For holidays 2018 we decided to go back to the Middle East and this time around visit country of Jordan.
This place seem to be one of the less popular destination for climbers (or tourists in general), probably most due to the fact that there are so many other places that don’t neighbour states that are currently at war…
I did my research and all reports make it safe enough for a visit (especially if you stick to the sourthern parts of the country).
And that is exactly what Peter, Phil, Monika and I are planning to do.
The rough plan for two weeks is:
- Visit Madaba & Dead Sea (lowest point on Earth)
- Visit Petra (main tourist destination)
- Visit Wadi Rum (main climbing destination)
- Visit Aqaba (main scuba destination)
- Visit Jerusalem (main weird access destination)
- Visit Amman & go home
While I was hoping for this trip to be focused mainly around climbing (Wadi Rum is world class trad climbing spot) – it seems that on the very first trip to the country it’d be a shame not to visit at least some of the world famous tourist attractions – hence the list above.
Since we are equipped for both sport and trad climbing (both gear and skill), we decided to see how it goes and climb when possible (we are a bit early as far as climbing seasons go, as It’s still a bit hot).
In this series of blogs I’ll write every couple of days on how the progress go.
Part I – getting in & around
We arrived on Sunday morning, after quite interesting flight with connection in Istanbul. It’s a very odd setup with Dub flight departing at 4.30pm on Sat, and with 3h layover in Turkey we were in Jordan Capital city at 4.30am.
Phil’s bag came out VERY last, so it took a while at the airport, but after that we picked up few sim cards, got the car sorted (again, big 4×4 since we have tons of bags) and were on our way to the hotel in Madaba. Luckily enough they let us check in early (7am!, for a small fee) – so we were able to get quick nap (not much sleep on the plane) and make our way to Dead Sea.
The problem with The Dead Sea is that while its public, the best spots are all taken by resorts, so you have to dish out between 20 and 40 JOD to get access (you kind of want to do it anyway, since the supersalt water ruins everything if u don’t shower straight away.
After some floating around and mud baths and lunch we wen’t towards nearby JC Babtism site, however we were to late for 4.30pm tour, and to early to wait 40 mins for next one. Oh well… Back to Madaba for an evening stroll.
Part II – due South
We hit the King’s Highway towards Petra, with a quick stop over at Kerak Castle & some climbing at nearby Weida Slabs.
Castle was ok as far as castle go, it seemed to be restored in some places, but mostly it was ruins. Still worth a visit if you are passing by.
Climbing however was something else – and it wasn’t for the rock or the fact it was all bolted (pretty well actually) – It was the heat. We got there just after 1pm, which isn’t ideal, but there was no other option – we still had 2.5h drive to Petra so couldn’t wait for it to cool down. It also goes without saying that TOPOS are rare and any material on routes you find is priceless. I found THIS website –> http://tropicaldesert.me/kerak-weida-slabs
It seems to have decent descriptions of places (other than obvious Wadi Rum) worth visiting.
With 35C heat it was impossible to do anything other than 1 or 2 climbs – the sweat was rolling in, dehydration was imminent and all of it was attracting those nasty flies – they were everywhere – big nasty flies. I wish I had my head net, so useful on those hot day in Wicklow or the Mournes.
Another thing is that since routes don’t get that much traffic some of it is quite loose. Monika experienced it first hand, when a handhold she grabbed (around fist size) just detached itself and went flying my way. Luckily she had strong feed and didn’t fell off.
We are in Wadi Musa now- which is the gateway town to Petra. Plan is to get there for 6.15am (it’s only 5min drive from our hotel), when they open – and start before the crowds come in. With Jordan Pass, that guarantees no queuing for tickets, as it has tickets to Petra included it should be a good day out.