"Marked as a ‘Full-On’ trip I’d heard that our holidays are not particularly for those who like the sun-lounger for the week and as someone who likes to explore new places but doesn’t know where to start planning, a trip like this really suited me. I like the thought that everything is planned out for you with no need to worry about logistics; surely one of the problems of booking your own trip is huddling over a map trying to work out if it really is walking distance to your hotel or if you need a taxi/hire a car.
The first 2 days of the trip get you settled into a routine of early-ish mornings, lots of time out and about at multiple sites in a day, delicious locals lunches before returning for a quick change, dinner and *ahhh* fall into bed and sleep like a log.
After exploring Crusader castles it’s onto the famous Red Rose City of Petra. Our first sight of the famous Treasury is by night, candle-lit and glowing intensely. The next day our Leader, Mo, guides us down the Siq, pointing out carvings and the incredible irrigation system the Nabateans created. Then, *gasps* we see the Treasury for the first time, crisply emerging from the sandstone around it.
But that’s not it. There’s hundreds of tombs nestled in the rock and I’ll never forget walking up over 900 steps to marvel at The Monastery – not as intricately carved as the Treasury but much larger and just as magical. If you walk even further you’ll be treated with views over Mars like mountains and rock formations – the photo doesn’t do it justice as my partner didn’t want to get any closer to the edge!
A second day in Petra gives you an opportunity to see more of the tombs at your leisure, or walk to the High Place of Sacrifice. Our Leader Mo took us on an early hike to avoid the heat and we were treated with a spectacular view over the Treasury from above.
With a coffee stop at a fantastic view point I don’t think I’ve achieved so much before 10:30am. After spotting a Blue lizard and climbing through Nabatean dams, a cold beer was well deserved at the end of the day as we emptied the sand out of our boots.
After soaking up the historical sites of Petra it was time to discover the Wadi Rum desert. Setting off in jeeps we were soon sliding across the sand, woops and clouds of dust trailing behind our cars. If you’ve seen ‘The Martian’ film then you can picture the landscape – and this was to be our home for the night. After watching the sunset we returned to our camp for a traditional Bedouin meal cooked in the ground and of course sweet tea. Mo answered our questions about Jordanian culture openly and honestly before the night descends into the Hokey Cokey and terrible jokes. We pull out our beds and nestle down in our sleeping bags to watch as the Milky Way appears above us and we watch intently for shooting stars.
Now I know I said there’s little time for sun-loungers but our free day in Aqaba was a welcome day of relaxing. Snorkelling from the boat, reading our books and eating a delicious BBQ lunch washed down with a cold beer was what we all needed after our hikes through Petra and a night in the desert. Returning to our hotels windswept and with beaming faces we’d really settled into this holiday malarkey.
A trip to Jordan wouldn’t be complete without a compulsory dip in the Dead Sea. Squealing with glee we all bobbed around like apples in a barrel, Terry in particular recumbent and totally relaxed.
On the plane home it strikes me what I love about a group trip. Although your days are busy and your feet are tired, your brain is relaxed, free from making everyday decisions and planning logistics, it’s free to take in the new sights and experiences of your holiday. So if you’re looking at a full-on trip with Explore I’d say go for it – your mind will thank you for it."