Crossing the Border
This was the moment of truth #1 – the main reason we went to Eilat. Would all my research get us across the border to Jordan? Yesterday, the Israel tourism office told us they didn’t think we would get across the border unless we went with a tour group. The tourism office put us in touch with the most affordable tour operator, who could get us to Petra and back for $1,200 USD each. We stuck to our plan and decided to walk across on our own. If we didn’t make it through we would stay and have fun in Eilat. It could be worse.
How can I describe crossing the border? Bureaucratic is the best word to describe the process. There was a step by step document, but really that was a guideline. It was a lot of going from door to door to window to office and back around. All the staff are friendly and helpful. The best approach is patience, go with the flow, and keep a sense a humour. When we got to the last gate, the guard didn’t want to let us through. He couldn’t believe we weren’t with a tour group. After the first set of security guards, who took a liking to my daughter, had a conversation with him, we were let through.
It cost 60 Dinar each to enter. The office that collects the money (cash only) said that if we stayed 2 nights in Jordan we would get all that money back.
Onwards to Petra
Moment of Truth #2 – Would there really be taxis waiting for random boarder crossing walk-throughs? Would these taxis take you to Petra? Yes! and Yes! The sign said it would cost 49 Dinar. We paid 55 Dinar, which I believe was fair because there were 3 of us plus luggage.
Tip: Our taxi driver told us that if we proved we were staying two days in Jordan they would charge us less for our entry into Petra. This was true. It is on you to ask and present the proof.
To get to Petra you travel through the Wadi Rum desert. This a fascinating landscape to say the least. It is a place I would love to return to for an extended period of time. I would definitely camp Bedouin style.
When we arrived at the Marriott, we were told we didn’t have a room, but they had arranged for a room for us at the Movenpick at not extra cost. Moment of Truth #3 – The Marriott was our splurge hotel. I actually wanted to stay at the Movenpick hotel, but couldn’t justify it. To make up for the inconvenience the Marriott picked us up for dinner and let us dine free of charge. It was an awesome buffet of local cuisine. As it turned out, this was our daughter’s introduction to buffet style eating, a concept she discovered she loved.
Further good news for us. It turned out that the Movenpick was directly across from Petra Park. It was a beautiful hotel with a modern Arab feel. After we settled in, we crossed the street to the ticket area. As per our driver’s suggestion we showed the ticket sales clerk that we were staying overnight. This reduced our entry fee of 90 Dinar to 50 Dinar.
Read about our visit to Petra Park here.
The Return Trip
It was a rainy night and day in Petra. We were thankful for having visited the park the day before. We had a leisurely morning in the Movenpick style breakfast room and shopping the hotel stores.
Our Bedouin driver, who we met the day before, picked us at 10:00 am. On the way to the border, he told us of the Bedouin camping tours he runs with his Dad in Wadi Rum and Petra. He also told us that camel milk has great value, apparently it’s better than Viagara.
After passing through the open mountain meadows, desert and colour striped mountains, we arrived at the border around 11:30 am. It was a good thing too, because the Israeli side was closing at 2:00 pm for a holiday. Israel and Jordon don’t share holidays and holidays in Israel are sometimes celebrated on different days within the country. The guards greeted us with familiarity and a hint of amazement that exclaimed “You did it! You somehow managed to figure this out and make it back before we closed!”
The return system seemed to go faster. There was a re-entry tax of 10 Shequals per person (I believe, I’m remembering correctly). The Jordanian officials had me going back and forth a little. In the end 60 Dinar were returned. While I was going through the lines, the Jordanian guards who bonded with our daughter the day before came out to visit with her and even drew her a picture.
As we crossed no man’s land with luggage in tow towards the final entry gate, I felt a sense of achievement in managing our way in and out.
The Israeli guard checked us and then offered to call a taxi for us. We were back.