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Exploring local: Playing tourist in Jordan

Azraq Wetland Reserve (Source- Trip Jo)
(Photos: Trip Jo, Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, Unsplash, Envato Elements, Tourist Jordan, and Jordan Biography)

Summer is upon us and now is the time to get back to exploring the world, starting with our own local gems. Here are a few ideas to start discovering this amazing place we call home and make the best of every weekend.اضافة اعلان

Day at the museum
Let go of any preconceived notions about museums being dusty old halls filled with ancient artifacts and check out Jordan’s museums with an open mind.

Start with something different and exciting like the Royal Automobile Museum, which you do not have to be a car enthusiast to enjoy. With more than 70 classic cars and motorbikes from His Majesty the late King Hussein’s personal collection, the museum showcases a range of vehicles, old and new, featuring stories involving former presidents, Hollywood movie stars, and regional royalty.

For your next stop, visit the Royal Tank Museum — which is the first of its kind in the region — offering a display of 140 tanks. This museum collects, restores, preserves, and showcases military tanks and armored vehicles for educational and explorational purposes. You will learn about the role of tanks in the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army and their contribution in shaping our country.

If you are interested in learning more about Jordan’s history and politics, you can visit the Jordan Museum and the Parliamentary Life Museum. The former celebrates the country’s history and cultural heritage, while the latter showcases its political and social history.

Explore Jordan’s six UNESCO World Heritage sites
According to UNESCO, the “World Heritage is the designation for places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity,” added to a recognized list “to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.” This means the six sites identified in Jordan should top your list of dream staycation destinations without hesitation.



The newest member of the club is Salt, dubbed the “Place of Tolerance and Urban Hospitality.” A great starting point is the Harmony Trail: a path that walks you through all the important sites in the city with stops at churches, mosques, museums, and old buildings. End your visit with a dinner at the Jordan Heritage Restaurant, which celebrates the local cuisine with 94 different dishes to choose from. To offer an authentic experience, the staff are all Jordanian youth and the ingredients are sourced from local women trained by Jordan Heritage. The restaurant also showcases a bit of Jordan’s history, including details on past battles and information about ancient artifacts.

The five other World Heritage Sites are the Baptism Site, the Wadi Rum Protected Area, Um er-Rasas, Petra, and Quseir Amra. Make it a six-week adventure where you visit one site each weekend and immerse yourself in the beauty of Jordanian culture and history.


Ecotourism
If you are going to play tourist in the country you live in, why not do so while making a positive impact. Ecotourism is about responsible travel, exploring natural areas that conserve the environment, contributing to the well-being and livelihood of locals, all the while learning about the destination where you are located.


Dana Biosphere Reserve
Jordan’s largest nature reserve has archaeological evidence that the Egyptian, Nabatean, Roman, and Paleolithic civilizations have all settled in the area. According to Wild Jordan, Dana is home to 700 plant, 190 bird, 37 mammal, and 36 reptile species. 25 of these species have been declared endangered such as the sand cat, Syrian wolf, lesser kestrel, and spiny-tailed lizard.

Azraq Wetland Reserve
With a JD2.5 entry fee, a visit to the Azraq Wetland is definitely worth the time, money, and effort. It is the perfect destination for birdwatchers as the wetland is a stopover for local migrating, and sometimes rare, bird species from three different continents. The area also used to be a station for pilgrims and camel trains. Even Lawrence of Arabia was stationed in the Azraq Castle during the Arab Revolt in the early 1900s.

Shaumari Wildlife Reserve
Established in 1975 by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve operates as a breeding center for endangered wildlife. With the help of the world’s leading wildlife parks and zoos, Shaumari is saving and preserving some of the rarest species in the region including gazelles, oryx, ostriches, and onagers. The reserve is a great day trip option as it has a cafeteria, children’s play zone, as well as a picnic and barbeque area.

Other ecotourism hotspots are the Ajloun Forest Reserve and Yarmouk Forest Reserve. These places offer a variety of activities such as canyoning, cycling, camping, and cooking. Some cultural activities to sign up for are Druze folk dancing, Bedouin experiences, Kohl making, and weaving goat-haired tents.


Take a hikeIn Jordan, you can go for a hike any day of the week and explore different terrains. Whether you prefer a private group hike or meeting new people via a local adventure company, you will be able to hike through canyons, descend waterfalls, climb breathtaking cliffs, enjoy picturesque views and, in some cases, explore areas of untouched nature.

The Kingdom’s longest hiking trail, which many call bucket-list worthy, is the Jordan Trail. It spans the entire length of the country, starting with Um Qais in the far north and ending in Aqaba in the south. The 650km path is a 40 day long hike that goes through 52 villages and towns.

The trail trip allows hikers to explore different aspects of Jordanian culture, indulge in various dishes from the local cuisine, and discover historical sites such as Jerash and Petra.

Another remarkable, and less time consuming, destination is Wadi Mujib. The Mujib Biosphere Reserve is the world’s lowest nature reserve, offering stunning scenery near the east coast of the Dead Sea. Located in the Wadi Mujib gorge, it stretches through the Dead Sea, Karak, and Madaba. Hikers are in for a treat as they will be met with spectacular biodiversity, including 300 species of plants, 10 species of carnivores, and various species of birds. With protected mountains and valleys, the area is home to several rare species of cats, goats, and other mountain animals, which hikers can encounter.

The tip of the Jordanian iceberg
Jordan has a lot to offer, and these are a few ideas to get you started. Instead of wasting your Fridays and Saturdays binge watching television shows or snoozing on your couch, step out of your comfort zone and make exciting plans for the upcoming weekend!


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