|Subject: Re: Jordan, Part 2|
I can certainly understand your reluctance to be herded, especially since it's so expensive for you to get to the Middle East. You'll want to make the most of your dollars!
A good place to begin planning, however, can be looking at an organized tour, to get an idea of the country's highlights. Try http://www.yallatours.com for itineraries and short descriptions of the best of Jordan. The Jordan Ministry of Tourism has a great site for North America which is probably accessible from NZ &has information on accommodations, transport and travel planning ideas. http://www.seejordan.org
Do you read before you go? My short reading list for Jordan:
Crusades through Arab Eyes. Amin Alouf Concise History of the Crusades. T. Madden King Hussein: A Life on the Edge. R. Dallas Hussein of Jordan: Searching for a Just and Lasting Peace. J. Lunt (out of print, but maybe you'd find it used as I did) Petra: Lost City of the Ancient World. C. Auge &J Dentzer Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Lawrence
Rough Guide to Jordan, a guide book. I found it to be about 95% accurate in observations, prices &suggestions.
Flying into Amman &renting a car makes sense. Highways are excellent, traffic fairly light, signage clear. I would see no problem. 12 days could be perfect for some dawdling, meandering &enjoying. Jordan is fairly rectangular, Amman in the upper quadrant, &a good loop would take you north, then working your way south down to the gulf &returning north on the opposite side of the country back to Amman. The highway (I can't remember, is it the King's Highway?) from Amman down to the gulf is the only exception to uncrowded roads; it's a main provision route &busy with heavy trucking.
Good archeological sites are everywhere: Jerash, Pella, Um Qais, Petra, Mt Nebo, the desert forts, and Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan. I'd have spent more time in Madaba &chasing down mosaics.
Hiking in the Wadi Rum area is spectacular &the guesthouse there has info on guided rambles as well as maps for independent walking. There are tents for rent near the guesthouse, but they looked pretty uninviting in the blowing sand. The trails at Petra are myriad &it's probably worth it to hire a guide to get back into the canyons without getting lost. The guides hang out near the Forum at the foot of the main canyon.
I'm talking myself into a return journey here!
Hope this helps,
Gail Eugene OR