Sunday, December 16, 2012


There Is More To Jordan Than Petra

One of the many roadside sellers. 
 Our driver stopped and purchased olives for his family.
There is more to Jordan than Petra.  We flew into Amman and used the capital city as our hub to visit Jerash and the desert castles.  Driving to Jerash we passed olive groves and many roadside stalls selling olives.   An impromptu stop at an olive oil factory resulted in a lunch presentation by the staff of bread and freshly squeezed olive oil.  Jerash's ancient ruins are in abundance displaying Roman amphitheatres, Roman roads, castles, hippodromes where chariot races took place and Roman forums encircled by Corinthian columns. 

On to Madaba, south of Amman,  and Mount Nebo where Moses was to see the Promised Land but he would not enter it.  Jordan is filled with Biblical sites including John the Baptist's wilderness and the Jordan River where John baptized Jesus.  We drove the King's Highway, the ancient trade route for the past 3000 years,  from Madaba to Petra snaking through Wadi Mujib,  the "Grand Canyon" of Jordan, briefing stopping at Karak Castle and ending our day at Dana with its diversified eco-system to overnight at Tower Hotel, renovated from ancient stone blocks.   The next day we hiked Little Petra and then drove  to world famous Petra where we stayed two full days.

Early morning walk along
 the 1200m. narrow siq.
Petra is a place we wished to visit for years and had finally decided this was the year.  The rock canyon walls were spectacular as we walked the Siq entrance to the Treasury taking pictures in awe of the Djinn Blocks and Obelisk Tomb in the massive sig walls.   The morning light was perfect as the sun was just coming up and the deep shadows on the high cliff were contrasted with the distant sunlit hills.  We hired two mules and set off with two young lads to guide us to the High Place of Sacrifice and on to the Monastery.  What a journey going over the steeps bluffs and stone staircases.  We seemed to be going either straight up or straight down.  They say that Petra is "a rose-red city half as old as time..."  ( from Dean Burgon's famous poem).  There are many tombs on site, temples, and huge facades carved into the red and yellow sandstone.  Petra is beyond words as we marvel at its vast  beauty and its integrity over two millenniums.
Our breakfast at Caravan Desert
Camp.  Huge with variety!
After Petra we drove to Wadi Rum and enjoyed a desert camp for two nights.  It was pure relaxation as we lay Arabian style on the mats and pillows arranged in the outdoor visitor's area, sometimes playing cards or reading, or sleeping.  The staff catered solely to us as we were the only guests.  We had the best meals on our trip at this desert tent camp as we had a five star chef who presented  a variety of dishes with great flare for every meal.  The stay included a 4x4 drive visiting Lawrence of Arabia's home and a chance to climb sand dunes for a spectacular view of the vast desert sands.  We were truly spoiled.  On the second morning we hired a camel driver who was waiting in the dark with two camels to take us to view the sunrise.  What an adventure as we quietly climbed the sand dunes and waited for the sun to appear on the horizon.  We were mesmerized with the time exposures as the earth turned and the sun rose to its full glory.  We hated to leave Caravan Desert Camp, this pure solitude of the desert, but the Red Sea was calling.

As we drove to Aqaba on the Red Sea we observed the numerous container trucks on the highway, as the port city is the main shipping center of Jordan.  After finding our hotel we strolled to the harbour where we hired a glass bottom boat tour.  We circled some of the tankers in the bay and saw one that had burn damage from a recent fire.  Later we  took a shuttle to a private beach south of Aqaba and enjoyed snorkeling and swimming for the day.   There were many colourful fish and I saw a lion fish which I was glad to avoid.  Around four in the afternoon we returned to our hotel and then went out for supper where we enjoyed sayadieh (a fish and rice dish cooked with lots of caramelized onions) and kanefe,( a rich buttery cheese and syrupy dessert.)

An odd sensation to be able to float for hours.
After Aqaba we drove to the Dead Sea and stayed in a fabulous modern resort right on the edge of the water.  We covered ourselves in mud, waded into the warm water and floated as long as we wanted without sinking.  It's a fabulous feeling!   What fun!

There is so much to see and enjoy in Jordan and we felt safe and relaxed as we toured this marvelous country.   November is probably the best time of year to visit as it's weather perfect with sunny days in the mid 20's and very little rain.  We used a local tour company called Jordan Beauty Tours and they met our every need, even upgrading our Aqaba hotel.  Petra was certainly a highlight of this country, but there is much more to see.

Our transportation to the High Place of Sacrific
 for a bird's eye view of Petra

After climbing the sand dunes, the view from
 the rock cliff at Wadi Rum.


Floor mosaic reprsenting the oldest map of Palestine.

Standing at the alter area after our donkey
 ride up the steep trail!
Watch for a second posting that will include hotel and tour company information.  We organizd the tour in Canada with Ali at Jordan Beauty Tours whose office is located in Petra.  This was a lot cheaper then booking   through a N.American company.  If you wish further information please contact us at

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