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ABOUT US: we've been working and living in Jordan since the mid 1990s and we made Jordan our home for many of those years.
The people are warm and friendly, the weather is wonderful and the countryside breath-taking. Share our experience, and be at home in Jordan, even on holiday .
 
BOOK NOW: 
AQABA    DEAD SEA    WADI RUM
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JORDAN TRIP ADVISOR -- ISSA DARAWISH

IssaIssa has a degree in business studies, his father is a professor of Arabic and he's been in the travel business all his working life.
Issa will organise the best deals for hotels, car hire (with free local SIM card), guided tours, rented apartments, flights, taxis and tickets. He will take all the tension from your holiday arrangements, solve all your problems and truly make you feel at home in Jordan.  

To contact Issa phone 00 962 797 583 582; CLICK here for EMAIL -- darawish02 at hotmail dot com  (NB text/sms if no email reply within a day or so) 

WHEN IN JORDAN YOU MUST VISIT:
  
*    Ras al Naqb -- stunning views of the blood red sands of Southern Jordan and fascinating links with the Hijaz railway
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*     the doctor!!  the dentist!!  or an optician!
seriously, the standards are very high and the costs are much, much less than Europe! again email me for details -- see below
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*    Mukawir, where John the Baptist was beheaded, after Salome's 'erotic' dance
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*    Wild Jordan cafe, off Rainbow Street, stunning eco-friendly design and food
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*    Ain Ghazal -- one of the world's oldest Neolithic settlements, where the oldest human statues were found, NE of Amman
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*   Tell us your special places in Jordan!
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Our Dead Sea apartments are strategically located among the Sacred Destinations of Jordan, a short drive from Amman airport -- it's the perfect base for exploring Northern Jordan and enjoying the healthiest bathing and sun-bathing on the planet!
 
Why not stay in the lowest luxury rented aparment in the world? COME FOR A LONG WEEKEND!! -- leave London at lunchtime on Thursday and get back around midnight Sunday -- two nights in a private apartment at the Dead Sea; one night in a luxury bedouin tent in Wadi Rum; SPECIAL OFFERS
 
VISIT JORDAN!!    have a look at this great tourist web-site with lots of information and background on Jordan! then come back here and book your holiday apartment! 

HIJAZ RAILWAY NEWS we have ambitious plans for launching a weekly service from Amman to Ma'an and then, on the new branch, to Wadi Rum and Aqaba. Discussions have begun, very slowly     . . .contact us if you can offer support or want information

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Post your questions and comments here.  We will try to respond within a few days.  We welcome debate and feedback

NB to deter spammers we sometimes use 'at' not @ in the emails on this page; you will need to replace 'at' with @

Jordan is the perfect holiday destination, close to Europe but a world away. Aqaba, Jerash, Mount Nebo and the promised land, Wadi Rum, the Hijaz railway, the Baptism site, the Dead Sea, Wadi Dana, serious desert, Amman, Petra. A land of spectacular Roman, bibilical and archeological remains; the cradle of our civilization, home to eco-tourism, full of romantic and evocative place-names and more must-visit locations per square-kilometer than anywhere else in the world. Home in on Jordan!
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A far bigger attraction than Petra!

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Seriously. Imagine if the Hijaz Railway was running a steam-engine service twice a week between Amman and Aqaba via Wadi Rum. This is not a pipe-dream. The trains could start within weeks!

The track is there anyway and used for occasional goods trains. There are six working steam locomotives and newly fitted out carriages, as well as the original that took King Abdullah I from Ma'an to Amman, at the birth of the state of Jordan. They are just sitting in the sidings at Marka, in NE Amman.

We have tried to jump start the railway into service. We don't seem to have the muscle!! Jordan's Hijaz Railway stays still and silent, despite its massive tourist potential and incredible history.

The Hijaz railway has a central role in the Great Arab Revolt and the story of Lawrence of Arabia. Built to link Damascus with the holy places of the Hijaz (Medina and Mecca), it was opened in 1908 and by 1914 was carrying 300,000 pilgrims a year.

During the First World War, the railway was a vital supply route for Turkish troops defending the Ottoman Empire. Arab irregulars, fighting for independence, ambushed the convoys, sabotaged the track and drove the Turks from their land. Their exploits are well documented in Lawrence's 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom'.

Until recently it was still possible twice a week to take the train north from Amman to the centre of Damascus (my wife's parents did it a few years ago). Political realities make it impossible now.

To the south the old line still runs beyond Ma'an and towards the Saudi border. Although the track has been removed on the final stretch, you can walk along the route and explore the decaying stations down to Mudawwara. For more history see this lovely site.        

However, all is not lost. A new line was opened up in 1975, that has the poential to be even more spectacular than the original. It was built to take phosphates from the mines in central Jordan for export.

The new track cuts through stunning, stark countryside to mythical Wadi Rum and the luxury resort of Aqaba on the Red Sea. However this section is only used for goods trains, which are seen almost daily trudging across the plains and through the gorge down to the sea; not a tourist or passenger in sight.

I'm happy to discuss in private the meetings we've had and the ideas we've explored. But as so often in Jordan, there's lots of interest and engagement but not much courage or action. It took us eighteen months to realise it was futile. We even wrote the copy for their nice little brochure.

Perhaps, if you have an obsessive vision, like me, of wanting to see the trains running regularly through the deserts of central Jordan, down to Aqaba, full of passengers, it would be worth trying again. We need expertise, enthusiasm and a sizeable investment to get it started.

Or if you have thoughts and ideas then you could comment here. Or send this link to anyone you know who loves steam trains. I have a more practical vision too, of hundreds of steam enthusiasts converging from Europe to help to get the service running; and hundreds of Jordanian former soldiers, repairing and maintaining the stations on the route. . .

But enough! Nothing's going to happen until we can find a way to overcome the disabling inertia that seems to keep the rolling stock of the Hijaz Railway confined to the station at Marka, with just the occasional brief foray as far at the airport.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it reaches me.

By the way, there are at least five ways of spelling Hijaz (transliterating from the Arabic); as far as I can see they are all acceptable:

Hijaz, Hijjaz, Hejaz, Hedjaz, Hijazi

they all apply to the coastal region of the western Arabian Peninsula bordering on the Red Sea; includes both Mecca and Medina.

Comments:

 

Comments   

 
0 #2 Amica 2013-06-13 08:20
I always wondered why aren't they running the trains! My grandparents' house is in Mafraq and fairly close to the tracks that went through to Damascus, it's been kind if a dream for me to actually board one and go there using a train. Sadly politically speaking this won't happen for a while, yet again using the tracks to get to aqaba and wadi rum would be much more fun and a lot easier if you ask me. It's so great of you to stir things up!
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0 #1 Rob Stevens 2013-06-13 06:46
Great blog / site... I love it, and have just talked about it on the Radio 102.5 Beat FM
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SO YOU'VE BEEN TO PETRA, AQABA AND WADI RUM AND YOU THINK YOU'VE 'DONE' JORDAN.
WE WANT TO PERSUADE YOU TO COME BACK!
 
EASYJET makes a second visit very affordable and now we've teamed up with Jordan's leading environmental organisation, RSCN, to offer wonderful value, luxury accommodation, off-the-beaten track in wild Jordan!
 
BEYOND JORDAN'S GOLDEN TRIANGLE OF WORLD-CLASS DESTINATIONS (AQABA, RUM AND PETRA), IS LAYER UPON LAYER OF HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, RELIGION AND CULTURE UNDERPINNING EVERYTHING WE KNOW AND UNDERSTAND.
JORDAN'S FERTILE TRIANGLE, the "hilly flanks", above the Dead Sea, where, for the first time ever, human beings separated themselves from other creatures!! Here they ceased hunting and gathering; 9,000 years ago these pre-pottery neolithic settlers cultivated the land and created for themselves the time and space to build up surpluses, to specialise, make art, plan, organise and think.  
This happened here in Jordan, at Ain Ghazzal and Al Beidha.
 
JORDAN'S GREEN TRIANGLE, the network of oases criss-crossing the desert and desert-margins that supported and protected the bedouins and seasonal-herders.  Azraq in the East is a true historical oasis; Ajloun is set among the scrubby Mediterranean-type forest of the North; and Dana, suspended on the edge of the escarpment that plunges down through three or four climate zones to the valley way below.
 
JORDAN-VALLEY TRIANGLE, with the DEAD SEA at its heart, stretching from Umm Qais on the border with Syria to Aqaba on the Red Sea and inland, through Mount Nebo and Umm Ar Rassas, containing Mukawir and Bethany beyond the Jordan, where Jesus was baptised.  Key sites for the Abrahamic religions and the whole region is scattered with hundreds of remains of the early Christians, the Romans, the birth of Islam and the crusader battles.
 
WE CAN ORGANISE seven-nights for two people, with breakfast, for around 500!
that's 70 per night, total price, for a couple.
You start off with two-nights at the Dead Sea (less than an hour from the airport), then choose to visit any or all of:
the Azraq Oasis, the forests of Ajloun, the Dana biosphere, or Saleh's bedouin camp in Wadi Rum.
 
Contact Issa (in the left-hand column) for good-value car-hire, with free local SIM card and 24-hour English-language support.
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EASYJET IS OPENING UP JORDAN FOR INDEPENDENT TRAVELLERS.
 
Book your apartment at the Dead Sea and Aqaba by emailing us:  <tudor  at  jemstone.net>

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