Friday, 30 October 2009

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Self Drive Holiday. October 2009. Manchester to Ajloun.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Travelling always gives me a reason to learn more about the places I visit. Prior to researching this holiday, my knowledge of Jordan was sketchy. I knew it was in the Middle East ! and had heard of King Hussein of Jordan. I also knew that Petra was in Jordan. As usual, there is so much that you don’t know, and so much to learn.Jordan is a relatively small country, it is just a little larger than Portugal with a population of under 6 Million.
We flew from Manchester to Amman via Dubai, arriving in Amman early in the morning.
We had hired a car with Argus Car hire and the rep met us at Amman Airport. We got the obligatory ‘Upgrade’ from the ‘Yaris’ that was booked to a Nissan type car, the main requirement was that it had Air Conditioning. I actually don’t know if they have small cars such as the Yaris in Jordan as we did not see any small cars on the road.
For the first two nights we had booked in to Ajloun Woodland Reserve. This is run by The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) , booking with then had been easy via the internet and there web page, I had also pre ordered an evening meal just in case it took us ages to find them. Ajloun is in the North of Jordan, we drove around Amman and through some of the loveliest countryside in Jordan. Ajloun Woodland Reserve was easy to find, very well sign posted from the town of Ajloun and despite a shopping stop at a very large, and very new Carrefour (!) to change money and get bottled water, we arrived at the reserve just after lunch time.
The staff gave us a very warm welcome and showed us to our ‘Bungalow’ = tent, this tent could sleep three. The accommodation had showers and toilet blocks, a nature shop, restaurant and viewing deck.
There were also five self contained ‘Cabins’ = bungalows next to the tents, I believe that these sleep 4 people. Our accommodation was basic, but very clean. The location was fantastic. We were 1200m above sea level. The woodlands consisted of small Oak, Pine, Carob and Pistachio trees. There are a few self guided walking trails and you can book to do a full days trail with a guide. According to the reserves literature there are wild animals such as roe Deer, but the only thing I heard was a very loud Owl on the roof of our tent!
That afternoon we drove into the town of Ajloun and visited Ajloun Castle.
This is located high on a hill and was built in 1184 by an Arab General in an attempt to limit the expansion of the Crusaders Kingdoms. The Castle has been partly restored and is in excellent condition, you enter it by crossing a wooden bridge over the dry moat. You are left to scramble around the towers, explore the ruins and enjoy the spectacular views of the countryside you get from the castle.
That evening we enjoyed the per ordered meal, and had an early night. The tents were very cool, but we had plenty of blankets. The only sound we heard, other than the Owl, were the calls to prayer echoing down the valley at dawn.

September 2009 Air Emirates Rota.

August into September 2009 ended with 2 weeks leave, spent cruising the waters of the Caribbean on The Liberty of the Seas.
Hurricane Bill threatened to disrupt things, but headed Northwards and the holidays plans went ahead smoothly. Then it was back to Dubai and back to work; DXB- Lagos-DXB. DXB- Istanbul-DXB x2 (turnaround). DXB-Amman-DXB (turnaround). DXB-Dacha-DXB (turnaround). DXB-Manchester-DXB. DXB-Frankfurt-DXB. DXB-Tehran-DXB (turnaround) Then a 5 day trip DXB-Singapore-Melbourne-Singapore-DXB.Holiday at the end of that lot, a distant memory!!