When most people plan a trip, stargazing might not be high on the list of must-do activities.
When most people pick a destination, Jordan might make them anxious, unrightfully so due to tumultuous politics in the region.
But would you believe that Jordan is one of the best stargazing destinations in the world? With vast swaths of preserved and undeveloped land, the sky over Jordan is unbelievably dark and full of more stars than you can imagine – even if you’ve been stargazing countless times before.
If you’re planning a trip to Jordan, here are some of the best stargazing destinations to add to your itinerary:
Petra: The Rose City by Night
One can just imagine what the first explorers to ‘discover’ Petra thought when they first laid eyes upon the Rose City in 1812: how could anyone on earth have ever built this stunning city of stone?
While aliens certainly weren’t involved in its construction, Petra is the number one destination in Jordan for good reason. By day, the massive stone structures offer a stunning glimpse into Nabatean life; by night, the Treasury is lit by candles and starlight for each evening’s cultural show.
Even if you’re not planning a trip to Jordan for stargazing, be sure to book Petra by Night in addition to your daytime ticket.
- Learn more about Petra by Night and ticket prices: visitpetra.jo
- Stay at the Petra Moon Hotel: Book on Hotels.com
- Pro-tip: Book your tickets for Petra by day and night at the same time and save!
Dana Biosphere Preserve: Otherworldly Landscapes
Some places on planet earth simply make you feel like you’ve been transported to another planet. During the day, Dana Biosphere Preserve is just such a place, otherworldy and breathtakingly different than everywhere else we’ve seen.
The stone structures have long been a familiar landscape to the Bedouin who live in this part of Jordan, and because of the lack of development in the region, Dana also has some amazing dark skies – perfect for stargazing.
There are two great spots in Dana Biosphere Preserve if you want to enjoy some unparalleled stargazing:
- Feynan Ecolodge – Feynan Ecolodge is great if you support ecotourism but don’t want to compromise on luxury. They also have an on-site astronomer who leads rooftop stargazing every night. Learn more on their website; rooms start from $189 per night. Book on ecohotels.net.
- Dana Village – Dana Village is a tiny, remote collection of buildings on the edge of the great musa in the Biosphere Reserve. Look out over the vast valley once the sun goes down, and you’ll see the sky brimming with stars. Book a room the rustic Dana Moon Hotel from $15 per night.
Pro-tip: Be sure to book a daytime hike in Dana Biosphere Preserve with a local Bedouin guide to learn more about traditional Bedouin life in this harsh environment.
Ma’in Hot Springs: Cold Stars, Hot Waters
Aside from Feynan Eco Lodge, you can also find luxury a Ma’in Hot Springs. These mineral springs and waterfalls have drawn Jordanians to visit the area for centuries, and recent development in the area is now drawing international visitors too.
The Ma’in Spa Resort is the place to stay, with 97 rooms, hot springs, spas, saunas and more. When the sun goes down, you’ll be able to sit back, relax into the hot springs, and gaze up at the stars. Rooms at the resort start from $165 per night. Book on Hotels.com
Photo credit: Sam Amil via Flickr
Wadi Rum: Mars on Earth
There’s a reason Jordan has been featured in so many space movies: Wadi Rum – the most commonly featured destination – is a perfect canvas for telling a story on an undeveloped planet.
Wadi Rum is a massive expanse of desert and another popular destination for most visitors to Jordan. Similar to Dana, the lack of development helps massively if you want to go stargazing in Wadi Rum. Once you get away from your accommodations, the stars become the brightest lights around; just don’t wander too far as the desert can be dangerous for those unfamiliar with it!
- Book a stay at Sun City Camp and ask for one of their new Martian Domes. Inspired by the film The Martian, these geodesic domes will make you feel right at home… on Mars! Domes from $60 per night. Book on suncitycamp.com.
- Pro-tip: Ask your host at Sun City Camp where they recommend for stargazing near camp, but don’t stay up too late – a sunrise camel ride is a must-do!
Amman: The Capital City
To be honest, Amman is the least stargazing-friendly destination on this list. Home to four million Jordanians, there is a fair amount of light pollution in the capital city. Nevertheless, the Jordanian Astronomical Society is based in Amman and organize occasional star parties in the area.
Amman is also a necessary base for your Jordan trip, as the capital is near the primary international airport and centrally located. If you are lucky, you may be able to glimpse a few stars or meet fellow Jordanian astronomers while visiting Amman.
- Check the Jordanian Astronomical Society Facebook page for any upcoming events.
- Book your stay at Le Royal Amman. This stunning hotel sits on a city hill, and from the rooftop overlook, you’ll have a better vantage point on the night sky. Rooms from $127 per night. Book on Hotels.com.
- Pro-tip: Contact the JAS in advance if you plan to attend their event, they’ll likely be quite welcoming!