Former director of Jordan Tourism board David Symes shares his insider secrets, and where to get the best food in Jordan
Probably Jordan's best-kept secret is the nature reserves managed by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. Dana is the flagship reserve and has received the most attention but it is still little-visited by international tourists.
Camping in Dana, at the Rummana campsite, has to be one of the best off-the-beaten-track experiences in Jordan. This really is camping for softies as the tents have thick mattresses and lovely warm blankets. Relaxing at the campsite, drinking sweet mint tea brewed by the camp manager, is one of my favourite memories of being in Jordan.
Despite Petra being Jordan's biggest tourist attraction it is still possible to get off-the-beaten-track and escape the crowds. It's best to buy your ticket the night before so you can go in as soon as the sun comes up. This is when Petra is at its most magical with very few tourists and just the local Bedouin setting up their stalls.
Climbing to the High Place of Sacrifice is a well trodden path and the vast majority of people go up and come down the same route. Once you have visited the High Place don't follow the crowd, but come down the opposite side of the mountain and you will discover a part of Petra that very few people experience. It's a beautiful walk that passes a number of tombs including The Tomb of the Roman Soldier.
The best food in Jordan is definitely served in Haret Jdoudna restaurant in Madaba. I've probably eaten here 40 times and can't wait to go back. The atmosphere and food are always brilliant. I still remember my first visit to this restaurant on the 11 September 2001, sitting on the roof top terrace, surrounded by plants in old Olive oil cans and looking over the roof tops of Madaba.
The atmosphere was brilliant for a Thursday lunchtime as locals and some tourists tucked into traditional Middle Eastern food. I still feel cheated if I'm in Jordan and don't get the chance to eat here. It is a wasted opportunity if you are in Madaba and you don't eat here.
David Symes is the Director of Marketing at On the Go Tours. In a previous life he was Director of the Jordan Tourism Board in London and has visited Jordan over 40 times.
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