Guest Post -- "best holiday ever"

Wednesday, 30 January 2013 06:39
I've just received this long review from Sarah Shreeves and family, spurred into action by our creation of a Facebook group called Saleh and Wadi Rum.  Their verdict:  "For those of you considering a trip to Jordan, I would urge you to book it - don't let unrest in the region put you off.   We had a really wonderful time and our well-travelled children have voted it best holiday ever."
"We travelled to Jordan from the UK for a two week holiday in April 2012 and had a fabulous time. Our group comprised my family of 2 adults and 3 children aged 7, 11 and 13 and our two adult friends.  I had arranged our own itinerary and booked hotels from the UK via email (all very easy) and Tudor had kindly put us in touch with Issa and Saleh. We had a few email conversations with Issa before we arrived and he met us all as planned at the airport.
From then on in Issa was our reliable driver and friend in Jordan. He gave us a credit-loaded mobile phone to use to call him if we wanted to change arrangements - we did and it was never a problem. If you are planning a trip I'd recommend getting in touch with Issa before you book hotels as he is able to organise everything and possibly get you better rates!
We stayed overnight in Amman and had a quick Issa-tour of the colourful downtown area and then moved on to spend the morning at Jerash. The ruins were spectacular and even our children were impressed. More fun for our kids though was the reception they got from the Jordanian children who were there for a school trip. They were approached over and over by smiling school kids asking 'hello, how are you?' or 'what is your name?' or simply saying 'Welcome to Jordan'. Can you imagine the equivalent happening in the UK?! Our new friends were absolutely lovely. And our children have never 'starred' in so many photos! Our tip would be to make sure you go all the way to the far end (not actually that far!) of the amphitheatre. We did and were the only ones in there.
From there we went to the Dead Sea for two nights. I probably don't need to say much other than it was all that we expected it to be. Buoyant - and great fun. Next on our itinerary was a day visiting Mount Nebo, Madaba and Karak en route to Wadi Musa passing through spectacular canyons on the way. All great and much as the guidebooks suggest. We spent the night at the Petra Moon Hotel in Wadi Musa (ignore any TripAdvisor reviews more than a year old as the hotel was completely rebuilt and completed inearly 2012). It was a great mid-priced hotel just stroll from the gates to Petra.
Petra was wonderful and all that we expected it to be. Very hot and dusty but a day that will last long in our memories. If you're feeling fit, be sure to go up to the Monastery. Far fewer people than at the Treasury and we managed to get photos with only our children (and the Monastery) in them.
To be honest, we had expected Petra to be the highlight of our holiday. But we had not anticipated the amazing 24 hours we spent with Saleh and his family. THIS was the highlight for all of our group - and we still talk about it often. We arrived at the gates to Wadi Rum to be greeted by Saleh and whisked off to his family home where we met his wife, mother, children and goats. We enjoyed bedouin tea and sweets whilst Saleh organised for his cousin to bring us some camels which we rode into the desert to start our adventure.
Saleh's brother Atiyek met us with his jeep for a tour of the amazing, breathtakingly spectacular Wadi Rum. We likened it to a martian landscape and it's unlike anything we'd seen before. Red sand and huge cliffs of rock. We bounced around in the back of the jeep and Atiyek made sure that we saw all the landmarks like Lawrence's house, rock bridges which we clambered up to, geological oddities and various flora and fauna. We had a picnic in the shade of a rock outcrop and our kids helped (?!) him to make a fire over which he brewed more bedouin tea.
He was an instant hit with the kids - 'crazy - in a good way' they said. He was the first to demo descending a sand dune on a snowboard 'Japanese-style' as he put it. No, us neither! We then spent a very hot but fun hour or so 'snowboarding' on the dune. Finally, we watched the sun set over the wadi in peace as our kids played with Saleh's lovely kids at the camp. The camp is not purpose-built for tourists but where Saleh and Atiyek's mother had actually lived prior to moving to the village so if you want comfortable authenticity then come here. The bedrooms each had 3 proper beds with lovely clean sheets and fluffy blankets and were divided by thick canvas 'walls'.
We had a delicious meal barbequed over the central fire and were treated to songs from a visiting neighbour. When the almost-silent generator was finally switched off we sat around the fire and looked up to millions of stars in the night sky. Magical. We wished we'd stayed longer than 1 night. Saleh and his family are wonderful people and I could not recommend a visit to their camp more highly. Oh, and it's AMAZINGLY good value!
We then moved on to Aqaba for a few days of sea/pool and from there, straight back to Amman for our flight home.
For those of you considering a trip to Jordan, I would urge you to book it - don't let unrest in the region put you off.  From the moment we arrived we absolutely loved Jordan. The sights were amazing and the people warm and welcoming and at no time did we feel anything less than 100% safe. We had a really wonderful time and our well-travelled children have voted it best holiday ever. For us, it was a perfect mix of child-frendly culture (Jerash, Petra and Wadi Rum) and traditional sun/beach holiday (Dead Sea and Aqaba)."