LIVE BLOG: JORDAN ROADTRIP WITH AUTOCAR INDIA – AS IT HAPPENS!

Sit back, strap yourself in and get ready to step on the proverbial accelerator as we drive through Jordan on a roadtrip organized by Byond Travel and Autocar India, India’s leading authority for car and motorbikes and the No. 1 auto magazine in the country!

If you’ve been following us, you know that at Byond Travel, we love Jordan. Earlier this month, inspired by Shweta’s self drive through Jordan, we decided to do our own and we had 15 brave souls join us!

Follow along this exciting journey as we join the crew and Vir Nakai, travel writer for Autocar, who has racked up as many memories as he has miles, having driven from Bologna to Moscow, as part of Ducati’s historic around-the-world journey , as well as across India, from the Himalayas to Bangalore. For more on his journeys, click here to explore his siteFacebook, Twitterand Instagram pages.

Don’t miss a moment as this crew of brave and crazy drivers, steer their way across Jordan, making their way over desert highways, and going off-roading in the red sand dunes of Wadi Rum, on a 8 day self-drive adventure through Jordan that is just pure fun. They will drive from Amman to Wadi Mujib, Petra to Wadi Rum and Aqaba to the Dead Sea, with lots of stops en route to visit mosaic towns and have tea with Bedouins.

We love long-lasting journeys with like-minded people. To JOIN US on future journeys, build your own or follow other similar inspiring journeys like the one Vir is on, join our community of like-minded travelers, Click HERE.

day 7

It’s our last day in Jordan, so we’re putting it to good use and making our way to the Dead Sea today.

From the desert to the sea we drove from Wadi Rum to Aqaba. @visitjordan @byondtravel @autocar_india

A post shared by Vir Nakai (@virnakai) on

And finally, we’ve made it to our last destination of our journey: the Dead Sea! Here’s Simran testing out the waters (pun intended).

self-float

After seeing it in great images and in the movies, we waded into the Dead Sea and found ourselves not sinking! There’s nothing like relaxing in these waters and watching the sun slowly slip below the horizon, flushing the sky with a beautiful tangerine tinge.

sunset-at-the-dead-sea

New friends, new experiences, in a picture-postcard setting, it was the perfect way to end our journey through Jordan.

Thank you for joining us on our Dead Sea Drive! We’ve enjoyed every single minute of it, from exploring Petra, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World Contest, to hiking through Wadi Mujib, drinking tea at Bedouin tea shops and getting to explore all the corners of Jordan by car.  We’re ending our trip with new friends, unforgettable memories and a lifetime of stories to tell.

To join us on one of our upcoming inspiring journeys (we’ve got self-drive adventures in Iceland, yoga retreats in Bali, women-only getaways to Italy, Eastern Europe and Australia all in store) CLICK HERE.

Day 6

Today, we’re shaking the desert sand from our tyres as we make our way down to Aqaba, Jordan’s only coastal city!

If you’re only tuning in now, our Dead Sea Drive has taken us from Amman to Wadi Mujib, and Petra to Wadi Rum so far. Scroll down for more on our adventures from hiking through a sandstone canyon to dancing to Arabian music in our car seats. If you have been following along, and are raring to join us on one of our next inspiring journeys, CLICK HERE and we’ll keep you in the loop!

Bye Wadi Rum! Aqaba calling.

leaving-wadi

En route: Mitsubishi Pajero vs Turkish rail:

race

This is a train built in 1959 by the Japanese, and runs through Berlin, Germany, Istanbul,Turkey, Syria, Jordan , and Saudi Arabia.

Driving on, we have reached Aqaba. On our right is Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city and on the left is Taba, a small Egyptian town. A quick break in a local pub before we hit the Red Sea.

pub

We’re going to spend the rest of the day, exploring and relaxing at Aqaba.

day 5

The action continues as we’re heading straight for Wadi Rum today. Given that the desert is one of the most dramatic terrains on the planet, with granite, basalt and sandstone mountains and glittering red sands, that looks like an otherworldy planet, you could even say, we’re heading to Mars!

We’re making our way over the desert high way, driving at 100km per hour. Outside, it’s beautiful. Here’s what the view looks like:

drive-to-wadi

Inside, there’s a lot of good vibes and great music. We’re dancing around in our seats, listening to Arabic songs like this one:

We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant and filled up on Jordanian shawarma with hammas and falafel for lunch with raw pomegranate juice. Yes, it’s as delicious as its sounds.

Up ahead, we could see the red sands of Wadi Rum. We’ll be taking a jeep safari through the desert soon, but first we’re stopping for a cup of tea flavoured with herbs at a Bedouin tea shop!

bedouin-tea

Once tea time was over, we climbed into jeeps and set off on a 4X4 drive through Wadi Rum. Driving through this Mars/moonscaped terrain felt as though we were in the movie ‘The Martian’ (which, incidentally was filmed in Wadi Rum).

wadi1

It’s a dramatic drive. Massive mountains rise out of the rose-red sand, and some of the ridges are more than a thousand feet, topped with huge domes.

wadi2

wadicamel

waditrack

wadimoon

As dusk fell, we made our way back to our camp, and settled in for the night. Teapots warmed over a slow fire, and our Bedouin hosts served us more tiny glasses of tea. Cheers to Devashree, whose birthday is today!

Dinner was zarb, a Bedouin barbeque dish  of meat, potatoes and vegetables cooked underground, and we could smell the delicious smell of the roasting flavours of the dish as they took it out of the soil. It was served with hummus, fresh bread and other camp-style Bedouin specialties.

After dinner, we sat around the campsite for the rest of the evening, taking in the sight of the Wadi Rum night sky, that was brilliant with the Milky Way and shooting stars.

day 4

Today, we set off to Petra, following in Indiana Jones’ footsteps. We made our way though the Siq in the morning (no less impressive than it was last night). Truly, walking through this ancient aqueduct, the immense rock walls reaching up on either side, makes you feel like you’re in your own little adventure flick, with every step bringing you closer to an ancient treasure.

petra-walls

And what a treasure we found. As we drew near the end of the Siq, the anticipation increasing, we glimpsed the Treasury between the lightning bolt shaped gap in the sandstone walls, which has been designated one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.” It was electrifying. Clearly, the Nabateans who created Petra, had a flair for the dramatic.

A sense of adventure pervades the entire place; it’s no wonder that the climax of ‘Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail’ was filmed here. We spent the day learning more about the city and seeing elaborate rock-hewn Nabatean tombs and the Roman streets dotted with temples, staircases, buildings and other monuments cut with a refinement that’s hard to believe.

petra-treasury

There were also plenty of camels around. Don’t let their docile appearance fool you, they’re actually masters at photobombing.

camels

It’s been an absolutely incredible day in Petra.

DAY 3

After tanking up on breakfast, we made our way to Mount Nebo, stopping en route to take a break and say hello to loitering camels . At Mt. Nebo, we made our way to the top. This is where, according to the Bible, Moses stood and looked out at the Holy Land.

At the peak, you can stand and see, as he did, the sweeping vista of the Jordan River valley, the Dead Sea, Jericho and a glimpse of Jerusalem’s spires and rooftops in the far distance. It’s one of the most spectacular sights in Jordan. 

Moses stood here and looked out at the Promise land. #visitjordan #gojordan #byondtravel #autocarindia

A post shared by Vir Nakai (@virnakai) on

Next,  time to stretch the Pajero’s power a bit. We made our way further south using the beautiful desert highway, with its broad tarmac to the Dana Natural Reserve. Dana Natural Reserve is Jordan’s largest nature park and like the rest of the country, is stunning.

After Dana, we drove to Petra, ending the day on a spectacular note: visiting this ancient rose-red city by night. We walked through the Siq, following a candle lit path, with the moon and stars shimmering above us…

….until we reached the colossal facade of the Treasury. Under the half moon, but bathed in the light of thousands of little candles – what a sight!

petra
Source: Vik Nakai

As Satleen Bhatnagar, who travelled to Jordan on our women-only trip says, “Petra by night is a beautiful experience. No amount of words will truly do it justice.”  And indeed it was.

This was an experience that the group will remember decades from now.

DAY 2

It was an action-packed day today.

First up, we drove around Amman in our cars, getting used to the local traffic. We also stopped by some iconic sights such as the Royal Automobile Museum and King Abdullah Mosque.

Later on in the day, we drove to Wadi Mujib using the Kings Way, stopping to take in the stunning sight of the Dead Sea.

Wadi Mujib is Jordan’s most spectacular river canyon and is a true undiscovered gem. As Priyale Prasad, who journeyed to Jordan on Byond’s women-only group trip said, “It was an out-of-the-world place with every possible adventure one could ask for. This was my favourite memory from the trip, walking against the gushing water of the river, rock-hopping along the way, and all that rock climbing! We tripped and got drenched but I would go back happily again and again!

We couldn’t agree more with Priyale. Here’s a picture of us giving the tyres a rest and putting our feet to work instead (well, not exactly).

wadi

Walking through the narrow stream between the 100 feet walls of the towering, red sandstone cliffs, clambering over small, fast-flowing waterfalls and fighting the feisty current with each step – sounds like a lot of work, but was actually a lot of fun.

We ended our day driving to Madaba, the city of Mosaics, where we saw the oldest known mosaic map of the holy land.

DAY 1

Touchdown Jordan!

The group landed and we gathered around for a quick briefing:

briefing
Source: Vir Nakai

After we were done, we got out of the airport and made a beeline for the ancient city of Jerash, which dates all the way back to the Bronze Age. The roads are wide and clean, with plenty of fast corners as we drive our way through olive groves and low hills.

Source: Vir Nakai
Source: Vir Nakai

Jerash is the biggest and most completely well-preserved city of the ancient Roman Empire.  We’ve only been in the country for 5 hours, and already, the adventure is off to an epic start.

We also stopped by the Citadel, an archaeological wonder which is situated on a hill, giving us a perspective of Jordan’s incredible history as well as a stunning view of the entire area.

Then, it was back to the city for some dinner and rest. See you tomorrow!

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