Lonely Planet Writer

Pathfinders pics: roadtrip through Jordan

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Lonely Planet Pathfinder Monica Suma recently explored Jordan’s cinematic sights, from Amman’s red-hued hills to the ancient city of Petra, and the desert of Wadi Rum – punctuating her journey through this fascinating country with compulsory breaks for delicious falafel and cardamom coffee!

I set out wanting to discover the majesty of Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, indulge in Jordan's foodie scene and to tap into Amman's creativity that I had read so much about. I was keen to travel light, with little more than a backpack, allowing me to travel by various modes of transport.

Taking in Amman’s street art

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The trip started in Amman, Jordan's capital. While it's not the most accessible city I've ever visited, its 19 hills make for some picturesque vistas. Its creative scene is equally as impressive with colourful murals, original caricatures, and intricate calligraphy art at every turn.

A tour of artsy Amman

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My favourite part of Amman was discovering the city’s progressive and up-and-coming design scene, where hip cafes and enticing art galleries abound. It's a great place to get inspired by the local creative industries and meet incredible artists.

The world’s oldest map of the Middle East

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One of my most interesting adventures in Jordan was seeing the world’s oldest map of the Middle East. Drawn up during the Byzantine period, this map is now housed inside the Saint George Church in Madaba (known as 'mosaic city,' and the largest Christian town in Jordan), just an hour's drive south from Amman. The map is made entirely out of mosaics dating from 6th century AD, seen here in the lower part of the photo. While a significant part of the mosaic has chipped away, this ancient map is a marvellous depiction of Christian history in the Middle East, featuring detailed representations of biblical sites such as Jerusalem.

The Dead Sea, the local way

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No trip to Jordan would be complete without stopping off by the Dead Sea, one of the most fascinating places in the world, with its thick salt formations and otherworldly landscape.

Finding my inner Indiana Jones at Petra

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Petra, Jordan’s most visited sight, was next on the list. That first glimpse of Petra was breathtaking – you’ve seen it a thousand times in photos and movies, and suddenly it's right there, this orange- and pink-hued giant towering in front of you. To avoid crowds and the midday heat, aim to go there as early as possible. You’ll also have better light for your pictures!

Bedouin life in Wadi Rum desert

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My last stop (and trip highlight) was Wadi Rum. There, the only traffic consists of camels and the only noise is from a crackling fire. The best way to experience the desert is to camp out under the stars, taking in the constellations with a warm cup of sweetened, herbal tea. I rounded off my desert adventures with a jeep safari – a great way to explore the seemingly endless sandstone valley.

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