JORDAN 1: 24.12.2003 - 01.01.2004

Translated by PROMT-Online-Translator

Route: Mafraq, Amman, Dead Sea, Aqaba

Distance: 531 Km

Preface: Forced by the winter temperatures we flee to the all year round warm area by the dead sea and in the Wadi Araba. We cannot report here more, than that one swims in the dead sea really on top of the water. More about jordan in our second visit to Jordan.
Still in southern syria on the 24th of december we spontaneously decided and cycled in the direction of the Jordanian border. Because by our bulk purchase our cash had strongly shrunk, the last hotel in Syria was beyond our budget, and thus we arrived about midday on the border. The border crossing and the visa were fast and uncomplicated. The only tough one was a violent and cold headwind and so that we reached Mafraq, the first bigger town in Jordan, about 16:00 o'clock. We asked in a shop for car accessories for a hotel. With a cup of tea they explained to us that about 2 streets further a favorable hotel lay. 2 streets further down no hotel was to be found, and after we had asked again in a chemist's shop and with a taxi driverour suspicion confirmed itself : There was no hotel in Mafraq. Now a good council was necessary once more. We went over again back to the boys from the car accessories shop. Also they had brought meanwhile in experience that there is no hotel any more. To find a camp site would have become extremely difficult, because Mafraq is surrounded only by bald clayey country. Then one of the boys got an idea. He organised to us a few children who brought us to a nearby Catholic church. There we "knocked" at hte dor and ask them whether they would have a place for ourselves to stay over night . Anyhow the whole situation reminded us of the Christmas history in the Bible (Lukasevangelium). Also we were exactly like Maria and Josef on the 24th of December far away of the home country at nightfall in the middle of a town, frozen and did not know where to stay. However, we had more luck. After a while came a nun who offered us to spend the night in the staff room of the attached Catholic school. We were very glad to have a firm roof over the head. We could not have had it much better at the hotel. We had a small bath (only cold water), a small kitchen, a big day room and in the church ran a cassette with Christmas music which announced over loudspeakers to everybody that Christmas was. Exactly how like at home, the Christmas stress started now: Laundry wash, washing us and prepare everything for a "comfortable" feast. Then at 20:15 o'clock everything was ready, and we had some rest for a few minutes. Then at 21:00 o'clock we went to the Christmas service. Though we have understood nothing, nevertheless, it was quite a great experience for us to see here in Jordan in a Christian municipality the Christmas service.
Then as the next we came to Amman, the capital of Jordan. As usual, we wanted to pitch a few kilometres before the town our tent to be able to be the next morning fast in the centre. Unfortunately Amman lies in a hilly, scanty plateau, so that it was absolutely impossible to find a camp site. Before we real we haised it we landed with arriving darkness in the suburbs of Amman. Because we discovered something off the high street a few trees, we turned from this and stood all at once before a German school (Georg Schneller school). We asked the gatekeeper whether it here in the area is a possibility for camping. He explained to our astonishment to us that they had on the school area their own camping site and then wished us Merry Christmas. The camping site had been presumably planned rather for bigger tents, because it existed, actually, only of already built with mortar places for group tents (fire brigade or boy scout). Nevertheless, we found a little piece of meadow and built up our tent. Then the next morning the bad awakening came. Then with the departure we were asked to pay 8€. For a "camping site" without sanitary facileties (the toilet house was blocked off) in a country like Jordan in which a chap hotel (hotel with warm shower) for 2 people would cost 10€, quite expensive. The next wild camp site was then much nicer for us(see picture).
Then from Amman we cycled to the dead sea. In the late afternoon we reached a hot spring. With pleasure we would have granted our strained muscles something good and would have had a little bath . However, unfortunately, everything was already populated from the locals. Normally no problem, however, the men have had to bath in long underpants, and the women might stretch at most their feet into the warm water. We as a Europeans have there of course a little bit different image of a nice bathing day. So we decided to build up our tent some hundred metres farther down and to try our luck the next morning very early.
After meanwhile just 7 months we still have different images about what means "early". Then very much to my joy Nadine threw me at around 6:00 o'clock out of my sleepingbag. We had luck and nobody was still to be seen at the hot spring. However, first we went into the dead sea. We had to try of course whether one swims in the dead sea really without swimming movements on top, and it works really. .We are not maybe completely on the surface, because we choose the spot where the hot spring went into the Dead Sea, but the water was at least delightfully warm here.

After our bath in the sea we went to the hot spring. We discovered something off the "main jacuzzi" even a small waterfall. With a temperature of 33 ° Celsius a marvellous pleasure.
The large part of the Jordanian population are Muslim Arabs. Already in Mafraq we had already got to know a Christian minority. On the south shore of the dead sea (a big tomato cultivation area) we met all at once a population of African origins and on a population with some resemblance to Roma and Sinti. The obviously not Muslim women carried their hair openly and the children came in to beg. Except in Antakya (Turkey) we had experienced begging children only in Romania. We wanted to give to one of the begging girls some bread what she refused, however, with a haughty gesture. A little later we met a big team of begging children.
With these gigantic trucks the salt from the dead sea is driven to Al Aqaba and is shipped from there in the whole world. We always heard them honking just before their wind carried away us. Several times it has blown even my cap from my head.
Then from the dead sea it went into the desert. While Nadine was irritated by the wilderness a little bit I really enjoyed the beauty of the nature hardly. I had to stop every few kilometres to take a few photos. Also the first night was something quite special. Shortly after sundown at once the wind calmed down. Although we camped only just hundred metres beside the street we heard just every now and then a car, but otherwise it was completely quiet. Every movement and therefore every noise disturbed this silence. From the dead sea to Aqaba this would have been with 190 km, actually, 3 normal days, perfect to arrive there for New Years Eve. Hardly to believe, but this time was the wind on our side, so that we stood after 2 days suddenly in the afternoon before the gates of Al Aqaba, the port of Jordan in the Red Sea.
Our first meeting with a camel caravan in the Wadi Araba. but the beduin didn´t want to be photographed together with his camels.
After exactly 7 months we arrived for New Years Eve at the Red Sea. To the celebration of the day we afforded a hotel room; first since the start of the trip. We spent the afternoon in the Internet cafe and with various purchasings. In the evening we strolled through the streets. By his meaning as a port and by many tourists is Aqaba, even after west-European meanings, a very rich and very clean town. Above all we especially liked the nicely made park in the main avenue and the bank promenade very. Together with the Jordanians we sauntered thus by the lukewarm "summer night". About 19:30 o'clock there were still more than 20 ° Celsius. Some rich Israelis (Elat the Israeli port in the Red Sea lies only a few kilometres away on the other side). Already about 20:30 o'clock they lighted impressive, professional great fireworks. Many Jordanians celebrated the turn of the year with a gigantic, honking Autocorso till the early morning hours.



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