Why you must drive in Jordan

We just got back from a quick trip to Florence, Siena, and Pisa and in going from one city to the other we were able to get a glimpse of the famed Tuscan countryside.  The green rolling hills were picture-perfect and we’re now planning a return trip that will be focused solely on the smaller towns of Tuscany.

Italy’s countryside will easily make it to most people’s top 10 scenic drives in the world.  The French and English countryside are also as popular, and maybe even some spots in California and New Hampshire.

But how about a scenic drive in Jordan?
I confess would not believe it could make the list had I not seen it for myself.

For three days, my husband and I drove over 800km around Jordan and experienced what could easily be the most beautiful drive of our life.  From Madaba to Petra and from Petra to the Dead Sea, we saw a magnificent landscape of towering red rocks, mountains made of white sand, and valleys that seem to glow bright orange from the rays of the setting sun.

Taking the King’s Highway is the best decision we’ve made.

It took us through winding mountain roads that ran next to gigantic walls of rock, the view of the calm, hazy waters of the Dead Sea, as well as cliffs that gave the most beautiful panoramic vistas of the Jordanian desert.

If you ever plan a trip to Jordan, don’t think twice, rent a car, and drive the King’s highway.  Here’s a glimpse of what you could potentially see:

A few practical things to note for your drive:

  1. Do not expect street lights.  Majority of the 450km stretch that we drove was not lit at all and we had to rely on the car’s high beams and road reflectors when available.
  2. Beware of trucks especially in the stretch from Petra to Aqaba.  There were probably five 18-wheeler trucks for every compact car in the Desert Highway.  Some of them are going so fast that our car shook as they whizzed by.  Some of them are so old and rickety and going so slow.  Some are covered in neon lights—neon lightsthat will strain your eyes as you pass them.  Some are carrying such heavy load that the entire truck is running at an angle.  They do not make for a comfortable drive.  From the Desert Highway, we lost the trucks north of Ma-an; most if not all exited towards Highway 5 which leads to Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
  3. Read the road signs.  Yes, your GPS may be updated, but with construction work and road closures, you can end up on a road to Saudi Arabia or Iraq.
  4. Watch out for speed bumps and speed control patrols.  The police cars are positioned throughout the highways.  I can imagine that getting pulled over by one would not be such a pleasant experience.  Watch out also for speed bumps; most of them are not sign-posted or painted so a lot of cars make a sudden stop just before them.  That’s a surefire accident if you’re right behind and not paying attention.  The speed bumps almost always come in pairs.  I highly recommend that you keep an eye out for them because if you hit them when you’re going at 100kph, you could cause damage to your car.
  5. Don’t get distracted by the neon signs.  The Desert Highway is peppered with tea shops by the roadside.  You’ll recognize them by their big, flashing, neon lights.  Try not to get distracted by them when driving at night and keep your focus on the road.

Driving at night in the pitch black roads of Jordan is not exactly stress-free.  However, during the day, you can expect nothing short of an enjoyable, beautiful drive with spectacular views such as these:






4 thoughts

  1. Glad you liked it! Watching it over and over makes me smile like I was in the passenger seat again driving along the King’s Highway. :) The song is Tu Kaun Hai by Lucky Ali. It’s in Hindi; look into the lyrics and I’m sure you’ll love the message.

    • The only times we felt unsafe on the road is when we were driving at night. Big swaths of the highways in Jordan are not lit. A truck without break lights will suddenly pop out of nowhere. There are no signs for speed bumps. All of these, of course, I associate with poor funding in roads and infrastructure in Jordan. But if you travel in daylight, I think you’ll be absolutely fine. :)

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