In January 2016 at last-minute notice, I booked a trip with Intrepid Travel tour to Egypt and Jordan via Dubai. For me, travel is about gaps that crop up in my calendar rather than setting aside a set time say in six months on specific dates. I work in outdoor education so there are peaks and troughs that often mean I travel in high season. However, I’ve been fortunate to travel with Intrepid on some trips out of peak season and they’ve been fabulous.
Whether a trip is Basic, Original or Comfort doesn’t really matter. What does matter are the people I’ll be travelling with, sites I’ll see, the guide that leads the group and if there is time to meet the locals. As 60% of Intrepid travellers are solo, knew I wouldn’t be the only one winging it on my own.
The 10 day Original Road to Jordan has a maximum of 10 people and will always go ahead even if there is only one customer. I know this because my guide had done this only six months previously. The trip runs at a moderate and easy-going pace that has built in plenty of free time for those that want to do ‘their own thing’. This is nothing like a Contiki Tour, Top Deck, Cosmos, Globus Journeys or Trafalgar trip. Intrepid are more down-to-earth, grass roots travelling with flexibility to work with the group, the location and the needs of everyone.
On this trip my fellow travellers were:
- Gabe – from NZ/Fiji/Australia, 35yo lawyer, travelled to 170 countries (ticked off his last 7th Wonder of the World on this trip)
- Nathan – from Australia, 24yo lighting engineer, travelled to 74 countries
- Simon – from England, 45yo living in Crete, travelled to 75 countries (ticked off his last 7th Wonder of the World on this trip)
- Paula – from England, 45yo living in Crete, travelled to 55 countries (ticked off her last 7th Wonder of the World on this trip)
I asked them all why they were on a ‘tour’ as they were so well travelled and know how to get around the world on their own. They all agreed that there are times when a tour will cover things you don’t have time to organise yourself and the bonus of travelling with like-minded people. Like me, the seize opportunities to travel as they arise and try to do as much as possible in that time. Intrepid helps achieve that. As a group we were all easy going, respectful of others and had a natural curiosity of the world. We could spend time on our own and there was no fuss from anyone. I took this video in Petra because I split away from my four travelling companions to ‘listen’ to Petra for an hour or so.
Accommodation: Road to Jordan trip
The breadth of our groups travelling experience along with our thirst for discovering something new and interesting meant we had a unique experience exploring parts of Egypt and Jordan that might not be in a regular guide book. We were fortunate to have guides in both countries that ‘went with the flow’ of their five tourists who flexed their travel muscles and delved into each countries daily lives.
As always I brought my own lightweight shopping bag so I didn’t have to use any plastic ones while I was away.
Intrepid gave me a cloth bag that came in useful when I’d go to a supermarket to buy some snacks OR when I went looking for sea glass in Dahab. This may seem cheesey to some but for me it shows the integrity of a company that encourages its patrons to think about the impact they have when they travel. Our guides also offered to buy a large container of water that we could decant into our water bottles if we wanted. Both guides – from different countries, demonstrated the values of Intrepid by briefing their patrons on how to be respectful to people, to the culture, to the environment and to others on the trip. We were encouraged to buy local produce, use trains or buses to see some sites, educate us about not buying souvenirs from young children, supporting local artists and being respectful of women, children, animals and the environment. A company is only as good as its staff and Intrepid have the formula right on recruiting and maintaining a high standard of educated, knowledgeable guides.
On an Original trip, the guide handles all group check ins at airports, ensures luggage is collected and placed on transport, assists in checking into hotels, takes you to ”off the beaten track’ attractions, offers a choice of dining options to suit everyone’s needs, gives ideas on what to do on your down time, takes you to local establishments for shopping, dining, engaging in say diving and more. Some even take you to their home so you can meet their family.
Travelling around Egypt and then Jordan was a dichotomy of worlds from ancient to modern, Muslin and Christian, with Arabic and western influences. There is much to see in these countries and although only ten days, I felt I explored the essence of them both.
Now for some nuts and bolts about the Road to Jordan trip.
The following was provided:
- 8 breakfasts
- 1 dinner
Breakfasts are simple but nutritious. Sometimes you’ll even get a packed lunch if there is an early morning departure. The guide will recommend places for lunch and dinner.
- Beach hut (1 night – however, this didn’t happen on my trip as inclement weather washed out the campsite), Desert camp (1 night in Wadi Rum)), Hotel (7 nights)
See photos above for room and hotels on this trip.
Accommodation was around 2 – 3 star although on one occasion we stayed in a 4 star resort as our beach camp was washed out from heavy rain. However, this 220 room hotel was empty due to the drop in tourism so the entire hotel opened up for – 6 people! All hotels were clean, adequate bedding, mostly quiet (if you call the crashing waves of the Red Sea noisy). WiFi was usually only available in the foyer. The hotels are located central to the action, public transport and easy to find. All rooms had their own ensuite with shower, toilet and hand basin. Doors had locks. TV’s were old and shows mostly in Arabic. Pools were available at some hotels but I was travelling in winter so they weren’t looking their best.
If you’re sharing a room with someone of the same sex, there isn’t an extra charge. I was fortunate to have my own room with no extra cost because there was a couple (who shared) and two guys (who shared) which was a big bonus for me as I like my own company. Although, in Burma I shared with a lovely traveller, Jillian. As always, a single supplement is available for those that like to sleep in, who snore, who are night owls or whatever it is that makes you want to be on your own.
- Van, Plane, Ferry, Jeep with options of donkey rides, horse & cart and taxis
I knew we were going to use a minibus, plane, 4wd jeep and ferry, but jumping on the subway in Cairo or into the back of a ute from the entrance to Petra to our hotel 2kms up the hill added to the excitement and spontaneity of the trip. In my free time I would catch a ride with a local which adds to the authenticity of the experience as you ‘get up close and personal’ with everyday life. Here is a video of my drive to the airport to pick up my luggage after it was lost. Peak hour is…..interesting!
- Blue Hole – Dahab – Snorkelling
- Wadi Rum safari entrance and permit
- 4wd jeep safari and desert camp
- Guided tour of Petra
- Dead Sea
- Kerak Castle
As with most trips, I organise a transfer from the airport at the start and end of a trip which my travel agent took care of for a minimal fee. It’s always nice to arrive in an unknown country and have someone meet you and introduce you to their country. However, I do acknowledge it can be cheaper to make your own arrangements upon arrival.
Travel Insurance was with Covermore was around $150 for the duration of the trip. I used Covermore in 2011 when my daughter contracted chickenpox in Borneo. They were excellent at assisting me in managing the remainder of our trip while she recovered. Well worth the expense.
A big shout out to Anna Hamilton at The Adventure Store in Chapel Street Prahran in Melbourne, Australia. She has been brilliant working with my dates and budget. Nothing was ever too much trouble and her breadth of experience made the whole experience easy. Thanks Anna.
Also a big thank you to my two guides – Akmed in Egypt and Faisal in Jordan. There breadth of experience working with groups, inside knowledge of their country and patience during challenging days made the trip that much more enjoyable.
I rate Road to Jordan
out of 5
Everyday facts for your trip to Egypt
Language: Arabic (official), English, French
Religion: Sunni Muslim (90%)
Currency: Egyptian Pound (EGP)
Power plugs and sockets: Type C and F. Click here to view images
Country calling code: +20
Local time: = UTC +2h
Capital City: Cairo
Everyday facts for your trip to Jordan
Language: Arabic (official), English.
Religion: Sunni Muslim (96%)
Currency: Jordanian Dinar (JOD)
Power plugs and sockets: Type C, D, F G and J. Click here to view images
Country calling code: +962
Local time: = UTC +2h
Capital City: Amman