The tour we did was very good in many ways, but let us down a little in other ways. Of course we couldn’t know this ahead of time. We chose it because it allowed two full days in Petra. To do justice to Petra you need two full days. I think we walked about twelve miles on each day and our guide was excellent; knowing when to guide us, when to give us free time, and leading us to out of the way places high in the hills surrounding the site.

Retirement travel to Petra JordanYou enter Petra through a shadowy narrow chasm three-quarters of a mile long. Eventually you reach the end and emerge into a broad open space. The Treasury, Al Khazneh, stands before you with its clean Hellenistic lines. It is like an epiphany, and surely the most spectacular and astounding sight in all of Jordan.

Beyond the Treasury there is a broad valley with literally miles of ageless tombs to explore, all with the same elegant Hellenistic lines. And on our second day there we climbed in the hills high above to look down on the remains of this most astounding ancient city.

From Petra we travelled to the majestic landscape of Wadi Rum. Wadi Rum is a desert wilderness of sheer-sided sandstone and granite mountains towering 2300 feet over wide sandy valleys. It has been home to many human societies since prehistoric times; resilient, resourceful people who adapted to the harsh environment. And it has been home to the Bedouin for hundreds of years, some of whom still live dotted about the landscape in their goat-hair tents. We arrived in time for a two-hour 4×4 exploration of the desert before sunset. This was followed by an overnight stay in a Bedouin camp complete with a delicious traditional Bedouin meal, sleeping under the stars, and a sunrise camel ride. It was my second favourite place in Jordan and if you go to Jordan to see Petra be sure to go to Wadi Rum too. Take time there to experience the landscape. Time to wander away from camp into the vast silence. Time to let your bones absorb it. Time to just be.

Retirement travel to Wadi Rum Jordan

Aqaba on the Red Sea was our next stop where we did a four-hour cruise along the coast with stops for snorkelling and a delicious lunch of salads, and chicken barbequed right on the boat. The afternoon was free time and Don and I wandered down to the local beach where we found all the lads diving off the pier. Once they realized I was photographing them it became a free-for-all, each one trying to out-do the other. The ‘show off’ factor increased exponentially with the arrival of a western woman with a camera. They were loud and joyful, loving the attention. It was one of our most fun times in Jordan.

Retirement travel to Aqaba Jordan

The next morning, the final day of the tour, we drove back to Amman where we explored the Citadel, the Roman theatre, and the downtown core.

Jordan is worth visiting, if only for Petra and Wadi Rum, but we also found friendly people, good food, the fascinating Kerak Castle and Map of Madaba, the crowded insistent Balad, and the joyous lads of Aqaba.

There are numerous companies offering tours through Jordan. If you’re fit and like to hike then I recommend looking for one that allows two days in Petra (and make sure you have a guide who will take you to the place to view the Treasury from above).

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