Jordan Beyond ‘ourance!’

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Home Page > Travel > Exotic Locations > Jordan Beyond 'ourance!'

Jordan Beyond 'ourance!'

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Posted: Feb 27, 2010 |Comments: 0
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from WhereDaily.com

Jordan will shock you. There is simply no substitute for gazing at the fiery Treasury of Petra at sunset. There is no word to explain the trance imposed by the view of salt rock pillars above the Dead Sea and imagining Lott looking back at his wife in just that spot. There is no other path but the one you are on as you realize Moses walked that exact way. There is no other wind but the one that whips against you as you challenge the sands of Wadi Rum with the ghost of T.E. Lawrence at your back.

There is the Jordan for the adventurous and curious and the Jordan for the religious and scholarly. Either way, the journey leads to the core of who we are now.

For persistent travelers, whether the hardened and young backpacking type or the seasoned and pampered set, Jordan brings a surprising level of luxury and an efficient tourism infrastructure to make whatever needs to happen, happen.

Planning an adventure trip to Jordan, the itinerary should have a few “must dos.” Think Wadi Rum, Dana Preserve, Petra, Red Sea Scuba dives and Dead Sea day hikes and, of course, crusader castles and Biblical hot spots in every corner.

Wadi Rum, for instance, is a full blown desert experience where you sleep in sheeted comfort within wool–draped tents or under the belt of Orion, drink Bedouin coffee from thimble-sized cups, listen to oud ballads around a fire and indulge in a feast of piquant goat and poultry barbecue with pita and salads. The bathrooms are flush with private shower stalls and the camp, called Captain's Desert Camp (www.captains-jo.com), is miles from anything but an occasional off-road vehicle or train of camels on a detour from the King's Highway that runs the length of the country. The next day is spent exploring dunes in 4 x 4s, tracing the steps of “Ourence.”

Similarly, Petra takes stamina and brings ample rewards of awe. The night tour of Petra is a lifetime highlight, a truly amazing descent down the path of 2000 years glowing from a thousand tiny candles that also illuminate the funereal chambers carved into the sandstone along the way. The lost city of Petra is just that, a city that was once the quarry of the Edomites, a migration from Yemen and Arabia that knew the art of building dams and saving water in the small years of B.C.  They built their city in Petra and lived their for a few hundred years until they were overrun by the Nabataeans who settled southern Jordan and made their fortune levying taxes to weighted caravans along the frankincense trail to Alexandria. The Treasury is a most recognized icon among the wonders of the ancient world. On the night walk down, about two miles on the dark, flame lit trail, the visitor emerges through the narrow Siq to the wide gallery of the Treasury with the music of a lone herder's flute echoing through the monuments cavernous interiors. A Bedouin serves sage tea, light of the full moon reflecting off the carved capital above the columns, all around are cliff dwellings and all is quiet except the echoes of the flute.

Petra is the land of 500 tombs and to see them all or even pass them by day takes strength, good hiking shoes, a hat and some Jordanian bills to rent a donkey. To hike from the entrance, passed The Treasury and hundreds of assorted caves and tombs to the Al Deir Monastery takes a good eight hours round trip, with a break at the cafeteria at the bottom and other breaks along the way. Water and donkeys are in abundant supply.

Dana Preserve is a spot to stop between the Capital of Amman and points south as the journey begins. It is a bit of an eco preserve with sweeping views of the Wadi Dana that can be hiked. On location find a resource center for research, a restaurant and a cottage craft industry run by the women of the village with a gift shop selling locally grown produce, handcrafted silver jewelry and pottery. The area is old, originally settled in 4000 BC and inhabited now by the Al Ata'ata tribe dating back to the Ottoman era. Visitors can camp there with tents and meals prepared by village attendants through arrangements made with the Jordanian Tourism Office.

But “To Aqaba!” is the eternal call and Aqaba, with its 15-mile border rimming the Red Sea from Eilat in Israel to the edge of Saudi Arabia, is all about scuba for the visitors that come. Several dive centers easily accommodate with modern and tested equipment and professional buddying up. Plenty of Turkish shipwrecks and flourishing coral religiously protected by the Kingdom make this adventure worth the days it takes to get there.

Finally, en route back to the capital, a couple of days must be spent exploring the grandeur of the Dead Sea, the world's lowest (and probably saltiest) spot. The sea that flanks Israel and Jordan is a quarter of a mile below sea level and both warm, stinging and scintillating to the touch. The area around this strange water body is believed to have been home to five Biblical cities: Sodom, Gomorrah, Adman, Zebouin and Zoar. A hike in this region is not only a hike in the lowest nature reserve in the world, it is a hike through history and one can only wonder, while looking through a gorge or bouldering through feisty currents of water what Biblical characters must have come this way. The Mujib Reserve is located within the deep Wadi Mujeb gorge, extending to the Kerak and Madaba mountains to the north and south. A difficult and magnificent trail offers 4,000 feet in elevations and is best done in swimsuits and Teva sandals without a backpack. This is mountain goat territory and quarry of the horned Ibex, which have a breeding reserve near the entrance.

A circular trail is closely monitored to keep the trails pristine and the crowds away. It offers five to six hours of hiking and swimming through the Wadi Mujeb system. (Contact the Royal Society for Conservation of Nature, tourism@rscn.org.jo, www.rscn.org.jo/).

Tours to Jordan abound. Even a blind point of the finger will palpate the perfect option. For more information contact the Jordan Tourism Board in Arlington, VA: 877-SEE-Jordan, http://na2.visitjordan.com/visitjordan-na/.

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Article Tags:
jordan, t e lawrence, aquaba, amman

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