Karak and Shoubak, Jordan
We arrived in Jordan on the 23rd of December in the evening, stayed a night at the Black Iris in Madaba where we arranged for a driver and car to take us to Petra along the King's Highway the next day. We stopped at several overlooks along the way and visited two crusader forts, Kerak and Shoubak, where we spent hours exploring the ruins and underground passages in the forts.
We spent Christmas in Petra with Young Sam and Scott, whom we met at our hotel. We spent the entire day from 630 am to 630 pm in Petra, making use of all available daylight.   New!
After Petra, we went to Wadi Rum with Scott and Young Sam. The desert views were breathtaking especially at sunset and sunrise where the colors changed every moment.   New!
From Wadi Rum, we hired a car to bring us to Dana Reserve. It promptly broke down halfway on the trip, and after a couple of hours of the driver trying to fix it, we gave up and hired a passerby motorist who had stopped to help to bring us the rest of the way to Dana.
We'd heard of Dana Reserve from the owner of the Black Iris Hotel in Madaba and we were excited to stay at the village perched at the rim of the canyon, and also to hike down through Wadi Dana. The views from the village were indeed quite good, and we did the 17.5 mile 4000 ft hike to Feinan Lodge through Wadi Dana and back to Dana Village the next day where we saw many kestrels soaring overhead but sadly no ibex (Serene consoled herself by purchasing a silver ibex brooch instead).
The only downside of Dana Village is that it gets swamped by large groups of package tourists every night who take up all the good rooms in the few hotels in the village.
From Dana Reserve, we took the local buses back to Madaba just to experience local travel - the locals were very helpful in directing us to the right buses and bus stops to go to.
The next day at Madaba, we hired a driver and a car to bring us around to Mt Nebo (where Moses was shown the promised land), Bethany (where Jesus was baptised), the Dead Sea and Hammamet Ma'in hot springs. Serene particularly enjoyed slathering on the Dead Sea mud and floating in its salty waters. We found it strangely enjoyable to float standing and sitting.
Amman and surroundings
On our last day in Jordan, we visited the Amman Citadel, Ajloun (another crusader fort), and Jerash (roman ruins). We really enjoyed the Citadel and soaking up the millenia of history around the site --- we were fascinated by the Ain Ghazal statues made of reed and plaster, which date from 6000-8000 BC and are one of the oldest humanoid statues discovered.
Earlier in Madaba, we saw a number of interesting mosaics, including the oldest surviving map of the Holy Land. We also ate some very tasty bbq chicken from a hole in the wall store in Madaba recommended by Odeh from the Black Iris.