One of the glories of Jordan is that it's not big! And yet there is so much to see and experience. Five hours or so take you from the Golan Heights to the Gulf of Aqaba or from Israel to Iraq.
There's one small plot with four bio-geographical zones (Wadi Dana, see below); you have the lowest point on earth; the northernmost tropical coral; the first place humankind ever settled; and two of the oldest churches in the world! All this in an area just over half the size of Florida.
You can throw snowballs in Amman and an hour later be floating in the winter warmth of the Dead Sea. This post emphasises Jordan's accessibility by listing all the main times and distances. Just ask and we'll add more.
This is a practical post, like the ones about driving and Petra. We're often asked how long it takes from Aqaba to Wadi Rum for example, or Madaba to Asraq (less often!), or the Dead Sea to Petra, via Wadi Araba. From now on we can just refer you to this page!!
By way of introduction, Jordan has three main north-south roads from Amman to Aqaba. The most direct is the Desert Highway, open, a bit soul-less and used by big lorries. From Aqaba the Wadi Araba route travels along the northern extension of the East African Rift Valley and then by the Dead Sea, with a long steep climb up to Amman; it can be a bit bleak and deserted. The loveliest drive is along the ancient Kings Highway but it's slow and windy and by turns spectacular and frustrating.
There are a couple of roads north of Amman to Irbid and the Syrian border; a road from there all the way east to Iraq, and this is joined by roads from Amman, and Aqaba via Ma'an; and from Ma'an you can access Saudi Arabia. And that's about it. There are lots of tiny roads and tracks; they're not on the maps, but that's another story!
SOME TIMES AND APPROXIMATE DISTANCES:
AMMAN - AQABA around four hours
AMMAN - WADI RUM less than four hours
AMMAN - AMMAN AIRPORT forty minutes
AMMAN - DEAD SEA less than an hour (60 kms)
AMMAN - IRBID more than one hour (90 kms)
AMMAN - JERASH less than one hour (60 kms)
AMMAN PETRA three hours (240 kms)
AMMAN TO WADI DANA around three hours
AQABA - WADI RUM less than an hour (70 kms)
AQABA - PETRA one and a half hours (140 kms)
DEAD SEA - AQABA three and a half hours (270 kms)
DEAD SEA - JERASH one hour (100 kms)
DEAD SEA - PETRA under three hours (back route)
(you take the Wadi Araba road south for an hour and a half; after an abandoned check-point you turn left towards Wadi Feinan, then after five or so kms you turn right towards Namleh; stay on that road and it takes you right up to the plateau, Little Petra and then Petra. Probably the most spectacular road in Jordan; but not for the faint-hearted; not dangerous but challenging!)
DEAD SEA - WADI RUM four hours (360 kms)
(follow the road above to Petra, then take the Kings Highway for half an hour to the stunning Ras al Naqb on the dual-carriage Desert Highway, down the hairpin escarpment to the plains below and follow the signs, turning left to Wadi Rum; the Visitors' Centre is about 20 minutes further.)
MADABA - AQABA four hours (340 kms)
WADI RUM - PETRA under one and a half hours (130 kms)
My plan is to add some more detail and comments to these journeys over the next few months, so it is worth re-visiting this post from time to time.
Please comment and offer your own opinions about times and nice routes etc.
Finally a note about the Dana Biosphere Reserve; it drops from an altitude of 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) on the Qadisiyah plateau to the low-lying desert area of Wadi Araba. Dana is the only nature reserve in Jordan that crosses four bio-geographical zones; Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, Saharo-Arabian, and Sudanian penetration