King’s Highway Jordan: Wadi Mujib and Kerak Castle

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:

kings highway jordan

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.

kings highway jordan wadi mujib viewpoint

Dam Al-Mujib

An oasis in the middle of the desert and gigantic mountains.

kings highway jordan dam al mujib

The Wadi Mujib territory is part of the protected Mujib Biosphere Reserve where travellers can hike and abseil through the canyons.

Kerak Castle

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.

kings highway jordan kerak castle

kings highway jordan kerak crusader castle

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!)

kings highway jordan kerak castle passageway

Me and a group of Jordanian university students
Me and a group of Jordanian university students

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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8 comments

    1. You can rent a car to drive around Jordan – very easy. My friend had done this 3 times 🙂 You can try to camp overnight in Kerak Castle – do write a post on the experience and share, lol!

  1. Kat, the new site looks splendid! Does that mean I will not see your posts on reader? 🙁 Great write-up and loved the shot with the Jordanian University Students.

    1. Hi Cheryl! Yes, you will not see my posts on WP reader…I gather my posts haven’t appeared on the reader for about a month, right? I have switched hosts from WP to a local host though am still using the WP template to create my posts. Do subscribe to my website via email…thanks Cheryl. It’s great to hear from you again 🙂

  2. Grand Canyon indeed! The King’s Highway is beautiful! Thanks for sharing, Kat.
    Interesting bit of history as well with the Kerak Castle…and knowing me, I wouldn’t dare venture into any of the dungeons & dark rooms. Did you?
    You’ve captured some great pics as well…Have a great weekend!

    1. Initially I wanted to explore the castle myself but changed my mind when my guide kept asking me if I was quite certain to go by myself. True enough, I was glad that he came with me because some of the rooms or passageways are dark, the pathways are not exactly smooth, lots of loose rocks and pebbles, and at some point, I wasn’t sure where was the entrance or exit!

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