Travel Fail: Running out of gas in the desert, Jordan

Yes, you read correctly: out of gas + desert.

Normal people tend to avoid these kind of situations. They say “we should think about filling up before hitting the road; we’re gonna be driving through the desert after all”.

Our drive through Jordan from North to South was an exercise in patience, and you’ll be able to read about it soon. But another day, another adventure, right? We hit the road from Amman, following the Dead Sea Highway, hoping to reach Petra before nightfall. Driving through small towns, we saw a few gas stations but did not stop as we knew, when we’d reach Karak Castle, that we would be merging onto King’s Highway, where our roadmap told us we’d find plenty of gas stations, being the most scenic road used by travellers.

IMG_1579Boy, were we wrong!

Our road map, generously provided by Avis Jordan (and, it turned out, our whole experience with them) was faulty, and to this day we still firmly believe they wanted us to fail, badly.

Around 5 o’clock, after a long day of exploring, we finally took the turn towards Karak Castle and embarked on our drive to reach the famous King’s Highway. Little did we know that this seemingly short drive would end up being much longer than what we had anticipated, and the more we zig-zagged through the mountains, the more nervous and anxious and worried we became.

Simon: Surely, the King’s Highway is approaching, right?

Me: Yes, most definitely. How are we doing on gas?

Simon: … I don’t really know.

Me: What is it you mean?

Simon: It’s just that when we ascend a hill, the gauge drops dramatically low, but as soon as we descend, it comes back up.

Me: ….. oh.

A few kilometers further, a few more nervous glances. And then the gas light lit up.

Picture this: you’re in the middle of nowhere. No no, that’s not it. When I say nowhere, I mean it. You’re here:

IMG_0922Get me? Lunar-landscape nowhere. You haven’t come across another car in almost 2 hours. You’re deep in the mountains. You haven’t seen a soul for days! (it seemed like days). You even went to pee behind a rock! And that darn light comes on.

Not knowing how much time we had, the gauge continuing its yo-yo dance, we finally merged onto King’s Highway, only to realize we would never be able to reach the nearest (hah!) gas station. I saw a small shack off the road and we stopped to a curious old Jordanian. In my best arabic, I pleadingly asked “Petrol? Petrol?!” Another man approached, and then another. I didn’t know if they had understood me. They talked. Simon panicked. I stayed calm. A few minutes later, 4 other guys arrived in a pickup truck, one with a jerrycan in hand. I wooshed Simon out of the car and stayed in so that the men could do business. 2 minutes and 4.50 dinars later, we had a whole bunch of new friends. Handshakes and warm smiles were exchanged, and we were sent off to Petra with what seemed like precise directions… Inch’Allah.

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  • Wow, what a story! I’m glad it has a happy ending, it would have been a horrible place to get stuck. I remember driving through there and thinking ‘wow, there really is nothing here…’! But a lovely country anyway, and later I learnt to appreciate the beauty of the desert too.

    • Reply August 9, 2014


      I know, right? It was a close call and I’m so glad it ended well! It is a truly beautiful place but not the kind you want to get stuck in. The desert is such an impressive place. Have you visited others?

  • Reply March 29, 2015


    Wow, it’s amazing how, when traveling, you make friends when you least expect! Scary story though, it was good to read that everything end up well! 🙂

    • Reply March 30, 2015


      So true! And yes, fortunately for us our adventure ended well!
      Thanks so much for reading 🙂

  • Reply July 28, 2016

    Kevin Wagar

    That gas light is a terrifying site! Loved Jordan and the friendliness of it’s people. Your post really shows the humanity out there!

    • Reply August 5, 2016


      Wow, thank you so much Kevin! Jordanians are SO kind and welcoming.

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