Take a look as the team explore Jordan with some of the Dead Sea’s local Bedouin and farming communities.
Waking up at the Dead Sea on our second morning, a destination known for its spa scene and powers of holistic relaxation, one might expect a little R&R but sadly this wasn’t to be the case – we were up bright and early for a 40km bike ride. That’s right, just a casual 40km first thing in the morning. Sitting overlooking the lush oasis of the Movenpick Dead Sea Resort, we tucked into a hearty breakfast to keep us going for the day ahead.
Exploring the Dead Sea
Leaving behind the shores of the Dead Sea, we drove several hundred meters, treated along the way to some spellbinding views of the Nebu Mountain range and the basin of the river Jordan, a site of epic biblical proportion which literally took our breath away – nothing to do with the cycling, of course. Unbeknown to us, Jordan is regarded as a cyclist’s dream, with world-famous rides like the Red to Dead, which traces an incredible route through the country’s diverse and spectacular landscapes from the Red Sea to Dead Sea. Once we arrived on the outskirts of the city of Madaba, we were kitted out with helmets and bikes and got ready to hit the road. Off to a steady start, we cruised inland through narrow villages and where the view morphed from arid desert landscapes to lush rolling fields. Towards the end of the ride (when we began to lag just a little) we rode past the cavernous Eva’son Ma Canyon to finally reach our destination – the historical site of Mukawir. And if the bike ride hadn’t wiped us out completely, the hike up the fortified hilltop of Herodus Antipas certainly did.
Aside from the biblical references – this is supposedly the site of John the Baptist’s beheading – nothing could prepare us for the sweeping panoramic views, which on a clear day even offered sightings of the lights of Jerusalem. Being in Jordan was bringing new meaning to the saying ‘silence is golden’: sitting overlooking a place with so much historical and biblical presence can be a pretty moving experience. When (not if) you go, take a few minutes, find a rock to perch on, close your eyes and just listen to the blissful sounds of nothing. You’ll see what we mean.
Dining with the locals
Back on the road and we were swapping four wheels for two (cue a deep sigh of relief) we headed for a much-needed and well-earned lunch with a local Bedouin family, where we dined Jordanian style – namely using just our hands – on mansaf, the eagerly-awaited national dish. Feeling a little like cavemen but soon banishing our built-in Britishness, we got stuck into rice and chicken laden with a steaming aromatic broth, served with very thin bread called shrak or markook. It’s extremely possible that this is the best dish we’ve ever eaten.
Once we bid farewell to our hosts, we drove to a nearby town back to near the Dead Sea to see a different side of Jordan. We met Rabee Zureikat, founder of the Zikra Initiative, which helps the women of poorer local farming communities through exchange tourism. What Rabee is doing in this region is truly inspiring – allowing visitors to spend time with these women, learning their crafts like bread-making and basket-weaving, is an unforgettable experience for anyone. The women and children were some of the warmest, most welcoming people, and knowing that what we were doing was making a difference to their lives was a very special experience for us and a fulfilling way to top off our second day in Jordan.