gas
with you for the trip.
On all three border points there are foreign exchange facilities,
places to eat and drink, and duty-free shops. On
the Jordanian side of all three border points there is also a tourist
information counter and a post office, in 2004 they were open every day
from 8 to 2, closed Friday). Check border opening hours before going.
In this unchanging part of the world, things change.
Jordan is a wonderful country. The people are friendly and
hospitable. The climate is temperate. It is a great place to visit, but
it is an underdeveloped country. If you explore by car, remember to
bring enough gas, and water. There are no service centres, no rest
stops evenly spaced throughout the country.
Visit the other pages in the Jordan
section. Click the link to go to the page.