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From Petra to Wadi Rum: A Jordanian Adventure for LGBTQ+ Explorers

From Petra to Wadi Rum: A Jordanian Adventure for LGBTQ+ Explorers

Barry Hoy's LGBTQ+ Syrian Adventure -

Join out travelers Barry Hoy and Teraj on the couple’s latest adventure.

\u200bBarry Hoy's LGBTQ+ Syrian Adventure - The Temple of Petra at night

The Temple of Petra at night


Jordan, a land of mesmerizing landscapes and ancient history, has long held a place on our travel bucket list. Our recent adventure to this enchanting country surpassed all of our expectations and allowed us to immerse ourselves in its vibrant culture, explore stunning natural wonders, and connect with its warm and welcoming people. As an LGBTQ couple, my partner and I embarked on this journey with some initial concerns since it is a conservative country, but our experience turned out to be not just inclusive but profoundly heartwarming.

Discovering Amman

Barry Hoy's LGBTQ+ Syrian Adventure - An Intrepid tour group dinner at Tawaheen Al-Hawa restaurant

An Intrepid tour group dinner at Tawaheen Al-Hawa restaurant


Soon after landing in the bustling capital city of Amman, we met our tour group for the first time. Since it was our first time in Jordan, we decided to join a tour with Intrepid Travel, not only to blend in but also to ensure we didn't miss out on any of the country's highlights. After getting to know our new travel partners, we headed to a local restaurant right in the heart of the city, Tawaheen Al Hama. There, we were introduced to some of the country’s most beloved dishes, like mansaf, a dish made with lamb, yogurt, and rice, and kunafa, a delicious dessert made with pastry and cheese. As food enthusiasts, we were delighted to discover the incredible variety of traditional local cuisine, and savoring falafel in Amman’s bustling streets was just the beginning of the rich flavor journey our taste buds were soon to embark on.

Barry Hoy's LGBTQ+ Syrian Adventure - \u200bPreparing a meal at The Jordanian Kitchen

Preparing a meal at The Jordanian Kitchen


But we didn’t just get to taste these amazing dishes, we actually got to make them. Our group was fortunate enough to take an immersive cooking class with The Jordanian Kitchen, led by the talented Chef Wafaa. The Jordanian Kitchen offers a top-tier culinary experience: a place to gather, learn to cook, and enjoy an authentic meal together. Here, we rolled up our sleeves and dove into preparing local dishes, including the delectable Eggplant Mutabbal (similar to Baba Ganoush), the flavorful Maqlubeh, and a refreshing Cucumber yogurt salad, among others. Learning to cook these dishes firsthand with Chef Wafaa was fun and delicious, but more than that, it was a unique cultural exchange that allowed us to connect with the heart of Jordanian cuisine. While we chopped the eggplant, Chef Wafaa encouraged us to release our pent-up stress by really going at it. She even handed me a second knife, likely sensing my need to vent some frustration. I gave that eggplant my all, and needless to say, I succeeded in turning it into a perfectly mashed concoction.

Photo Opportunities at Jerash

Barry Hoy's LGBTQ+ Syrian Adventure - \u200bBarry and Teraj at the Colonade Ruins of Jerash

Barry and Teraj at the Colonade Ruins of Jerash


In addition to eating, cooking, and eating some more, our time in Amman led us to the well-preserved ancient city of Jerash, where we marveled at its Roman ruins and experienced a living testament to Jordan’s historical richness. I had never heard of Jerash before this trip, but the ancient city boasts an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years. Jerash holds a striking collection of archways, theaters, baths, public buildings, and colonnaded streets. It is considered one of the largest and most well-preserved sites of Greek and Roman architecture in the world outside Italy, and we could have stayed here for hours, taking pictures and discovering the history.

Moving forward in our journey, we set out for a tranquil excursion to the serene waters of the Dead Sea, Earth’s lowest point. Situated between Jordan and Israel, the Dead Sea holds a rich history dating back millennia. Famed for its hyper-saline waters and mineral-laden mud, this iconic destination, frequented by historical figures like Cleopatra and King Herod, offers a blend of ancient allure and therapeutic landscapes.

The experience of effortlessly floating on the Dead Sea's buoyant waters is an absolute must-try for anyone, a real once-in-a-lifetime sensation! The mineral-rich mud and salty waters left our skin feeling rejuvenated and silky soft. That said, make sure you don’t have any cuts or get the water in your eye because it will sting! Also, don’t stay in too long, as other openings (down under) will start to burn, if you know what I mean.

Time Traveling in Petra

Barry Hoy's LGBTQ+ Syrian Adventure - \u200bThe Intrepid group at the ruins of Petra

The Intrepid group at the ruins of Petra


After our visit to the Dead Sea, we ventured to the captivating city of Petra, where we embarked on a visually striking night tour that added an enchanting layer to our experience. “Petra By Night” is a magical nocturnal journey providing a unique perspective on this UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s more about capturing stunning photos and marveling at the candlelit rock face monuments than the show itself. The Treasury, or Al Khaznah, takes the spotlight as the most photographed structure in Petra, notably standing at the end of the Siq, the narrow canyon marking the entrance to the city. While the exact purpose of the Treasury remains uncertain, recent excavations have revealed a graveyard beneath it, suggesting a high likelihood that the Treasury served as a tomb.

Barry Hoy's LGBTQ+ Syrian Adventure - Intrepid guide Mohammad at Petra

Intrepid guide Mohammad at Petra


Petra’s vastness took us by surprise – spanning 264 square kilometers, equivalent to roughly 50,000 football fields. Amid the lesser-known but equally impressive tombs, the Monastery, situated about 6 kilometers from the entrance, stands out. Despite the challenge of the Jordanian heat, the Monastery’s remote location makes it less crowded. I found it to be as stunning as the Treasury but with a more serene atmosphere. Wandering through the Siq, surrounded by ancient cave homes and tombs, felt like a journey back in time. Petra’s unmatched combination of intricate carvings and breathtaking vistas creates a truly unparalleled experience.

Barry Hoy's LGBTQ+ Syrian Adventure - Barry and Teraj at the Petra overlook

Barry and Teraj at the Petra overlook


Barry’s Insider Tip: If you want to get the iconic photo from a ledge overlooking The Treasury, local Bedouins will be all around offering to bring you. Make sure you negotiate and be clear about what will be included in the price – like helping you take photos, etc. Also, there are two viewpoints: one is mid-height to the Treasury and the other is more of a bird’s-eye view from above looking down (a further hike.) You can negotiate for both as a package if you want more photo options. In my opinion, the lower viewpoint is better for photos as you can get the full scale of the Treasury.

Dreaming of Wadi Rum

Barry Hoy's LGBTQ+ Syrian Adventure - A shepherd and his flock in the vast Wadi Rum

A shepherd and his flock in the vast Wadi Rum


Our next stop led us to the otherworldly terrain of Wadi Rum, where we lodged in a Martian dome tent. These bubble domes, typically featuring expansive front windows, allow you to soak in the breathtaking desert vistas during the day and marvel at the stars come nightfall. The name “Martian tents” is fitting, given Wadi Rum’s landscape reminiscent of the moon or Mars, even serving as the backdrop for the filming of The Martian starring Matt Damon. Sleeping under a blanket of stars in the heart of the desert felt like a dream come true, as the celestial display mirrored the surreal beauty that surrounded us in Wadi Rum’s enchanting landscape.

LGBTQ+ Travel in Jordan

Barry Hoy's LGBTQ+ Syrian Adventure - \u200bBarry and Teraj discretely share a moment

Barry and Teraj discretely share a moment


One of our initial concerns as LGBTQ travelers was how we would be received in Jordan, especially since Jordan is a Muslim country with a very conservative culture. Although homosexuality has been decriminalized, same-sex marriage is still not recognized, and there are no protections against discrimination. However, our fears about acceptance were quickly dispelled as we discovered a surprisingly welcoming and inclusive environment. Our Intrepid Travel guide, Mohammad, not only assured us of Jordan’s commitment to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all travelers but also actively demonstrated this throughout our journey.

Initially, we had requested rooms with two beds for simplicity’s sake. However, once Mohammad sensed that we were a couple, he arranged single-bedroom accommodations for us without any prompting. The hotel staff smoothly accommodated this change without any fuss or comments.

Barry Hoy's LGBTQ+ Syrian Adventure - \u200bBarry and Teraj in the vast Wadi Rum

Barry and Teraj in the vast Wadi Rum


Fortunately, we also had no issues with locals or our fellow travelers, a diverse group from around the world, who embraced our presence as an LGBTQ couple without hesitation. During a shopping excursion, Teraj and I spontaneously purchased matching travel engagement rings, and the store clerks were exceptionally friendly and helpful throughout the selection process. From that moment on, we felt free to be ourselves, and sharing stories and experiences with our tour group created a sense of camaraderie that transcended boundaries. It was a heartwarming reminder that travel has the power to unite people from all walks of life.

Barry Hoy's LGBTQ+ Syrian Adventure - Barry and Teraj at the Burdah Rock Bridge in the Wadi Rum

Barry and Teraj at the Burdah Rock Bridge in the Wadi Rum


That said, it is essential to note that while our experience was positive, it’s crucial to respect the local culture and customs. Jordan is a conservative country, and public displays of affection (PDA) should be avoided to ensure that you’re being mindful and respectful of the local norms. Being discreet and considerate goes a long way in fostering a positive and harmonious travel experience for everyone.

How we booked our trip to Jordan

Barry Hoy's LGBTQ+ Syrian Adventure - \u200bThe Intrepid group at the crusader Shokah Castle

The Intrepid group at the crusader Shokah Castle


Choosing Intrepid Travel for our Jordan adventure was undoubtedly the best decision we made. Their commitment to responsible travel and sustainable tourism was evident throughout our journey.

Additionally, the Premium Jordan package offered us a perfect balance of guided experiences and free time to explore on our own. The expertise and insights provided by our local guides, including Mohammad, enhanced our understanding of Jordan's rich history and culture.

You can learn more about Intrepid travel online at To learn more about LGBTQIA+ travel in Jordan, you can visit Intrepid Travel’s “Is Jordan LGBTQIA+ friendly” page.

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