Local Culture and Language

The national language of Jordan is Arabic; many locals, however, do speak some English. When preparing to travel through the country, try to learn a few Arabic words of greeting and thanks. Any attempt to speak the language will be appreciated and will allow you to connect better with the Jordanians

 

Local cultures vary as you move along the trail. In the north, the villagers rely on agriculture – especially their orchards and olive groves. Throughout the country, Jordanian culture is one characterized by hospitality; those living in the more northern regions, however, are mostly unaccustomed to seeing tourists and international visitors.

 

In the areas surrounding Fuheis and some of its nearby villages, the population is predominantly Christian; church spires decorate the skyline. Fuheis even has its own excellent brewery!

 

In the areas surrounding Fuheis and some of its nearby villages, the population is predominantly Christian; church spires decorate the skyline. Fuheis even has its own excellent brewery!

 

As you move south to the harsh terrain above the Dead Sea, the culture changes; here you are likely to see one of the black Bedouin tents which dominate the region. As a matter of respect, always approach Bedouin camps from the left (the men’s side) and call a greeting before going too close. If there are no men in the camp, the women may be wary of strangers. If there are women in your hiking group, it’s better that they address the Bedouin women. In keeping with their culture, Bedouin will usually be very hospitable.

 

Continuing south, the trail crosses the deep Dead Sea canyons, some of which are home to camps of Jahalin Bedouin. On the plateau above are small farming villages adjacent to the ruins located on the northeastern rim of Wadi Ibn Hammad. Just south of this area, you will reach the hilltop town of Karak and its Christian inhabitants. Residents of this region, like many of their neighbors to the north, are largely unaccustomed to interacting with foreign tourists.

 

Once you reach the Dana Valley, most of the Bedouin locals you meet along the way will have some experience interacting with foreign visitors. This is especially true around the major tourist sites in the Petra and Wadi Rum areas.

 

At the end of the trail, hikers arrive at the Red Sea just south of Aqaba. A city of ports and resorts, Aqaba presents a rich diversity of local cultures and tourist attractions. On the same street, you might find both a Muslim in traditionally conservative clothing and a tourist dressed in shorts and a T-shirt to escape the Middle Eastern heat. The city offers a variety of restaurants, accommodations, and activities broad enough to suit any visitor’s interests. Enjoy the comforts of Aqaba as you conclude your hike – you’ve earned it!

Very small villages may have infrequent or no bus service. Also, the bus station you arrive at in a larger town may not be the same one from which the next bus you need departs, so you may need to catch a public bus or taxi across town. Asking around with locals will virtually always get pointed to your destination sooner or later.

Amman has numerous bus stations from which buses to different destinations leave; check individual stage pages for details on how to reach particular places.

JETT buses run according to a schedule and can (and should) be booked in advance to make sure you have a spot. They are generally a bit more expensive than the other buses, but also more comfortable, non-smoking, and sometimes have wi-fi.

Travel around Amman, Aqaba, and other major cities is easily doable by means of very affordable city taxis. Make sure the driver turns on the meter, and you’ll be given a very reasonable price – though this can sometimes be subject to special conditions set by the driver, such as the meter price being doubled late at night or during bad weather. Make sure you’ve settled these terms before getting into the cab to avoid confusion later.

Very important – remember that public bus service is decreased or nonexistent on Fridays! You’ll also want to watch out for bus (and other service) stoppages during the several hours before and after the iftar meal each day at sundown during Ramadan, and during the first day of the festivals of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Other national holidays might result in reduced bus service as well. Bad weather (sometimes including rain) can also stop buses from running, and snow is almost guaranteed to bring all public transportation to a halt.

  • Basic Jordanian Arabic

    • Hello/peace be upon you es-sa-LAA-moo aah-LAY-koom
      Hello/peace be upon you (reply) wa aah-LAY-koom es-sa-LAM
      Welcome AH-lan wa SAH-lan
      Hi MAR-HA-ba
      My name is _____ AH-na IS-mee _____
      How are you? (to a man) kayf HAL-ak?
      How are you? (to a woman) kayf HAL-ik?
      Fine, praise God bi-KHAYR al-HAM-du-lil-LEH
      Thank you SHUK-ran
      Yes NA-am
      No leh
      Do you speak English? bi-TIH-kee in-GLEE-zee?
      Where is __________? Wayn ___________?
      Goodbye MA-ah es-sa-LAA-meh