To travel from Amman/Madaba to Petra, travellers have the option to drive on the Desert Highway or the King’s Highway in Jordan. I would recommend the King’s Highway because this scenic route follows a zigzag course that cuts through several deep valleys, offering scenic views of rugged terrains and steep canyons. The Desert Highway, on the other hand, is a straight dual highway which is a faster route to Petra but the journey can be monotonous.
The journey on the King’s Highway takes a little longer time but, after driving past rolling arid fields and through winding roads up and down the highway, eventually, travellers would be rewarded with views like this:
Wadi Mujib Viewpoint
Dubbed as the Grand Canyon of Jordan, the deep vast valleys, mountain cliffs and gorges look glorious and spectacular from above. Many travellers often stop at this viewpoint to admire the breathtaking and majestic landscape.
An oasis in the middle of the desert and gigantic mountains.
The Wadi Mujib territory is part of the protected Mujib Biosphere Reserve where travellers can hike and abseil through the canyons.
Another stop en route to Petra is a city called Kerak known for its crusader castle, the Kerak Castle. Kerak Castle is one of the three largest crusader castles in the region, the other two are in Syria. The formidable castle was built in the 12th century; a deep (but now dry) moat separates the citadel and the town centre.
Kerak Castle has a savage history involving the barbaric French noble Reynald de Castillon and the Sultan of Egypt and Syria, Saladin (Salah ad-Din in Arabic). Reynald was notorious for his violence and brutality, betrayals, and attacks on caravans of worshippers bound for Medinah and Mecca.
The infamous Battle of Hattin between Reynald and Saladin was triggered when Reynald struck a caravan in violation of a truce which made Saladin to launch a campaign to attack Kerak and to expel the Crusaders. Saladin was noted for his restraint towards his enemies but he personally beheaded Reynald himself.
Kerak Castle continued to hold out for more than a year but the Crusaders living in the castle were running out of resources so much so that they exchanged their wives and children for food and resorted to eating dogs and horses!! Eventually Kerak Castle surrendered to Saladin and the castle was in the hands of the Muslims ever since.
Now Kerak Castle is a maze of corridors, chambers, passageways and dungeons. Visitors should take precautions and note the entrance and exit points when they explore dark rooms and underground dungeons. Some of the walking paths on the outside are perched very close to the edge of the cliff, thus visitors should be careful when taking photos (especially selfies!)
Kerak town is not well equipped for overnight stays, hence it’s best for travellers to break their journey in Kerak to visit the castle and have a quick bite before moving on to better destinations such as Madaba in the north or Petra in the south.
This was part of my 5-day private tour of Petra & Wadi Rum which was generously discounted by Jordan Select Tours. Opinions expressed in this post, if any, as always, are my own.
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