A few days in Jordan - Jul 5 - Jul 9, 2018
It was incredibly helpful to have kimkim to arrange this trip. It was in between heavy work travel and I needed something to do on personal time, but I did not have the bandwidth to arrange such a complicated trip by myself. Having an English-speaking driver as well as guides at Petra and Wadi Rum was enormously helpful. They were all flexible and resourceful. I was also pleased about how easy it was to customize elements of my trip, particularly choosing and using miles to book accommodations for some nights. My favorite accommodation was the La Locanda in Amman the way it served as a local cultural spot, and I enjoyed the campsite in Wadi Rum--it was a bit awkward because it was empty due to a tour group having their flight cancelled, but I enjoyed the spirit the of the staff despite that and being alone. The itinerary was packed and I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had more days and slowed down the pace, but what was put together was based on the parameters I had set.
I was glad to have visited Petra and walk around. My favorite part of the trip was Wadi Rum, as the landscape was so unusual and fascinating, and I enjoyed the feeling of being remote from the world. I was able to meet a friend in Amman and enjoyed just walking around a bit--I would have liked to see the citadel and possibly some of the museums. I think if one is going to Petra, there's not as much need to see Jerash, especially when it's hot, as well as some of the other minor stops--although I don't regret any of those. If I were to return to Jordan, I would probably opt for more of an adventure trip. The Dead Sea was a great place to recover, but I felt my time there was a bit too short to make myself feel comfortable in the large resort complex.
Mohammad was an excellent driver and we got along very well. There was slight confusion and I had been dropped off at the wrong hotel in Petra, although Mohammad was very quick in finding out what had happened and got me to the correct hotel. I would definitely have Mohammad be my driver again. We played a mix of Western and Arab music in the car, and occasionally stopped for tea or coffee. We had some good conversations and Mohammad was open about his life and thoughts. My guide in Wadi Rum was also named Mohammad and he was very accommodating when there were some French tourists who were a bit stranded in the desert with their vehicle and we assisted them.
Some things that could have been improved include having a better sense of the line item costs in the travel agency package, as that would have helped me figure out the right tips. I also personally prefer to avoid being around tourists when not at a popular tourist site. It would have been nice to stop by local restaurants in the various cities and towns, or get some street food. There was also a souvenir place around Mount Nebo that was fine to stop by, but I felt obligated to purchase something without really expecting it. I'm a bit of a minimalist traveler and don't like to add souvenirs unless I spot something at something like a boutique shop I spontaneously walk into. Also, it would have helped to get some guidance about the seasonal conditions in Jordan with the heat. It was hard even with looking up the weather in Jordan to understand how much hotter it was under the sun in midday. I'm quite happy that I was there during a low tourist season, but probably could have been more psychologically prepared for the heat.
Overall, I would use kimkim again and be more assertive about the details and my particular preferences as a traveler. I wasn't sure about how flexible I could be in these trips, but it seems like I could have customized the trip even more. I very much appreciated having someone around helping me and able to contact while I was there, so that I would not have to worry about being able to get from one place to another or smoothly returning to work travel at the end of my time in Jordan. I'm very grateful for all the work and service that went into this trip.